The pie chart to the left frightens me every time. Only 7% of the information people who meet you receive comes from your words. 38% comes from your voice tone and quality. 55% is your body language. That’s because we know people can be coached on what and how to speak, but can be unaware of their body language. And when the body and the words don’t match, we believe the body every time.
Here’s how to read people’s body language and understand how they think. When I say, “how they think,” I mean it literally.
These people process information in pictures and images. You can tell by reading their body language. Lookers generally dress well and decorate their surroundings for appearance. Their shoulders are usually a little raised and tight. They also have thin lips. In addition, Lookers have a furrowed brow — because people tend to look up and to the right when they remember something they have seen.
To build rapport with Lookers, give them plenty of eye contact. They believe if you aren’t looking at them, you aren’t seeing them. They often use words with a visual component, so you should, too: “I see what you mean.” “Picture this.” “Here’s what I envision.”
These people think in words and sounds. They don’t give you much eye contact. Instead, they generally have their heads turned down and to the left — because that’s the posture people have when they remember something they have heard. This naturally points their right ear at you, so they can hear you. In addition, listeners can move their lips when they read, or speak quietly to themselves — because it helps to speak their thoughts.
To connect with Listeners, don’t give them too much eye contact — it makes them uncomfortable (just ask that controller!). Look at them, and then look away — when speaking or listening. Here, too, use words that appeal to them: “Tell me your opinion.” “I hear what you’re saying.” “That sounds good to me.”
These people process information tactilely and through feelings. They dress for comfort, not style, and have a much more relaxed stance than Lookers. They also frequently look down and to the right — because that’s the posture people have when remembering something they have felt. As Touchers, these people enjoy physical contact, are big on hugs, and need very little personal space in a conversation.
For rapport, feel free to reach out and touch a Toucher’s shoulder or arm when emphasizing a point — but only if you feel comfortable doing this. If you’re not a Toucher, do your best to avoid stiffening up if they touch you. And use language that appeals to them: “I feel your pain.” “Let’s get in touch.” “I want to get a handle on the situation.”
Be More Aware
Of course your brain is flexible, so you can think in more than one way. But you will have a dominant approach. Ask yourself, “How do I think?” I’m a Listener, so I remember movie lines and lyrics and grammar rules. I also can summon images of places I’ve been, but that’s not my primary mode of thought.
Start watching people — and paying attention to the words they use when speaking or writing. You’ll begin to figure out how they think. And this will help you make better choices on how to connect with them.