Updated 05 November 2013

Do you speak body language?

What most people don’t realise is that what isn’t said can sometimes be more meaningful than what is. This, in essence, is the silent world of body language.

There seems to be an obvious divide between men and women. And it is one that clearly shows a complete ignorance amongst most men with regards to the understanding of how women work, and at the same time, the deeply disturbing fact that women can read us guys like a good book.

Interestingly enough, there’s a reason for all of this. It comes down to perception and observation, two traits that seem to be especially strong in women, and, well, somewhat lacking in many men. Remember that body language is a naturally occurring thing, almost like a reflex. Forcing body language is never a good idea. We are built to interpret the real thing, even if you don’t notice yourself, or someone else doing it.

If you’re a guy, relax. We are here to help. (If you’re a woman, read on for amusement's sake!) This guide is aimed at helping the more ignorant of males to recognise and interpret body language. It's everywhere, even in nature – birds dance, dogs sniff, dolphins jump – so what’s the problem?

Welcome to Health24’s guide to understanding body language.

Body Language (BL) 1: What is body language?

Flirting is a part of life. But what most people don’t realise is that what isn’t said can sometimes be more meaningful than what is. This, in essence, is the silent world of body language.

“These signals are so important because, like animals in the wild, humans are very wary of one another. A large part of flirting is about breaking it down into a series of stages where people are trying to get physically closer,” says David Givens, an anthropologist at the Centre for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington. The only way to communicate with a stranger without words is by means of subtle interpretations of each other's movements and behavioural patterns. And that gentlemen, is the key to getting lucky.

BL Lesson 2: Learn from your mistakes

So you spot a hotty in the corner of the bar. You reckon you’ve got a chance. You’ve had a couple, so your Dutch courage is at full blast. You peruse on over, and enquire if the fine young lady would like a drink. You leave covered in wine. What happened?

You didn’t see the signs, of course. If you had looked closely at how she was acting, you could have saved yourself a trip to the dry cleaners. Here are some things to look for when trying to score.

BL Lesson 3: Moving in groups

Humans are pack animals. Whether we play in sports teams or go out, we tend to stick together. OK, so you get the odd Nigel-No-Mates in the corner of the bar, but women like to hunt in packs.

Next time you’re at the bar, look around at the groups of gossiping women, and take note of their posture. If they are huddled in a closed circle, speaking under their breaths, it’s a no-no. There’s no way into that circle, and you might as well forget about the gorgeous blonde on the right and move on.

However, if you see a circle where an opening has been left, or if the group forms a V or horseshoe shape, top up your glass and tally hoe. Observing these signs is generally a good way to judge the mood and intentions of groups of women. If they’re in a tight circle, they’re there for the gossip. If you see the V, they’re waiting for that drink.

BL Lesson 4: Eye Contact

Eye contact is an incredibly powerful tool. Catching someone’s eye is often the first step to getting lucky. Keep it for three seconds, and you might not be going home alone.

Many women are not scared to engage in long bouts of eye contact once they’ve honed in on a potential victim. Look out for signs of small hand movements, and quick glances to the left. These are good signs that you might be in with a sporting chance.

But be careful – just because she’s looking in your direction, doesn’t mean she’s looking at you. Before making any rash moves, make sure she’s not checking out the stud behind you, or it’s back to the dry cleaners.

Remember, women can multitask. This is an ability not to be taken lightly. Whether it means being able to scream at you whilst simultaneously cooking dinner, or enjoying their unfair advantage of multiple orgasms, women have the upper hand in courtship. So where does this leave you?

Look out for the wandering eye. She might be in deep conversation with her mate, but if she’s subtly checking the place out (i.e. looking toward the entrance), she’s looking to find something more interesting than the conversation she’s in at the moment. Move in for the kill.

The group stare is a phenomenon that cannot be overlooked. Women have an incessant urge to share anything and everything with each other, so if she thinks you’re hot, she’s more than likely going to tell her mates. Look out for groups of women looking in your direction – there’s a good chance one of them is interested - or that your fly is down.

BL Lesson 5: The way you move

So you think the only reason women go to the bathroom every five minutes is because they’ve got inherently weak bladders? Think again, buddy. If she’s walking past you every five minutes, she’s probably interested. So stop her in her tracks, introduce yourself, and get busy. Eye contact is again important. If she’s flying past you without even a glance, she probably just needs the loo.

Dancing is very important to many women, and even though you may not be the king of the dancefloor, it’s a good activity to participate in to gauge whether or not you’re working your magic.

If she’s dancing close to you, and her body posture is open, it’s all good. If she’s constantly looking away or turning her back to you, it's not at all good. Dancing can also be a very intimate affair and for many women, a rather sexual experience, so grab a partner and cut the rug. Think of it as a means to an end.

How you move your head also says a lot about how you feel. If she tilts her head slightly while glancing at you, it could mean a happy ending. The neck is a vulnerable area, and by her exposing it to you, she is signalling that she might learn to trust you, so work it.

Smiling is more important than you may think. In fact, a serious amount of research has gone into how we smile, and why. Generally, if a smile causes a thick lined crease on each of the cheeks, it is a genuine one. If not, it is forced, as the muscles are not reacting to a reflexive contraction of joy or happiness. This can become important when interacting with a woman, and gauging whether or not she’s laughing at, or with you.

Much can be read into the way she walks. If you are following her, you can be sure that she is well aware that you are checking her out.. If she walks in a sexy manner, you know she’s trying to impress. If she walks like a construction worker, it’s game over. Women know how you work, and can manipulate this information to their will. Do not underestimate a women’s ability to sense that that you are out to find some action.

Hands play an important part in body language. Generally, the more open the hand gestures are, the more likely she is willing to let you get close. If she holds her hands, or links her fingers while talking to you, it could be a bad sign – she’s trying to block you out.

The same goes for general body posture. If she crosses her arms, or turns her shoulder or back to you regularly, it could be a sign to go fishing somewhere else. Also note subtle body movements during conversation. If she is leaning towards you a lot, she’s probably keen. If she’s leaning backwards when you talk, check your breath. Or it may just be that she's really not interested.

Many women regard their hair as one of their greatest assets. A quality flirter will remember this and use it to his gain.. Check whether she is flicking, or twirling her hair with her fingers. This is a sign of nervousness, which can be promptly rectified with a bit of courage and charm. She’s waiting for someone to walk up to her, so grab the plate before someone else does.

If on a second date, take extra special note on the state of her hairdo. If she’s taken a lot of trouble, she has done it for you. Even though it may have taken you five minutes to get ready, it’s taken her the entire day, so acknowledge it, and compliment her.

Once a month, a woman’s body language could change completely, and that is during her period. Right, I know it's difficult for us to understand, but if she’s not keen to sit with you in front of the telly, or not as talkative at dinner as usual, she’s probably not feeling too good. The best thing to do in this situation is to offer your help, but not to force your help on her. In most cases, the best thing to do is just let her be, but let her know you’re still there.

BL Lesson 6: Keep it real

Remember that you're dealing with another human being. Once you’re a winner, you’ve got to hold on to your medal. Meeting and charming a girl is one thing, but never forget, that although you may have given it your all to get her, you’ve got to keep up the same spirit to keep her.

Women, like most men, need constant attention. When she dresses up for you, notice it. When a woman wants to please you, she will, and not taking note of this will mean sure disaster. Learn to recognise when she’s angry, and if she needs space, give it to her. If she’s not as physical as usual, take note – she’s probably irritable. Talk to her, find out what’s wrong, and put her first. If you find she’s being very physical, holding your hand constantly, or touching you sporadically, she’s got one thing on the mind. Don't let her down.

Body language and the role it plays in our lives cannot be defined in an article. It is something we all do without always knowing it, and it is an important aspect of human interaction. Learning the ins and outs of body language is key to improving many aspects of your life, including family, business and sexual relationships.

Start observing. Watch how people react to different situations, and try figure out why. Take note of your own body language, and how it makes people react. This could become incredibly helpful when trying to sort out relationship issues, or starting new ones. Remember, that the unspoken word says a lot more than you think. Learn the art of saying nothing in such a way that it leaves nothing unsaid.



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