Take a look at your hands. What are they doing right now? If you’re reading this at your desk, your right hand is probably hovering over your mouse, ready to scroll or click to the next page. What about your idle hand? Is it tapping, fidgeting with a small object, or scratching your face? Perhaps it’s resting flat on your desk or your knee. Believe it or not, subtle habits and body motions reveal quite a bit about your mental state. Quick repetitive motions mean you’re nervous or anxious about something. Sitting still indicates that you’re placid and relaxed. These examples are fairly general, but knowing some of the signals you’re broadcasting with your body can be advantageous in real-life situations. If you’re fluent in body language, you can also read these signals in other people. This is a useful skill for interviews, negotiations, and especially dating.
The next time you’re out with someone for dinner, pay attention to your date’s eyes. If they’re locked on yours, they’re into you. If his eyes are darting around the room, or looking down, he’s not making an effort to listen to what you’re saying. If she gets up and goes to the bathroom to fix her makeup that’s normal, but if she’s got her pocket mirror set up on the table in front of her and starts “adjusting” for several minutes, she’s looking for an excuse to distract herself from engaging with you.
Hands can broadcast a tremendous amount of information about a person’s feelings. People usually reach toward you when they want to sway you to their opinion. Open hands indicate a calm, welcoming vibe. If he’s clenching his hands together or hiding them in his lap, he’s either stealing rolls from the basket, or he’s uncomfortable around you. If a person is hiding their hands from you, they’re hiding their intentions. Crossed arms indicate disagreement or disapproval. Take a good look at your date. Sure, he agreed with you when you said Lana del Rey is the next Metallica, but if his eyes are darting around the room it means he’s ready to ask for the check.
Paying attention to head movement can give you clues about your date’s interest level. If she’s listening to you and nodding her head, it means she agrees with what you’re saying, and wants to add to the conversation (so shut up and let her talk, dummy!)
Try to get in the habit of observing other people’s posture when you’re meeting for the first time. An open stance indicates confidence. If someone feels comfortable, they generally stand facing toward you, with relaxed shoulders and a smile. Don’t forget to check yourself out as well. You want to be aware if you’re doing anything that makes you look nervous or bored. At the same time, if you find yourself mirroring some of your date’s mannerisms, such as talking with hands or playing with your food, it may be your body’s way of telling your brain you’re ready to make a move.
A working knowledge of body language is an invaluable tool to have at your disposal, as you wade through the treacherous world of dating. Your date’s body language will always give away their true feelings. Understanding what he or she is unconsciously telling you gives you a huge advantage. Similarly, having an awareness of your own body language will enable you to ensure you are sending out the right signals.
by Andrew Chreighton