Chapter 16

Reading the Signs

In This Chapter

arrowShowing that you’re interested

arrowPaying attention to all the signals

arrowRecognising different types of gesture

In order to interpret body language accurately, you have to notice it first. If you think this sounds pretty obvious, you’re right. And yet some people just don’t pay enough attention to other people’s behaviour – and are then surprised when they later express unhappiness, anger or even pack up and leave. ‘But you never told me,’ they say. ‘If you’d paid attention, you’d have realised,’ comes the reply.

Noticing how people behave is the first step towards understanding. After that, you can begin to interpret the meaning behind their actions. Be careful not to judge too quickly, however. The expert observer knows that it takes more than one gesture to convey a complete message.

Think of body language in the same way as you do the spoken word. If you want to communicate a thought you have to speak several words, or even a few sentences, to express what you mean. Body language works the same way. One gesture doesn’t tell the whole story. It takes several actions, working together, to signal a person’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes. ...

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