“Say whaat?!”: Body Language Hacks

Working as a psychologist, I’ve learnt that knowing the textbooks and theories is not nearly enough in order to adequately read people and understand certain social situations. I’ve also learnt that one might know their sh*t quite well when dealing with strangers and clients, but when it comes to our own personal life… we’re just as clueless as the rest.

It would be a whole lot easier if we could just sniff each other’s butts, roll over or mount someone when meeting a new person or assessing a social situation (and if you’ve ever been out to a sleazy bar on a Saturday night, that’s exactly how some people go about it) but as human beings we can be a little more complex than that….

1) When you first meet people, try to notice the colour of their eyes while also smiling at them. Keeping that gaze for just a second longer seems to cause a positive response in people.

Sidebar: Don’t make your gaze too long or intense, or you’ll have them fearing they’ll end up in a dried up well somewhere as you lower them down some lotion in a basket.

2) Pay attention to people’s feet. If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation and they only turn their torso and not their feet, they don’t really want you to join the conversation. Similarly, if you are in a conversation, with let’s say a co-worker, and their torso is faced towards you but not their feet, usually indicates that they want the conversation to end.

3) If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer just wait. If you stay silent and keep eye contact they will usually continue to talk.

Sidebar: If they still don’t answer the question, it might be that they just don’t want to give you the answer.

4) Avoid bumping into people on the sidewalk by intentionally looking over a person’s shoulder or between people’s heads in a group. Your gaze shows them where you are going and they’ll drift towards the opposite side.

Sidebar: Living in Hong Kong, I have found this not be very useful as most people are doing the exact same things or looking at their phones, causing all of us to bump into each other at irregular intervals like a bunch of toddlers at the zoo.

5) People won’t always remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.

6) Refer to people you have just met by their name. People like being referred to by their name as it establishes trust and friendship straight away.

Sidebar: Don’t go overboard. “What’s your name?Christine?”, “Nice to meet you Christine”, “Say Christine you have beautiful blue eyes”, “Where do you come from Christine?”..”hahahaha, that’s sooo Christine!!” You’ll have her going home and as she lies in bed she’ll hear you whisper *Christiiiiiine*. It’s creepy.

7) If you make the biggest smile you possibly can, you’ll instantly feel happier

Sidebar: You just tried it didn’t you? Best to do this in private first before you start freaking out little children or people have you committed to a mental health facility.

8) When people are angry at you and yell, stay calm. They’ll either yell harder, and be ashamed about it afterwards, or it just might defuse the situation.

9) If you keep your eyes wide open, you’ll look like you’re listening.  But you’ll actually listen better and more fully, because once again your body will tell your mind what’s going on – even if you know the trick.  So keep your eyes open and on the other people.  We tend to squint when we’re thinking , but when we do, other people unconsciously interpret it as a lack of interest or a lack of agreement.

Sidebar: Avoid looking like this


10) The key to confidence is to walk into a room with the assumption that everybody already likes you.

Sidebar: Don’t get too cocky either and strut your stuff as if you own the place. Just be confident. No need to be a douche.


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