No matter what profession you are in, the ability to read body language will serve you well. Through analyzing facial movements, torso orientation and leg positioning, you will gain an awareness as to the comfort level of those you are interacting with and thus can make adjustments accordingly depending on your objectives.
Many may think that facial movements are the most indicative of comfort and understanding where the other party stands, yet the opposite is true. We are socially programmed to smile even when things are not funny or when we are nervous. Reading body language on facial movements alone will lead to false positives and negatives and as such should only be used as confirmatory evidence of the other indicators.
Are your targets torsos exposed or covered. The limbic system has a very strong effect on the subconscious mind by protecting the vital organs should one feel threatened or scared. As such, in a social setting look to see if those around you are willing to expose their torso to you while talking. If so, you can know that you have broken down barriers and realize the target is comfortable talking with you.
Are the subjects legs crossed, facing you, pointing toward the exit, or fidgety? The positioning of one’s legs are the most indicative of how their subconscious mind is perceiving their environment:
- Legs Crossed: The subject generally does not feel threatened and is at comfortable state during the conversation. Thier flight or fight response is suppressed.
- Toes Facing You: The subject is comfortable and highly engaged in the conversation. This too is regarded as being in a safe state.
- Toes Pointing Toward the Exit: This should send up red flags. When the toes are facing toward the exit, the subject is uncomfortable and is in a heightened state of alarm. This is when it is important to comfort the subject and ensure you build rapport to help him/her be more at ease.
- Fidgety Legs: This is another indicator of nervousness and angst. Again the subject either feels guilty/uncomfortable about the subject matter or really has to go to the bathroom. Either way, it is an indicator that something is amiss and your radar should be going off.
Should one smile, but cover up their torso, you know they are uncomfortable. Should one smile, expose their torso, and face their feet toward you or are crossed, you know all movements are aligning. The discord between body positioning is extremely difficult to control and only highly trained individuals can manipulate their limbic system responses to match dissenting subconsciousness. Remember, that individuals will respond differently to various circumstances and it is therefore essential to establish baseline measurements on how the subject responds to pointed questions and situations. The variances between situations are what should be analyzed, not the responses in isolation.
Below is a graphic to help you quickly discern your subjects state of mind. Remember to begin your analysis from the bottom up and adjust your conversation based on the desired outcome.
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