Body Language: What's Normal & What's Not
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Say What?1 of 11
By Evy Poumpouras for Cosmopolitan
Most communication doesn't come from words, but rather the subtleties of body language. Here's how to listen with more than your ears.
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Eye Contact2 of 11
Normal: Happy, engaged people maintain good eye contact throughout the majority of the conversation, although the occasional break is perfectly normal.
Eye Contact3 of 11
Not Normal: A lack of eye contact implies everything else is more interesting than you. Deceptive people may avoid looking at you…or overdo it so much they end up staring.
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Attention4 of 11
Normal: When people really want to talk to you, very few things will distract them from you. They might be momentarily torn away, but 99 percent of their focus is on you.
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Attention5 of 11
Not Normal: Uncomfortable or nervous people find distractions to occupy their mind or ease stress. They may pick lint off their clothes, play with their hair, fidget, or check their phone.
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Facial Expressions6 of 11
Normal: When people tell a story, their features should match the emotions they are describing, collectively giving off the signal of a genuine laugh, smile, or gasp.
Facial Expressions7 of 11
Not Normal: People who aren't interested in you may seem overly polite and fake: Their smile won't engage their eyes. Liars may be dramatic by smiling or laughing at odd times.
Posture8 of 11
Normal: When people are truly engaged in a conversation with you, they will sit upright, face you directly, and lean in from time to time to close the gap between you.
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Posture9 of 11
Not Normal: People who slouch, lean back, or turn to one side may be bored or trying to avoid the topic. Crossing of arms or legs sends a similar signal. It's a way of closing oneself off or creating a barrier.
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Gesture10 of 11
Normal: When people want to pull you into what they're saying, they will be animated, using their hands and body as illustrators as though they were reliving the event they are describing.
Gesture11 of 11
Not Normal: Not using any gestures may mean that someone is not interested in sharing their story with you. Or it might be a lie—it's tough for people to use the hands and body as illustrators when they aren't reliving events.