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Body Language Basics

From a flip of the hair to hands on your hips, how you move, gesture, and make expressions can say as much as what comes out of your mouth.
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Using Body Language to Your Advantage continued...

Go through your morning routine -- what you do at lunch, how you spend your afternoon and evening -- and ask yourself questions like: Do I smile? Do I make appropriate eye contact with people? Once you better recognize your body language, you can start to manage it in a more meaningful way.

On the flip side, how can you use the body language of others to your advantage? Most important is to trust your gut.

"Body language says so much, that you can use it to gauge the sincerity of what a person is saying," says Wood.

If a person is telling you something, and he's covering his mouth, he might be lying, she explains. If a person's hands rub from his forehead down across his face, he could be wiping away an emotion, like stress or anxiety. Either way, if what a person is saying contradicts his body language, your intuition might be picking up on something that is not quite right.

Still, whether you are trying to manage your body language better, or understand that of others, remember the value of words.

"If you become too attentive to body language, instead of what you are saying or someone is saying to you, you miss out on the larger process of communication," says Buck.

Body Language Put to the Test

A basic understanding of body language, combined with verbal communication, can come in handy in almost every situation in your daily life. Here are some common scenarios in which body language can have a big impact, plus tips for putting your best foot forward while you watch what others around you are saying with their silent signs.

First dates. First dates are laden with body language signs that can help you gauge whether or not a person is interested.

"Men tend to talk a lot on first dates when they're interested in a woman," says Wood. "If you're interested back, make eye contact and listen."

If either person isn't interested, and looks around the room and avoids eye contact, that's a sign that a second date isn't likely.

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