What are you saying with your Body Language?

Even when they don’t express their thoughts verbally, most people constantly throw off clues to what they’re thinking and feeling. Non-verbal messages communicated through the sender's body movements, facial expressions, vocal tone and volume, and other clues are collectively known as body language.

Body language isn’t always as clear as spoken language, but how it's interpreted can play a big role in how someone relates to and interacts with others. It's a silent orchestra: Microexpressions (brief displays of emotion that an individual tries to conceal), hand gestures, and posture register in the human brain almost immediately—even when someone is not consciously aware of them.

These moments of recognition, however brief, can have long-lasting repercussions for how an individual interprets others’ motivation, mood, and openess, as well as how their own inner self is perceived.

How to Read People

Body language is a vital form of communication, but most of the time, one's own displays of body language—as well as their reading of others’—happen without conscious awareness. When someone is waiting for a blind date to arrive, for instance, they may nervously tap their foot without realizing that they're doing it.

Similarly, when a person shows up, the waiting party may not consciously perceive that their date appears closed-off, but their unconscious mind may pick up on crossed arms or averted gaze. Luckily, with knowledge and a little practice, it is possible to exert some measure of control over one's own body language and to become more skilled at reading that of others.