There are around six and a half thousand languages in the world so it’s a wonder that as a specie we manage to talk to each other at all. It can be scary and confusing when you turn up in a foreign country and you can’t even read the signs let alone talk to people. But there is one language we all understand. From the language of the body, you can spot a bad day from a mile away. As the two people sit there arm crossed and not making eye contact, we can interpret that as lack of confidence or shyness.
They say that the eyes are the window to the soul so anyone who stares lovingly into them is actually just a peeping into them. How your eyes meet with other eyes normally is an indication of confidence, interest and honesty. It’s supposed to be one of the most important factors in giving a great job interview. If you turn up to an interview and stare at the floor you’re unlikely to get hired unless you’re applying for floor technician in which case you’re hired. Be careful, however, to not overdo it. Good strong eye contact is one thing a hard stare is another. This is not universal though. In areas like Eastern Europe, it is fairly normal to have people stare at you on public transport. They are not being creepy or aggressive as people would assume in the UK and it’s fairly normal.
For many parts of the day our legs main job is to get us from point A to point B and to stop us falling off our chairs again but when they’re not stuffed under a desk or bouncing along the pavement they can reveal your personality type. For men the classic man-spreading hints towards a dominant personality. It indicates of someone who likes to be in charge. In most European and Asian countries men often sit with the less leg cross over. With both legs pointing downwards in the US, this will probably indicate a closed nature but if one leg is horizontal with the ankle resting over the knee then this is a confident and often argumentative pose. Imagine if you will, a smug yoga teacher who is explaining why you shouldn’t eat gluten.
The female leg position has obviously been influenced by clothing so a leg spread is pretty rare because it is deemed as impolite in many cultures. As a result most female leg poses involve the legs being together but there’s still plenty of variety in there. The more closed form is when one foot wraps around the back of the other leg. This is called an ankle law in both men and women. This is the sign of repression or fear. A study shows that 88% of people lock their ankles when sitting in a dental chair to have a procedure. Only 68% do it for just a checkup. The female power pose is both legs together in parallel and tilted to the slight angle. It shows control and is often used in fashion modeling. It also makes women look more like mermaid and who wouldn’t want that.
Men don’t often play with their hair but this is likely due to not having lots of it since you see plenty of little boys doing it running your hands through your hair especially taking hair away from your face. It’s often seen as flirtatious since you are showing you are happy with your appearance. The most extreme of these is tossing your head back and shaking out your hair but it can also make you look like you’re auditioning for a shampoo advert. Playing with hair is not always a good sign though holding hair indicates awkwardness and nervousness so make sure that your hands don’t linger too long in your locks. A good contrast is someone curling their hair around a finger. It can be flirtatious or done as a way to relax but if the hair is held by one hand and twirled by another it’s a much more nervous signal.
Sometimes, we fidget from time to time in a variety of different ways. There are various hair flicks and twirls we mentioned before. There’s nail biting head catching mouse wriggling and the list goes on but most of these are unobtrusive. After all you would notice them unless you were looking at the person. However, finger drumming is a loud and obvious message. It broadcasts your impatience or frustration across the whole room and you often don’t realize you’re doing it in times of stress. Many people drum their fingertips on the desk or the table. It’s also very common to use an object like a pen or even the back of your phone. For a lot of people it is done subconsciously and in this case it is a sign of nervousness. In short your body doesn’t know what to do with itself but it can be used consciously often by more dominant person to show that they are not happy with the current situation.
The most common body language signal of all is crossing your arm. You don’t need to be a psychologist to know what it means. It’s probably one of the first major signals that children learn to read. Having your arms crossed is a sign of big trouble. However, if your arms are crossed behind your back the meaning is reversed. Shyness turns to fearlessness and anger becomes calm. Although if you just committed a crime, this gesture probably means you’re being arrested.
Positive hand gestures include things such as rubbing your palms together. This shows that you’re expecting a good outcome. Holding your palms open facing up makes you more trustworthy since you are showing you have nothing hidden in them. Where you point your body when it comes to body language your chest is basically a big arrow so where you are pointing it indicates where your interest lies. In a meeting anyone whose chest is pointed away from the meeting is either not interested or disagrees with what’s being said. Being bent forward with the chest aiming down is a sign of being at guard. You’re not committing one way or the other. It’s a good indicator of romance to people who connect well and are interested in each other because they will naturally be drawn to face each other. So if you’re on a cinema date and they’re leaning on the far armrest, there’s probably no Hollywood happy ending for you. If you’re at a party it’s a good way to pick out who is interested in.
There’s a lot of science involved in a simple handshake actually. They can be confusing for people from Asian cultures where this kind of body contact is pretty uncommon. There are many factors in a handshake. The pressure you exert, the angle and what you do with your other hand matter a lot. No one likes a weak handshake where it feels like you’re waggling and old fish around. It implies a lack of determination and commitment. When it comes to your free hand, there are a number of different positions. Using it to cup the hands from beneath in a two-handed handshake shows sincerity and a desire for closeness but cupping from above shows dominance as you are trapping their hand between yours. Gripping the upper arm while shaking hands is also supposed to show closeness, however, it has become synonymous with politicians which gives it a slightly fake feel.
Now, lying is a skill that takes practice. We’re not saying that you should practice this skill but if you want anyone to believe all those things you wrote on your resume, you ought to know how to lie properly. A sign of lying is a dry mouth. Lookout for people licking their lips or swallowing strangely. In ancient China they actually had a test to detect lying. The suspects would be made to hold a handful of dried rice in their mouths for a few minutes and when they spat it out if it was still dry they were said to be lying.