What does reading body language look like?
1.The first thing we notice when approaching someone is their body. You see the frame, the person, the physique. What someone is wearing…And we can learn a lot just by what someone is wearing or how they hold themselves. Those clues may not always be 100% accurate, but we use them to make a judgment in deciding if we want to connect or if we want to turn and run the other way.
Body language is important. It’s good to become students of body language. If we want to influence the world around us we need to be aware of how the world operates.
Every part of our bodies communicates. If my feet are directed at you – I’m in tune with you. If my feet are pointed away from you and my hip is shifted toward the door – conversation over. I’m not listening anymore. Anything said after that point is not being heard.
Now these are just generalizations. It can be dangerous to teach this because people often misinterpret small clues. The flip side is that I might have a cramp and needed to shift my weight. So, it’s important to understand how to look at the whole picture. Become a student of getting to know people and how to connect with people without getting bogged down or misled with only one part of the whole.
2. Our lips reveal a lot. If someone is hearing information for the first time or – get this – if they’re lying, two totally different things with the same clue; they’re lips will kind of disappear as they’re talking or standing there listening. Police look for it in interrogations.
How does this help us in reading people? We know when someone’s having a bad day. So we take the “How are you doing?” to the next level with the person whose head is down and shoulders slumped. That person mumbles, “I’m fine.”
You know they’re not fine, so you can ask, “No, how are you really doing? Can I pray with you? Is something weighing on you?”
Someone who is aware and connected to people around them is able to distinguish that and see what’s going on. The best thing you can do for someone who’s in a hurry, if you want that relationship to prosper – is not to be the person who continues to talk for another ten minutes while their whole body is leaning toward the door. They won’t want to talk with you again. But, seeing the clues, you can take the opportunity to set up a time, asking when they may have ten minutes later in the day to talk.
3. People cross their arms.
The truth that is capable of setting you free is the truth that will offend you the most.
We see this a lot when sharing the Gospel or speaking life into a situation in which the listener is not ready or unwilling to hear. Crossed arms are often indicative of someone who is closing themselves off from what you are saying. The best thing you can do in that situation is to pull back for a moment or simply ask, “Is this something we can discuss? Because I don’t want to force this conversation.”
4. As I touched on during the first part of this series, we also use mirroring. We subconsciously mirror each other. We respond to each other. You cross your legs and a few minutes later I realize I’ve crossed mine. You lean in while talking and soon I’m leaning in too.
If you can learn these things – if you can grasp how we connect with each other in relationship – you can learn how to use your spirit, soul and body in a way to help people who are around you. You can help them receive the Gospel, your love – whatever it is you’re trying to convey at the moment. You’ll know when to back off or press in.
Does your body language communicate what you’re trying to say to a person? Do you look like you are having a bad day? People may continue to ask you if you are having a bad day and you continue to say no. Ask yourself what it is about you that is conveying something is wrong. Remember to smile. Hold your head up.
People often say they want to develop relationships, but they walk around with sunglasses, their ear buds in, looking at their cell phones. They’re unapproachable. They’re closed off. Put those things down. People read those body clues and back off. Be approachable and people will be more open to relationships and to hearing the Gospel.
Tomorrow I will expand on the different tools we can use to connect with people.