I’m fascinated by the idea of body language.
One reason is because I’m convinced I’m not only bad at reading the body language of others, but I have very little sense of what I’m conveying with my own body language.
Body language is, I think, a tricky area for introverts. Especially in social situations, when we get overwhelmed, it’s easy to slip into a mode of crossed arms, blank or angry face and other signs that seem to indicate we are unhappy. Often, it is just that feeling of too much.
I’m Happy – Really!
A couple of years ago, I accompanied my sister on a field trip with my niece’s class. We had a group of five or six kids with us; I think they were in fourth or fifth grade. Though I found it a bit overwhelming sometimes, I did have fun. I told my sister so in an email a day later; she replied that she was convinced I didn’t because I looked unhappy the whole time. I hadn’t even realized that’s what I was saying with my body language.
Loud and Clear
This weekend, I watched The September Issue, a documentary about Vogue’s legendary phonebook-sized fall issue. The film followed the process of how the issue gets put together, following equally legendary editor Anna Wintour and other key personnel in the months leading up to the publication of the September issue.
Although I’ve heard of Anna Wintour, I’ve never been a Vogue reader. Wintour is often cited as the inspiration for the lead character in The Devil Wears Prada. And although I don’t think my body language reading skills are the best, Wintour’s seemed obvious to me. In at least half the shots she was in, her arms were crossed. She alternately looked bored or hostile. She has a hairstyle that makes it easy to shield her face, and she often wears sunglasses even indoors.
I hesitate to label an introvert from afar; especially someone else’s edited idea of who Anna Wintour is. But it struck me at some point that Wintour is probably an introvert.
And then I felt guilty, because all I could see from her body language were all the negative words too often associated with introverts. Quiet. Aloof. Uninterested. Terse. It is just as easy to say she’s focused, decisive and passionate about what she does.
What are you saying?
I’m trying to be more conscious of my body language. When I’m out running errands, I try to smile more at people I interact with. I know I have a tendency sometimes to steel myself for social interactions; either I’m afraid I won’t know what to say or the whole anticipatory anxiety kicks in. I would almost rather people look at me and see something unremarkable than see negative or unhappy.
Are you good at reading body language? Are you conscious of what you’re saying with your own body language?