Ever wondered why you keep misreading or missing body language signals? If it’s an innate skill, or our gift, why don’t we always get it right? Confused about body language? Watch my video to learn why you keep misreading their signals.
5 Reasons Why You’re Misreading Body Language
1. We Often See What we Want to See
How we interpret or read body language and facial expressions is influenced by our beliefs, expectations, background and experiences. In other words, we often see what we want to see.
2. Motivational Conflict
One of the reasons why we misread non-verbal signals is that people tend to send mixed messages. Now while this might sound manipulative, it’s perfectly normal.
Humans are complex and our non-verbal communication reflects the complexity of our thoughts and emotions.
For example, you might be really excited about the prospect of new job but nervous about the interview, or dying to talk to someone that you think is super cute, but at the very same time, scared of approaching and worried about rejection. This is called motivational conflict.
3. We analyse one gesture in isolation rather than looking for the cluster.
When it comes to non-verbal communication we always need to look a cluster of 3 to 5
simultaneous signals to understand the message. A signal in isolation is just one piece of the puzzle and can have multiple meanings depending on the other signals in the cluster, the situation, timing, temperature etc.)
4. We’re prewired to look for the negative.
Ever notice that everything seems to go wrong when you’re having a bad day? Our brains are always on lookout for negative signals…and because that’s what we focus on, it’s often what we see.
5. It’s all about the context
Another reason that we misread signals is that we don’t consider the context. How we react in different situations is influenced by a number of factors so it’s important to consider the the context, situation, location, timing, temp, relationships, experiences).
To the untrained eye many signals appear similar, but our reactions are as complex as we are. For instance, someone going to an interview or first date may experience heightened negative emotional arousal.
Fear can throw us into fight or flight mode as we try and get away from an uncomfortable situation, avoiding eye contact, burying our palms, turning our legs or torso towards the door, or using arm barriers in an attempt to create emotion and physical distance. We retreat and withdraw, our body becoming smaller as a subconscious attempt to protect ourselves.
While this position may provide a sense of comfort it projects doubt, insecurity and can even be interpreted for disinterest.
Projecting non-verbal confidence is one of the key factors in determining who gets hired and who gets asked out for a second date, projecting confidence, sociability, trustworthiness, dominance and even competence. In fact, in interview settings, research shows that projecting non-verbal confidence accounts for nearly 50% of interviewer ratings of potential candidates.
It’s easy to misread withdrawal as incompetence and disinterest, when often what it’s really telling us is that person we’re connecting with needs reassurance. So before you write them off, change your focus and do a mental checklist to ensure that you look open and approachable. You’ll put them at ease and in doing so you’ll get to see the real them shine through.