How To Baseline In Body Language

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 4 min.

When reading body language the first thing we must do is to baseline a person sometimes called baselining. This is the most important part when it comes to reading or analyzing body language as this will help us to notice any shifts or clusters of behavior change.

Baselining is taking notice of what is normal behavior for a person when they are relaxed

In the world of body language “baselining” is the careful analysis of a person’s behavior while they are feeling comfortable and on safe, easy conversational topics, such as exchanging information about their daily lives or talking about their employment history to an interviewer.

These are simple, direct questions that shouldn’t have any weight or stress on them, you are noting how that person behaves in the moment.

Things to look out for when beginning to baseline a person.

  1. Blink rate.
  2. Breathing (how they breath)
  3. Body movement speed.
  4. Cadence of voice.
  5. Anything that a person might usually do could be normal.
  6. Context.
  7. Environment.

These are some of the early behaviors. Comparing them to their actions when questioned in an interview or social setting, you can see the difference.

A baseline is a set of nonverbal mannerisms (e.g. posture, movement, gestures) that a person will typically use when they feel relaxed and at ease.

Body language experts agree that you should pay attention to the subtleties and changes in a person’s body language to recognize when it’s been activated or triggered during a normal conversation.

It is also useful for observing someone else’s mood or emotions, particularly when things get heated. So, if you’re conducting an interview, observe the candidate’s body language carefully to determine if there are any areas that flag up any non-verbal shifts in body language.

Note

When we first communicate with someone, we need to figure out what their baseline is like. For example, if we view someone who is usually restless and active as agitated and impatient, then that person might just be acting in line with their baselines which can include being flighty or hyperactive.

By determining a baseline it’ll be easier to catch sudden changes in body language. This is the ultimate purpose of establishing someone’s baseline. Without this, their body language will become harder to understand and you may misinterpret a piece of information

Video To See The Differnece In A Baseline

We have made a short video on how to read someone’s baseline below to give you an idea on what to look out for.

Context

Body Language

Being aware of the situation a person is in is a key to successful baselining. You can learn a lot about someone from the environment they’re in. For example, an office setting will give you indications of their need for structure and how they respond to criticism.

In order to baseline someone, it’s important to know what type of setting they are in. Different settings will reveal different information.

Social settings, for example, may give off a different set of body language cues than being in a meeting room.

Different social settings can have a major impact on the body language that people display. For example, at a party, people might play with their hair, laugh more often and look around the room. In contrast, in an office meeting room for business or at a job interview, people might speak less and use their hands less to gesture.

Always take note of the context you find someone in when you first meet them.

Environment

When reading someone’s baseline, note whether they are inside or outside, the sessions of the year and weather conditions.

Our bodies are constantly told to adapt their temperature to the outside temperature.

For example, when it is cold, the body will have a general slowing of circulation in order to preserve heat. When it is hot, the body will have an increase in circulation so that heat can be lost more easily. These adjustments happen even without us thinking about it.

So it’s important to understand that when we’re shifting someone from one environment to another, changes in their body language signals may be observed. Examples would be redness or paleness, removing clothing or putting more on.

Psychology Term “Baseline”

The term “baseline” is most often used in psychology, where it refers to a person’s emotional state when they are calm and content.

Baselining Misunderstanding

Psychology Body Language

Many experts don’t trust baselining because subjects can anticipate the efforts of the person and then display false responses that are in line with their bias.

Being interviewed can be a daunting experience. It will be normal to feel intimidated, stressed, and anxious throughout the interview. Deceptive behaviors may be a result of these feelings – keep this in mind.

It is difficult to measure the appearance-related behavior of an interviewee during the baseline phase, so it cannot be used as a source of concrete information for interviewers.

A false read while baselining will produce faulty results and may confuse both the interviewer and interviewer. Additionally, the interviewer’s behavior towards the subject may cause them to exhibit false red flags.

Summary

Establishing a baseline is critical when it comes to reading people. Without a baseline, we have nothing to compare the information to. What may be normal behavior for you might be different for them and so on.

So, getting a baseline will allow you to compare and contrast information when you see a shift in body language. If you want to know how to read body language, please check out my blog on how to read body language.