It’s written all over your face!

We all get those mixed signals, but the only problem is that we don’t always know how to read them. Especially in today’s world, where we all are trying to be socially adept, it has become vital to understand non-verbal signals to get an insight into a person’s attitude and feelings.

Though you’re likely not going to get it right 100 per cent there are some things you can look out for and take note of. So, if you have a hard time reading social cues, keep reading because I have some helpful information for you.

Facial expression

A women giving facial expressions. (social cues)

Facial expressions communicate feelings, whether one is reluctant to show them or not, like sulking, smiling, etc. These are the most apparent social cues and are hard to hide. The basics would be to focus on others’ eyes, eyebrows and mouths while talking.

The direction of the eyes and the size of the pupils as well as the shape of the person’s mouth are all indicators of someone’s emotions. A relaxed, slightly open mouth usually shows happiness or contentment, while a tight-lipped expression can indicate frustration or anger. Additionally, raised eyebrows typically exhibit surprise, while furrowed brows can be a sign of distress or confusion.

Body language

An animated women dances. (Social Cues)

Body language is sometimes affected by our emotions if they are strong enough. Examples of this are slumping shoulders when tired, shrugging when you don’t know an answer and adding a skipping step when you’re happy.

In addition, standing with arms crossed indicates a defensive attitude and anxiousness instead of an open and relaxed body. And likewise, a leaning-in posture indicates interest, while a leaning-away posture indicates disinterest. Other things you can note are tapping feet or fidgeting, which shows the feeling of being antsy or impatient.

Voice pitch and tone

An animated character speaking to a cable like mike. (social Cues)

Certain moods call for high or low voices and fast or slow speech. To get something important across, a person will usually talk quickly and urgently. While questioning, people raise the pitch of the last word or two. It’s important to be aware of these things as changes in voice can sometimes change the meaning of what someone is saying.

Higher pitches tend to indicate excitement or fear, while lower pitches tend to indicate calmness or sadness. A flat tone suggests boredom or apathy, or it can be filled with emotion, suggesting excitement or anger. Moreover, an angry person may speak quickly and loudly, while a person who is sad may speak slowly and quietly.

Personal space

A women slides away with her chair

Personal space or physical boundaries can be assessed by observing how close a person is standing to you. An interested person will tend to move closer, while a disinterested person will take a step away and signal to keep a distance. It’s also important to note that standing too close can indicate aggression or over-familiarity and standing too far away can indicate discomfort or a lack of trust.

Now that you know some of the significant social cues, it’ll help you accurately identify and analyze others’ emotions, help support your communication skills and strengthen your day-to-day interactions and relationships.

Header photo courtesy of Nik from Unsplash.

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