Not As Good as Mind-Reading, But Helpful None-The-Less! Understanding Non-Verbal Cues

September 12, 2016

Have you ever dreamed of having mind-reading superpowers? It would make life so much easier, right? You could say goodbye to miscommunication and say hello to understanding every single conversation! While your dreams of mind-reading may have to be put on hold, there is a great alternative for those looking to improve their communication skills. Curious? Read on.

We all subconsciously speak a secret language every single day. This language provides insight into our intentions, hidden emotions, and unfiltered thoughts. Learning this language will add a new dimension to your daily communication and allow you to better understand the people you interact with. Get prepared to master the art of reading non-verbal cues!

We all subconsciously speak a secret language every single day. Master the art of reading non-verbals. Click To Tweet

What are non-verbal cues?

Have you ever heard your significant other say, “I’m not upset,” even though you can tell that he/she clearly is? Whether you aware of it or not, you are picking up on a non-verbal cue that differs from the verbal communication. Think of learning to interpret non-verbal messages as “reading between the lines.” A large part of social interaction involves the unspoken messages that we convey to others.

Why does it matter?

Non-verbal cues add a new dimension to all of your interactions. This new dimension helps you to better understand the person you are communicating with. Think of the differences between texting someone, calling them, and speaking with them in person. I think we’d all agree that a lot can get lost in translation when we text, because we are lacking non-verbal cues. Without the face-to-face communication we can only guess the meaning behind the message, because the tone of voice and facial expressions are missing!

Everyone uses non-verbal cues to some degree. Understanding certain cues comes as second nature, while understanding others requires practice. Improving your understanding of non-verbal cues can lead to better communication, and subsequently, better relationships.

Common Nonverbal Cues to Focus On

Focusing on the simple non-verbal cues that will help you to better understand daily interactions with others is key. If you try to decipher every single nose scratch, head nod, or hand gesture, you will drive yourself crazy! While attempting to understand non-verbal communication cues, it is important to take into consideration the context of the situation, as well.

All too often people look at a single gesture and assume its meaning before taking other things into consideration. For example, if people cross their arms in front of their chests, you can’t automatically make the assumption that their body language is showing defensiveness or closed mindedness. Paying attention to other cues, such as whether the person’s shoulders are raised at the same time and if he/she is shivering may convey a whole new meaning!

Eye Contact

Depending on what your gender is, when a person makes eye contact with you in a social setting, you may interpret this non-verbal cue in different ways. Do you know that women tend to make eye contact more than men even in new social situations? This is one way that women show they are paying attention to what’s being said and are interested but not necessarily interested in the way that men may think! The problem is that sometimes men interpret direct eye contact as attraction, since they typically use direct eye contact with the opposite sex to show interest. Of course, there is no guarantee that this fact holds true in every situation; however, it’s something to keep in mind!

Eye Contact

Fake vs. Real Smiles

If you want to tell the difference between a fake smile and a real smile, just pay attention to someone’s eyes. When people are genuinely smiling, their eyes close up a bit and crow’s feet form at the corners. With a fake smile, your mouth tends to be the only thing to move!

Want to know the difference between a fake smile and a real smile? Pay attention to someone’s eyes. Click To Tweet

Real Smiles


Most of us are fairly skilled at interpreting the message behind a person’s tone of voice The tone that is used can completely change the meaning of a sentence. For example, the difference between saying “I’m fine,” and “I’m FINE!” is so pronounced that you can even recognize it in writing.


Certain non-verbal gestures are easier to understand than others. Learn to recognize inconsistencies between verbal communication and non-verbal cues. For example, if someone says, “I really had a great time tonight,” but the person’s body language conveys a totally different message, you may question the sincerity of the statement. Imagine your date’s body is turned away from you. If there is not a smile present, or if his/her arms are crossed and it is not cold outside, most likely your date did not have a great time! Sometimes it’s really difficult to read a person, because there are so many inconsistencies.

Physical Appearance

As much as we are taught not to judge a book by its cover, we are wired to do so. Think of it like this: if your lawyer showed up in overalls, would you be concerned? Judging someone according to his/her appearance may seem a bit superficial; however, it can actually work in your favor! You can change how you are perceived by others simply by changing your attire.

Improve Your Appearance


Being aware of an individual’s need for “personal space” when meeting someone for the first time is important! Did you know that in western culture people who are friends tend to have a comfort zone from between 2 to 4 feet, often referred to as the “personal zone,” while in the “intimate zone,” which is reserved for romantic relationships, it is between 6 to 18 inches? So, when getting to know someone, respecting his/her space will go a long way!

People tend to feel uncomfortable when their personal space is invaded too quickly. So, when you are really interested in getting to know someone on a very personal level, take your time and slowly test the waters!

Becoming more aware of the various types of non-verbal cues will definitely help you in your future relationships with others. Although you still won’t have that mind-reading superpower that you really want, you will be able to pick up on non-verbal signals and feel more confident!