Reading body language: your limbs say more than thousand words

“Here’s looking at you, kid,“ Humphrey Bogart famously says in the all time classic ‘Casablanca’. Well, good idea Mr. Bogart as a good look at the other’s body language might tell you more than words ever could.

Take a close look at body language - it might tell you some secrets.

According to the psychologist, Albert Mehrabian, we communicate in a 7%38%55%-pattern.

55% of our messages we express through body language, 38% through the tone of our voice and only 7% through the actual words.

Therefore understanding body language can be a huge help with understanding other’s better, avoiding conflicts and also with expressing ourselves in a better way.

Let’s have a look at some useful signals.

Reading the signs

The most commonly known should be the crossed arms. It is supposed to be read as a kind of barrier that a person that feels uncomfortable or who disagrees with something puts up in front of their body.

This kind of widely accepted reading keeps me personally from crossing my arms – as they would probably not convey the right message, as I am feeling cold or especially comfortable etc.

So, this already is one of the gestures that may differ in meaning from person to person.

What is not so commonly known is that apparently the feet always point in the direction the person would like to go.

In a very useful list of body language ‘vocabs’ “” suggest that if you take your friends into a shop they hate, one foot will always point towards the door.

More helpful observations

Wikihow” suggests that you should monitor how close someone is to you. Observe whether someone is leaning away or towards you in a conversation to read their feelings.

They also suggest that confident people will make long eye contact and have a ‘strong’ posture. That could mean that they sit straight or take up a lot of space.” suggests that rapid blinking or re-enacting sexual acts can be a hint at attraction. The latter can be spotted in actions like stroking a glass or licking one’s lips.

In a long list of behaviours, Mahalo muses that we behave like that because we are acting out what we want to do to the other.

Apparently, ‘displaying body parts’ is also included in the attraction-section. People seem to wiggle or put forward parts of their body like wrists, neck or bottom to show they are attracted.

Body language is not universal

As I mentioned before, not everyone will feel about every movement the same way and therefore not use it to convey the same messages.

If you really want to learn to understand someone better by looking at their body language, you need to observe them and try to understand why they are moving the way they are.

Trying these gestures on yourself might also give you clues on how others might feel.

Paul Ekman, the psychologist who inspired the TV series “Lie to me”, has discovered that putting a certain expression on your face (sad, happy etc.) actually influences your feelings.

I think that understanding someone’s body language enables us to understand reactions and consequences of our actions in much more depths.

But constant training and refining of our understanding with each new person we meet is necessary.

Also read about body language on Life…

Body language in daily life

Here’s a video from the Mahalo website that features Dr. Lillian Glass explaining on how reading body language can help us.


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