By SC Chua for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
The phrase 'more than meets the eye' can mean so much when it comes to body language. "Up to 80 per cent of what we communicate is non-verbal," says Joe Navarro, author of What Every Body is Saying and former FBI agent turned non-verbal communication expert. Whether someone is feeling sad, confident, happy or even lying through their teeth, all of these can be deciphered just by paying attention to one's body communication. Watch out—you could also be letting on more than you think you are with a simple gesture as well!
The thing is we all speak without saying a single word. To find out exactly what those words are, you need to know what signs to look out for. Being able to read and understand body language can be an advantage to you, especially in tricky situations like a job interview, a first date or even when confronting someone.
Need a hand at learning how to read body language? Here, some common body language telltales that can help you assess certain situations.
How to spot a liar
Friend or colleague talking behind your back but denying it? Or is that real estate agent telling you the whole truth about the property you're interested in buying? Her words may say something, but her body language can tell you the truth that you are seeking.
• It's all in the face. To pick up on someone telling a lie, do what poker players do. The telltale signs? In one's face, says poker champion Annie Duke. "Poker players are good at hiding non-verbal cues. But I always watch them very closely. And if I see them blinking fast, licking their lips or flashing a quick grimace before they smile, chances are they're bluffing," says Duke.
• It goes downhill. Not the lie but the body language—head pointed toward the floor and shoulders slouched. These are all good indications that the person you're confronting isn't exactly telling you the truth, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Success Signals: Understanding Body Language. "When you're honest and feeling good about what you're saying, your body language is typically up and forward. If not, your body language will typically go down because you're trying to control or keep in the information."
• A shoulder shrug. Did you catch that shoulder shrug? Says communication expert and author of You Say More Than You Think: Use the New Body Language to Get What You Want Janine Driver, the shoulder shrug is a sign of uncertainty. It also is a sign that even the person you're talking to doesn't quite believe what is coming out from her mouth. Be fast though says Driver; the shrug is a very subtle movement but can tell a lot.
Does he like me?
So the first date (or second or third) is going well but not too sure exactly how your date feels about you? Keep a lookout for these body language cues.
• The lick gives it all away. Think about it: At the end of the day, we all have some form of animal instinct. A dog licks his lips before dinner, a lion does the same when getting ready to pounce on a prey. So if you catch your date doing that—and you're not on a dinner date—chances are he's into you, says Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of the Body Language. "We lick our lips in anticipation when we see something we desire." In this case, we're willing to bet that he's anticipating you.
• A slight touch here and there. Not a difficult one to decipher but if your date is touching you from behind when crossing the road or pushing your hair out of your eyes, it is a good sign that things are going well, says Tracey Cox, author of Superflirt. "This is a sign that he wants to touch you and get close but needs an excuse to do it," she says. Tip: Want to show him that you feel the same way? Says Kevin Hogan, author of Irresistible Attraction: Secrets of Personal Magnetism, the body language cue is a "direct way for him to say, 'If you smile, I know you like me back.'
• Count the distance. So you just met a guy at a bar. Did you know you can tell instantly whether he is into you…or not? Simple—just count the distance between the two of you. If he's not feeling you romantically, he'll most definitely stay far away. Just what distance are we talking about? Says Greg Hartley, author of I Can Read You like A Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People are Really Sending with their Body Language, "If he remains four feet and more away from you, it is a clear signal that his heart's not in it." Here's another tip from Hartley: If his shoulder is pointing in the direction of your face as the two of you talk, he's subconsciously trying to turn you off.
Job interview telltale clues
Was that smirk on your interviewer's face a sign of contempt…or did he find your joke funny? Want to know if the job is yours? Check out these body language cues to help you shed light on the situation.
• Head tilt. Is your interviewer looking at you with her head tilted just a little to one side or the other? Good news, says Driver, as this is a clear sign that she is interested in whatever you have to say. Also, pay attention to the palms of the person interviewing you, she says. "Palms slightly up and outward equals open and friendly while palm-down gestures equal dominant and possibly aggressive."
• Are you boring your interviewer? If he or she is rubbing the back of their head or neck? "This may suggest that someone is bored with the conversation," says Driver. How to keep your interviewer's engage? Here's a tip from Navarro: Hold your chin high. Use your hands for emphasis, use open gestures but when you do bring your hands together, make sure your fingertips are pushing against one another. It not only says you are confident but that you want their attention as well.
• Similar gestures. Crossed your legs and your interviewer does the same? That's a positive sign too says Ross Buck, PhD, a professor of communication sciences and psychology at the University of Connecticut. She calls it synchrony, which happens when two people who are interacting mirror body language cues. "Synchrony is a signal that both people are on the same page. When you see someone copying your body language, or you notice that you are copying his, it is a clue that you are probably sharing a similar mind-set at the time." So if you see this happening when you are discussing expectations and salaries, well chances are your interviewer agrees with whatever you are saying!