An especially useful social tool is knowing how to read body language, this means: being able to interpret what someone else is thinking, what emotional state they’re in or their level of comfort just from looking at them.
That sounds like a very powerful social tool, doesn’t it?
A good thing about knowing how to read body language is that you can use this information on yourself. For example if you know what comfortable body language looks like then you can apply it and act comfortable even if you don’t feel that way.
Someone’s impression of you changes depending on the body language you’re portraying. Anyways, let’s get down to business.
There’s no such thing as good or bad body language, your body will project what you feel like: if you’re nervous then that’s what will show, unless you’re consciously controlling it.
Evolutionary psychology defined a long time ago how communication through our bodies occurred.
Knowing how to read body language is a matter of following this evolutionary psychology logic. A long time ago, as humans we started communicating how we feel and think of ourselves through our bodies.
Alpha male learned how to communicate his alpha-ness with his body. So did the beta males, women learned how to be attracted to the alphas and so on. Those characteristics still exist and you can pin-point them easily by learning how to read body language.
Think about how a strong alpha male would act, not afraid of getting in trouble because he knows he’s the man, his voice doesn’t stutter because he has no doubt that what he’s saying is awesome, he makes strong eye contact because he’s positive that the other person’s reaction will be good.
You can easily recognize these things in other people and know that they’re feeling confident.
In the end, all that his body shows is relaxation when the time calls for it and awareness when it’s also time to be aware. Complete trust in oneself causes this strong body language, because at some level you know that you’re the man.
Weak body language is obviously the contrary of strong body language; so basically, it’s displaying discomfort, anxiety, fear and insecurity.
People who have a hard time making eye contact are usually shy or feel uncomfortable at the moment; it’s in general a sign of submissiveness. People who look away or at the floor a lot are usually shy, good eye contact reflects the opposite; confidence. Squinted eyes mean that this person doesn’t quite agree with what you’re saying or is confused and trying to understand
How close people get to one another is another is a sign of comfort, there’s a special intimacy to physical touch and everyone’s highly aware when contact is being made.
Crossed arms are a sign of being “closed” to social contact, if someone’s crossing their arms in a conversation they might be uncomfortable, feeling insecure about their looks or they might just be doing it for comfort.
Basically any sign that someone’s closing their bodies will show a sign of being reserved to social contact.
Making big open hand gestures can be a sign of expressiveness, usually someone who’s doing this is either really passionate about what they’re saying or trying to convince the other person of something.
Lying is usually implies being nervous about it, when someone’s lying they won’t make good eye contact, they might show any other signs of nervousness like touching their faces, fidgeting, etc.
Some last advice: Learning how to read body language is awesome, but what’s not awesome is getting too hung up on the topic and trying to analyze every single situation as it occurs. Use the tool but don’t over-use it. Go out and get social!
Watch this great video that talks about how to influence your emotions through your body language:
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