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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  

Yes

 

Shaking head No

 

Moving head from side to side  

Maybe

 

Shrugging shoulders  

Not sure; I don’t know

 

Crossed arms  

Defensive

 

 

Tapping hands or fingers

 

Bored, anxious, nervous
Shaking index finger  

Angry

 

Thumbs up Agreement OK
Thumbs down  

Disagreement, not OK

 

Pointing index finger at someone/something Indicating, blaming

 

Handshake  

Welcome, introduction

 

Flap of the hand  

Doesn’t matter, go ahead

 

Waving hand  

Hello

 

Waving both hands over head  

Help, attention

 

Crossed legs or ankles  

Defensive

 

Tapping toes or feet  

Bored, anxious, nervous

 

 

 

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