Body language is a human’s subconscious language. The touch of the nose, a hair tuck behind the ear, eye contact – all of these little movements attribute to how someone communicates with the world. While most people are not usually attune to what their body is inadvertently conversing, it often gives a more truthful reflection of someone’s thoughts than their words. For college students, knowing how to read body language, as well as being aware of one’s own, is a critical tool for acing interviews, forming relationships and growing in one’s discernment.
One of the most trying challenges young adults face is trying to decipher an acquaintance’s potential romantic interest. People go to great lengths to hide how they really feel about someone, but luckily, the body reveals much about the person’s feelings. If there is ever a doubt about someone’s interest, see if the person displays any of these tells.
“A person who leans towards you or mirrors your body language is also demonstrating interest,” Psychology Today reports.
The website also attributes touches on the shoulder and an open posture to be signs of attraction.
Other than the tribulations of romance, understanding body language can also help students maneuver the professional world. The way one presents themselves in a conference room or an interview can make or break how people subconsciously analyze them, and it can determine whether or not a job is received or fellow employees give their respect. At a school where plenty of young adults are striving to succeed in multitudes of professional settings, professional body language etiquette is essential.
The most basic form of body language is the handshake. The handshake comes in many different forms, but the best type of grasp is the one that has a medium but assured grip.
“If your handshake can be mistaken as a light grace, you might be exposing a weak inner-being,” Forbes Magazine said. “In fact, many employers and business associates will see this as a sign that you lack confidence and ability in what you do.”
Forbes also dissected the opposing “bone-crusher” handshake, which expresses a sense of arrogance. The article also mentioned the necessity of good eye contact during a firm handshake.
Handshakes are the gate into the professional world, and the subliminal messaging that comes across with the simple gesture can reveal a lot about a person.
In addition to the handshake, the professional world requires the basic forms of confident body language. According to Forbes, if someone is slouched, checking one’s phone or crossing one’s arms, it gives off a disinterested and unprofessional air.
In a LinkedIn article, Vani Kola of Kalaari dissected the art of workplace power posing. She used the famous TED Talk by Amy Cuddy titled, “Your body language shapes who you are” as reference.
“Power posing is simply the adoption of expansive and open nonverbal postures,” Vani wrote. “From arms raised skyward in celebration, to the chest-thumping to the finger-pointing, their body language can communicate strongly what the individual stands for.”
Vani went on to elaborate on the TED Talk, which stated that implementing power poses like putting the hands on the hips with a proud chest or putting one’s hands on the edge of the table and leaning forward can not only assert confidence in others, but train one’s own brain to be confident in itself.
Body language does not only help foster a confident worker persona, but it can reveal the deep pain of others which, when attune to it, can help one grow in empathy.
A telling sign of distress, according to Psychology Today, is the subtle compression or tucking in of one’s lips.
Further, Insider explains that the subtleties of a clenched jaw and furrowed brow are called “limbic responses,” which signify stress.
Notice, also, when someone is touching their face or hands extensively and repeatedly. Insider reports that these movements display nerves.
“Both can be soothing behaviors when you’re feeling uncomfortable,” Insider said.
Being attuned to how one’s body is received by others and how others’ bodies subconsciously express inner feelings to the world is a type of awareness that can only help elevate the human experience. Bodies are humans’ vessels to life and therefore are vital in how humans interact with each other and the environment. By utilizing the way the body communicates, a person creates a better version of oneself - one handshake at a time.