Discerning Body Language

The study of communication through body movement is called kinesics.
Dilation of your pupils takes place when you see something you like -- an attractive
person, a winning poker hand, etc. Pictures of crippled children, feeding lions or
unpleasant scenes contract the pupils. In times past, women dilated their eyes with
belladonna (origin of atropine) to appear more attractive to men. The men
subconsciously responded to the enlarged pupils and thought that the women were
'naturally' liking what they were seeing -- them.
Although your perception of another person's signals can sometimes be misread
or clouded by your own moods, prejudices or emotional attitudes, you'll find there
are many subtle body mannerisms that are readily perceptible if you just take the time
to tune into them (speech inflection, eye movements, posture, hand gestures, etc.)
When a husband comes home from work, takes off his hat, hangs up his coat and
says, "Hi," to his wife, an observant spouse can easily discern how things went at
the office for the day. Married couples often start quarrels with the same tone of
voice, gesture or facial expression so that the other can anticipate a fight beginning
almost immediately.
To learn about body language, first get conscious of your own gestures. Observe
and acknowledge what mannerisms you portray during a normal day's activities.
Does your lip tighten when you internally are angry with someone? Do you lean
forward or grip the edge of the table as an announcement that you have something to
say? Do you point your index finger when you are accusing or disciplining
someone? What are your mannerisms when you exaggerate or lie to someone?
Studies have revealed that your own personal mood and prejudices can sometimes
distort the signals you receive from someone else. So observe and get in tune with
yourself and your own mannerisms as an important first step in reading the body
language of others.
As a practical exercise, work with a close friend, spouse or relative, and sit facing
each other. Now think of a past scene or emotional incident that you are both familiar
with that happened in the last few days. Then without telling your partner which
incident you are thinking about, reveal your feelings about that incident with facial
expressions, touching and various gestures. Afterwards, discuss the mannerisms
together. By using various types of smiles, frowns and gestures, you often can
communicate a lot of non-verbal meaning. By studying your own manner in
communicating non-verbally as well as observing how others likewise communicate, you can sharpen your discernment skills on reading body language.
Fa├žades and verbal cover-ups are commonly employed by people to disguise their
true nature or intention. For this exercise, choose a partner who is a complete
stranger and pretend you're an intuitive psychic & look into his (her) eyes for a few
moments. Then give him (her) a read-out of what you have perceived his (her) nature
to be like. Be frank, but diplomatic. Avoid being overly critical. Take turns with
your partner in giving each other the intuitive insight of what you feel might be
troubling him (her), what he (she) is seeking in life, etc. Formulate and relate a story
to your partner about what you think he (she) has experienced or is experiencing now
in his (her) life. No comments or nods of recognition are necessary from your
partner during this process. This exercise is a good opportunity for you to see how
another person interprets your bodily and facial mannerisms.
Next, look into a mirror and pretend the face you're seeing belongs to somebody
else. Describe what you think that person is like to your partner by way of your own
facial appearance. Then reverse the role and let your partner do the same thing.