Someone’s cultural background can have a big influence on how they use and read body language. In many Western cultures, eye contact while speaking suggests openness and interest. People of other cultures, including many Eastern cultures, may avoid prolonged eye contact, as looking slightly down or to the side may seem more respectful. Nodding indicates agreement in many cultures. In others, it might just mean the other person acknowledges your words.
Neurodiverse people may also use and interpret body language differently than neurotypical people do. For example, you might fidget when you’re bored, but neurodiverse people might fidget in order to increase focus, calm nervousness, or self-soothe in other ways. Autistic people may also have trouble reading body language.
Certain mental health conditions can also impact someone’s body language. Someone with social anxiety might find it extremely hard to meet and hold someone’s gaze, for example. People who prefer to avoid touching others may not shake hands or embrace when greeting someone. Being aware of boundaries some people may have around casual touch can help you avoid assuming someone dislikes you.