What is Your Date Thinking About? Do they or don’t they find this conversation engaging? That’s the age-old question when you’re interacting with someone new. Learning how to identify non-verbal cues when you’re communicating with someone is an essential people skill. It’s also a fast way to communicate your attraction or lack thereof. As some are more recognisable (e.g. eye roll, fidgeting, shoulder shrug, or feet stamping) than others, we’ve looked through expert resources to bring you a list of subtler body language that’ll help you read people and interpret their cues better. Here, Linda Prescott shares the secrets to identifying non-verbal cues when you’re communicating with someone in Decoding Body Language: What is Your Date Thinking About? Enjoy!
Decoding Body Language: What is Your Date Thinking About?
Firstly, can body language be interpreted? Well, according to Dr. Emily Cook, a marriage and family therapist in Bethesda, MD, body language can be read and actually plays an essential role in how we share information with others. “There’s evidence to suggest our brains prioritize nonverbal communication over verbal communication,” she says. “So, when our brain gets a mixed message — say it hears, ‘I love you’ but sees a mean face or hears an insincere tone — it may prefer the nonverbal cues to the verbal ones,” she adds.
Was that a smize?
Microexpressions are what can expose a person’s true emotions. According to Behavioural and Brain Scientist, Nick Hobson, recognising these subtle facial movements will help identify whether someone is truly listening to you. Positive emotion signals such as a genuine smile (Duchenne smile) which is easily recognised as crinkling around the eyes and a smizing effect indicates the person you’re speaking to is showing true interest. Insincere smiles, on the other hand, are normally accompanied by a lack of action in the eyes e.g. eyes almost closing, expression lines at the corner of the eyes. Test this out by telling a joke to your friends and watching their reaction to it.
Do they laugh along with you?
Someone who shares the same sense of humour or is receptive to your type of humour is definitely into you. Laughter stimulates endorphins which are feel-good chemicals with the ability to relieve pain and boost happiness. If you’re both having a great time laughing together, it’ll act as a catalyst for bonding and creating closer relationships.
Did you notice a clenched jaw or furrowed brow?
These limbic responses are signs of stress. “Emotion, spotting and reacting to threats, as well as assuring our survival, are all heavy responsibilities of the limbic system,” explains former FBI counterintelligence agent Joe Navarro. He then goes on to say that we humans have been showing discomfort by clenching our jaws, rubbing our necks, and narrowing our eyes for years.
Have they crossed their arms?
Did you just bring up an uncomfortable topic? Vanessa Van Edwards, Author of Captivate and Founder of Science of People says that whenever someone feels disengaged, uncomfortable, or closed off the body instantly resorts to blocking or creating a barrier between them and the person they’re speaking to. Barriers can be in the form of crossed arms, crossed legs, or holding something in front of them. This subconscious action is a defence mechanism used to try to defend or protect ourselves.
Are they leaning towards you?
Decoding body language can be really tricky. And what does leaning in mean? Well, we generally lean towards things and people we find agreeable. This is a positive sign that they like you, are invested in the interaction, and are keen on creating a deeper connection. This can either be of a platonic or romantic nature. If the lean is accompanied by a brief touch, this would often denote physical attraction. However, if they pull away then the opposite is true and they are likely disinterested.
Are they touching their face or hands a lot?
Navarro also shares that repeated face or hand touching is a nervous behaviour. It’s a soothing mechanism for when you’re highly stressed or you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Some of the common habits people use to self-soothe are hairline touching, hair twirling or stroking, playing with your nails, arm rubbing, and skin picking.
Is the person slouching or sitting/standing up straight?
Having good posture not only commands respect but also makes a person appear more engaging and confident. When you slouch, you take up less space which therefore makes you look diffident and insecure.
Decoding body language from a Matchmaker’s perspective
As an experienced professional matchmaker, Linda Prescott is an expert at reading body language. She combines over 27 years of matchmaking experience to educate clients and help them learn more about how to have successful dates. Linda says, “Having a successful date is more than just picking the right restaurant or wearing the perfect outfit. It’s also about chemistry, knowing what to say to keep the conversation flowing and also knowing how to read your date’s body language to give you a hint of how the date is going.” From a matchmaker’s perspective, reading body language is very important. It’s like a little signal that helps you decide what to say or do next.
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