There are so many subtle things we can convey with our body language, and sometimes we don’t even know that we’re doing them. The next time you have a conversation with someone, see if you (or they) are doing any of these things!
1. Spread Legs
Manspreading, or sitting with your legs spread open, is often a major annoyance on public transit, and there’s actually a reason that people do it.
“For men, the classic manspreading shows the dominant person, someone who likes to be in charge: “the kind of people who give themselves ‘you da man’ pep talks in the mirror every morning,” says a video from The Hub.
Janine Driver, author of the New York Times bestseller “You Can’t Lie To Me” says sitting like this means you’re marking your territory and trying exert your dominance.
“People with power are seen to take up more space,” she explains.
2. Reaching for a Handshake
Handshakes are common in the business world, and really just the world in general, and yours can say a lot about you.
If you reach first for the handshake, you’re showing that you feel welcomed by the other person and are happy to meet them.
A weak handshake shows a “lack of determination and commitment,” and using both hands to cup a handshake shows a “sincerity and desire for closeness.” A strong handshake shows that you’re outgoing and confident, which is why people are always looking for strong handshakes in job interviews.
3. Always Smiling
A smile is contagious, and when you smile it can trigger another person to smile as well. The more you smile, the more attractive people can find you. A smile can draw people in and ant them to be near you.
“Evidence shows conclusively that smiles and laughter build the immune system, defend the body against illness and disease, medicate the body, sell ideas, teach better, attract more friends, and extend life,” say Barbara and Allen Pease in The Definitive Book of Body Language.
4. Eye Contact
We’ve always known that it’s polite to make eye contact during a conversation, but there is a limit.
“When you give more than 80 per cent, the person you are communicating with will feel uncomfortable,” explains Driver. “Give them eye contact, then slightly glance away.”
Giving 40% or less eye contact during a conversation can show that you’re feeling defeated, but giving too much can be seen as aggressive. The magic number is around 60% eye contant.
“How your eyes meet with other eyes normally is an indication of confidence, interest and honesty,” according to a video by The Hub. “Good, strong eye contact is one thing, a hard stare is another.”
Locking eyes with someone can prove that you’re trustworthy and make you seem less threatening.
5. Interlaced Fingers
If you’re locking fingers with someone else, this is often seen as a romantic gesture. However, if you’re interlocking your own fingers, this is a sign of stress or discomfort.
“When something’s troubling us, we tend to stiffen our fingers, interlace them, and… move our hands back and forth very slowly,” says former FBI agent Joe Navarro.
He also says that interlocking your own fingers is a self-soothing motion.
6. Crossed Legs
Sitting with your legs crossed can mean a few different things. When you sit with your ankle over your knee, this is seen as being confident and dominant, and opens up your “power zone.”
“We have three areas on our body where we open up when we are stress-free and relaxed: the neck dimple, belly button, and ‘naughty bits,’” Driver says.
This was predominantly a male position, but Driver notes that women are starting to adopt this position more.
However, if you sit with your ankles locked or crossed, this can mean you’re feeling uncertain or fearful, which is why this position is often seen during interviews.
Men have voted that their favorite position for seated women is crossing your legs at your knees, so take that as you will.
7. Crossed Arms
Man people believe that crossing your arms is a sign of being distant, insecure, anxious, defensive, or stubborn. While this can be true, there are some other ways to see crossed arms too.
According to Driver, crossing your arms can mean you’re determined. A study showed that adults who were asked a hard math question were 30% more likely to try and solve the problem when their arms were crossed.
“The act of crossing your arms utilizes both your left and right brain, creating higher cognitive function,” says Driver.
Navarro also notes that crossing your arms can be a self-soothing measure, more of a way to comfort yourself instead of blocking others off.
8. Hands on Hips
This is often a go-to pose for women when they’re trying to accentuate their waist in a photo, but putting your hands on your hips can be a bad way of letting people in. According to Driver, this stance can come off as aggressive when used in our every-day life, and usually means you’re ready for a confrontation.
“We become very territorial” when we do this pose, according to Navarro.
9. Licking Your Lips
Licking your lips can mean that you’re lying, because our mouths tend to dry out when we lie. If you’re just licking your lips because you forgot your chapstick, be careful who you’re talking to. Licking your lips can signify an attraction to the person you’re talking to. It could also mean you’re talking about someone who you consider a love interest.
10. Touching Your Face or Hair
“Running your hands through your hair, especially taking hair away from your face, is often a sign of flirting and openness,” The Hub video says. “Playing with hair is not always a good sign, though. Holding hair indicates awkwardness and nervousness.”
Be careful, though. Touching your face during a conversation, particularly your nose, can be a sign of deception. It’s best to keep your hands away from your face and hair when talking because it can be a tell-tale sign of lying.
So there you have it, 10 things that your body language says about you.
Are you guilty of any of these things?