I’m going to do a series of blogs on body language – quick takes. Here’s a way to spot certain attitudes – or ‘tells’ – in body language, and how to employ those attitudes yourself.
My first attitude is openness. What does it look like, how do you adopt it, and what does it mean?
Openness begins with the face. The person’s eyes are open wide, and focused on you; her eyebrows may be raised; her face is turned toward you. The person may be smiling, nodding, or otherwise signaling positive attitudes. The pupils of her eyes are large rather than small – but don’t do yourself or others injury by trying to see them close up.
Next, his torso is turned toward you rather than away. His hands are open, his palms are open and turned toward you, and his torso is exposed rather than protected by his hands or arms.
Finally, look at the person’s legs and feet. They can be open or crossed, and her feet can be pointed toward you or away from you. The former in both cases is open, the latter is more likely to be closed.
Overall, open people tend to move toward you, closed people away. The adjustments in space can be quite small, so observe closely.
How do you adopt open body language yourself? You can try to monitor all the behavior described above, but it can be quite difficult to keep track of all that from moment to moment and remember not to drool or forget what you’re saying – let alone listen to the other person attentively. So I recommend instead creating in yourself the intent to be open. That is, when you’re going into a meeting or conversation – or getting ready to give a presentation – and you want to come across as open, spend a minute or two imagining that you’re about to talk to your favorite person, someone with whom you’re completely comfortable. With a little practice, you’ll find that if you adopt a strong enough intent, the body language takes care of itself.
What does open body language mean? Openness means just that, being open to the other person, or people. Receptiveness, alignment, and a positive attitude are all more likely when someone is open to you – and you’re open to them. Openness is a good thing – almost always.
But of course, all of this has to be taken with a bit of salt. People vary in their natural set points of openness, so get to know someone before placing a big bet on what their body language is telling you at any given moment.