Placeholder ImagePeople Watching

Along with researching body language in books, people watching is another way to learn about it and gain inspiration for your characters.

A few rules about people watching:

  1. Put down your phone. (Not now.  Wait until you are done reading my blog.)
  2. Don’t stare.
  3. Don’t spy.

If at any time, I think my observations are making someone uncomfortable, I will turn my attention elsewhere.  The same goes if I suddenly feel like I’ve tuned into something private.  Even if I’m stuck in the same room with a person, like a waiting room, I can turn to my writing journal.  Or you can pick up your phone.  I try to have my journal with me at all times because I like to write whenever I can.  But it can also be a great protection against awkwardness.  That’s why I’m not an avid people watcher.  I like to go unnoticed and try to treat others as I would like to be treated.

I can also learn about body language from myself, even though this is difficult because you have to develop an objective awareness about yourself.  Don’t try to watch yourself in a mirror because you are guaranteed to act unnaturally.  Ask family and friends if they notice any particular quirks.  One of my sisters told me years ago that when I am mad, I show my teeth.  That’s a great way to describe a character’s anger, and I use it.

Working  with kids has made me much more aware of my body language.  Adult size can be intimidating to kids, so I can smile or get down on their level to mitigate that fear.  Also, if I’m stressed, my body language can transmit that to kids without me saying a word and may stress them too.  So I become aware of how I act when I’m stressed and work to relax.

There are professionals at using body language to convey certain emotions and thoughts.  They are called actors.  I ‘ll talk about watching them next time.