“This Is The New Body Language In The Pandemic Crisis” – Negotiation Insight

 “To see farther, look carefully at what’s in front of you. Someone’s body language can offer foresight.-Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is The New Body Language In The Pandemic Crisis”

As the pandemic crisis slowly crept around the world, spreading its deadly content, societies around the globe drew new lines about what’s right and wrong, how people should conduct themselves, and what they should do to become better protected. The impression that those edicts cast will influence the way people convey their sentiments through their body language in the future.

I was speaking with a very astute friend of mine. His name is David Dadian. We affectionately embrace one another as each other’s brother. At one point during our almost hour-long conversation, David inspired the question in my mind about what the new standard will become, per how to read body language after the world is on the other side of the current pandemic. He suggested that a new paradigm will come from these times that will alter the way we interpret such signals and the interactions we have with each other in the future.

The following are a collage of thoughts about current practices related to body language signs and how those gestures may morph into new ways of expression in the future. This article will also offer ideas about how you can give meaning to new gestures.

Close Interactions:

  • Hugging – People will continue to practice social distancing long after the current pandemic has ended. The reminder of the mental pain and anguish people experienced during these times will ensure that they don’t forget this time anytime soon. For the short-time, distant air kisses may replace the hugs we extend to others to display our affections.
  • Hand Shakes – Most people know that they transmit germs through personal contact with others. And that’s true when people shake hands. So, will fist-bumps become the new norm? Or, will some other form of greeting become prevalent? Some in the US may recall when a political leader fist-bumped with his wife. An outcry arose amongst those with differing political views, and some individuals considered the gesture to be racist. The point is, some people may scoff at your gestures. To circumvent that, let others know how you’ll great them in the future. And tell others what the gestures you’ll emit means, and what it’s meant to convey.
  • Close Contact – What will the body posture and distance displayed be for people engaging with one another going forward? Will one keep a safe distance recommended by science to set those boundaries? And if so, how will that impact the expressions of the emotions we’ll send?

With more folks conveying their sentiments while practicing social distancing, they’re gathering more through Webinars, virtual meetings, and telecommunications. Thus, the sooner you’re able to discern the new meaning of new body gestures, the better you’ll be at deciphering the intent derived from the gestures of others.

Interpretation of Communication:

He asked her if she was up. Her response was, I’m up, but I’m still in bed. To which he replied, so you’re not up – you’re awake. That’s verbal miscommunication or misperception depending on who might respond to what occurred.

Now imagine how easy it is to misinterpret existing body language signals, and how difficult it might be as we transition to something other than what we’re accustomed to seeing. In the immediate future, someone might think you think you’re too good to shake my hand because someone was engaging in safe practices and didn’t want to exchange handshakes. That could lead to mind-altering behavior. We could be in for a very confusing time, per the interpretation of our actions and our body language gestures. But it doesn’t have to be that way.  

Change in Perception:

A new set of customs and behaviors will evolve from the pandemic. They do from every catastrophe that strikes a civilization. To what degree those changes become long-lasting may be dependent on where and when the next disaster occurs and the impact it has on you.

While the evolving body language changes are evolving, you can play a role in what they become. That means you can start a trend amongst those that you interact with to give meaning to new gestures. Your gesture may not become accepted worldwide, but it can be the recognition of how you and your circle interact with one another. And thus, it will distinguish your group from those that don’t engage in the action.

The point is, body language gestures that evolve from the current pandemic will become customary in the future. People may not shake hands when meeting one another going forward, and they may drop other customs that we’ve become accustomed to viewing. In the past, you were able to gain insight into a person’s personality via their gestures. If what was the norm is no longer available, what might you observe to glean that information in the future?

By creating a new standard of greeting as an example, you can set the degree that it’s displayed to measure the viability of the person showing it. It won’t be the definitive answer to gain insight into someone’s total personality, but one gesture has never been the eclipse that surveyed someone’s actions in total. Their gestures have always been part of the pieces that comprised the whole.


To see farther, you must lift your gaze. Will the new body language signals born out of the pandemic become our new normal? Only time can be the forebearer of that answer. But, while we are enduring the times of this crisis, recognizing accurately the new evolving signals that people convey will give you an edge when dealing with those individuals. Thus, to see farther, look carefully at what’s in front of you. Someone’s body language offers foresight. And everything will be right with the world. 

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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