Why interpreting body language is flawed

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Maybe body language interpretation does work for some people. But it’s no-where near perfect, yet so many people use it and make decisions based on it. Damn it, I’ve even been sent on a course in my distant past to learn it myself.

Indeed, during that course, I remember sitting there with my arms folded. The person running the course explain how arm folding showed aggression. Everyone looked at me. It wasn’t aggression. Unknown to me, at the time, it was an effect of my ADHD – if my arms weren’t folded, I would have been relentlessly fiddling.

This Twitter account is laughable but some of the body language advice is the kind of thing you will hear, particularly this number 7…

For the same ADHD reason I have before, I don’t use my camera during video calls when I can do so. Apart from people misinterpreting it for the kind of thing this Tweet suggests, it’s also hard work for me to maintain enough concentration to not do it. Turning off video allows me to fidget, not maintain eye contact and just generally be more relaxed – the absolute reality of what the above suggests.

Am I saying that body language is a myth? No. But I an saying that interpreting it is deeply flawed. There’s no way of knowing who is doing what the “expectation is” and who is, like me, acting differently. Body language does not take into account neurodiversity and, I’m sure, many other aspects of human differences too.

And that’s the problem – without knowing the audience, the result is flawed. So are you willing to make a decision based on something that may very well be wrong?

Talk to me!

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