Understanding the difference between Open and Closed Body Posture is also important to reading a person’s body language. Use of open body language means having your hands in view, perhaps with palms facing outward, to indicate that you’re open to being taken advantage of. Also look for leg placement and posture. In dangerous or stressful situations, we tend to posture our bodies and look for cover to protect ourselves from the threat. This is a closed body posture. When this occurs, our limbs can move closer to our body, we cross our arms or legs, or project any combination of the three.
Open body language usually means that the person appears relaxed and closed body language usually means that the person seems tense. As an exercise, picture yourself in a situation that is closed off to you, and watch how your mood changes. Next, you should analyze people you meet and notice how you perceive them. Start up in an open position, and do this all over again.
Look for small amounts of eye contact, or alternatively, closing of the eyes when someone is speaking. Your body is connected to your mind in the same way your mind is connected to your body. Leonardo da Vinci said the eyes are a “mirror of the soul.” Although this may come as a surprise, the majority of communication is communicated via the eyes, as opposed to any other part of the body. Looking away is one of the simplest ways to ignore someone. Every time we walk past a salesperson because we don’t want to be approached is an example of looking away and sending a clear message to leave us alone.
When you don’t make eye contact, it communicates that you are distrusting, uninterested, or unsure of yourself. Even a glance held for a short period of time can be very powerful. It is, however, important to periodically release the tension by turning one’s gaze away from the person. If you stare at them for too long, people may categorize you as being untrustworthy. A simple thing is to focus your gaze high and to the sides between people’s eyes or above their foreheads when talking to strangers. At an intimate level, focus on the lower part of the face, looking back into the eyes to show interest.
Another thing about eyes: a person looking up may indicate they are accessing a visual image or visualizing something. They might be accessing a feeling if they’re looking down. And it could be the case that looking left or right they are remembering a sound.
Next post, we’ll look more at the eyes and explain why Blinking can be a body language clue.