10 Languages Your Body Speaks

body languageWhat language does your body speak? Your arms, legs, feet, eyebrows – what do they say about you?  Body language is the unspoken words, the vibes you give off when engaging in conversation or just simply standing in room. Body language is one of my favorite topics and areas of study/research in the world of offline. Having A LOT of college classes that focused on behavior and consumer marketing and advertising behavior, and working in various industries when taking those classes, I have been able to observe people in many different situations.  Some very enlightening and friendly and some not so pleasant.

First impressions are inspiring, entertaining, concerning and sometimes just down right ugly. Our bodies speak louder than our voices as no matter what comes out of our mouth, our body tells the story.

10 Languages Your Body Speaks

1. Proximity. Someone close probably means they are interested in the conversation and trust and like you enough to feel comfortable enough to decrease the space between you.

2. Head. Tilted without a smile is sympathy, tilted with smile is flirting. Sideways leaning in is “I do not hear you” or they are going to plant a kiss.

3. Hair. Playing with the hair is either flirting, trying to get out of the conversation, nervousness or it is just poking an eye and needs to move. Difficult to determine in a brief conversation.

4. Eyes. Eye contact can be unnerving when it feels as if they are almost staring. It makes you slowly look away hoping that they do. Frequently looking way whether it be down or across the room is an indicator of not listening or if they are doing the talking either lying or have little interest in what they are saying.

5. Mouth. Big smiles – very engaged. Smirk, many times comes with the head shake as either they are not interested enough to agree or disagree or even want to say something. Then there are the lip biters – uncomfortable, nervous, unsure, comfort. I equate this to a small child who is a thumb sucker. Not in your comfort zone, you find a comfort zone – thumb or lip!

6. Arms. Folded is comfort but also closed off. Reserved or uncomfortable with some aspect of their body. This can be misinterpreted in a short conversation you can think someone is being reserved and uninterested when they may just have a stain on their shirt that they are trying to hide.

7. Hands.  Oh the hands. They are probably the easiest but hardest to consider. They point, they dig in a purse or bag. they hold, they hide in pockets, they touch, they scratch, they support rings, nails and even type – wow, hands do a lot … all things that send confusing messages.

8. Legs. If sitting, crossing of the legs is either closed off or being comfortable. Sitting straight up with legs crossed is reserved, hiding something and if arms are crossed at same time probably lying. Sitting back with legs crossed is comfort, trust and honesty.

9. Feet. As I have previously said One Foot In. The one foot is planted but the other is not as it is leaning somewhere, lifted at times or tapping. The actual gesture is not what to look at per se, but the speed.  Fast movement is excited, nervous, intimidated, frightened. In slow movement they are uncomfortable, distracted or completely uninterested.

10. Mimicking. If you do something and then thoughout the conversation the person you are speaking with makes that same gesture they are very engaged and have a high level of trust.  They want you to like them by hoping that the gesture or phrase you said is cool.

What happens when people do many of these within a conversation? Are they that uninterested, distracted, nervous, uncomfortable or very engaged they are loving the conversation to the point of moving their feet, opening their eyes big and smiling the size of the sun.

How do you know but also how do you avoid some negative body language?  When at a seminar or even a lunch watch what you are doing with a close eye on what others are doing. Peruse the room and some disagree, read something out loud or listen to a webinar in front of a mirror or set up a video camera. You will see yourself in such a different light.

What have you observed?  What do you do or no do? Me, I fold arms, bite lip and as an Italian, appreciate the hands in conversation.

photo credit: That Guy Who’s Going Places

  • Yo yo,

    Good post. I am afraid to flip on a camera bc I am afraid of what I might find out haha. It's something that everyone should really do though.

    One thing that bothers me is when someone is over-focusing on body language during a talk. For instance, they know it is important so they use their hands in a particular way too much. You have to be careful not to seem like you are trying to hard. Again, using a video camera and checking yourself out is an easy solution.
    Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 9:06 AM by Sean McVey

    For those of us working in Foreign Affairs Public Relations, body language control and understanding is a must. Your points do not translate well to other cultures however, rather they seem very contemporary North American oriented.

    Nonetheless, starting with yourself is always a good place to begin, so thank you for your post.
    Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 10:10 AM by Dean Cheves

    Very informative! Now I will pay more attention whilst not becoming self-conscious – that will be a good exercise.

    Thanks for the help!
    Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 12:44 PM by Elaine Spitz

    his is a great post. I really like how you also include the practical aspects – crossing your arms because your shirt has a stain! Great!

    My focus is learning styles – and a lot of body language has to do with how a person learns – the strong eye contact for example might show a leaning towards being a visual learner. There's a lot to this (not NLP). anyway, enjoyed your post. Got to it through LinkedIn group.
    Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 4:02 PM by Phyllis

    Sean – Yes, the over use of the hands or the mimicking of the other person to try and be their friend. Talking with your hands is natural to get a point across however when it is overused it is forced.

    A mirror works well too. The video camera is good but a mirror is good too.

    Dean – thank you for pointing out that these are north american traits as we are universal with being online and that is an important point to clarify.

    Elaine – we all are self conscious once we start to think about what our body says. Not everyone is going to like us, not everyone is going to appreciate the way we use eye contact. It is about identifying what makes us who we are and not trying to force our body language.

    Phyllis – welcome! I am a visual thinker and leaner so that is my attraction to body language. I learn a lot by not what a person says but the way that they say it with expressions.

    Wonderful comments for which I greatly appreciate. Thank you all for taking the time!
    Posted @ Monday, November 16, 2009 3:26 AM by Suzanne Vara

    Great post. I am a very shy person especially when I'm out of my comfort zone and I must admit that I practice bad body language in an attempt to protect myself. It wasnt until recently I actually decided to be more conscious of it and set realistic goals to improve. It hasnt been easy since Ive done it for so many years, but I think several opportunities have been missed as a result.

    Thanks again for your thought on the subject. Posted @ Monday, November 23, 2009 3:47 PM by Matsue


    I think that we all are shy in our own way but taking the time to identify and work on it is a step in the right direction. When I first get to an event in a place that I have not been before I am like wall flower trying to get comfortable with being there and who is in the room.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
    Posted @ Tuesday, November 24, 2009 8:53 PM by Suzanne Vara

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