Dear fellow Introverts,
I know life has been difficult for you. Talking to people, overthinking about things you said, filtering the words that you are about to say a million times, it’s all exhausting. I know Marathi, Hindi, English, German and still, I failed to communicate. But don’t worry, because I have found a solution for us. We have to study only one language to overcome this. We need to read Body Language!
“Body language” are the conscious and unconscious movements and postures by which attitudes and feelings are communicated. Body language is often more honest than any verbal language. Why? Because mostly it is the expression of part of our brain called the limbic system, i.e. the honest brain. The limbic system is the part of our brain which response to the world around us instantaneously without any thought. Thus, it gives the true response of how we perceived certain things around us. On the other hand, the Neocortex is the part of the brain which is responsible for all the thinking and intellect. The response coming from this part is often filtered and may not always be honest. For example, if a small girl eats chocolate without telling her mum and when her mum asks her about it, she will say no while trying to avoid eye contact by looking down. Her “no” was the Neocortex, but not facing her mother was her limbic system’s doing. Now some might argue that we can fake it, especially facial expressions. Actors and politicians do it all the time. it’s true in some cases. Do you know which part of our body is the most honest? Our legs. Forget Shakira, “legs don’t lie” not hips!
Next time when you are talking to a friend, instead of thinking about how cool their shoes are, note the direction of their feet. Is it towards you? Then it’s cool, the conversation is going well. But if one of the feet is directed away from you, preferably, towards the nearest exit, it’s a sign that your friend wants to stop listening to you and leave. This is also true in seated conversations when they suddenly shift from flat-footed to “starter’s position” (heels lifted).
In certain situations, say, when you are on a dinner date, your legs are not visible as the table is blocking the view. In this case, observe movements of the upper body, especially the torso and hands. When you are talking with your date, and their torso is leaning towards you and their hands are on the table visible to you, you are doing it! This expression shows your conversation is going very well and your date is enjoying your company (Note: This doesn’t mean they are into you. NO! Dating is not that easy). Suddenly, if they lean away, fold their hands or remove their hands off the table, it’s a sign that they disapprove of something that you are talking about. Leaning away and folding hands is an expression of protecting their torso, which is as if they are protecting their views, believes, thoughts, etc.
Sometimes a simple “Hi” is enough to know whether you are welcome. Say, you are walking around your college campus (good old days) and you see some old friends who see you and say, “hi”, notice their arms; Are they straight up? If yes, they are really excited to see you. If their arms are bent, the movement is restricted, that “hi” may not be welcoming. The restricted movement of the arm shows resistance or hesitance. the arm is not fully committed to the “hi”. So in this situation, it’s better you wave back and mind your own business. I may be overreacting here. How about we confirm this? You can check out the position of the rest of their body. If they say hi but their torso has turned towards you whilst legs haven’t, it’s an unwelcome “hi.” Remember, legs are very honest.
When it comes to face, it’s very difficult to judge. Some people are like Angela and some are like Pam, the well-known characters from The Office. Angela has a straight face, no emotions at all. It’s difficult to understand such people. Whereas Pam’s face is like a canvas of her mind because it doesn’t try to conceal her feelings and emotions. So, is your face all for deception? No. One of the honest parts of your face is the pupils of your eyes. When you see your crush enter the room, your pupils will dilate in response to that. It’s because your brain wants to capture that moment in great detail. It’s also a great way to see whether your date really likes you. Just notice dilated pupils. Please be careful, you don’t want to creep them out.
Our season is ending. No more lockdown. So we better brace ourselves and be prepared for social interactions. I hope this letter will help you get through the difficult time ahead.
What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro
Rohit is an ecologist who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biosciences from Savitribai Phule Pune University. He wishes to devote his life to ecosystem conservation. In his free time, he worries and overthinks about the biggest problems in the world, especially climate change. He thinks that we are 4 Elon Musks away from saving this planet.
Co-founder and Director of Website development and Logistics