Example: Misinterpreting Body Language

Here is my recollection of a conversation I had with a close friend several years ago. I was in a great mood! I was peaceful, relaxed… euphoric actually, on the inside, as I recall. But unfortunately, that’s now what she saw.


I’ve also included some internal commentary in italics to help explain my perspective.

Friend: “What’s wrong?”

I’m kinda confused by such a seemingly random question. I wonder where she’s going with this and so answer cautiously.

Me: “Wrong with what?”

Friend: “You’re sad.”

Now I’m completely confused. Where did that come from?! How am I supposed to respond to that? This has caught me completely off guard and I’m not sure what to say. I’m rapidly trying to figure out what I’ve missed and where this line of questioning is going, but I have less than a second before I have to give an answer…

Me: “No I’m not.”

Friend: “Yes you are. I can see it in your face. Tell me what’s wrong.”

I finally get it and actually laugh out loud when it clicks.

Me: “Haha… There’s nothing wrong. I’m fine.” *Big Smile* “Maybe I’m tired or something”

Ok, so it turns out laughing was a bad move. Due to her emotional state (empathetic to my sadness) it was completely unexpected and therefore she thinks it must have been fake.

Friend: “Come on. You can tell me.”

Still with a big understanding smile on my face – but now I’m trying to recover the situation. I realise the seriousness of the misunderstanding. I can’t just laugh it off…

Me: “If there were something wrong… I would tell you. But I’m actually in a really good place right now. Completely content… very peaceful… kinda sleepy… definitely not sad.”

She clearly doesn’t believe me but she’s dropped it for now. Hopefully she’ll forget about it, but I should be extra sensitive in case this influences her mood for the rest of the day. ‘This’ being her interpretation of my ‘peaceful quietness’ as if something is wrong.


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