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A Guide to Body Language

Written by Hank Martin in Travel Tips

Did you know that there are 6,500 spoken languages in the world today? But, despite this barrier of communication we still manage to work with, understand and help eachother. You can always tell a person's true intentions by their body language. It can help you out of sketchy situations and make you more adept at understanding people. Finally, language barriers never need to be a problem again. We say more with our bodies than we do with our words.

Reading Body Language

 

Below I've laid out useful body gestures that can help you evaluate an encounter with a stranger. It's important to remember that a stranger using only one of these gestures, such as glaring at you, is not enough to judge a person. Instead, you need to evaluate all of the body gestures, and micro gestures, that a person makes in order to correctly gauge a situation. Gestures below are broken into categories of Foe, Friend, or Unsure. Be leery if you see someone acting with foe gestures. Vice versa you can be put at ease if a stranger acts like a friend. Finally, some gestures are ambiguous. If you are interacting with someone who uses these gestures your behavior will determine if that person becomes friend or foe.

 

Gesture
Meaning
Foe
constricted pupilsanger, challenging
clenched teethanger, hostility
slow rubbing palmsfeeling of expectancy
lips pushed forward, chin thrust out, eyes glaringchallenging, dominance, anger
shaking a thumbridicule, disrespect
rubbing nose or corner of mouth/ eyelying
upward thrust of thumb“up yours”, “shove it”
crossed arms with clenched fistsanger, hostility
rubbing eye or earperson is lying
crossed legs, locked anklesdefensive, disagreeable, feels threatened
0 degree angle with torso, feet turned towards youclosed position, either hostile or attracted to you
leaning against car, in doorway, shop, etcshows ownership and territorial behavior
finger and toe tapping, grooming, head scratchinginner conflict, restlessness
walking with hands in pocketssecretive, critical of others
covering mouthdeceitful
head downdemeaning, negative
clenched hands or hand-wringinghostility, anger
hands on hipsaggressive, possibly hostile
staring at you without blinking/ blank starehostility, boredom, indifference
crowding your intimate spaceviolence or attraction imminent
shoulders pulled back, head held high, staringdominance, confidence, superiority
feet, knees, hands turned awaypoints to where attention is
walking with swinging armsperson is directed
high head, protruded chestconfidence, fearlessness, superiority
eyes flit to the sideshady, suspicious
eyebrows curl down at cornerstension, anger
looking away when talkingdeceitful
Friend
dilated pupilsexcitement
broad smile with exposed teethcontentment, laughing
mirroring body movementsinterest in person, ideas, or conversation
tilted headinterest in conversation
hands behind headconfident, superior
90 degree angle with torso and legsopen to company
rubbing chin, cheek or mustachethinking
high head, protruded chestconfidence, fearlessness, superiority
palm open and upopenness, friendliness
eyebrows curl uphappiness
lips drawn back in a smile exposing teethmaking an effort at politeness
Unsure
turned bodyfacing where his attention is
looking at door or windowwants to get away
feet, knees, hands turned awaypoints to where attention is
crossed legs, locked anklesdefensive, disagreeable, feels threatened
staring at you without blinking/ blank starehostility, boredom, indifference
rubbing neckdoubt
rubbing chin, cheek or mustachethinking
gripping one arm with the othernervous, lacking confidence
gripping wrist with one armnervous, lacking confidence
crossed arms on chestdefensive, disagreeable, feels threatened
placing coat, book, backpack on bus/train seatsuperiority, possessiveness
About the Author

Hank Martin

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Traveling for a world education and writing about the life lessons learned.

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