It can seem nearly impossible to make a genuine connection while constrained to the flat rectangle of a video screen, but one retired FBI agent knows there is still a lot that people can glean from a person’s body language.
When on a video call, a person’s body language changes tremendously compared to in-person interactions, said Joe Navarro, a retired FBI special agent and author of “Be Exceptional: Master the Five Traits That Set Extraordinary People Apart.”
People are used to seeing each other in a more nuanced way, such as seeing all of the body including hand movement and changes in skin and lip color, he said.
“You don’t normally focus on those things because they happen naturally, but the absence of that leaves us lacking,” Navarro said.
However, there are ways to read your date’s body language over video call and put your best foot forward for a successful virtual date, he said.
Making a good first impression
One of the first steps to starting off a date on a positive note is to show your hands throughout the video call, according to Navarro. Humans have a primal necessity to see each other’s hands, he said, so include hand gestures when talking.
For a video call, he recommended bringing your hand motions closer to your body so they appear on the screen and slowing them down so they don’t look like a blur.
If you’re interested in your date, mirroring the person’s body language, or isopraxis, shows that you’re interested, Navarro explained. Some common examples of mirroring include sitting in the same way and copying body language like nodding.
Also be genuine and make sure you’re interested in the other person instead of being interesting, said Lillian Glass, a body communication and body language expert based in Beverly Hills, California.
“This is your chance to be real and not play games and not waste time so that you can find the perfect person who’s good for you,” she said.
It’s also important to hold the video call in a well-lit room with a clean background because it allows the other person to see you better, Glass added. If the lighting where you live isn’t the best, she recommended investing in a ring light or other portable lighting device.
Signs your date likes you
You can read your date’s body language to decipher if he or she is interested in you, Navarro said.
Someone who is entranced by another person will tilt their head toward them, according to Navarro.
“We only expose our necks to people we’re really comfortable with,” he said.
Some people may lean their whole bodies toward the camera, Glass said.
Frequent and lasting smiles also show your date is off to a good start, she said.
People who are interested in each other are more likely to preen, according to Navarro. Preening behaviors include fixing your appearance like touching your hair and straightening out your clothes.
Signs your date just isn’t that into you
Not all virtual meetups end with your date falling madly in love with you — and that’s all right.
One sign a person is not feeling the love is if he furrows the glabella, the spot between the eyebrows, more, Navarro said. This will happen, “especially if the other person is saying something that’s really dumb or stupid that’s not attractive to you,” he said.
Your date also might not be attracted to you if you see she’s pulling away from the camera, Glass said, or if she is moving a lot.
If your date is looking away frequently or appears distracted, that’s another warning sign, she said. Over a video call, people should take reading eye contact with a grain of salt, according to Glass, because it’s normal for people to not know where to look or to look away periodically.
Some people may also have more tension in their lips and even shift their jaw if they’re not interested in the other person, Navarro said.
Red flags to look out for
There is no single behavior indicative of deception, Navarro said, but there are some behaviors that indicate stress and anxiety — and that can leave hints about whether your date is being truthful or not.
When bothered, people often touch the suprasternal notch, the little notch above the sternum, he said. When a woman is bothered by something, her hands move up there, and if a man is bothered, he tends to grab his neck, according to Navarro.
“If I was asking somebody ‘Are you dating somebody at the moment?’ and they’re touching this area, I’d have to wonder why,” he said.
Fidgeting can also be a sign someone isn’t being honest, Glass said.
“If they go on and on and they go off on a tangent, that may give you a red flag as to whether or not they’re telling you the truth,” she added.
Mark Kleinman is city editor, breaking major business stories and analysing what they mean for the financial sector.
He has revealed some of the biggest stories in the city in the past decade, with a string of exclusives about major takeover deals.
Before joining Sky, he was City Editor of The Sunday Telegraph.
Mark was awarded the London Press Club Business Journalist of the Year in 2011.