Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Understanding Body Language - How To Read Signs and Recognize Gestures

As we all know, communication is essential in society. Advancements in technology have transformed the way that we correspond with others in the modern world.  Because of the constant buzz in our technological world, it's easy to forget how important communicating face-to-face is. When conversing old-school style, it's not only speech we verbalize that matters, but what our nonverbal gestures articulate as well.

Body language is truly a language of its own. We all have quirks and habits that are uniquely our own. What does your body language say about you? And what can you learn about others by becoming aware of what some of the signs mean?

I thought it would be fun to list some of the well-known signs that body language experts study and recognize. It is said that when talking to a person the information that we receive can be broken down as:

10% from what the person actually says
40% from the tone and speed of voice
50% is from their body language.


Lowering one's head can signal a lack of confidence. If someone lowers their head when complimented, they may be shy or timid

Touching or tugging at one's ear can indicate indecisiveness

Sincere smiles encompass the whole face (noticeable in the eyes)

A false smile usually only engages the lips

Tilting one's head can symbolize interest in something or someone

Overly tilted heads can be a sign of sympathy

Closing of eyes or pinching at the bridge of one's nose is often done when making a negative evaluation

When a listener nods, this is usually a positive message and relays that they are interested and paying attention

However, excessive nodding can imply that the listener has lost interest but doesn't want to be rude

Touching/rubbing one's nose may indicate doubtfulness or rejection of an idea

Sticking out one's chin toward another may show defiance

Resting a hand on one's cheek is often done if they are thinking or pondering, and stroking the chin can mean the person is trying to make a decision


Pushing back one's shoulders can demonstrate power and courage

Open arms means one is comfortable with being approached and willing to talk/communicate

Folded arms show that there is a sort of barricade between them and other people (or their surroundings) and indicate dissatisfaction

Resting one's arms behind their neck shows that they are open to what is being discussed and interested in listening more

Pointing one's finger can be construed as aggression or assertiveness

Touching the front of the neck can show that someone is interested and concerned about what another is saying

Hand movements that are upward & outward signify positive and open messages

Palms that are faced outwards towards another indicate one's wish to stop and not approach

If one's fingers are interlaced or if the finger tips are pressed together, it usually shows that a person is thinking and evaluating

If offering ideas to other people, many times the sides of one's palms are close together, with fingers extended


 Putting your hands on your hips can show eagerness and readiness (also, at times, aggression)

Hips pushed forward, while leaning back can show that one feels powerful (also can be a suggestive gesture)

A wide stance - where one's feet are positioned far apart - signifies more power and dominance

When one sits with legs open and part, they might feel secure in their surroundings

Crossed legs can mean several things: relaxed/comfortable, or defensive - depending on how tense the leg muscles are

When you cross your legs towards another person, you are showing more interest in them than when they are crossed away in the other direction

A confident and powerful position is the "Figure of Four Cross" when one's ankle is atop the other leg's knee and the top leg is pointed sideways

Bouncing your foot if your legs are crossed can show that you are bored or losing patience


The lowering of the eyes can convey fear, guilt or submission

Lowered eyebrows and squinted eyes illustrate an attempt at understanding what is being said or going on

A lack of confidence or apprehensiveness can be displayed when you don't look another person in the eyes.

One tends to blink more often if nervous or trying to evaluate someone else

If you look directly into another person's eyes you are displaying self-assurance

Wide eyes show more of an interest in a subject or person

If you are irritated with a comment made by another during a conversation, a common movement is to take a quick glance sideways

Staring at someone can be an aggressive gesture or suggest that the one starring feels dominant

Recalling a memory is usually done by looking up and to the right

Looking directly upwards can indicate that one is thinking

Eye contact is normally broken if someone feels insulted by another

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