How someone sits or stands can indicate whether you’re welcomed or just tolerated. ■■By Dr Leow Chee Seng The art and science of legreading44 | MARCH / APRIL 2012 • OH!
How someone’s legs are positionedwhen sitting and standing can tellus much their personalities andattitudes. As with most aspects of bodylanguage, observation of leg positionswill be able to let you obtain a lot moreinformation than simply talking to thatperson.This is especially useful in Asianculture, where people tend to wear“masks” when dealing with others.For instance, if you ask your friendwhat he thought of the cake you hadbaked, he would most probably utter acompliment to please you.To understand his true feelings, youshould observe the position of his legsas he says those words. As to whathe might have actually meant, theexplanations below would give you abetter idea of the actual message.Confident legsTo better gauge a person’s opennessor level of confidence in any situation,it would be easier to observe their legswhen they’re in a sitting position. Donote that for a woman wearing a skirt,the legs will be only slightly apart dueto modesty.Most importantly, legs kept togetherand closed at the knees indicateopenness plus a sense of self-assuredness. Frankness and honestycan be demonstrated when a personhas both feet on the ground andpointing toward the other person.Legs crossed display confidence andself-assuredness for both men andwomen, but only if one knee is crosseddirectly over the other.When person is feeling neutral towardsa situation, they have no crossed legs MARCH / APRIL 2012 • OH! | 45
T h e art o f sci e n c e o f l e g r e adi n g– which means negative or closed opinions whiletheir feet won’t be pointing towards anywhere inparticular. This position enhances the confidencelevel of a person.This gesture shows a sense of self-assuredness.Further, the locking of their crossed leg positionusing one hand indicates a clear sign of a stubbornor tough-minded individual who is closed to anyother opinion but their own.Dominant legsThis gesture implies“nobody will move me fromhere because I have myfeet well positioned on the Lone legsground” “ I don’t care how you perceive me. What matters is that I feel comfortable.”A dominant person wouldstretch out his legs or crossed When writing books at home, I love to sitin front of someone. This with one leg under the other. I love thisbullying behaviour shows the style because I feel comfortable and Iperson has a strong will and am not concerned about how andappears to be self-centred in what others think of me then.order to be noticed. However, my mother complainsIf you encounter such a person, try not to of this improper sitting position.argue with him. Using a persuasive method Why? A psychologist or bodyis more effective than reasoning with him. language specialist may interpretHe might not listen to you – therefore, this gesture as someone beingreasoning with him or even correcting his naturally independent, free-errors must be done carefully. spirited, and informal.46 | MARCH / APRIL 2012 • OH!
“From leg position observations, we can quickly determine if we are included or excluded in any conversation.”When communicating with someone with lone If their feet stay in place and they twist only theirlegs, you do not need to be upper torsos in your direction,too serious. Flexibility and they don’t really want you to joininformal discussions bring in the conversation. However, ifgreater results than the formal their feet open up to include you,discussions. you know that you are welcome to join the conversation. Also, theInclusive and foot nearest you will turn slightlyexclusive legs in your direction.From leg position observations,we can quickly determine if we The two guys on the right areare included or excluded in any within the conversing groupconversation. For example, when because their legs are facingyou’re at a seminar or a party, you each other. The guy on the left iscan determine if you are welcome excluded from the conversationor simply tolerated by observing because his legs do not faceother people’s legs. the speaker. MARCH / APRIL 2012 • OH! | 47