Reading body language:
When learning how to read body language or interpret non-verbal communications
there are a few concepts to build on and learn.
One of the first concepts to learn after social value or how
your message is viewed and judged by others would be the concept of proximity.
When evaluating the context of a situation and working on
understanding body language through pictures or judging a live situation
knowing how close people are can determine much of what is going on.
The distance that people are from each other is defined as
proximity. Whether you are reading male or female body language it is important
to understand what distances between people will change the meaning or context
of the situation. Even if you are working on deciphering what business people
are doing in relation to proximity the same rule apply.
There are certain distances for people where you are:
- Intimate as in a relationship or even a really
- A close friend
- A relative
- A friend
- A just introduced
- Unknown or an enemy
The normal area to be considered intimate for a friend or a
relationship would be within 18 inches, a friend would be from the 18 inch range
to 36 inches and an unknown situation may be from 36 inches and beyond.
When reading or understanding body language you will need to
determine the context of the situation by understanding the relationship
between the people or the group that you are evaluating to determine what would
be appropriate. When looking at proximity it is your job to determine what is
going on in just a few seconds or within a minute what is going on.
It is possible to misread a situation as the distances
listed are only a guideline and not always an absolute. It is possible when
looking at a situation quickly to misread how the people being judged interact.
Reading body language and interpreting what is being
conveyed is a skill that is sharpened over time and not just something that can
quickly be learned. Starting with the basics and moving from there will help to
build a foundation of knowledge that will help you over time.
As a homework assignment while out and about or even at work
start to pay attention as to how close people can get to each other before they
react by moving away from the other person. After a while you may start to see
people a little differently and may even determine that things are going on
that you may not have previously thought.
Your beliefs may change from seeing how people touch each
other, how close they stand, where they talk to each other when talking and how
comfortable they are when in the 18 in range or closer.
There is not a paper to turn in with the assignment as you
can do this work anywhere:
- At a gym
- At a mall
- At the corner market
It’s fun sometimes to just guess what people are doing or
how they are associated, if you have enough courage sometimes you can just go
and open up a conversation and ask people. If you get nervous tell them it is
an assignment for a communication course you are taking. Its ok people are
curious and they will open up. You may even find your “story” as a good way to meet
Interpreting nonverbal communication can be fun and almost
be seen as mind reading. Reading the body language of attraction is something
that can be learned over time but the first thing you should master is
understanding proximity between people and what it may mean.
As a last note when learning about body language there are
three things that can happen:
can be right, this would mean that you have judged the context of the situation
correctly and identified what is happening or has happened
are partially correct and have identified some of the things going on but
somewhere you were wrong
were wrong altogether and misread the situation or the context
There really are not any other options when learning about
body language or non-verbal communication skills.
The next class for you will be on the “Bell Bubble”.
As always I would like to thank you in advance for your
comments and or questions.
Now go implement!
Scott Sylvan Bell
Photo credits:Smiling Business Women In Focus by photostock, Couple Celebrating Together by photostock