Smart or Dumb? ambiguity of Body Language

A lot of articles, books and others resources that speak about the body language, I included, claim that you need to know the story, or the context behind every movement because in a different context the same movement can mean different things. 

Let me tell you a story. A story about myself when I was finishing college. In the Czech Republic, we call it the Maturita exam in literature. 


When your turn comes on the exam you go in front of “jury”, you pick a question, in this case, it was book, I was supposed to talk about for approximately 15 minutes and in this time I had to cover all the basic information about the book, the author, century, style of the book, what is it about, and a lot of stuff that every student sincerely doesn’t care about. 

After picking your book or question you get 15 minutes to get ready for performance while another student is performing. 

And here I come. Let me skip all the important body language aspects, I would LOVE to share with you as entering the room, meeting the jury, talking to them and working on the best first impression and so. 

In this blog post, I want to speak about my preparing 15 minutes. This is a very stressful period for most of the people so they tend to write down the most they can remember, retrieve from the deepest edges of the brain.

When I picked my book, I sat down and observed and that was it. 

There was a very clever guy who went before me so I observed the way he talks to them and what should I do better than he did and alongside this observing session, I thought about the book. 

I am not the kind of person who needs to write everything down in case of blackout will happen so I didn’t write anything on the paper. 

Can you imagine my body language at that moment? Looking around the room mainly to people in there. In the room there was maybe 10 teachers and 4 students at all, so most of the time I was watching teachers. 

Writing nothing when I was supposed to, looking at the teachers … message translated as “he knows nothing, he is seeking help”. Three different teachers came to me during these 15 minutes and asked me if I am alright if I know at least something I can write down if I need some help (yes, they were very kind to me haha).

And the message I was sending was, I am fine, I don’t need to write it down I remember it, I can talk about it so now I can observe and get familiar with the people get comfortable with the room, clean my mind before my time comes. 

You see? The same body language but two totally different meanings. They thought I knew nothing and that’s the reason I don’t write but I knew a lot and that was the reason why I wrote nothing. 

Be always aware of the context of your reading and pay close attention to every detail in situations you need to read properly. When these teachers would pay closer attention to my body language, they would find a confident body language and maybe would not ask me these questions but they misread the main signals I was sending. 

In the next articles, I will be talking more about how to pick more information from observing, how to be more accurate in it and how to use it in your advantage. 
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