Deciphering Body Language

Non verbal communication can be confusing if you are not alert to the subtle differences in the body languages of men and women

Taking the clichéd ‘men are from Mars and women from Venus’ line of thinking forward, we present the obvious, and the subtle, cues and signs that establish the fact that body language of men and women differ on several counts. From handshake to the eye contact, the way men and women project non verbal cues differ. While some may have honed their perceptive skills to decipher the difference, majority are unaware that the body can actually speak in languages that are easily understood.

Here is a quick guide, culled from the internet, to help you get there:

  • Nodding is a universal non-verbal behaviour and it is easy to assume that nodding means the same, whether the person in question is a man or a woman. But no, there are differences and they lie in the reasons that trigger nodding. Men nod to show agreement, whereas women to express their attentiveness. For women, nodding is a tool to demonstrate that they are listening and would like the speaker to continue. Men who see such nodding might misunderstand it as a sign of agreement.

  • Women prefer to be approached by others from the front, while men deem front approach as aggressive; they prefer the side. Women, for some reason feel threatened if they are approached from the back or someone taps them on the shoulder to draw attention.
  • Interpreting touch is a difficult task, as some people love to be touched and show affection while others don’t. Besides, culturally too touching might have their restrictions/limitations. The difference lies in the way men and women use touch. For women it is a show of camaraderie, while for men it is a signal of power. The reference of touch is to the one that happens after the initial handshake. Men rely on touch to tap the back to show dominance; women to show support and build connection by touching arm or forearm.
  • Men rarely, if ever, demonstrate they are listening with any non-verbal cues; women do it by leaning forward, nodding and tilting their head to show they are listening.
  • There is a difference in the way men and women keep their arms – women keep it close to their bodies and men away from their bodies.
  • Women cross their legs when seated and men sit with their legs apart. Cross legged women demonstrate that they are comfortable with you, cross it towards you to indicate that she feels connected with you. Conversely, if the legs are crossed away from you, it could to show that she feels a little distant.
  • While eye contact does seem like a universal behaviour that connects every single human being in this world, the difference in the gender lies in how the eye contact is interpreted. When a woman makes and eye contact and looks down or away abruptly, it may be her way of showing that she is interested in you but feels self-conscious about it. When a man does the same, it shows his insecurity.

There are similarities too…

  • Like the hands-on-hip stance, which has its own interpretation. Both men and women use it to show defiance, but the way they project that defiance is different. Men have their fingers point down in front, while women point their fingers towards their back.
  • Again, men and women both touch their nose, repeatedly, when disgusted/stressed.
  • Men and women loop their hair with their fingers when they are stressed. The only difference is that women may also twirl their hair when they are talking to someone they are interested in.

Go ahead, give this list a quick try to see if it matches…

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