Whether you are in a deposition, trial or client meeting, knowing how to ready others’ body language can tell you much more than their words alone ever could. Today, we start a mini-series of posts on the subject of body language. We will explore different aspects of the subject, starting today with how to read the body language of those with whom you come in contact.
Picking up on the sometimes subtle cues given by body language can put you ahead of the game. It is especially important to read and correctly translate these cues during a deposition or trial. Doing so could lead you down a new line of questioning or show you where to move on.
Some body language cues are easily to decode. We all know that someone nodding their head up and down is signaling agreement, while someone shaking their head from side to side is signaling disagreement. Others movements or body positions are not as easy to translate. Here are some common body positions and movements and what they really mean (see the disclaimer statement below):
Exaggerated and/or frequent eye movements = Agitated by topic or speaker
Hands clutching the edge of table/desk = Desperate, nervous
No/little eye contact = Untrustworthy or lying
Leaning forward = Engaged/interested in the topic or conversation
Gesturing with palms showing = Open, truthful, honest, submissive
Good, upright posture = Energetic, enthusiastic
Poor, slumped posture = Uninterested, uncertain, lethargic
Holding head in hand or hands = Bothered by something
Hand over mouth when talking = Being deceptive or lying
Nail biting = Frustrated, fearful, stressed or suppressing of some other behavior
Head pointing down = Negativity or disinterest in topic or speaker, sign of failure or feeling ashamed
Chin pointing up = Prideful, defiant or overly-confident
Crossed arms = Defensive, reluctant, bored, threatened
Gripping opposite upper arms = Insecure, unhappy, unsafe
Finger pointing = Aggressive, threatening the recipient of the pointing, emphasizing a point of conversation
Cracking knuckles = Done to get attention or to comfort one’s self
Foot tapping = Desire to leave or general anxiety
Arms behind head or neck = Open to discussion or ideas, over-confidence, pride
Tugging on ear = Indecision, pondering or self-comforting
Scratching nose while speaking = Lying, exaggeration, embellishment, fabrication
Disclaimer: These are the most common interpretations body language signs, however, not everyone exhibiting these movements is necessarily conveying the message listed above. Sometimes a person might cross his or her arms because he or she is cold or may be tapping feet because their lower extremities have fallen asleep
Remember, a video recording of a deposition can show mannerisms and tone of voice that can help you during trial. Diamond’s videography professionals are trained on the specifics of recording legal proceedings. We will also set up the equipment and play the relevant video in the courtroom.
Keep an eye out for more articles in the coming weeks on body language. Also visit the Diamond Blog for other helpful tips on everything from marketing to depositions to technology.