Body language cues
This is the third part of my series on body language cues and secrets. If you've landed here first, do hop over to Part 1 for an introduction to Body Language Signs, and Part 2 to get started with Understanding Body Language.
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'Hidden' body language signs?
There’s good evidence that we pick up a whole range of cues unconsciously.
This link takes you to a really interesting study about specific cues that men pick up around the time a woman is ovulating. The researchers conclude that further studies are needed to discover how these unconscious body language signs relate to behaviour and communication in relationships. They want to find the 'real' and 'perceived' differences in behaviour between the sexes around the time of ovulation.
The rest of the body
Culture, gender and age also affect the way we hold, touch, move and gesture. As you read on, reflect on these influences alongside with what I have written.
- Mirroring of posture - is your partner moving into a similar direction, at the same time, and maybe putting their spine at the same angle as yours? Good news - you are likely to be in harmony! You might even want to use these indicators to create a sense of being alike or togetherness.
- Interpersonal distance and your personal space - is your partner moving closer to you or further away? And to what degree, and how does that relate to your movements? These movements are all part of the 'dance' of body language and can be conscious or unconscious. The distance between the two of you will be constantly increasing and decreasing. The distance between (potential) partners depends a number of things including: intentions, how comfortable you are with each other, the sound and pitch of your voices. It also depends on where your interaction take place - whether public, amongst family and friends or in private.
- Movement of the feet. This one is really interesting! Often we are not aware that we are moving our feet, when someone has touched a snare.
- Hand gestures can have different meanings in different cultures, but are often used to emphasise what is being said. A sudden movement of the hands, however slight, can mean discomfort too. The conversation may have touched a raw nerve, or some other link with a memory or feeling. Take your pick!
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual by the American Psychiatric Association, a person’s lack of gestures, movement, animation and so on is named 'psycho-motor retardation'. It’s one of the warning signs of depression.
How best to respond
I hope that you now understand how important it is not to jump to conclusions. You can see now that it is vital to check out what you perceive someone else's body language signs mean.
You can do that by directly referring to what you have noticed and gently asking what happened when this or that was said. More subtly - come back to that part of the conversation at a later stage and talk a bit more and explore it a bit further.
How to communicate effectively
By being open, inviting, interested and non-judgmental you’re far more likely to find out what is going on for you partner, rather than just relying on body language signs.
Other Helpful Links
Westsidetoastmasters.com - Cultural differences in hand signals
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