My role as an Industrial Psychologist is to study people in organizations, understand Power and Authority, Leadership, Group Dynamics, etc. To be effective, I need to read people and understand do they mean what they say.
This article is meant to provide you with some key takeaways from the book I recently read “You Say More Than You Think” by Janine Driver as well as other resources I’ve found helpful in reading people’s body language.
The book provides meaning behind body language and starts off by focusing on sense of self. It’s important to understand how one comes across to others in order to obtain the outcome one seeks from an interaction.
Janine asks readers videotape themselves for a few days, which later becomes handy in analyzing how one reacts to different situations. I like this methodology but also recommend courses delivered by the NTL Institute. Their courses focus on understanding how you perceive yourself and how you truly are coming across to others.
Once you’re familiar with how you’re coming across, one must have a baseline to read someone’s body language. Someone’s “baseline” or “norm” is their behavior in his or her normal state. It’s important to establish a baseline because one can assign the wrong meaning.
For example, if someone has a natural tendency to touch his or her nose a lot (maybe because they went from glasses to contacts), one can’t assume the person is lying. No one individual gesture is directly linked to deceit. It’s only when you see a cluster of gestures that one can be certain of their meaning.
Janine talks about the following rules and how to use them in order to change your body language:
- Belly Button Rule: Is meant to gage the person’s interest or intent by the position of the person’s belly button in relation to the other person. Knowing this bit of information will allow you to understand if the person is engaged or disengaged in your conversation.