Body language is something that is derived from instincts we have very little control over.
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Most of the time, tiny twitches are performed and repeated with consistency, even though our conscious minds have no idea what we are doing. In order to read the signs and derive an opinion about another person's state of mind, it is important to remember a few key things.
Believe the Body, Not the Words
The body generally tells the truth even when people are lying through their teeth.
This can be of great importance when dealing with business negotiations or even everyday life. If an individual is taking a posture that does not match their spoken word, it may be wise to ask them some penetrating questions to see if they become uncomfortable or defensive. If so, they may be hiding something or flat out lying to your face.
This can especially useful when an entrepreneur is involved in negotiating venture capital terms or a joint venture. It is a great tool to see who is being genuine and who has other intentions.
Read Clusters, Not Individual Movements
Sometimes people can mix and match different signals in their body language. This can indicate they are having a personal internal struggle, or that there is a third factor coming into play. Standing on one foot may indicate one thing, when in reality they might have a sprained ankle.
This is why you must always read signs in groups and not take one sign too seriously. If you can have the discipline to study people in your everyday life, you should become adept at assembling different clues and signals into a package of body language. Only then can you truly understand their subconscious intentions.
You Can't Fake It
Body language is very difficult to fake. Some of the signals, such as dilated pupils, are nearly impossible to fake or subdue. Many liars can perform all of the spoken aspects perfectly but falter when it comes to the signals they are giving out. For the adept student of body language, there are major giveaways that fakers usually send when they are lying.
Women are Better at This, Sorry Guys
Fortunately for women, and unfortunately for me, the ladies are much better at every aspect of this practice. This comes from their fine-tuned ability to understand the wants and desires of infants. Studies suggest that women's brains are programmed with over double the area for understanding body language.
This makes sense. Since women are programmed, physiologically, to be mothers and caregivers, their brains must be able to understand the needs of children before they are able to speak. As a result, they have a much more perceptive mind when it comes to body language.
This can make the game unfair, but that is just the way it goes. If you are feeling hopeless guys, don't. If you educate yourself and read up on this subject, you can certainly level the playing field and maybe even tilt it in your favor. For the women, if you study up on this subject you will find that it is intuitive and you will have a great advantage in meetings and negotiations.
Body language in negotiations is a subject that has been researched extensively. These observations are only a basic assembly of the knowledge I've garnered through human study, research and discussion with professors of the trade. I believe the best resource out there is The Definitive Guide to Body Language, by Allan and Barbara Pease. Not only is in genuinely informative, it is also undeniably humorous and enjoyable to read.