This might mean that he or she is not fully engaged in the conversation.
How to Understand Body Language and Facial Expressions
Direct eye contact on the other hand is typically a sign of genuine interest. Another sign of sincerity is a smile that involves the entire face. A smile that involves just the mouth might be a forced smile.
Are they motioning with their hands as they speak, or are their hands folded? In what context do they use certain gestures or signs? A seemingly small gesture can have a positive meaning in one country, but a completely opposite meaning in another. In the US for example, a thumbs-up sign signals a confirmation.
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In the Middle East, however this same gesture is offensive! Posture is also key in understanding body language.
In some cultures, folding your arms across your chest appears standoffish and even insulting. Sitting positions are also very important. Positioning your feet to show your soles while sitting is considered very rude in most Middle Eastern countries. Appropriate body language in a culture will usually be mirrored. So one of the most important tips on how to read body language is by merely observing the other person to see if he or she is mirroring your movements.
Check out this animated infographic with examples of how body language differs around the world.
What is body language?
Be sure to click on each magnifying glass for more details! Here are some more body language examples that represent the many cultural differences around the world. Head movements can have very different meanings in different parts of the world. For example, in India, a side-to-side head tilt is used to confirm something. In Japan, a nod means that you have been heard, but not necessarily that there is agreement. In most Western cultures, eye contact shows that you are being attentive and interested in the speaker. Constant eye contact in Japan can make people feel incredibly awkward.
In Spanish and Arabic cultures, strong visual contact is very common between people of the same sex and not looking back is often considered disrespectful.
Body Language Reading
In the Filipino culture, the lips are used to point toward something, while Americans would use their fingers. Here are the various meanings of joining the thumb and index finger to form a ring:. Personal space varies greatly across cultures. Latin American cultures are very tactile and affectionate so they also stand closer to one another. While an almost automatic response for some people, touch is very important to consider when with people from other cultures.
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In the British culture for example, they are more conservative with their tactile gestures. In the US, Americans are more open to handshakes and hugs.
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One of the very first things babies learn how to do is smile. And while there is a whole range of emotions and thoughts we are able to consciously express with our faces, there is quite a lot we unconsciously convey as well. By contrast, any tension in the face or neck indicates that your prospect is unhappy or nervous. This can manifest itself, for instance, as pursing of the lips, narrowing of the eyes, or crinkling of the nose.
When you see this reaction, ask your client about their concerns or otherwise encourage them to take the floor. You need to hear their problems in order to solve them. Hands are extremely expressive. After all, there are entire languages that solely use hand signals.
8 Great Tricks for Reading People's Body Language
And much like how our mouths can be used both consciously and unconsciously to say and imply thoughts, hands are capable of a vast amount of communication. Feet are perhaps a surprising source of body language. This holds true when the prospect is standing or sitting. Ask this prospect about their thoughts. Much like hand drumming, jiggly feet or legs indicate that your prospect is most likely bored.
Bouncing or tapping feet can also indicate that a client feels they have the upper hand in a negotiation —they have literal happy feet! Ultimately, reading body language signals is not about being a slimy salesperson who knows the right magic tricks to make a quick buck.
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