Our title How to Read Your (Spouse’s) Body Language, with spouse in parentheses, invites you to insert anyone’s name: child, teenager, mother, father, grandmother, or grandfather. You get to think also about an employee, employer, teacher, student, son, daughter, or even your own body language! It’s called kinesics.
You and I communicate with body language. Every person in the world does it. Our lips tell people what we’re thinking, but so do our bodies. While our lips engage in verbal conversation, our bodies convey powerful messages in a nonverbal language.
You need to listen to both!
Often, your body can disagree with your lips. Of the two, your body language will usually exercise greater integrity. While your lips say, “I’m not worried,” a nervous twitch appears just under your left eye. Your lips attempt to convince someone by saying, “I’m telling the truth,” but a red flush creeps up your neck.
William Shakespeare knew how to read body language. In the tragedy Troilus and Cressida, Act IV, Scene V, Shakespeare wrote:
There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,
Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out
At every joint and motive of her body.
Your (spouse) speaks volumes with his or her eyes, facial expressions, gestures, and more. You will improve your understanding of what your spouse means once you learn how to read your spouse’s body language. You will communicate better with him or her.
PETS COMMUNICATE WITH BODY LANGUAGE
Learn how to read your pet’s body language and you’ll communicate better with them as well as with animals that are not your pets.
Cats and dogs, for example, don’t always hiss, growl, meow, or bark to talk to you. Much like the lady of whom Shakespeare wrote, the animal’s spirit looks out at every joint and motive of its body.
Did you know that a cat hooks the end of its outstretched tail as you approach to communicate with you? What’s it trying to tell you? It’s saying, “I’m mostly friendly, but I’m not too sure about you.”
Did you know that a dog lowers its tail and bares its canine teeth as you get near in order to express a warning to you? It’s probably saying, “I don’t like you. Keep your distance or you’ll wish you had!”
The cat may not hiss or meow. The dog may not growl or bark. However, vocal chords don’t say it all. We must pay attention to their body language.
The same holds true for a spouse / children / teenagers / employer / teacher / etc. They may or may not use their vocal chords every time, but they can say a lot without moving their lips
Learn how to read your (spouse’s) body language and you may improve the relationship immensely.
Take a few moments to look at the picture heading this post. The woman is not saying a word, but she is conveying a lot with her body language. Can you read it?
STUDYING BODY LANGUAGE EXAMPLES
Imagine this is your spouse, employee, employer, teacher, or student. Then answer these seven questions just from the woman’s body language.
Is she interested or non-interested in what you are saying?
Does she think you are being wise or foolish?
Is she open and receptive or closed to your words?
Does she believe she is in the right or you are in the right?
Is she patient or impatient as you talk to her?
Does she want you to see who the boss is?
Is she showing clearly that she respects you and your opinion?
I think you will agree that her body language makes up most of her communication. Her lips remain silent. She uses her eye contact, her head and hand gestures, and her facial expressions to send you very powerful messages.
So how can you read your (spouse’s) body language and improve your understanding of him or her?
In part, that depends on where you live. I’m writing this in the United States, so I will choose that area when there are differences, but many are globally accepted.
Space will not allow me to delve deeply into our subject, but let me give you a taste of what you can learn if you pursue the topic of how to read body language.
READING HIS / HER FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
People around the globe generally use these same seven facial expressions to express distinct emotions. You can see some of them in the header photos. Try them in a mirror – and watch others use them in the days ahead. Here’s how you do them.
Anger – You lower your eyebrows, make your eyes bulge somewhat, and press your lips together very firmly.
Disgust – You lower eyebrows, raise cheeks, raise the upper lip, and wrinkle the nose.
Fear – Arch brows and pull them together, with both eyes and mouth open just a bit.
Happiness –You raise your cheeks while you raise and lower the corners of your mouth, tightening the muscles that surround your eyes.
Sadness – You lower your mouth’s corners, and raise the inside part of your eyebrows.
Surprise – Arching of eyebrows, eyelids pulled up and sclera exposed, mouth open.
READING HIS / HER HEAD GESTURES
Many countries use head gestures differently than what we do in the United States.
If you read my short bio at the top of this post, you will know that I spent time in Japan. My husband and I lived there 11 years, immersed in the Japanese culture.
Upon our return to the U.S., my husband began a job hunt. Unaware that he had picked up a head gesture in Japan, he prompted a sudden break in one interview.
“Listen!” the prospective employer told him. “You’ll never get a job until you get rid of that habit of constantly nodding your head up and down while someone’s talking.”
My husband explained quickly. It was a sign of respectful listening in Japan, where it often was accompanied by a repetitive “Yes, yes, yes….”
Three other head gestures in our U.S. body language include:
– tilting the head upward to look down the nose;
– thrusting the head forward to suggest aggression; and
– turning the head away from the speaker to indicate rejection.
READING HIS / HER EYE CONTACT
Here in the United States, we use our eyes to communicate many things.
One thing we may communicate without knowing it is how attentive we are acting toward the person speaking. We can also tell an employer or teacher, for example, how confident we feel in the situation.
When reading your (spouse’s) body language, you can easily see when he or she looks away, breaking eye contact. Of course, he or she may have to look away to avoid burnt steak or, but what if your conversation is all that is happening.
You will usually assume that the person who looks away while you are talking to him or her is not interested in what you have to say. If you are at a meeting or event where others crowd the room, that person may even look for someone else’s company.
Learn how to read your (spouse’s) body language (kinesics), and you will understand more of what he or she is trying to convey. Just keep in mind that body language can speak with or without the person’s conscious effort. It may betray his or her mood. Read it with a grain of salt, a huge amount of understanding, and desire to strengthen, not weaken the relationship you sustain.