Whenever I write an article, I try to make the first sentence as captivating as possible.
It’s supposed to grab the reader’s eye and entice them to scroll down and peruse more.
Things are trickier when I talk to someone face-to-face.
As an introvert with a touch of social anxiety, I get flustered or lose my train of thought easily when chatting with strangers.
In this type of situation, knowing that the other person is engrossed in the conversation goes a long way toward making me feel more comfortable.
Actions speak louder than words, so I look for non-verbal cues to gauge their interest.
Here are 11 body language signs you have someone’s undivided attention.
If the person you’re discussing with displays any of these, they value the interaction for sure.
1) Open posture
An open posture is a body language position that conveys receptivity and a willingness to engage in conversation.
It typically involves keeping one’s body relaxed and not creating physical barriers that signal defensiveness or disinterest.
Okay, but what does that actually look like? Something like this:
- Uncrossed arms and legs: when someone crosses their arms and legs, they suggest defensiveness or a desire to create distance
- Relaxed shoulders: imply that the person is at ease and not secretly planning their escape
- Upright position: if the person is sitting or standing with an upright posture, they signal respect and attentiveness
- Facing you head-on: someone with an open posture will generally face you directly, which indicates their interest
All in all, if there are no physical barriers between you and the listener, who hopefully looks relaxed, you’re doing something right.
2) Leaning in
Another body language sign you have someone’s attention is that the person is leaning in as you get deeper into the conversation.
When someone is actively interested in what is being said and wants to hear more, they tend to physically move closer to the speaker, sometimes even without realizing it.
It means you’re enthralling them or creating a sense of intimacy, so you should pat yourself on the back.
Paying attention to how close the listener is to you can also give you an idea of whether you have a shot while flirting.
The closer the other person gets to you without crossing boundaries, the better the chance they’ll ask for your number down the line.
3) Eye contact
Eye contact creates a direct and personal connection.
It signals that you are focused on the person in front of you, and it encourages them to reciprocate, creating a sense of rapport.
Have you ever talked to someone and noticed that their gaze drifted throughout the room?
They weren’t looking directly at you; instead, they seemed preoccupied with locating someone else or finding an excuse that would enable them to make a quick getaway.
That’s enough to make you lose any desire to elaborate on the subject at hand.
When the person looks you in the eye, on the other hand, you know they’re hooked.
Or just incredibly good at feigning interest.
A win is a win.
4) Head nodding
Nodding the head provides feedback to the speaker, indicating that you are following the conversation and that their words are making sense to you.
In school, I used to always pay close attention to the teacher whenever I had to give a presentation.
I knew I was on the right track if I saw them nodding their head.
Now, noticing that someone nods their head while I ramble on about why the first five seasons of Supernatural are perfection still gives me a rush.
It tells me the other person isn’t turned off by my nerdiness.
They appreciate it.
I first heard the term mirroring in an unflattering context.
Turns out, pick-up artists teach men to mirror a woman’s body language in order to make her more interested in them.
Unsavory connotations aside, someone mirroring your body language does mean they’re paying attention to you.
Mirroring involves copying the other person’s nonverbal signals, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, and even tone of voice.
For example, if the person you are interacting with crosses their legs or leans forward, you might do the same.
People do it either consciously or unconsciously.
Whichever the case, they’re fervently absorbing the words coming out of your mouth.
6) Keeping distractions at bay
The time to check your Instagram notifications isn’t when someone struggles to make small talk with you.
I understand that we’re becoming more reliant on (and addicted to) technology, so I don’t mind if my friends glance at their phones while we’re out, and there’s a lull in the conversation.
I would mind, however, if they did it while I was pouring out my heart in front of them.
If you’re unsure if you have someone’s undivided attention, assess whether they’re focused on you or something else.
Are they looking at their phone? Fidgeting? Playing with their drink?
In this case, their mind is likely elsewhere.
But if they’re not distracted in any way, take it as a good sign.
7) Active listening sounds
Active listening sounds are the vocal cues and responses a listener provides during a conversation to indicate their engagement. For example:
- Mmm-hmm: indicates agreement, understanding, or acknowledgment of what the speaker is saying
- I see/I understand: the listener is following the conversation and comprehending the speaker’s message
- Go on/Tell me more: encourage the speaker to continue sharing their thoughts and feelings
- Oh/Ah: signal surprise, interest, or intrigue
- Really?/Wow: convey astonishment
- That’s interesting: pretty self-explanatory
Active listening sounds validate the speaker’s words, making them feel heard and valued.
Fun fact: laughter is an active listening sound as well.
Or you can settle for its less enthusiastic sibling, smiling.
This brings me to my next point.
When someone smiles during a conversation, it communicates a range of messages that indicate their full attention.
Firstly, a smile suggests a genuine interest in the discussion, signifying that they are actively focused on what you are saying.
It goes beyond simple attention and conveys positivity, making the conversation more enjoyable and affirming for both participants.
Secondly, a smile serves as nonverbal acknowledgment, showing that the speaker’s words are not only heard but also appreciated, reinforcing their sense of being noticed.
Plus, the more a person smiles, the more approachable they seem.
A smile is the secret weapon in your social arsenal.
You use it to draw in the listener, while the listener uses it to say that they’re 100% present and enjoying your company.
9) Tilted head
How cute are dogs when they tilt their head?
The gesture indicates that the pup is trying to process what you’re saying, and the gesture works similarly for humans.
A tilted head suggests curiosity and attentiveness.
The listener heard you, is intrigued by what you’re saying, and is seeking to understand or learn more.
Additionally, a tilted head can convey empathy and a genuine interest in the speaker’s perspective.
It shows that the person is trying to connect with the emotions behind the words.
10) Responsive gestures
If the listener uses responsive gestures, it’s a surefire sign that you have their undivided attention.
Gestures can be used to emphasize certain points the speaker is making.
For example, using hand movements to highlight important information indicates that the listener is fascinated by the content you have to share.
Alternatively, the listener can use gestures like a thumbs-up to affirm the speaker’s points, showing they’re actively participating in the conversation.
If the subject of discussion is emotional, the listener might place a hand on their heart or touch your arm in a sympathetic manner.
You get the idea.
11) Engaged feet
Finally, feet can also play a surprisingly important role in signaling whether someone is interested in your words.
If a person’s feet are pointing directly toward you, it often indicates that they are interested and present in the conversation.
On the other hand, restless or fidgety feet suggest distraction or impatience, potentially signaling reduced interest.
Shifting weight from one foot to the other is also a bad sign, implying a lack of interest in the current topic or a desire to disengage from the conversation altogether.
If the person you’re talking to doesn’t give you much to go on, look down.
Their feet will tell you all you need to know.
Learning how to spot if you have someone’s attention is a valuable skill in personal relationships and in professional settings where effective communication is key.
Keeping an eye out for these non-verbal cues helps you understand the level of engagement and allows you to adapt your communication style to make interactions more productive.
And if you’re an introvert like me, noticing someone’s engrossed body language will wash away some of that dreaded social anxiety.
That’s a win in my book.