This gesture is inherent and continues to be used throughout a lifetime in more refined and varied forms.
Sometimes adults will refrain from using hands and bite lower lip, purse lips, or skew mouth from side to side.
This body language seems to reinforce the “trust me—I’m a humble individual and need your support” tactic.
-Demonstrated by initiator clasping both hands around the recipient’s hand. -It is intended to give impression of companionship and warmth. -Sometimes referred to as “politician’s handshake”.
-Occurs when one party stops short of grasping other participant’s palm and instead clasps his/her fingers. -Sometimes happens when one party “misses his/her mark due to lack of confidence or nervousness. -Other times, this technique is used when people want to maintain spatial distance and less intimacy.
-Initiator of this handshake will offer a straight, extended arm in greeting. -Primary purpose is to maintain distance and formality. -Sometimes people from rural areas who are used to keeping their distance will use this handshake.
-An aggressive gesture that speakers sometimes use when they want to accent what is being said. -Although this is a forceful gesture, it does not have the violent connotation as does the chopping fist with extended finger.
-Used by individuals who feel confident. -When steepled hands are in raised position, the individual is usually speaking (offering ideas, comments, etc.). -When steepled hands are in lowered position, individual usually is listening. -Researchers have noted that women tend to use the lowered steeple position more than the raised position.
-When individual holds both hands behind back, this signals confidence. -Note that this position allows individual to expose trunk of his/her body and signals unconscious act of fearlessness.
-Presentation of thumbs is a gesture, which signals superiority or dominance. -Often displayed from pockets and usually part of gesture cluster that signals an authoritative attitude.
-A signal that he/she is under pressure or feeling insecure.
-If the hand is closed and resting on cheek with index finger extended towards temple (and not used as head support), this indicates interest. -Men tend to hold their head in a vertical position, whereas women tend to tilt their head when using this gesture.
-When an individual’s hand covers mouth (partially or entirely). -A signal that he/she is exaggerating or lying. -If, however, someone covers his/her mouth while you are speaking, it indicates that listener doesn’t believe you!
-A subconscious gesture that is used when a person is intentionally trying to deceive others. -Whereas a teenager will obviously look down at his/her feet when trying to deceive, an adult might rub the corner of his/her eye which allows a break in eye contact.
Has a couple of meanings: -Sometimes people who are lying will rub back of neck while looking down and avoiding your gaze. -Other times this gesture is a signal of frustration or anger (“pain in the neck”).
This variation of arm folding usually indicates insecurity and fear
-Subtle version of full arm cross. -Generally signals insecurity.
-Posture is often intermittent and takes place when one arm reaches across the chest to touch a watch, shirt, cuff, shirt button, or bracelet, etc. -Gesture provides a discreet, temporary barrier every time someone adjusts a watchband or straightens a shirtsleeve.
-A posture where legs are crossed at the knee and the free foot is tucked behind the ankle of the stationary leg or locked to front leg of the chair. -Generally women will assume this posture. -Many women will sit like this when cold. -Some women will assume this posture when they are nervous or defensive. -The foot acts like an anchor and provides a pseudo form of security.
-This is considered the most polite, demure form of leg crossing. -Used by people posing for formal pictures and sends a message of proper form and decorum.
-Repetitive tapping or wagging of the foot is an indication of impatience, boredom, or nervousness. -The redundant foot movements are said to reflect a latent desire to run away.
-This is generally a sign of nervous distraction. -A variation of this is the twisting of a neck chain.
-If this gesture is accompanied by blinking, it indicates innocence (if eyes still maintain eye contact). -Wide eyes are also an indication of surprise.
-A distorted version of the smile that indicates sarcasm.
Understanding and interpreting_body_language
Beyond Words . . .
Understanding and Interpreting Body
• Humans pride themselves on their
seemingly unique ability to verbalize
feelings and ideas.
• While the mouth tells one story, gestures
and posture may tell a different story.
Taking Gestures Out of
(attaching significance to a single gesture)
• Gestures should be observed in clusters to
provide a more accurate picture of person
• Each gesture is like a sentence
• The sum total of postures and gestures
relate a non-verbal story
“Gut Feelings” & Congruence
• When intuition tells you that certain people
are not being straightforward even though
they sound logical & appropriate
• This “intuition” or gut feeling results from
subconscious ability to read another
person’s body language
Evolution and Refinement of
• Behavioral scientists have found that some
basic communication gestures are universal
and believed to be inherent
• Examples are: smiling, shrugging, nodding
• Children tend to exaggerate these gestures
making their body language easy to read
(See Fig. 1)
When children are small and tell a lie, their
hands fly over their mouth.
A teenager might “refine” this inherent
gesture by simply bringing tips of fingers to
An adult may bring the little
finger to edge of mouth.
Historically, an open palm has
signified honesty, truth,
allegiance, and submission.
Two Basic Palm Positions:
• Open palm in upward position- gesture
signifies appeal or request to others
• Open palm facing outward or
downward-a gesture that indicates desire to
stop or hold something down; signal of
(Fig. 4 & Fig. 5)
Closed Palm With Extended Finger
Expresses Authority That Borders on Tyranny
Veterans of Palm Deception!
Body language is an important
consideration for certain individuals:
• Politicians – generally expose palms of
hands as though appealing to public
• Remember—this is a position of
submissiveness and demonstrates to voters
that he/she is their public servant!
• Three basic attitudes are transmitted
through the handshake:
Dominance is shown by turning hand
so that palm is facing down during
Submission is shown by turning hand
so that palm is facing upwards during
Equality is shown by turning palm so
that it faces neither up nor downwards.