More About Body Language

The Eyes

Eye Level: In a group, the person whose eye level is highest is usually perceived as the leader. Standing while others are sitting puts you in a definite position of authority. They actually teach this at the top business schools.

Eye Rubbing: When a person strokes the eye with a forefinger, it indicates deception. Since this person wants to cut off visual contact, it provides an excuse for looking away. This usually involuntary movement is a dead giveaway that the person is not telling the truth.

Averting the Eyes: This is usually a sure sign of deceit, guilt or lying.

Closed Eyes: When someone’s eyes close for a moment longer than a conventional blink and the eyebrows are raised, the message is, “Stop what you are saying.”

Eyes Rolling Upward: This is a sign of exasperation.

Sideways Glance: This gesture is a coy , flirtatious signal. The person stares boldly while lowering the head and tilting it away — a classic move. It indicates “bold shyness”.

Prolonged Glance: This is an unmistakable sign of sexual attraction. A person who makes eye contact, looks away, and then catches your eye again is saying, “I want to get to know you better.”

Hard Stare: This signals an invasive, aggressive and threatening mood.

Up-and-Down Gaze: When a man runs his eyes up and down a woman’s body, he’s letting her know he’s interested in a physical way.

The Wink: A wink is a deliberate signal. It shows that a secret is being shared between the winker and the one being winked at.

Both Eyebrows Raised: From across a crowded room, the signal is perfectly clear, “I want to meet you.”

One Eyebrow Raised: When one eyebrow is raised and the other lowered, this means “I don’t quite believe you.”

Eyebrows Knit: When both eyebrows are drawn together, causing a furrow in the middle, it indicates acute anxiety, pain, fear, anger or a combination of these emotions.

Covering the Face: When the hand goes over the face it means, “I am shocked.” The gesture distances the person making the gesture from an offending situation.

The Nose

Nose Touch: When a person’s hand makes contact with his or her nose during conversation, it usually indicates that the person is hiding something. The person performing the action is usually unaware of the gesture and to all outward appearances, he or she seems calm. But inside, the person is actually in turmoil. Psychologists believe that touching the nose is an involuntary move to cover the mouth — and to hide the lie. But the hand shifts to the nose instead to disguise the meaning.

Nose Flare: Anger, exasperation or outrage.

Nose in the Air: When the nose is raised by tilting the head back, the message is clear. This person is saying, “I’m superior. I’m better than you.” Literally, “looking down one’s nose” is the universal symbol of snobbery.

Holding the Nose: Something is rotten.

Nose Twist: A nose twisted to one side indicates disapproval or dislike.

Nose Wrinkle: When the muscles around the nose tighten, creating wrinkle lines between the eyes, it reveals disgust — from mild disapproval to complete revulsion.

The Mouth

Forced Smile: This controlled grin does not spread up to the eyes.

Grimace: This pulls the corners of the lips back into a sneer and exposes the teeth.

Closed-Lip Smile: This grin is simply a courtesy, usually used to be polite.

Open Smile: This exposes the upper teeth and lets the person you’re talking to know that you want to get better acquainted.

Lips Puckered: If a person puckers up his or her lips, he or she finds someone sexy.

Tense, Pursed Lips: These indicate tension and disapproval.

Lip Bite: When someone bites his or her lower lip and shakes the head, the person is indicating anger.

Lip Touch #1: When the forefinger is brought to the lips vertically for a moment, it blocks the source of speech and says, “Be quiet!”

Lip Touch #2: But when the forefinger touches the lower lip and the mouth is slightly open, it means, “I want to talk to you.”

The Head

Nodding the Head: Helps others relax and indicates agreement.

Shaking the Head: Shaking the head from side to side indicates disagreement and disinterest.

Resting the Chin: A chin supported by a hand says, “I’m bored.” The person may want to look interested, but the message really is, “I can’t concentrate on what you’re saying.”

Neck Rub: Rubbing the neck reveals uncertainty about what is being said or heard. This gesture is usually made with the forefinger on the side of the neck, just below the ear.

Chin Stroking: This promising sign indicates that the listener is intent on every word you are saying. It’s a pensive move that’s usually performed by men without beards.

Chin Rubbing: This slightly different gesture, made by running the forefinger across the bottom of the chin, can indicate the listener doesn’t believe you.

Yawning: Sleepiness isn’t the only reason we yawn. There is a “social yawn” — one that arises from a mildly stressful situation. When uncertain of what to do next, yawning is a way to “buy some time”.

The Hands

The Firm Handshake: A person who reaches out and then turns the hand so that his or her hand is on top — palm down — is trying to dominate. This handshake is often used in diplomatic or political situations.

The Bone-Shattering Handshake: Indicates mastery and enthusiasm. There’s no mistake who’s in charge here.

Limp-Wrist Shake: A person who extends only the fingers or whose hand feels like a wet fish when you grasp it is saying, “I don’t want to touch you; I don’t like intimacy.” It’s also a sign of submission and weakness. When a man uses this handshake in a business setting, he may be indicating that he intends to secretly manipulate the situation.

Double Handshake: When the left hand is used to cover the hand being shaken, it is called the “glove handshake”. It shows an ultra-friendliness and intimacy — almost like a miniature hug.

Finger Motion: Tapping, strumming or keeping a steady rhythm with your fingers indicates impatience or a lack of tolerance. It’s a symbolic form of running away — the fingers do the walking even though the body stays put.

Hands Hidden from Sight: This is a sly and secretive gesture. The person is saying, “I don’t want to communicate with you.” This is especially true for hands that are thrust deep into pockets where there can be no touching, hand-holding or any kind of intimacy.

Hands on Lap: When palms are up, the person is open and receptive. When palms are down, there may be aggression or deceit involved.

Finger Steeple: When someone presses the fingers together and rests the chin and mouth on the fingertips, it indicates deep thought — as though the person is praying for an answer. It is also a barrier that protects the chest, lower face and mouth.

Fist Covered by Open Hand: A person in this position is furious but struggling to stay calm — literally trying to “get a grip”. But beware of this person — it may take very little to cause a loss of control.

Hands Jabbing: A person who wants to impose his or her ideas in a forceful manner may jab a hand toward the listener. A less aggressive action is to use only the forefinger.

Hands Clasped behind the Head: This is an arrogant gesture, especially if the person is leaning back. It says, “I have so much power over you, I don’t even have to defend myself.”

Fiddling with a Wedding Ring: This nervous trait indicates that there is something wrong with the relationship — especially if the person is talking about his or her spouse at the same time.

Fidgeting with Hands: This is the body’s attempt to escape. The adrenaline is rushing but the person doesn’t know how to get away. Playing with shirt cuffs or jewelry on the wrists tells others you need attention. In a bar, this action is appropriate. But in a business meeting, it’s a distraction.

Stroking a Tie: This is a man’s way of saying, “I’d like to make a good impression.” It’s his way of letting you know he’s trying hard to please.

Hand through Hair: When people don’t know what to say, they often run their fingers through their hair. The observer who can read body language knows the person is unsure about what to do or say next.


Flexing the Arm: This says, “I’m strong.” Raising one’s arms also is a way of attracting attention. Reaching out with both arms is a gesture of welcome.

Arms Behind: When the hands are clasped behind one’s back , it means the person has the situation under control They’re saying “I’m at ease.” It’s similar to the pose that soldiers adopt when they’re not at attention.

Arms in Front: When we’re anxious, we tend to keep our hands and arms in front of our bodies to create a protective barrier.

Arms Clasping: Unlike arm crossing, where arms are crisscrossed over the chest, this gesture is seen when people are in anxious situations. It actually looks a if they are hanging onto themselves for dear life.

Arms Folded: When the arms are crossed in front of the body, it usually indicates a defensive posture. The person is saying, “I don’t want to listen to anything that conflicts with my opinion.” Most people are unaware of the barrier this stance creates, but it does serve to block any intrusion, especially if tense lips and a frown accompany it.

Spreading Out: When a man sits and spreads out, he’s saying, “I’m taking over here.” But when a woman does it, men tend to think she is overstepping her bounds. However, is she only places one arm on a neighboring chair, she says, “I want to be equal to you.”

Hands on Hips, Arms Spread (Akimbo): When the hands are placed on the hips so the elbows jut away from the body, the person is saying, “Stay away from me.” This is an unconscious action that we perform when we’re feeling antisocial or we’re in a crowd and don’t want others coming too close.

Shoulder Shrug: The shoulders hunch and hands are turned palms out. The message is clear, “I don’t know you” or “I can’t help you.” It indicates a feeling of helplessness on the part of the person making the gesture.


Jiggling the Foot: When a person is seated with legs crossed and one foot bouncing in the air, the message is, “I’m bored.” These movements indicate running away, even though the person’s body remains stationary.

Legs Crossed at the Knee: This familiar posture — equally popular among men and women — means, “I am very relaxed.”

An Ankle over the Knee: This is normally a “guy thing”. It says, “I am assertive but relaxed.” This pose was the original “cowboy’s leg cross”. If you do it in a Middle Eastern country, don’t let the sole of your shoe show!

Legs Crossed at the Ankle: This pose, used more often by men than by women, says, “I am politely relaxed.”

Leg Twine: This is a popular pose for females. A women entwines her legs, often hooking one foot behind her other ankle. Men find this difficult if not impossible to do. The tightness of the position gives the impression of self-hugging and adds a sexual overtone.

Locking the Foot: This is another gesture that is typically female. She stands and locks one foot behind the other. It usually means that she is nervous or uncomfortable.


Sitting: Do you know any sprawlers? These space invaders open their legs and drape their arms on the backs of neighboring seats. They’re broadcasting to everyone that they’re in the room, filing it up with their presence.

Legs Crossed over Thigh: This is a typically masculine position that is also used by women who are wearing pants. It’s an attitude that conveys stubbornness and means, “I won’t change my mind, so don’t bother trying.”

Leg Hugging: Women to this more than men. They often settle on a chair or couch and curl into a tight ball hugging their legs. Although this self-loving attitude makes it seem as though a women is pulling inward, she is actually reaching out for a romantic encounter.

On the Edge of the Chair: When a person perches on the edge of a chair, you can assume the person is alert, opinionated and eager to share ideas and feelings — although they may be quite different than yours.

Clasping the Knees: When someone leans forward and clasps the knees, that’s a signal for you to talk fast. The listener is about to spring out of his or her seat and leave.

Straight-Backed: Determined, rigid and persistent is the message of people who sit like this. Maintaining appearances is important to them and they’re willing to sacrifice almost anything to achieve their goals.

Leaning Backward: Also known as “chair-tippers”, these are people who are adventuresome and mischievous. They’re willing to take risks — like tipping over backwards, which sometimes happens.

Leaning Forward: Sitting in this posture shows intense interest in the speaker. It says, “I’m paying attention” When this happens, the speaker is often leaning backward, which indicates that he or she is in control.

Slumping: While it may appear that a person slumping in a chair is uncomfortable, the opposite is true. This informal attitude shows self-confidence in any social setting.

Both Feet on the Ground: These down-to-earth sitters are independent, practical and organized. They want you to know they’re in command of the situation. The message these people give off is, “Watch your step around me. I mean business.”

Chair Straddling: Turning the chair around and sitting as though astride a horse is typically masculine. It reveals a forceful and domineering person [and an asshole]. When a woman assumes this posture, she is saying, “I want to be like a man.”


Stand Tall: An erect posture says you are self-assured, honest and successful. Even if you’re short, a confident pose will make you appear more imposing.

Big Steps vs. Little Steps: Using the entire leg to walk, taking long strides and holding the back straight and head up indicate an assured, forthright attitude. Conversely, taking mincing steps with shoulders hunched makes a person appear timid and vulnerable.

Friendly Greeting: Briefly lifting an eyebrow when you first meet someone makes you seem interested, lively and alert.

Close Encounters: Everyone is entitled to a certain amount of personal space around them. As a rule, that personal space extends from three to six feet around you. The intimate zone extends a mere 20 inches. When a person moves in too close, it can cause discomfort. It is an aggressive move that shows little respect for the boundaries of others. This behavior can make a passive person feel vulnerable and defensive. Stay back — unless you are invited in.

Not Interested: If you want to seem above it all, lean back against a wall with your arms crossed over your body. The message is very clear — “Don’t bother me.”

Clamping the Neck: When the hand swings up and clamps itself to the back of the neck, it indicates anger. In primitive times, that gesture would have ended up as a swat or a bang on the other person’s head. But in polite society, the action is checked. Those who know body language understand the power of this action.

Fidgeting: In a social situation, if you jingle the change in your pocket, play with your hair or fiddle with your clothing, it’s a clear sign that you are nervous and tense. To make a good impression on others, try to calm these agitated motions.

Pulling the Pants: This is done more by men than by women, simply because men almost always wear trousers. The cloth of one leg is lifted to indicate disbelief, as though the person has just stepped in something distasteful and is trying to shake it off.

Leaning against the Wall: When you rest yourself against a wall or doorway in a relaxed and open way, you’re saying, “Don’t leave.” It’s a way of prolonging a conversation — especially if you’re in a social setting.

Mirroring: When two people are talking and find themselves in the same position, it reveals a mutual fondness. People who have been together a long time often mirror each other’s gestures and even say the same words at the same time.

Face Off: Unlike mirroring, which also occurs with two people face-to-face and body-to-body, it indicates extreme aggression. Under normal circumstances, people turn slightly away from one another when they’re talking. If they want a showdown, however, they position themselves nose-to-nose in this very confrontational stance.

Bowing: This old-world gesture of respect is no longer typical in this country except in diplomatic circles and formal circumstances. In earlier times, however, it was used as a common greeting. Now it is most often used when actors or performers take a stage bow.


These are some of the ways you can be deceived, even by those you know best. But beware — don’t be duped. Try not to get so caught up in watching body movements that you forget to listen to what’s being said.

Forced Smile: A real smile reaches up and crinkles the eyes. A fake smile looks more like a grimace and usually indicates untruthfulness.

Face Touching: Ear pulling and eye rubbing signal concealment. Rubbing the eye says, “I can’t look at you” because eye contact is broken. Likewise, nose rubbing also indicates a lie.

Chin Rub: Running the forefinger over the chin reveals uncertainty or an untruth.

Finger Drumming: This is an attempt by the body to leave the scene — to escape. The fingers are already running away. Other actions that mean escape include foot tapping or playing with jewelry.

Neck Scratching: Another giveaway of untruthfulness is scratching the neck, again with the forefinger just under the ear — similar to ear pulling.

Collar Tug: When someone lies, the body temperature increases slightly. The hand automatically reaches up to let air in by loosening the collar. This movement literally shows that someone is “hot under the collar”.

Hands in Pockets: Other indications of the hands giving the liar away are playing with one’s neckline, shoving a hand into a jacket, shirt or blouse, or deep into trouser pockets.

Closed Hand: Clenching a fist also shows that a person has something to conceal, whereas an open palm displays a candid attitude.

Hand Gestures: Most liars have fewer hand gestures tied into their speech patterns. But they will scratch their bodies repeatedly. According to Dr. Lewis, who studies the behavior of liars, a liar will usually scratch him or herself “five times in a row”.

Body Movements: Shrugging and other body movements that occur at inappropriate moment could be indications of deceit.

Covered Mouth: When someone places his or her fingers over the mouth, it’s an unconscious concealing move that says, “I shouldn’t have said that.” The action itself prevents anything further from being said.

Restless Feet: When a foot starts tapping or swinging, a lie is probably in the works. Also watch for other sudden changes in behavior.

Voice Changes: Listen to the tone and the pitch. The pitch will go up when a lie is in progress. Listen to see if it’s strained or if hesitations are longer. Taking extra time to answer questions allows a pause to gather the thoughts into a plausible answer. In addition, guilt is revealed by talking too much or too fast.

Stone Face: Liars are good at concealing facial expressions. They may be able to control their fidgeting and their twitching. But if the face is totally unemotional, it’s a sign of holding back the truth. This goes for many kinds of liars — from professional con men to cheating spouses. The classic “poker face” has been utilized to cover up for a multitude of sins. Of course, some people are just stone-faced by nature.


Watch for these signs to spot a liar in any situation:

excessive blinking
stuttering or stumbling over words
smiling crookedly
shrugging and sighing
answering questions too carefully and deliberately

Source: More About Body Language

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