When you fold your arms or cross your legs, you unconsciously send a message that reveals your true thoughts. This article demonstrates how to read physical cues from those you interact with every day.
Perhaps you’re one of the many members eager to learn more about your unit commander, the RSM or RQ. You want to learn the real person that they strive to keep hidden. If so, you can learn all you want simply by decoding the nonverbal and often unconscious messages they send.
For instance, if you see he or she lifts their eyebrows, it means they’re curious about something. What they’re wondering is: How much longer until you leave? The higher my eyebrows are raised, the more impatient I am for you to be gone.
If they repeatedly brush their hand across their mouth, it means they’re straining to block their true feelings from slipping out. (These true feelings could take the form of an expletive-ridden catalogue of everything they find objectionable about you, or merely a cutting remark about your shirt.) There’s also a subtle variation of this act in which they intentionally jam their entire fist into their mouth.
If you happen to catch your boss staring, you’ve either attracted their interest, or pissed them off somehow. They’re thinking very hard about approaching you with an awkward one liner or punching you in the solar plexus. You can sense that they don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do either, though, which is why you’ve got that knowing smirk on your face.
If they’ve tilted their head slightly to one side and appear to be deep in concentration, it signifies that they’re mentally running through their lengthy and creative list of excuses, trying to find the one that will get them away from you soonest. Someday they will save themselves the trouble of going through this and just write them all down in Daily Orders.
On the off chance they’ve used up all their best excuses and see no possibility of getting away, you may detect a minor slouching of their shoulders, or a barely audible sigh, or a series of punches to the wall that doesn’t end until they’ve fractured every bone in both hands.
If they’re leaning toward you and nodding with a big grin plastered on their face, it means they’re having a good time and possibly hoping we could go out and get some beers after work or something. (This example is purely hypothetical and will never in fact happen. I just wanted to put it in here in case I’m starting to sound too antisocial.)
If they’re standing with their feet placed shoulder-length apart and their legs bent slightly at the knees, it probably means they’re hitting golf balls at the practice range. Is there a club in their hands? There you go, then. Try not to speak to them during their back-swing. Or any time before or after.
If they tap their feet on the floor or drum their fingers on the desk, it means they’re playing a favorite song in their head. Not just playing it—blasting it at full volume. They may be looking right at you and watching your lips move, but trust me, they can’t hear a word. So why even bother? You might as well just get up in a huff and go back to whatever it was you were doing before.
If, walking away in a huff, you happen to catch a reflection of them giving you the middle finger while your back is turned, don’t confuse this with body language. Because it didn’t even happen. It’s just your imagination or a trick of the light. You can confirm this for yourself simply by turning around to face them. Just don’t do it too quickly.
If they wrinkle their nose whenever you walk into the room, it means they’ve begun to subconsciously associate you with a certain smell. A field of freshly laid manure, perhaps, or a pile of festering refuse. Actually, there’s no need to start sugar-coating at this point, is there? It’s the manure. Definitely the manure.
If they conspicuously fail to make eye contact, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that they dislike you. It could simply mean they find the very act of being in your presence a mind-numbing, soul-crushing torment the likes of which make death an appealing alternative.
If they should ever start to blink in Morse code, it means they’ve finally discovered a nice, safe way to express their contempt without having to openly confront you. If you’re one of the few who actually know how to read Morse code, I’m sure their impotent rage will make you smirk again. Which only proves how justified they are in loathing you. You and everyone else.
Lastly, and most importantly, if you find them gazing off into space with a wistful half-smile, it means they’re having that recurring daydream in which they’re the sole survivor of some horrible apocalypse, the last man or woman left alive in the entire world who must live out the remainder of their days in peaceful seclusion. Please don’t interrupt.
Andrew Douglas is a long-suffering Aussie Digger who, after many hours of sitting in a pit with a notebook and pen writing his woes, has turned his hand to writing for leisure and entertainment in the comfort of his lounge room. He and his partner, Sonia, live in a 100-year-old home in southern NSW, where Andrew uses his home-repair skills to make improvements, such as being able to flush the toilet by turning on the garden tap.