By: Anders Lund
Do you ever feel like you’re ideas are being overlooked and under appreciated? Are you sometimes oblivious when it comes to certain social cues? For many people, these are regular inconveniences that all have a simple solution.
Communication is a two way street so to speak. This means that we send and receive messages simultaneously while communicating face-to-face. Even while listening, we are still sending messages to the speaker. We nod our head, change our facial expressions, cross our arms, lean towards or away from the speaker, and the list goes on. We do this, mostly subconsciously, to show our true feelings about the conversational topic, the person we’re talking too, or even something totally unrelated but on our mind at that particular moment. This is non-verbal communication, an underutilized social skill. Just by learning a few of these so called “tells,” you will be able to better assess any social situation. Here are four non-verbal cues, or “tells,” that will help you in day-to-day life.
1. Look at the Feet – Contrary to popular belief, under the torso is actually the most honest part of the body. The legs and feet can tell a lot about how someone is feeling and whether they want to be around you or not. When two people are genuinely enjoying their company or the conversation, their feet will be pointed towards one another. Conversely, if one foot is pointed toward you, for instance, and the other points off at a 90 degree angle, the person you’re talking to may have somewhere else to be. The same is true if one foot is planted on the ground while the other is on its toes; comparable to runners at the starting line. Feet usually point towards the truth, for instance, you’ll notice if someone really resents where they are, they will point their feet towards the closest exit.
2. Power Position – Sometimes the situation you’re in may call for a more authoritarian style than you’re used to. If you’re not the type of person who regularly asserts their dominance, you may find these situations quite awkward. The way you position your body can say just as much as your voice, so even if you’re not comfortable being “the boss,” you can look like you are. when you widen your stance and place your hands on your hips you send a powerful message stating you are in control or that their may be issues present. This is a territorial display so only use it as necessary because it can incite conflict in certain situations. Make sure to look for other people performing this gesture, it is commonly used in law enforcement.
3. Arm Splaying – There are a few different types of arm splaying to look for when interacting with individuals. Have you ever seen two people talking with a counter of some sort in between them? If yes, have you ever noticed that sometimes, one person will spread their arms out and lean on the counter with their fingertips? This is a territorial display of confidence and authority. Other types of arm splaying can include reaching over and resting your arms on another chair while seated. This is still a confidence display, however, not authoritative but rather an indicator that the person is cool and collected. Most arm splay behavior is related to confidence, because when you are confident, you feel like you deserve more space.
4. Pacifying Behaviors – Scratching the back of your head, rubbing your arms, itching your nose; these all seem like harmless gestures we perform each day, however, with the right context, they can mean so much more. Pacifying behaviors are all generally used to comfort yourself because of something you may have seen, heard, or did. There is a misconception about these behaviors and their relation to lying. none of these behaviors alone mean that someone is lying to you, however, when these gestures are being performed they send a message that maybe something you said should be further investigated. there are numerous different pacifying behaviors and they vary between males and females. For instance, females have more of an inclination to cover up their suprasternal notch, the large dip between the neck and the collar bone; or in some cases play with their necklace which can also help to achieve the same effect as covering the suprasternal notch. Males, on the other hand, may play with their watches or adjust their ties/collars. A lot of pacifying behaviors surround the neck, they only differ depending on attire.