Social Wellbeing

Navigating “Negative” Body Language

Understanding body language is a science that most people have trouble with. There are studies that show that crossing your arms during a conversation shows you do not have interest, or are defensive. Direct eye contact shows deep engagement. What do you do when the person you’re interacting with has an angry or irritated face? However, women who experience this just want to be understood like Cady in "Mean Girls" when she joined the plastics.

Knowing how to navigate “negative” body language when you encounter it can help you not miss out on: good friendships, positive work relationships, making memories, and most importantly life. Here are three misconceptions about negative body language and how to navigate through it: 

The Challenge

Start a conversation with someone who generally gives off negative body language. Try it in passing, on the local transit, at a work event, or before class starts.

Don’t Judge The Cover
Regardless of what it looks like, people who suffer from negative body language are not always mad. Before judging the persons intent, test out a conversation with them and listen to the tone of their voice. Pay attention to the words they use, how they greet you, and any emphasis they may use on any words.

If the tone matches the face, give that person some space!

Smile. Smile. Smile.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Do you EVER smile?” Or, “You’d look prettier if you smiled more.” Those comments may make someone self-conscious or actually upset them. And, maybe they don’t want to smile. However, when you catch this person in a good conversation and laughing, you’ll see their true nature come out.

It’s not me, it’s you.

Life can be extremely fast paced. Work, life, and extra curricular activities can have people moving fast, which means their brains are moving faster. Negative body language could be the last thing they want to give off, but they’re in a rush and have too much going on. Don’t take it personal, on their downtime, you’ll get their attention back. It is nearly impossible to understand every person on earth. We cannot change the stigma behind negative body language that is misinterpreted. But, we can change the way we perceive these people. Cut them some slack - on the hard days, we can all give off a little negative body language.

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