I hate it when I'm misunderstood. It happens a lot. People often misinterpret my body language, thinking I'm uncomfortable or rude even when I'm trying not to be. There are times in my life (I suspect there are times in anyone's life) when I seem uncomfortable or awkward. Lately, it's been because of my hands, which I've preferred either sticking in my pockets or holding against my arms. Both these positions make me appear unhappy. I swear I'm not.
What spurred this was R-dogg's declaration that the Starbucks ladies are unhappy with me. They claim that I am unfriendly with them, grabbing my coffee and completely lacking any greeting. In his defense, R-dogg did attempt to rationalize my behavior, but he wasn't entirely sure why I was so odd in front of them either. He confronted me about it, and I managed to blubber something about being uncomfortable around new people. But I've been thinking more about this, and I think it's deeper than that.
R-dogg and I have an odd dynamic to our friendship. He is the bombastic, incredibly friendly and very social guy. I am his comic foil. My purpose is to listen and occasionally make a funny quip or an insightful remark. I am quite happy in this role and function well with it. Our friendship works quite well.
However, when R-dogg isn't around and I am left alone with the Starbucks ladies he has befriended, I become shy. I say hi, grab my coffee and sit down to read or work for class. As previously noted, my body language will suggest that I'm uncomfortable at the table. Starbucks ladies, I am not put off by you. Indeed I find you very affable and nice. Your willingness to remember my name and the exact thing I want is quite amazing. But when I'm there alone, it's often for ulterior motives. I want to be alone, sipping my coffee and being contemplative. My reserved greeting or lack of conversation is merely because I have other things on my mind.
Part of the problem is that we (as a society) read far too much into each other's body languages. Analysts suggest that 80% of our communicating is through body language. I feel that may be because we are pushing our own preconceived ideals about body language onto others. Maybe it would honestly be better if we spoke exactly in the way that we meant and didn't judge based on the way their bodies react.