People don’t have to open their mouths to talk. Allan and Barbara Pease wrote the Definitive Book of Body Language, and they say by learning to interpret subtle body language cues, you can read what people are telling you, even when they don't say a word. Here’s what they say you should look for:
- Your spouse. If you’re talking about family finances with your partner and they suddenly look away or seem preoccupied – don’t worry. They’re not ignoring you. This gesture usually means that they’re paying attention, but they disagree with what you’re saying - and they’re trying to hide it. So, if you see them do that, ask them what they believe the pros and cons of your suggestion are. That’ll give them the permission they might feel they need to be brutally honest.
- What about your teenager? Think they threw a party while you were away? Ask them. If they scratch their nose, cover their mouth, or get fidgety, chances are there were a dozen kids hanging from the chandelier. Lying releases histamines in the body making people feel itchy. And the stress hormones released give a person extra energy that gets released through fidgeting. And a classic psychological sign is covering the mouth – as if they’re trying to hide what they’re saying.
- Your boss will be more willing to talk about your raise when they’re in an OPEN position: leaning forward in their chair, one foot slightly in front of the other, with their head up. If you approach your boss and they fall into this position, go for it. But beware of what the book calls the “figure four leg cramp.” That’s when your boss is sitting with the ankle of one leg resting on the knee of the other, with both hands clenching the shin. This indicates a hostile attitude, and they might not be interested in hearing opinions that don’t match their own. So, if your boss assumes this position when you approach them – save your request for another day.