DCL Recruitment, 5 Quick Ways to know what someone is thinking
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5 quick ways to know what someone is thinking.

Posted by: Helen Rhodes  Date: October 2019

Sourced from: LinkedIn Top Voices
Published on October 29, 2019 by Mental Touchness Partners, Paul Lyons - Managing Partner

It is often helpful to be able to quickly understand someone’s current disposition and likely behaviour and a review of their body and face can provide some insightful clues. However, I’m upfront with a spoiler alert because although usefulDescription of photo here these techniques will not apply to all people, all of the time.  

Nevertheless , here are five quick ways that you would probably use to form a collective impression.

Assess their dress

People generally will dress in line with their attitudes and values to feel comfortable and be stylish. The way they dress, particularly within the context of the situation, can give you some valuable clues.

Are they dressed formally or informally and do they appear comfortable or less so? 

Are they making statements through colour, style or accessories?

Study their body

Then study their body and posture for some clues as to their prevailing attitude. If they are sitting or standing tall and alert with head held high it could suggest they are confident whilst conversely if they appear to be ‘slouched or crouched ‘ with head lowered they may be tentative and lacking conviction or confidence. Similarly people invariably express their thoughts and feelings through their movements.

If they lean towards you with an open stance that's a good sign that they are connecting with you -alternatively if they are faced sideways or leaning away it could be an indicator that they are being defensive or guarded orwish to create some distance between you both.

If they are walking , assess whether they do so with purpose and confidence ? Or do they appear ponderous or uncertain?

Read their face 

Most people understand that their face is the most expressive part of their body and so can try to hide their true feelings with an impassive expression. Others are much less guarded and so it can be a valuable guide to what
they are thinking and feeling.

If you are speaking ,notice them tilting their head sideways or slowly nodding their head which suggests they are more likely to be interested in what you are saying and wish you to continue. In contrast tilting their head backward or nodding quickly can be a sign of uncertainty or impatience for you to finish.

The eyes can provide huge clues and especially whether they make direct eye contact or look away whichcan indicate disinterest or a lack of confidence and nervousness.

Watch for excessive blinking, especially if they are touching their mouth or face as this can happen when people are stressed and nervous.

It may be inappropriate to get too close to check if they have diluted pupils which suggests they are responding favourably towards you or like what you say.

Someone’s smile can also  give you clues as a genuine smile will engage their whole face, likely meaning they are feeling happy, positive and comfortable whereas if its contrived it will be the mouth only suggesting they are feeling uncomfortable.

Glance at their arms and hands

Arms are thought of as the doorway to the body and if a person crosses their arms whilst conversing with you, it is likely to be a  defensive, blocking gesture and can also indicate anxiety, vulnerability, or a closed mind.

If used with a genuine smile and relaxed posture however ,then it is more likely to portray a confident and relaxed attitude.

Hands on hips are a sign that someone wishes to exert dominance and is used by men more often than women.

Hands are a powerful aspect of communication and can provide revealing clues- so much so that sometimes people will try and avoid showing or using them by putting them in their pockets or grasping a bag.

People who gesticulate tend to be viewed as warm, agreeable and energetic, while those who are less animated are seen as logical, cold and analytical.

Look for open palms which are generally viewed positively, especially when combined with outstretched arms which communicate acceptance, openness and trustworthiness.

Alternatively palms down with straightened fingers can convey someone’s confidence, even dominance, but with a degree of rigidity.

Clenched fists usually suggest resolve whilst pointing fingers when speaking are seen as an aggressive, arrogant or angry gesture.

Someone rubbing their hands together suggests anticipation of something positive whilst clasping or squeezing their hands reveals their discomfort or nervousness.

Look at their feet

More useful clues come from someone’s feet, often inadvertently because they are so focused on controlling their hands,  face and upper body movements.

When standing or sitting, a person will generally point their feet in the direction they want to go. So if someone’s feet are pointed in your direction, this can be a good indication that they have a favourable opinion of you or what you are saying, whether its one to one or in a group situation.

Alternatively if someone appears to be conversing with you but their feet are pointing in the direction of someone else it suggests they would rather talk to that person.

Paul Lyons is an experienced CEO who coaches leaders to improve their performance and wellbeing by developing their mental toughness.

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