Over the years, I’ve found out first hand how applicable and helpful reading body language can be.From job interviews to interviewing for jobs, to interacting with new or old friends, to playing poker, it is always handy.This of course is despite the fact that my primary research was on sexual body language which I could use to better understand women and dating.However, since I am (happily!) married I most often use body language when screening my tenants.I hardly ever rely on references anymore, even though I do push myself to make the call regardless.I have found that the basics of body language goes across situations.For example, I normally key in on reading into the tone of the voice, the use of defiant or authoritative body language and how often closed versus open body language is used, among all other aspects.Once you learn the basics of body language, it really does stick with you for your lifetime, which makes learning it early on so much more beneficial.For more information on body language be sure to check out the E-book Body Language Project: Dating, Attraction and Sexual Body Language.
Excerpt from the new NON Verbal Body Language Guide:
Body Language of Head Nods
Cue: Head Nod
Synonym(s): Fast Head Nod, Slow Head Nod, Quick Nod, Nodding.
Description: A gesture done by moving the head rhythmically up and down along the sagittal plane. In micro-nodding the head dips slightly and is almost unperceivable.
Verbal Translation: “I’m in agreement, acceptance, or understanding of what you are saying so my head is moving up and down to show you.”
Variant: See Micro Nodding. The head might sway from side to side in a “no” motion showing disagreement. Micro nodding often occurs at the end of a person’s speech and can be attributed to a direct attack as if to say, I’ve made my point and I’m sticking to it. Feel free to challenge me, but I’m going to stay firm. The micro nod is quick and usually singular, a quick dip of the chin followed by a slow recovery back to a neutral position.
Cue In Action: a) His boss nodded his head up and down slowly as he delivered his proposal indicating that he understood the idea. When it came time for him to provide feedback, he said it needed more work. That stuck him as odd given his head nods. What he didn’t understand was that his head nods showed that he understood what he was saying rather than general agreement. b) Bill and Linda where talking about the bosses decision to cut the coffee budget. You could tell they agreed because as Linda expressed her position, Bill nodded his head.
Meaning and/or Motivation: Nodding has a widespread meaning used to convey acceptance or agreement but in other cultures it means disagreement. Slow nodding often encourages a speaker to continue while faster nodding shows that what is being said is understood. A quick nod shows more complete understanding and agreement or a desire to interject and take over the speaking role. To discern between agreement and desire to speak, watch for eye direction. Nodding with eyes that are cast toward the speaker is used as support, while nods with eyes cast away are done in order to take over the conversation. Other times nodding occurs due to distraction. This is nodding coupled with a glazed look in the eyes. A firm and decisive head nod shows agreement, whereas a slight nod simply shows understanding.
Research has shown that head nodding breads positive thoughts and is hardwired into the brain. Scientific experiments have shown that as the conscious mind invariably gets tired or distracted, the head nodding stops or changes direction. Head nodding therefore is a gesture that has a powerful influence to those around us and can be used to create positive feelings. Head nodding creates connectivity in people and shows that what is being said, is being understood. Even if agreement is not present, it shows that a person is at least being heard which can be used to sway agreement in the future on a more important issue.
Too much nodding, on the other hand, shows indifference which can be a useful tactic depending on the speaker and your intent. Three nods in quick succession shows that you are ready to speak yourself and has the net effect of increasing their rate of speech to avoid being cut off.
In Japan, the up and down nod of the head or “yes motion” is utilized not to show ‘agreement’ but to show ‘understanding’. Therefore, while pitching a new idea or venture, it would be foolish to think that the continuous head nodding by the Japanese was do to their willingness to invest.
Cue Cluster: Watch for eye contact, torso orientation, leaning in or out to provide cues as to the overall meaning of the head nod as it can be varied. Nodding is accompanied by either eye contact to show interest, or lack thereof to show disinterest and disengagement. The body will also orient toward a speaker of interest, or away. Sometimes nodding is used to speed up speech or in agreement so it is important to watch for accompanying cues to define the meaning.
Body Language Category: Attentive, Indicator of interest IoI, Microgestures or microsignals, Micromessaging or microsignaling, Undivided attention (nonverbal).