Before we get started on the fascinating topic of body language, it is important to do one thing. Please keep this one thing in mind and revert back to this part of the article, if need be. Ok, are you ready for this one thing? Read carefully.
Drop all self-consciousness. Drop it right where you stand (or sit.)
Okay, so perhaps none of us can just “drop” any feelings of inadequacy. So how about this:
Don’t fight against any surfacing feelings of self-consciousness.
Allow these feelings to surface; witness them leaving.
“I don’t feel right. Everyone can see it.”
“I’m so anxious. My body language is giving it away.”
“I need to force myself to put myself together.”
No. No. No!
Perhaps your body language is “giving” certain things “away,” but ruminating about any “shortcomings” in your body language does nothing for you. If anything, this heightened self-consciousness is making you appear more “inadequate.”
Relax into your body. And, again, drop any surfacing and misleading feelings of inadequacy.
Okay. So, this article is about body language and what it reveals about your personality. The topic of body language is fascinating – and understanding how to “manage” your body language can improve two important aspects of your life.
#1 – Understanding body language can reduce your suffering. This, by far, is the most life-changing.
#2 – Understanding body language can boost your self-confidence. This second benefit is nothing to sneeze at either.
Before we get into the ten things that your body language reveals, it is helpful to have an understanding of what body language is and why it’s important. It is also necessary to bust any and all body language myths you may have heard.
Let’s get to it!
Body Language Myths
“The first myth claims that because we know so much about body language, it is easy to spot a liar. The second myth, and it is exactly that, a myth, is that eye aversion is indicative of deception.” ~Joe Navarro, M.A., former FBI agent and a leading expert on body language
Why begin with body language myths?
Because before we can reap the full benefits of a rudimentary body language education, we must first discuss what it is not. Mainly because these myths are so incredibly prevalent in today’s society; not knowing these myths can cause harm to both yourself and others.
Myth #1: Signs of stress-relief (e.g., a high-pitched voice, closing the eyes, covering the mouth, and touching the nose) are signs of deception.
Myth #2: Averting the eyes is indicative of deception.
Put simply, accusing someone of lying based on how they act is both poor judgment and bad science. Concerning the former, Paul Eckman – a pioneer in the study of emotions and body language – cites five “signs” of deception that are “no better than chance [50/50]”
– Blinking: “In experiments in which some people were instructed to lie and others weren’t, the liars blinked less.” (Emphasis added).
– Dilated pupils: “…people can be highly anxious and overthinking the details … when they’re innocent.”
– Eye contact: “[You] could still be lying, but [not be] anxious about it…”
– Fidgeting: “…liars generally don’t appear to be more fidgety.”
– Differences in the behavior of loved ones: “When we become friends, lovers, or parents, we become blind…”
So, what is the key to detecting deception? Eckman calls these signs ‘micro-expressions,’ or “…expressions that come and go” so quickly as to go unnoticed unless close attention is paid.
10 Things Body Language Reveals About Your Personality
“By a man’s fingernails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boots, by his trouser-knees, by the calluses of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs, by his movements – by each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed. That all unified should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer, in any case, is almost inconceivable. ~ Sherlock Holmes
As it turns out, body language can reveal an awful lot about us. According to research from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), verbal communication accounts for just 7 percent of communication. Non-verbal communications (i.e., body language) account for the other 93 percent!
Without further ado, here are ten things that your body language reveals about your personality.
No, crossed arms do not (necessarily) mean that someone is standoffish, rude, or distant. Crossed arms may just mean that someone is thinking hard about a problem or is trying to comfort themselves.
The aforementioned Joe Navarro says that people often cross their arms as a “self-soothing” gesture, not to “block” others.
Steady eye contact can be a signal that you are trustworthy, open, and welcoming. Too much eye contact can make someone feel uncomfortable, however.
According to Janine Driver, a former federal law enforcement officer of 16 years and best-selling author of You Can’t Lie to Me, using about 60 percent eye contact during any face-to-face conversation is just about right.
Legs Spread While Sitting
Spreading your legs while sitting is a common sign of both confidence and dominance. Open postures like this one stimulate a biochemical response in the body, increasing testosterone and lowering the stress hormone cortisol.
This sitting posture may also be a sign of defiance. Police interrogators note the commonality of showing the ‘naughty bits’ by the usual suspects.
Sitting Legs Crossed, Ankle Over Knee
Similar to sitting with the legs parts, sitting with them crossed ankle over the knee, displays confidence and dominance. Per Ms. Driver, this is known as the “figure four” position in body language circles. “We have three areas on our body where we open up when we are stress-free and relaxed: the neck dimple, belly button, and ‘naughty bits,’ says Driver.
- Smiling A lot
There’s a bunch of evidence that smiling often is conducive to reciprocating feelings of goodwill and trust from others. Per a study out of the University of Kansas, showing your chicklets proudly also suppresses the body’s stress response and lowers the heart rate in fear-inducing situations.
According to Driver, “The mouth is the window to the soul.” She says: “When in doubt, look for the lips. When we don’t like what we see or hear, our lips disappear.”
People who pucker their lips in or cover their mouths with their hands may be apprehensive about something.
Standing With Hands On Hips
Although some people may see this stance as aggressive, people usually subconsciously stand this way to display feelings of confidence.
However, the problem is that the vast majority of people think the former. “We become very territorial,” says Navarro. The elbows must be pointed out, which takes up space and “prevents” other people from getting by you.
Interlocking your fingers may be a sign of discomfort or stress to others. According to Navarro, this is another body language sign that is simply a means of self-soothing.
“When something’s troubling us, we tend to stiffen our fingers [and] interlace them,” explains Navarro.
Mirroring Activity and Voice Patterns
Mirroring the activity level and voice patterns of someone else convey that you are trustworthy. Another benefit: people may be more willing to help you out if you practice mirroring.
A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, employees of one company, demonstrated the power of mirroring. Employees who mirrored their bosses while being conversationally engaging earned 30 percent better terms in employee negotiations.
Reaching for a Handshake
Handshakes are most often used in formal situations (e.g., job interviews) or when meeting someone the first time (e.g., a date.) In either situation, you want to come across as open, honest, and trustworthy. However, reaching across to shake hands too soon may complicate things if the relationship is too new, or if someone is unsure of you.
Do yourself a favor and wait for the other person to extend their hand. Or, if you hit things off, reach for that handshake afterward!
Final Thoughts: Honest People’s Body Language
Being the good, pure, honest folk that you all are, you may be wondering, “How do I look the part?” Well, by golly, we’ve got the answer for you!
According to Driver, honest people use “open, honest, natural body language cues,” such as:
– A casual, at ease appearance
– Directing their body and toes toward you; as well as their belly button, neck dimple, and throat
– Leaning forward with a casual interest
– Shifting their bodies fluidly and fluently
– Using a powerful, solid, wide stance (like a “short fat candle”)
– Uncrossed arms, with their hands down at their sides
Now you can look as honest as you really are. Right? Right?…