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Read body language

Body language is a very broad term that simply means the way in which our body speaks to others.

The way that we are standing or sitting

Think for a moment about different types of posture and the message that they relay.

  • Sitting hunched over typically indicates stress or discomfort.
  • Leaning back when standing or sitting indicates a casual and relaxed demeanour.
  • Standing ramrod straight typically indicates stiffness and anxiety.

The position of our arms, legs, feet, and hands

  • Crossed arms and legs often indicate a closed mind.
  • Fidgeting is usually a sign of boredom or nervousness.

Facial expressions

  • Smiles and frowns speak a million words.
  • A raised eyebrow can mean inquisitiveness, curiosity, or disbelief.
  • Chewing one’s lips can indicate thinking, or it can be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or nervousness.

Interpreting Gestures

A gesture is a non-verbal message that is made with a specific part of the body. Gestures differ greatly from region to region, and from culture to culture. Below we have included a brief list of gestures and their common interpretation.

Gesture Interpretation

Nodding head  



Shaking head No


Moving head from side to side  



Shrugging shoulders  

Not sure; I don’t know


Crossed arms  




Tapping hands or fingers


Bored, anxious, nervous
Shaking index finger  



Thumbs up Agreement OK
Thumbs down  

Disagreement, not OK


Pointing index finger at someone/something Indicating, blaming



Welcome, introduction


Flap of the hand  

Doesn’t matter, go ahead


Waving hand  



Waving both hands over head  

Help, attention


Crossed legs or ankles  



Tapping toes or feet  

Bored, anxious, nervous




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