How To Read Body Language Like A Pro

Presentation Lee McKing and celebrate hypnosis

Ok to be fair, you might not be able to read body language like a pro straight away just by reading this article

However, you can speed up the learning curve with the tips here

Naturally I won’t be able to cover everything about body language (you probably need to attend a seminar for that!)

So I’m going to assume you are new to this at the start, to raise your awareness and open your mind to body language

And as I share, you get insights into how I read body language

Lee McKing reading on happiness

Basic Understanding of Body Language

Every position of body language can have more than one meaning!

This is possibly the most basic of understanding which a lot of people tend to forget

Yea, you might know this (or you might not) yet a lot of people forget this simple fact

Many people associate folding of arms as being defensive or getting angry, yet they completely fail to realize some people just have long arms and don’t know what to do with them

I was attending a seminar and we had to do a bit of group activity when there was a bit of a commotion in the group at my right

What happened was that two men were talking and discussing about what to do, when one of them (let’s call Bob) said he was agreeable to what the other man (call him Alan) wanted to do while folding his arms

Now Alan spotted it, and said that he can read body language and know that he is being defensive about the idea, to which Bob said no he isn’t

Then Alan kept repeating how he is defensive, which then got Bob’s temperature to rise!

Truthfully, it was a cold room so Bob could have just been folding his arms to keep warm and if Alan realize that one body language cannot determine a whole meaning, they wouldn’t have wasted time arguing

So yea, having this simple concept can prevent misunderstandings by a lot

It’s not just the body, it’s the voice

Hey this is pretty basic to me and yes, a lot of people seems to forget that body language is not just the body, it includes the voice

In particular, the volume, the tonality, inflections etc as well as the choice of words used (or lack thereof)

I met this girl on a date years ago and we were walking and chatting, and she was sharing a number of things, about her family, how they went on a holiday, about her sister and her boyfriend, and so on

A question entered my mind, what happened to her dad?

She was stunned and stopped walking, and she asked what do I mean?

I said, well you talked about your mom and your sister and yourself, but you didn’t mentioned your dad, so I’m curious what happened to him, it’s either a divorce or a death for her to not speak of him at all

She shared that her dad passed away from cancer a couple years ago

I gave my condolences and we continued walking

By now she was curious, she thought I could read her mind, which I explained it was more of interpreting what she was sharing via non-verbal cues, or her body language

So she asked me what else can I read or say about her?

And I shared a couple of things, such as she and her sister are twins, and she was the older twin

I could hear the tinge of jealousy over her sister having a boyfriend, and it makes sense that she will want a boyfriend first if she was older hence jealous that her younger sister got a relationship first

So yea, this illustrates how the voice can give hints and information as part of reading body language


Advance Reading of Body Language

Be aware of the entire body

If we look at the head and face as the top, the body, shoulders and arms as the middle, and the legs and foot as the bottom, then we got to recognize the entire body as a whole

Oftentimes, people just look at one part and focus on that only

But focusing on one part just means you fail to read body language properly, like in the example of Alan and Bob

Ideally, you got to be aware of their top, middle and bottom, everything as a whole!

To be fair, sometimes you might be seated across a table, so you cannot see the legs, then you got to make do with the upper body

However, here’s an additional tip about this, it is harder to control the legs and feet, as compared to the upper body language

Like in a business meeting, or a dinner with a date, people might be able to control the middle and top in order to portray a certain image to serve a certain agenda

Whatever that may be

I was having a meal at a restaurant and happened to see another table where a couple was having a meal

From that angle, I can definitely see the legs and OMG

Imagine this ok?

The guy’s entire lower body has somehow twisted itself away from the girl, like 90 degrees or more

So the upper body is still sort of facing her, acting like all is fine, but unconsciously, his legs are saying he wants to end the date and get out now!

Because our body language points to where we are giving our attention to, pointing away means we want to get away

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that close enough to read the upper body, it is a decent case study though

Connect the verbal cues and body language together

There is two parts to this bit if you want to expand your body language capability

Firstly it is to connect whatever they are saying with their body language

Secondly it is to connect whatever you are saying to their body language

For the first bit, it is to note if what they are saying matches or mismatches what their body language is showing

Like a person might say they are happy yet they have anger or sadness on their face

So they say they are excited to do the project but their body is lazing into the couch

The second part might be a bit tricky, which also bridges the gap into the next level of reading body language

That is to note what you say, and how they reacted to it

This shows that the word or topic you are talking about spark something in them, good or bad

One time I had a family came to see me, with the daughter having anxiety and depression

As I was sharing how the unconscious mind starts from conception, and how whatever words or emotions the mom is feeling might embed into the unconscious mind of the fetus, there was a reaction from the family

To be precise, the mom looked down with a flash of guilt on her face

It was only 2 seconds before she looked back up as if nothing happened

Much later, the mom confessed over text, that she was extremely anxious over the pregnancy and kept going to see the gynae every week

So her anxiety transferred into her daughter during this period

Her guilt reacted to my sharing of pregnancy, that’s why this tip is so important for an advanced reading of body language

Presentation Lee McKing and positive
Volunteer Work in 2017

Master Level Body Language

Triangulation of body language and non-verbal cues

If the advanced reading talked about pairing up, then the master level is to triangulate

Essentially, this means to use at least three points of data to compute an analysis

If you imagine someone with their feet pointed away from you, their upper torso is leaning away from you, and they are looking at you with a bored expression, you can conclude that they aren’t interested in continuing the conversation topic, or they want to leave completely

I once had a client sharing about her depression, she was turned and looking away from me yet with a smile on her face, her eyes will glance at me at the corner of her eyes every once in a while

This combination indicated to me that she was potentially looking for attention through her issues, and might even be lying about her trauma, as the eyes are checking my response to see if I believe her lies, and her smile was a sign to show she is happy that I believed her story

She shared such a story in order to appeal to sympathy and wanted free hypnosis, which I declined

Naturally, this is at the master level because you need to build up experience in reading different cues, as well as to analyze them at the same time

Record what happened at what instance

This requires a pretty good memory

Essentially it is to take everything above and place it in a record in your mind

Like during the conversation, I said this word and the other party had this reaction, later on a similar word or topic came up and the same reaction was observed, and a third time occurred towards the end

I will use this time record to triangulate as well, and compute an analysis from it

If and when you reach this stage, you can call yourself a professional body language master!

Lee McKing The Hypnotist with some of his members from the Singapore Hypnosis Meetup
Lee McKing The Hypnotist with some of his members from the Singapore Hypnosis Meetup

Fun Activity To Learn Body Language

Come to think of it, you might as well save this page so you can come back and refer to the additional learnings

Anyway, if you are starting new or even with some experience, this activity will help you to speed up your understanding and comprehension of body language

And you can do this anytime when you are free, or bored

It’s a simple activity anyone can do, even kids!

Just observe a person or a group of people, read their body language and make a story about it

There is no right or wrong either

That’s why it’s fun!

We already have some innate knowledge on body language, and playing in this manner helps us to develop greater understanding and concepts of body language as a whole

You could be in Starbucks and see someone on his laptop when he suddenly lean back and fold his arms – you can interpret that as if he just received a challenging email and thinking how to reply!

It’s ok to start small and make up the story as you go along

Because another time you see something similar, you might have a different story, perhaps he is just stuck and thinking on how to plan the perfect proposal while researching in Starbucks!

Very fun, very cool, and simple to do

When I did this workshop on body language, the participants were learning and applying on the spot!

And they were so happy and having fun to the point where they didn’t want me to end!

That I think is the best learning environment

So go out, and have fun as you learn~

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