How can I practice reading body language

Correctly interpreting and using body language: exercises & tips

Communication does not only take place on the verbal level instead, it is an interplay of words, tone of voice and body signals. The non-verbal part has the greatest influence on our external impact. We constantly send out signals through our body language and thus communicate with one another. In the following we show how to correctly interpret and use body language.

What is body language

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which is expressed in many conscious and unconscious signals of the body. The most important of these are Gestures, facial expressions, posture and Body movement. How you sit, stand and walk, whether you let your shoulders hang, cross your legs or cross your arms, whether you keep eye contact, how tight the handshake is and how you keep your distance from other people reveals a lot about the person in question. According to the famous statement of communication scientist Paul Watzlawick: "You can not communicate." Body signals that visible to the naked eye are, are called Macro expressions designated. The so-called Microexpressions on the other hand, which also have a major influence on our communication behavior only with the help of slow motion recordings or film reruns can be made visible.

Read body language and interpret it correctly

It means, that it is impossible to lie with the body. If what is said, the tone of the voice and the body language are not congruent, it can be concluded that something is wrong and that the person may not be speaking the truth. Just if the non-verbal signals match the statements, surrendered a coherent overall picture. Above all, the unconscious signals of the body can Difficult to control in emotional situations. These are, for example, small gestures or facial signals. Often times, the look reveals how a person really feels; the eyes can reflect both joy and sadness and do not always have to match what is being said. However, body signals can also be used very consciously, For example, a smile, a focused look, a firm handshake or an upright posture. Some media professionals and politicians are true masters of communication and skillfully use body signals for their purposes. Only those who pay attention to the unconscious microsignals can read between the lines.

The body language of the hands and arms - the gestures

The movement of the hands, arms and head becomes referred to as gesture and can also be done consciously and unconsciously. For example, you can deliberately give a firm handshake. When speaking, however, most people gesticulate completely unconsciously, even while they are on the phone.

Who for example constantly fiddling with his clothes or playing with small objects, is considered insecure or nervous. This can be avoided by deliberately keeping your hands still and, for example, placing them on top of each other during a conversation. Angela Merkel likes to shape a pitched roof with her fingers and directs it at the interlocutor to keep their fingers and hands under control. Cross your arms over your chest is considered classic defensive stance and should be avoided in conversation, as well as pointing the finger at others. A rubbing of handsorof the chin is on the other hand a sign of complacency, however, it can also be perceived as unsympathetic. People who are ashamed instinctively try to hide and often use their hands to do so. Hands held in front of the face or a head in arms so indicate great shame.

The body language of the face - the facial expressions

The visible movements of the face surface become referred to as facial expressions and say a lot about a person's feelings. A certain facial expression is created by the interaction of the facial muscles and is mainly produced by the eyes and mouth. It is believed that in about 3,000 different variations gives. Raised eyebrowsexpress astonishment, for example; becomes just one eyebrow raised or one corner of the mouth pulled down, is used to express ridicule. A frown indicates thoughtfulness or reprimand, and frequent blinking indicates nervousness. Poker players try their facial expressions and prevent the other players from guessing whether they have good or bad cards by keeping their facial expressions as rigid as possible. The expression "poker face" therefore denotes an emotionless face.

The language of the eyes

Correctly interpreting the language of the eyes is not too difficult, because Glances usually reveal in a matter of seconds how a person feels about something. If looks his interlocutor in the eye, that testifies to self-confidence and it signals interest. A glance means attention and friendliness and is also used when flirting. Too long a stare will however perceived as intrusive.

Anyone who avoids eye contact signals just the opposite, namely Disinterest, indifference, or shame. It is not for nothing that people who have something to hide or who are untruthful are said to their counterpart “Can't look in the eye”. Even a quick, brief averting of the gaze while making a statement can expose a liar.

The posture

Based on the posture, you can see at a glance how a person is doing. An upright and open posture in the chest and neck area signals self-confidence and fearlessness while drooping shoulders and a slumped back Sadness, fear, shynessor weakness indicate. Generally an open and testifies Attitude towards the interlocutor of Interest and sympathy. On the other hand, if you cross your legs to the other side, cross your arms and keep a greater distance from the person opposite, you are expressing disinterest or even dislike. However, the sense of distance is strongly influenced by culture: In Japan, people stop for example a much greater degree of courtesy towards their fellow human beings, while Europeans are more open, also with regard to contact. Hugging or kissing friends when greeting or saying goodbye is largely perceived by Europeans as completely normal.

Do men communicate differently than women?

It's not just between cultures big differences in body language, but also between the sexes. Most of the time you can tell from a person's walk alone whether he is a man or a woman.

The man's body language

Of course, the body language in men is strongly type-dependent, nevertheless men are more likely to adopt dominant postures than women. Especially in professional life, man's body language often appears more self-confident than that of female colleagues. Men, for example, express their strength a firm handshake and one confident look out. You like to take an upright and open posture, make yourself tall and stick out the rib cage. They sit and stand with their legs apart and often take up more space than women when they gesticulate, which makes them appear more present. Whether a man is interested in a woman, can also be read very well from your body language. He then turns to his interlocutor and tilts legs, arms and shoulders towards you. Mirroring the other person's movements is also a signal of sympathy.

The woman's body language

The body language of women is basically softer and more playful than that of men and appears less dominant. It makes women shine more calm and willingness to compromise off, but can appear indecisive more quickly. Women often cross or cross their legs, both standing and sitting. It makes you look very much graceful, but at times reserved and distant. When gesticulating, women usually also take up less space. When flirting, women often make targeted eye contact, smile at their counterpart, throw their head to one side, brush their hair from their face or touch their necklace. Also an embarrassed smile with the face turned away is one of the flirtation signals of a woman.

The dog's body language

Body language is an important means of communication not only in humans but also in animals, for example dogs. In addition to sounds like barking, growling or whimpering Dogs communicate a lot with their body language. Experienced dog owners are usually able to correctly interpret the body signals of their own pet. However, there are too some general signals of dog language:

  • Anxiety: Tense body with buckled hind legs, drawn-in tail, rounded back and ears set close to the head
  • Threat: Upright posture with tense muscles, erect neck and back hairs, constricted pupils, rigidly straight gaze and the corners of the mouth drawn back so that the teeth are visible
  • Joy or excitement: A wagging of the tail can indicate a joyful expectation or a sign of restlessness.
  • Alertness: ears pointed upwards

With many dogs it can The joy of playing can easily be mistaken for aggression, especially if you don't know the animal. When a dog wants to play, it is often excited, jerks back and forth, opens its mouth and shows its teeth, wags its tail and sometimes growls quietly. Preferably Pay attention to as many signals as possible from the dog's body language, so as not to misunderstand the dog.

Tips for improving your own body language

The microexpressions can hardly be influenced, but one can learn to control the conscious signals of body language. The correct facial expressions, gestures and posture can be specifically trained and used. As a rule, this not only has a positive effect on communication behavior, but also also leads to a more self-confident effect on others.Among the most common mistakes that are done in non-verbal communication count among other things Avoiding eye contact, exaggerated gestures, a weak handshake, a hunched posture and nervous fidgeting. All of these signals reflect insecurity and low self-esteem. Through so-called "power poses" should your own self-esteem strengthened and psychological blocks are overcome. They can be practiced at home. These include:

  • Stand with both feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart
  • Stand, sit, and walk upright, with your back straight
  • pull your shoulders back slightly and open your chest
  • Lean back in the chair with your arms open or with your hands behind your head
  • put your arms on your hips
  • stretch your arms upwards in a V shape

Further Tips for improving body language in conversations are for example:

  • keep your head straight and not look at the floor or ceiling
  • Maintain eye contact with the other person without staring
  • nod or make small gestures of approval
  • adopt an open posture facing the person opposite
  • avoid crossing your arms
  • Pay attention to small and subtle gestures
  • a handshake that is neither too tight nor too weak

A great way to internalize the new body signals is to do this practicing in front of the mirror or record yourself on video during a conversation and analyze your body language afterwards. A confident body language can work wonders in everyday life and significantly improve our impact on our fellow human beings.