Reading Nonverbal Cues

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: August 23, 2019

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I was in a retail environment the other day, waiting for a sales person to become available so I could ask a few questions. I’m not ashamed to admit that I eavesdropped on multiple conversations that were happening – actually, a lot of the conversations were one-sided, with sales people pontificating on arcane feature sets and other b.s. that had nothing to do with what the customer wanted to know. And, for me anyway, I could definitely read the customer’s nonverbal cues. (It was wonderful to behold! Really. Passive-aggressiveness in all its splendor.) Anyway, that got me thinking about how people react to the nonverbal cues and what some of those cues actually consist of. And how to become better at reading nonverbal cues.

So, I get home and jump on my computer and google ‘reading nonverbal cues’. Here is just a smidgen on what I found:

According to The Definitive Book of Body Language, 65 percent of interpersonal communication is nonverbal. Identifying contradictions between someone’s words and body language dramatically increases your ability to accurately gauge what is happening in reality and in real time. As an example, when people look down or avoid eye contact, something is wrong with where your discussion is heading.

From Entrepreneur magazine, according to body language experts:

  • Crossed arms or a closed-off posture implies resistance.
  • A nose rub is often linked to deception; if you notice people doing it while you talk, you could be coming across as disingenuous.
  • Personal space is sacred in Western business culture, so back off if clients put up a barrier, like a purse or their backpack.
  • The ‘hand under the chin’ move indicates that a decision is being made.
  • Feet pointed towards the door. ‘Nuf said on that one!
  • And the ‘back of the neck’ scratch often indicates the person has more questions or concerns.

So, my point is that if 65 percent of interpersonal communication is nonverbal, you might think about becoming more aware of how to read and interpret said nonverbal cues. Wait, did that reader just scratch the back of their neck? Go here for more information. See, it’s not that difficult!

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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