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Interpreting Body Language

We like to flap our jaws and rearrange a lot of air molecules, but sometimes the real message is hidden behind the words -- in nonverbal communication. Reading someone's body language, a form of nonverbal communication, can often tell you how he or she is responding to you. This is a great technique to use with prospective in-laws, who are unlikely to come straight out and declare, "Helen, I like this one" or "Lou, I think we have a stinker on our hands here."

Words to the Wise

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication. Body language includes such gestures and movements as nodding, crossing your arms and legs, tapping your foot, jiggling your leg, and looking someone in the eye.

Take this quick quiz. Match each gesture or movement with its meaning. Write the letter of the correct answer in the space provided. You will use some letters more than once.


  1. agreement and interest
  2. defensiveness, distance, and resistance
  3. boredom
  4. you've outstayed your welcome
  5. lack of understanding

Body Language

  1. _____ leaning forward and facing a person squarely
  2. _____ blank stares
  3. _____ tightly crossed legs
  4. _____ looking at a watch
  5. _____ nodding
  6. _____ tapping a foot
  7. _____ looking someone in the eye
  8. _____ arms crossed
  9. _____ drumming fingers on the table
  10. _____ taking a swing at your head with a six-foot zucchini


  1. a
  2. e or c
  3. b
  4. d
  5. a
  6. c
  7. a
  8. b
  9. c
  10. d

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dealing with In-Laws © 1998 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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