Interpreting body language

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

This page on interpreting body language follows the page on Body Language Signs. Here I hope to help you interpret the signals of the mouth, face, hands and other general body language signs.  

Once you know what to look out for you can slowly improve on your understanding of body language signs. It does take time, though - and it's ever so easy to get it wrong, so do proceed with caution!

I've also included a super short film, from Urban Theory Films, to help you along.

Of course, my primary aim (as with every article on this site) is to provide expert relationship advice. Improving your ability to read your partner's body language will help to increase your emotional intelligence.

This is hugely helpful in any relationship. I promise that you'll get along so much better if you can get that part of your relationship right.

In addition, of course, a basic understanding of body language will hugely add to your communication skills in any situation.

An overview

- 7 key areas to notice when interpreting body language

For starters, here are some body language basics for you to pay attention to:

  1. Face: expression, movement of eyes, eyebrows and mouth. (Facial muscles are attached to other muscles and/or the skin - unlike any other muscle. For more info on this, have a look at BBC Science: facial muscles - links further down)
  2. Head: shaking and nodding, turning away, tilting, dropping or lifting
  3. Shoulders: dropping, tightening, pulling backwards, hunching or the angle of the shoulders against the body
  4. Torso: shifting in the seat, leaning forward or backward, angled towards or away from others, rocking, upright or bent
  5. Hands: fiddling, gestures and handshakes
  6. Legs: restless, sitting with legs together, wide or crossed. Do they shift at certain points in the conversation?
  7. Feet: oh ... I love how feet give so much away! As with other body language this is often a subconscious action and I often see this whilst counselling. This is one part of non-verbal communication that I even teach to police officers. I'm amazed that so many people don't realise how much of a sign a sudden foot wobble is!

Body language conveys feelings

Sentences - the words you speak in a line - convey information. The tone, speed and passion with which you express the words reveal something of your actual feelings (which are lurking behind the message). 

Body language is about feelings alone. Often you can't help but reveal yourself and neither can your partner. You may try really hard not to show what you're feeling, but somehow it 'leaks' out anyway. Your partner is bound to catch on to that - if not consciously then unconsciously, and of course the same happens for you.

Nevertheless, it's really easy to misinterpret stuff too. So, I'm hoping to help you out here. What you want to look for is 'clusters' of body language signs. Don't hang on to just one sign out of context as it may be misleading! Do also be aware that you yourself may be getting in the way.

However, hopefully you'll get my drift in the following sections. Watch the video below then read through the other sections and revisit the film once you've done so.

Don't have a clue about interpreting body language?

Well ... just have a look at this very revealing short film now. It was written and directed by Mike Collins and his company Urban Theory Films, and  I was delighted to be allowed to put it on my site. It's just so fitting!

Watch it and think about it.  Can you tell the story?

MAYBE from Urban Theory Films on Vimeo.

Of course you can! You know what it's all about - yet not a word is spoken! Isn't it a great film?

We learn right from birth to interpret body language. It helps us ensure that we can engage our carer-givers so that we'll be fed and kept safe.

All the knowledge you need to interpret body language is stored safely in your unconscious mind. Some of it will have been 'downloaded' from your DNA. You may have lost touch with part of it though, so let's have a look at what you can pick up...

Join me in Part 2 for a closer look at what your eyes can say about you, and for even more Signs and Cues of Body Language Explained.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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