Body language and non-verbal communication make up a large part of what we understand about others, our first impressions, and the messages that we convey to those around us. Body language can be particularly important if you have social anxiety.
If you live with social anxiety disorder (SAD), you might be unknowingly projecting a number of different nonverbal cues of anxiety. Some of your behaviors might also turn other people off.
Though you might feel awkward at first, learning different cues can help you practice becoming more confident and approachable.
Social anxiety can also make it harder to read the body language of others.
Learning to interpret the signals people are sending can make you more confident and comfortable in social situations.
If you are looking for ways to improve your body language and your ability to read that of others, the following tips can help.
1. Appear More Approachable
If you live with social anxiety, you probably exhibit a lot of “closed” behaviors that make others think you don’t want to be approached. Things like crossing your arms, looking down, or standing at a distance all say “Leave me alone.”
If you want to change things up and start creating a more inviting aura, start by practicing some more approachable body language. Some strategies that can help include: Avoiding fidgeting or other nervous habits, Keeping your head up, Making eye contact, Nodding as you listen to others speak, Smiling.
2. Watch for Mistakes
If you have SAD, it is important to watch for body language signals that might communicate things you might not intend. In general, these are closed behaviors that make you appear unapproachable, aloof, disinterested, or uncomfortable.
Although these behaviors might feel natural due to your anxiety, the message that they send to others is that you are not an easy person to get to know. If you want to change your social success, start by looking to see if you are making these body language mistakes.
A few body language behaviors that can send negative signals include: Awkward or fake smiles, Crossing your arms, Fidgeting, Lack of eye contact, Looking down, Moving away from people, Slouching
3. Appear More Confident
People with social anxiety tend to judge themselves harshly. Because they evaluate themselves negatively, they also tend to believe that other people see them in the same unflattering light. This can often lead to poor self-confidence and low self-esteem.
Some actions that can help you have greater confidence or appear more confident include: Having a firm handshake, Standing tall, Walking with broad strides.
Using body language that conveys greater confidence can even help make you feel more confident.
4. Notice Facial Expressions
Beyond the language of the body, the language of the face tells a lot about what a person is feeling. We know that there are four universal emotions that are experienced by everyone.
People with social anxiety disorder often have trouble with things like eye contact, which can make it more difficult to notice the facial signals that other people send.
Some facial movements that can convey emotion include: Covering the mouth with the hands, Lowered eyebrows, Pursed lips, Raised eyebrows.
If you are interested in becoming better at reading facial expressions, first learn these basic emotions and then look to see indicators of each during a conversation.
5. Recognize Deception
Anxiety can sometimes make it so you don’t notice the body language signals that other people are sending. Common behaviors such as not making eye contact or looking down can mean you might miss some of the common signs of deception.
If you’ve ever suspected that someone isn’t being honest with you, it can be helpful to look at both their spoken words and their body language.
Some signs that someone might not be truthful include: Engaging in grooming behaviors such as playing with their hair, Holding their body stiffly, Not making eye contact.
Of course, none of these actions alone means that a person is necessarily lying. When you are interpreting body language, it is often helpful to look for signals as a whole.
6. Understand Nonverbal Communication
Are you looking for a quick guide about how to decode the body language signals that others are giving you? It really boils down to two dimensions: comfort and discomfort.
Look to see which of these manners your conversation partner is exhibiting and think about what that means for what is being said. If there is a disconnect between words and body language, body language may sometimes be a more reliable indicator.
Some things that you can do to help improve your understanding of nonverbal language include: Asking questions about what people mean, Looking for nonverbal signals that don’t match up to spoken words, Noticing tone of voice, Paying attention to the context and situation, Watching how body language is used to emphasize your words.
Culled from Verywell mind
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