I got this interesting question yesterday (remember that you can ask me anything just writing to email@example.com!):
“What happens when the person being analyzed shows no emotions, no gestures, no micro expressions or anything? when she remains impassive without showing absolutely anything on her face? what does that mean?”
It has happened to me a couple times. I call this kind of people ‘blanks’. They’re pretty much emotionless. Yes, they can smile, laugh, grimace and show frustration but their emotional reactions are so subtle that it’s hard to see any relevant markers to determine what’s going on under the hood.
Luckily, nonverbal communication is A LOT more than just reading body language. I’m going to give you 3 other clues that you can read… even if the person is wearing a literal mask over their faces and they’re as stiff as a scarecrow:
– Proxemics: Reading the face is fascinating, but that usually makes us forget other ways of spotting behavior dynamics between people. One of them is proxemics, or the distance at which we interact. Take note of two things: the distance between your ‘mark’ and the rest of people around him, and where is his chest pointing.
Even if he’s stiff and doesn’t say a word, he’ll position himself to favor the people he feels more comfortable with, and will point his chest in their general direction. Start there.
– Habits: I’ve always thought that any change of rhythm is relevant in behavior. For example, if the person gestures a lot and suddenly he guards his hands over his genitals. That’s a change in rhythm, in expression regularity. Something happened.
But you can take a step back and begin to spot those changes in rhythm at a broader level. For example, the way they dress. Did it change today? Are they drinking their coffee slower or faster? Did anything change in their habits?
It can also work backwards. Does a rather chaotic person started doing something regularly? Do they look tidier for no particular reason? Did something in the way they walk change? Anything can be relevant.
– Breathing and pauses: This one is a bit difficult to spot but you can achieve it with enough practice: the first step is active listening (you practice active listening, right?)
Once you’ve got active listening as a common habit, start paying attention at the moments the person pauses their speaking to breathe. This is something that we overlook all the time because we focus on words; now I’m telling you to focus on the space between sentences, when the person regains their breath, or makes a slight pause.
After some time you’ll be able to notice an underlying pattern in people’s breathing and pauses. If it becomes quicker, the person is aroused. If it becomes longer, the person is relaxed. And you will be able to notice this even if you’re not looking at them!
BONUS: Any changes in the person’s surroundings. Did they clean their desk in a different day they usually do? Changed a painting on the wall? Did their taste in decoration shift to a different style than their usual?
PLEASE NOTE that these tips are not meant for you to become paranoid or something, lol. These are just observation exercises. Think of this as a gym; some days you lift weights, some days you do yoga, and some days you just stay at home because FK it, your hamstrings hurt like hell 😉
But no, seriously, pick ONE of these at a time and apply them for a week or two (or for enough time to be able to put in enough repetitions). Your observation will get stronger overall!
And if you want to learn people like a book, master your own body language and know how to react to ANY situation flawlessly, my Masterclass in Body Language and Persuasion will unlock those skills in you: https://knesix.com/masterclass
If you enroll today, you’ll have free access to my upcoming private webinar, “How to Convince Anyone of Anything”, exclusive to my Masterclass Members.
I’ll see you at the virtual campus!
Much Love and Bliss,
The Body Language Guy.