Why Body Language Isn’t an Exact Science
You might be told that you are expressing something through body language that you haven’t said. Maybe you don’t agree that you were saying that, even nonverbally. Many mistakes can be made when trying to interpret body language.
The most notorious mistake people make is to tell someone that he/she is showing defensive body language because he/she is crossing the arms over the chest. While that may be true, there could be other explanations that could be just as accurate.
It may just mean that the air in the room is cold. Or, he/she may simply be more comfortable with the arms in that position, especially if there are no arms on the chair the person is sitting in. What’s more, if you tell a person that he/she is being defensive, his/her body language will definitely become so.
Eye contact is another shady area when it comes to body language. Most people assume that you should engage the other person with as much eye contact as possible. While eye contact is important, it can be overdone. Staring is considered an aggressive move. However, it may just mean that the person is being overzealous at trying to keep eye contact.
Another instance of trying to interpret the body language of eye contact is to determine honesty. It seems obvious that a person who is lying to you will not be able to look you square in the eye. The truth is that there are many reasons why a person might feel the need to look away. These might include their shyness or a feeling that you are being aggressive in your body language.
The body language of a person who is actually lying to you may be quite different than what you expect. Since most people have heard that lying people look away, a person who is lying will often stare. Obviously, they don’t want to get caught and they will use what they know about body language to help them.
If a person pinches the bridge of the nose with the eyes closed, people who pay attention to body language will most likely explain that this person is demonstrating a negative evaluation. However, the person could just have a headache. How many times have you seen a person who has a migraine in just this posture?
Eye-rubbing is usually seen as some form of doubt or disbelief. There are really several reasons why a person would rub an eye. The person might have something in the eye. They might be sleepy. Or, they might be suffering from allergies. The body language may simply be a physical reaction, in other words.
Putting your hands and fingers in a steeple or pyramid shape is often thought to convey an attitude of authority and confidence. Sometimes, that’s just what it is. Sometimes, though, the person is only trying to project these images even if they are not true. If a person knows a little about body language, they can certainly confuse things.
Probably the best way to identify the meaning of body language is to look for overall patterns. While one behavior may point you towards a belief that the person has one attitude, patterns tell more. A group of behaviors appearing together will give you a better read on someone’s body language.