Body Language Course: Read and Make Body Movements for Maximum Success

Chapter 1 Reading the Signs

We use body language every day in our lives to get our message across, to achieve positive feedback in our lives, and to get whatever we want. We use this language all the time, but we may not be aware of it.

Moreover, this language doesn't only involve the mouth but the whole body as well. Could you even imagine the awesome power of applying it? With it, you'll be able to interpret other people's inner emotions even if they're not directly expressing it. You'll also be able to modify your behavior to fit the situation. You'll get them to like and trust you. What words cannot do, body language can.

In this chapter, we shall explore the various body gestures or movements conveyed by people in different scenarios. Let’s begin.

Suggesting Interest

It is important to know if people are interested in what you are saying; otherwise, you are just wasting your time. Just imagine you are a chemistry teacher. You have always been interested in chemistry, so you assume that your students feel the same way as you do. But are they really interested? Are your teaching methods good enough to arouse their interest? Unless you can recognize the different body signals your students are conveying, you would never know how they are adapting to the subject matter. And unless you find out if staring continuously at you without blinking the eyes is a sign of interest or an indication of being in dreamland, you simply could not take the necessary steps to adjust to their learning needs.

Here are some of the movements exhibited by people who are interested in what you are saying:

  • They maintain eye contact more than 60% of the time. The more wide opened the eyes are, the more interested the person is. In fact, a person maintains eye contact more when listening than when talking.
  • Their heads are inclined forward.
  • They are nodding their heads. Such action means that they're agreeing with you. That means they're attentive and listening.
  • Their feet are pointing towards you.
  • They smile frequently. But take note, not all smiles convey the same feeling. An oblong smile is not genuine. It is used to show courtesy, but not necessarily happiness or friendliness. The lips are withheld completely back from the upper and lower teeth, forming the oblong shape. This is usually the smile that many people exhibit when they feign to enjoy a lame joke. 

Indications That They're More Open to Agree with You

When you were a young child, have you ever tried to decode what your parents’ facial expressions mean when you ask them to buy you a new toy or to take you to Disneyland? A frown would likely be a “No!” But a nod would make you jump with joy. As you grow older, it has become a necessity to be able to detect if other people will agree with your decision or proposal. This is an ability that will truly help negotiators, employees, and even lovers to succeed in their ventures because they would be able to change their approach early enough to adjust to a specific situation.

There are certain hints to indicate if people are more receptive in accepting your ideas. Some of these are:

  • Their hands are flat on the table.
  • Their palms are open.
  •  If they're stroking their chin, they're thinking. They may agree with you after careful evaluation.
  • Their heads are inclined forward.
  • They are nodding their heads.
  • Their legs are spaced out from each other.
  • They smile frequently.
  • They unbutton their jackets. This indicates friendliness and willingness to collaborate with you.
  • Their hands are open. This also indicates genuineness.
  • They place their hands on their chest. This signifies openness and conveys sincerity, honesty, or dedication.

However, a woman putting her hands on her breast is a defensive position and may indicate that she is surprised or astonished.

Indications That They are Thinking

People think all the time. But different individuals make different body movements based on the type and intensity of their thinking. Some of their actions are written below:

  • They’re stroking their chin. This means they are assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal/idea being presented.

  • They take their glasses off, after which they may either (1) clean them, or (2) put the tip of the frame in their mouth. They are buying themselves some time to think things over. A frame in the mouth would
    also likely indicate that they need more details and they are willing to listen.

  • They are pinching the bridge of the nose most likely with eyes closed. People doing this are engaged in very deep thought. They may be involved in a difficult situation, where they are aware of the consequences that may occur as a result of making crucial decisions.

  • They put a palm below the chin, index finger pointed and extended along the cheek, while other fingers placed beneath the mouth. This gesture more likely indicates thoughts that are criticizing or antagonizing other people. 

  • They walk with the head down and hands behind the back. People who walk this way are probably worried about their problems, and they are thinking of ways to solve them. 

Indications That They Are Frustrated/ Dismayed

A basketball coach whose team loses by a point may say “Aaarrrrrrr!” or he may just keep quiet while making certain body movements that indicate how disappointed he is. Here are some hints that indicate frustration.

  • They are scratching/rubbing the hair or the back of the neck.
  • You often hear the word “Tsk.”
  • They kick the dust or air.

Indications That They Are Action-Oriented

People who are goal-oriented and highly motivated may not only be recognized by how they speak. Their actions actually speak louder.

  • They walk at a fast rate while swinging their arms loosely.
  • They put their hands on their hips, usually with legs apart.
  • They walk with hands on their hips. This may indicate a spurt of vitality at the moment, but may be followed by sluggishness.

Indications That They Are Defensive/Hiding Something

The mouth might keep a secret, but certain gestures could indicate that people are hiding something they don’t want others to find out, such as:

  • They walk with their hands in their pockets.
  • They cross their arms.
  • They hide their hands any way they can.

Indications Of Boredom

Imagine your boss is doing a presentation and all employees are required to listen. You noticed that many of them are clicking their pen, tapping their feet, and drumming their fingers. After the meeting, you hear the boss ask them, “Did you enjoy the presentation?” They would say “Definitely!” But you know better.

Their actions indicate just how bored they are. It feels good to know body language, doesn’t it?

Some signals conveyed by people who are bored and disinterested include:

  • Head supported by the palm, often accompanied by drooping eyes.
  • They show inattentiveness by staring at a blank space (eyes not blinking) or by looking around frequently.
  • They are pulling their ears. This may also signify that they want to interrupt while another person is talking.
  • They are clicking a pen non-stop.
  • They are tapping their hands or feet.
  • They yawn incessantly.
  • Their feet or other body parts are pointing to the exit as if they are very eager to leave.
  • They move restlessly in their seats. This could also mean that they are not cozy or at ease, or they might just be exhausted.
  • They cross their legs and constantly kick their foot in a very slight motion (particularly done by females).

If you’re the one making the presentation and you discerned that your audience is displaying signs of boredom, don't start talking faster or louder.

Restrain from such act even if your instinct tells you to do so. Instead, say, "Hold on. I feel that I’m losing your attention. What's up?" Hear what they have to say. You may discover what's actually preventing them from keeping up with you.

Signals Conveying Excitement or Interest

If you have experienced getting a promotion, receiving a special gift, or winning a contest, I bet you’ve done any of the acts made by excited people when you first discovered about your blessing. Some of the movements made by excited people include:

  • They rub their palms against each other.
  • They clap their hands.
  • Their heads are tilted forward.
  • Their cross their fingers (usually comes with the hope that something big or special will happen).

Signals Exhibiting Confidence/Authority/Power

People with a high degree of self-confidence are normally more likely to be successful than those who have low self-esteem. Moreover, those who exhibit authority or dominance usually come out on top because they subconsciously make other people feel weaker. So how do they move?

  • They maintain firm eye contact and rarely looks on other body parts underneath the nose.
  • They speak with a low-pitched, slow-paced, downward-inflected voice.
  • Chin tilted upwards.
  • Chest projected outwards.
  • They maintain an erect posture, whether standing or sitting.
  • They sit in reverse, with the back of the chair serving as their support or shield. People who sit in this position are known to be bossy and aggressive.
  • Their hands are clenched behind the back.
  • Their hands are placed beside the hips.
  • Their feet are on top of the table.
  • They have a firm handshake, palms pointing downwards.
  • They lean back with both hands supporting the head.
  • They move with precision and with no hesitation.
  • They walk solidly with forceful arm swings.
  • They join the fingertips of both hands together (small finger of both hands joined together, ring finger of both hands joined together, and so on). Palms of both hands are not in contact with each other. The higher the hands are elevated, the more confident they are.
  • They extend one leg over the arm of a chair they’re sitting in. When they do this, it may also mean that they are apathetic, disinterested, or unconcerned. They may be exhibiting the “I don’t care” attitude.

Moreover, you can declare your domination over other people by raising or elevating yourself from them. It is not unusual to see taller people being in control over the situation. Choose a chair or location where other people will have to “look up” on you. They will subconsciously think they are weaker and can easily be manipulated.

Signals Of Anger/Resistance

Many people rarely let their anger go out of control. They are more likely to restrain their raging emotions. You must, therefore, be able to recognize any gesture that signifies wrath or resistance to prevent any possible chances of the fireworks exploding. Here are some hints:

  • Their fists are clenched.
  • Their hands or feet are tapping.
  • One hand is clutching the other hand, arm, or elbow.
  • Their arms are crossed over the chest.
  • Their eyes are blinking constantly.
  • Collar pulled away from the neck, like letting some air in during a hot day in the summer.
  • They kick the dust or air.
  • Their arms are vertically placed on the table while the hands are gripping the edge. Beware when they do this because it might mean something like “You better get this done or else!” or “Better listen or you’ll regret this!”

Signals Of Nervousness/Tension

Nervousness can be a turn-off. If you’re going to be interviewed on a television show (hey, who knows?), you should be aware of your body movements. Signals conveyed by nervous people include:

  • Their fists are clenched.
  • Their hands or feet are tapping.
  • The bottom edges between the fingers of one hand are clenched with the bottom edges between the fingers of the other hand. This is the position of the hands when praying.
  • Hands are interlocked (flesh between thumb and index finger of one hand joined with flesh between thumb and index finger of another hand) and pressing each other.
  • They speak in a high-pitched, fast-paced, stuttering voice.
  • They whistle to conceal and fight their nervousness.
  • They are often clearing their throat.
  • One hand is clutching the other hand, wrist, arm, or elbow.
  • Their arms are at the back, where one hand is pressing the wrist or arm.
  • Their arms are crossed, but they are gripping their biceps.
  • Their legs are crossed while standing.
  • They have a wilted handshake, palms pointing upwards.
  • Their eyes evade you.
     Their ankles are locked or glued to each other. When accompanied by clenched fists, this may indicate that they are holding back strong emotions or feelings.
     They don’t smoke. What?!? You thought people smoke because they’re nervous. But it is in fact the opposite. People who smoke only do so when they are not tensed in any way.

When you hear them say “Whew,” it means they are previously nervous but are now relieved because their problems have been solved or they have survived a big challenge.

Signals Made When They Are Doubting/Suspecting You

It’s sometimes difficult to assume whether you are being regarded as a trustworthy person, or you are being thought of as someone who is full of nonsense. Here are some clues that may indicate suspicion:

  • They glimpse sideways from the corner of one eye.
  • They are rubbing or touching their eyes or ears.
  • Their hands are tucked in their pockets.
  • Their arms are crossed over the chest.
  • Their glasses are dropped to the lower bridge of the nose, with eyes peering over them. This movement may indicate that you are being examined closely (to the point that you get conscious).

There’s one act you usually do when you are the one doubting yourself rubbing or touching your nose. This subconsciously occurs when you are uncertain of how to answer a critical question or when you are concerned of other people’s reaction to your answer.

Signals Made When They Need Reassurance

Some people have this disorder where they feel that they are always making the wrong decisions. “Should I really buy this? Maybe I should wait for a sale.” “Can I really get a better job after I resign from this company?” These people do certain actions to reassure themselves that they have made the right choice, that everything will be ok.

  • They stick a pen in their mouth.
  •  They squeeze the chunky part of their hand.
  • They rub the back of the chair (while sitting).
  • They clamp their hands with thumbs touching against one another.
  • They bite their nails (in some cases).
  • They touch their throat (for women).
  • They jiggle the coins in their pockets. (for those who are concerned about their riches).

Here’s what certain types of people would do when they want to reassure

  • A woman gives reassurance to another female by holding both of her hands and sometimes hugging her. The facial appearance of the consoling female matches the solemn mood of the other female.
  • A politician who would like to reassure you that he will be doing a good job when elected in public office would shake your hand with his right hand and cup it with his left hand.

Indications of Pride

People often show how proud they are of their material possession (for example, a car) by leaning against it or by touching it. You can see the sparkle in their eyes and you can sense the thrill in their voice.

How To Know When They Are Lying

People lie for a variety of reasons. It may be to cover up a fault or embarrassment, to avoid upsetting other people, to encourage when no hope can be perceived, or to be spared from petty hassles. It may also be due to more serious psychological problems such as delusional imaging or extreme vanity.

Here are some indications that are conveyed by people when lying:

  • They speak in a high-pitched, fast-paced, stuttering voice.
  • They are constantly swallowing and clearing their throat.
  • They try their best to avoid having eye contact. This applies particularly to people who want to avoid discussing a certain topic.
  • They look somewhere else and glimpse from the corner of their eye.
  • They stick their tongue out to moist their lips.
  • They are blinking rapidly.
  • They rub their throat.
  • Their arms are crossed over the chest.
  • They are constantly touching parts of their face, especially the mouth, ear, and nose as if covering them.
  • They scratch their head or the back of the neck.
  • Their poses are closed, descending, and insecure.
  • Their hands or feet are tapping.
  • They always look down with shrugged shoulders.
  • They are constantly moving from one place to another or changing their poses.
  • They are projecting parts of their body (feet) to an escape route (door).

Don't Jump to Conclusions

Every person has a unique body language. Although silence usually denotes that an individual is reserved and relaxed, some people keep their anger within themselves and stay quiet. (This is very unhealthy because rage kept up inside can explode furiously anytime, causing serious casualties). A wide open mouth may indicate shock or astonishment for one person while another person who performs this gesture could just be concentrating intently on a task he’s doing. Constantly touching the mouth may indicate lying, although the real reason might just be that the mouth is itching.

One way to overcome this dilemma is to watch out for other signals that jive with the body language being exhibited. For example, you can confirm if a person is really nervous if he exhibits many of the qualities of nervousness described above. Judgment based on one or two gestures only may not be
accurate enough, although they can be dependable. Be aware of the body language, but also combine your observations with the spoken words to get more hints regarding the inner feelings of another. Use this power to your advantage.

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