Day 6: Learning to Read People, Part One – The Basics1
If you want to succeed at dating, or any other area of life, learning to read people is crucial. If you learn to pick up people’s subtle signals, you can know when to make your move… and when not to. This affords you greater opportunity to take advantage of dating opportunities when they present themselves, as well as preventing rejection before it bites you in the ass.
Having said that, people reading isn’t always easy. Intellectual Badasses in particular may have limited people reading skills. Why is this? Many IBs have learned to focus on their intellects for gathering useful information, because, many times, this method yields results. Reading people, by contrast, requires you to put the intellect aside, observe subtle cues in others, and engage one’s intuition.
See, body language is what you might call “old brain.” It’s the more primitive, “animal” side of us. Body language is a non-verbal way of communicating that can be faster and more powerful than thinking through something. Language and advanced problem solving are “new brain” – they come from the evolutionarily newer and more advanced part of our brains. And let’s face it: if there’s anyone who relies on the new brain to process information, it’s the IB. This is another way the IB’s intellect can be a liability at times.
Moreover, men struggle more with body language. Studies show that, on average, men’s people reading skills aren’t quite as good as women’s. To make things even tougher, women have more varied (confusing) attraction signals than men do. So, guys, if you’ve ever misread a woman, you aren’t alone!
The interesting thing about body language is that you can’t trick it or think your way out of it. The body almost always will tell you the truth. This is why they say to listen less to what people say, and watch more what they DO.
In dating, you can learn to observe signs when someone is potentially attracted to you or interested in you. Likewise, you can also observe signs they aren’t attracted or interested, saving you the trouble of a more formal rejection. When I look back at all my single years, I always knew when a guy wasn’t interested and always saw rejection coming. However, I wasn’t so good at detecting when they were interested, and missed many opportunities.
The Body Language Basics
1) Eye contact. The eyes are very powerful communicators and a way people telegraph their emotions, including attraction. Because it’s so powerful, people will avoid it or keep it brief. Thus, anytime someone deviates from that norm, it means something. The more a person looks at you or makes strong eye contact, the more likely they’re interested.
2) Body cues. How a person sits or stands, what they do with their hands and feet, and their facial expressions can tell you a lot. You want to look for “open” body language (legs and arms uncrossed, facing you) and interested facial expressions. There are also many “tics” or other behaviors people will engage in when interested or attracted to someone; these differ for males and females.
3) Conversation. While conversation isn’t body language, a person’s body language and other cues during conversation can tell you a lot. Is she engaged in the conversation and facing you, or is her body turned away, like she’s looking to leave?
Interestingly, IBs may not only be so-so at reading people, they can be notoriously hard to read. Why? They often lead with their intellects, and may show less emotion or be less talkative… so the average person sees that, rather than the subtleties underneath. Many IBs also tend to struggle with eye contact. I know I did. In many cases, the IB can come off uninterested or unfriendly, which vastly decreases your options when dating. So, as an IB, it’s important to not only learn to read others, you need to be very aware of your own body language.
If you really want to be a top-notch people-reader, practice, practice, practice. There are a couple of good books on it as well:
The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease. I’ve read this one and am still amazed and how much info it has. There’s also a decent section on mating signals.
What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro. I haven’t read this one, but Navarro is an ex-FBI counterintelligence guy. I’ve conversed with him on Twitter and find him interesting.
Stay tuned, IBs: tomorrow will cover people-reading in greater detail.