Body Language Signs That Have a Hidden Meaning
by Sarah Barber
#14: Excessive Nodding
Have you ever found yourself nodding along to someone’s conversation, even though you’ve completely lost interest? It’s a common scenario, and one that can be easily detected through body language. Excessive nodding can be a sign that a person has lost interest in the conversation or topic, but is trying to be polite and avoid appearing rude.
So what can you do if you find yourself nodding excessively? One strategy is to actively listen and engage with the conversation. Ask questions, offer your own opinions, and show genuine interest in what the other person is saying. This will not only keep you engaged, but also signal to the other person that you’re truly interested in what they have to say.
#15: Tilted Heads
Tilting one’s head to the side is a common body language gesture that can often be seen as a sign of sympathy or empathy. But why do we tilt our heads when we’re feeling sympathetic? One theory is that it’s an instinctual response that dates back to our early ancestors.
When a person tilts their head to the side, it exposes the neck and vulnerable areas of the body, which is a sign of submission and non-aggression. This may have helped to diffuse potentially dangerous situations and build trust between individuals.Interestingly, dogs are also known for tilting their heads in a similar way when they’re trying to understand or empathize with their owners.
#16: Making a Negative Evaluation
Have you ever found yourself closing your eyes or pinching the bridge of your nose when someone asks you a difficult question or presents you with a challenging problem? You’re not alone! This common body language gesture is often used as a way to signal negative evaluation or disapproval.
When we close our eyes or pinch our noses, we’re essentially trying to shut out or block the information that’s being presented to us. It’s a natural instinct to avoid things that we find unpleasant or challenging, and this gesture is a way of physically manifesting that instinct.
#17: Showing Defiance
You’ve probably seen it before: someone juts out their chin towards another person as a way of showing defiance or challenging them. This body language gesture is often seen in confrontational situations, and it’s a way of asserting dominance or asserting oneself in the conversation.
By sticking out their chin, a person is making themselves appear taller and more imposing, which can be intimidating to the other person. It’s a subtle way of communicating that they’re not backing down, and they’re not going to be pushed around. However, it’s important to note that this body language gesture can also be seen as aggressive or hostile, depending on the context.
#18: Feeling Secure
Ah, the infamous “manspread.” We’ve all seen it before – a person sitting with their legs open and apart, taking up more space than necessary. But why do some people sit like this? One reason is that it can make a person feel more secure in their surroundings. By taking up more space, they’re creating a physical barrier between themselves and the world around them.
This can be especially true in crowded or uncomfortable environments, where people might feel the need to protect themselves. Additionally, sitting with one’s legs open can be seen as a way of asserting dominance or confidence. It’s a subtle way of saying, “I’m here, and I’m not afraid to take up space.”
#19: Lowering of The Eyes
Have you ever noticed how when you’re in a heated argument, the other person suddenly looks down at their feet? Or maybe you’ve done it yourself? That’s because lowering your gaze is a natural response to feelings of fear, guilt, or submission. It’s a way of avoiding confrontation and indicating that you’re not a threat.
Think about it, when you’re scared, what do you do? You avert your eyes and look away. When you’re feeling guilty, you can’t even bring yourself to make eye contact because you know you’re in the wrong. And when you’re feeling submissive, you lower your gaze as a sign of respect and deference to the other person.
#20: Recalling Memories
Our eyes are often described as the windows to our soul, and they can reveal a lot about our inner thoughts and feelings. Research has shown that when we try to remember something visual or spatial, we tend to look up and to the right. But why exactly that is?
This is because the left side of the brain, which controls language and logical thinking, is connected to the right side of the body, including the right eye. Therefore, when we try to recall a visual memory, the left side of the brain is more active, causing us to look towards the right.
#21: The Direction of The Knees Matters
Ah, the good old knee cross. It’s a classic move that can speak volumes about how you feel towards the person you’re sitting with. When you cross your legs at the knee and point your knees away from the person, it’s like your body is screaming “get me outta here!”
It’s a clear sign of discomfort, and it’s not hard to see why. When we’re nervous or uneasy around someone, we tend to want to put as much space between ourselves and the other person as possible. And one way to do that is by physically turning away from them.
#22: Detecting a Smoker
Put your hand where your mouth is…if you’re a smoker, that is. When we smoke, we often hold the cigarette between our fingers or press it against our lips or chin. Over time, this can create a habitual behavior of touching our mouth or chin even when we’re not smoking.
Of course, it’s important to remember that not everyone who touches their mouth or chin frequently is a smoker. Some people may do it out of nervousness, boredom, or simply because it’s a habit. But smoking is a habit that can leave physical and psychological traces on our body, such as touching our mouth or chin often.
#23: Dilated Pupils
What’s up, big eyes? If you’ve ever noticed someone with highly dilated eyes, you may have wondered what’s going on behind those giant pupils. When we’re attracted to someone or something, our pupils naturally dilate. It’s a physiological response that occurs when we’re aroused or excited, and it can be a sign of our subconscious desire.
The dilation of our pupils is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions like breathing, heart rate, and digestion. When we experience a strong emotional response, such as fear or attraction, our autonomic nervous system can trigger the dilation of our pupils.
#24: Clasping The Hands
Hands behind your back, or just back to basics? Clasping your hands behind your back can be a sign of a range of emotions, including boredom, anxiety, and even anger. When we’re bored, we may adopt a posture that suggests disinterest or disengagement.
When we’re anxious or nervous, we may adopt a posture that suggests insecurity or self-doubt. And when we’re angry, we may adopt a posture that suggests aggression or dominance. All of this can be translated by the way we clasp our hands behind our back.
#25: How To Be Surprised 101
Raise your eyebrows, it’s time to pretend! If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you have to fake surprise, body language experts have a tip for you: raise your eyebrows for more than a second. When we’re genuinely surprised, our eyebrows tend to shoot up quickly and then drop back down just as quickly.
But when we’re trying to fake surprise, we may hold our eyebrows up for longer than a second as a way of creating a more convincing illusion of surprise. Of course, it’s important to remember that faking emotions can be a slippery slope. While it may be necessary in certain situations, like acting or public speaking, it’s important to approach the situation with honesty and authenticity.
#26: Flirting Techniques
Let’s talk hair, attraction, and the power of the subconscious mind! Did you know that when someone suddenly sees someone they find attractive, the first thing they usually do is fix their hair? Hair is an important aspect of our appearance, and when we’re attracted to someone, we often want to make sure we look our best.
When we see someone we find attractive, our subconscious mind may prompt us to fix our hair as a way of enhancing our appearance and showing that we care about how we look. We might not even notice we’re doing it! But, fixing our hair is just one of the many unconscious signals that can indicate our attraction to someone.
#27: Eyebrow Clues
Eyebrows up, eyebrows down, let’s talk body language in town! Did you know that you can tell a lot about someone’s mood and attitude towards you by watching their eyebrows when you enter a room? It’s like reading their minds simply by looking at their eyebrows, talk about a superpower!
When we see someone we’re happy to see, our eyebrows tend to go up as a sign of excitement and pleasure. On the other hand, if we’re not happy to see someone, our eyebrows may go down or stay neutral as a sign of displeasure or indifference. So, next time your spouse comes home, pay attention to those baby brows!
#28: A Liar’s Trick
Ah, the power of deception and the art of the poker face! As humans, we have more control over the bottom half of our faces, which makes it easier for liars to put on a fake expression and manipulate their audience. That’s why liars often put extra effort into manipulating their mouths!
But don’t worry – there are ways to spot these sneaky liars and their telltale body language. Watch out for forced smiles, unnatural lip movements, and other inconsistencies in their facial expressions. These can be signs that someone is trying to actively manipulate their facial muscles to deceive you.
#29: Engaging Both Sides of The Brain
Who knew that crossing your arms could do more than just make you look cool and collected? When you cross your arms, your left arm crosses over to your right brain hemisphere, and your right arm crosses over to your left brain hemisphere. This forces both sides of your brain to work together and communicate more effectively!
We force our brain to work harder to process information from both sides of our body. This increased neural activity can help us to stay alert, focused, and better able to tackle complex tasks and problems. Of course, it’s important to remember that crossing your arms is just one small tool in our problem-solving arsenal.
#30: Superhero Pose
Strike a pose and feel like a superhero! Research has shown that assuming a superhero-like posture, with your body in an open and confident position, can increase testosterone and inhibit cortisol production. Testosterone is a hormone that’s associated with feelings of confidence, assertiveness, and dominance.
While cortisol is a stress hormone that can interfere with performance and cognitive function. Studies have shown that assuming a superhero pose for as little as two minutes can increase testosterone levels by up to 20% and decrease cortisol levels by up to 25%! What are you waiting for? Let your inner Superman shine!
#31: Colorful Eye Contact
Ever heard the saying “eyes are the window to the soul”? Well, it turns out that making eye contact when you greet someone can actually have a powerful effect on how you perceive them and how they perceive you. When we make eye contact with someone, it creates a sense of connection and intimacy that can help us to build trust and rapport with others.
But did you know that there’s a little trick you can use to make your eye contact even more effective? When you greet someone, try to maintain eye contact for at least long enough to discern their eye color. This simple trick can help you to establish a more meaningful and memorable connection with others, and it shows that you’re paying close attention to the details.
#32: The Romantic Nod
Looking to attract that special someone? Well, it turns out that your body language can play a big role in how others perceive you – and there’s a few tricks you can use to increase your attractiveness! One of the most effective body language tips for attracting someone romantically is to nod your head while they speak and tilt your head to the left.
This simple action sends subtle signals that you’re interested, engaged, and open to what they have to say. It also creates a sense of intimacy and connection, which can help to build attraction. Next time you’re on a date or trying to impress someone, remember to nod your head and tilt it to the left – and let the sparks fly!
#33: The Coffee Barrier
Coffee, the nectar of the gods and the elixir of the morning, is more than just a beverage – it’s also a powerful tool for communication and body language. Believe it or not, the way you hold your coffee cup can send subtle signals about your mood, personality, and even your level of interest in the person you’re talking to.
Holding your coffee cup higher up can indicate a sign of discomfort, defensiveness, or a desire for personal space. On the other hand, holding your coffee cup lower down can indicate a more open, relaxed posture. And remember, there’s no wrong way to hold a cup of coffee – as long as you’re enjoying the conversation!
#34: Touching Your Cheek
Ah, the classic “thinking pose.” It’s a gesture we’ve all seen before: someone resting their chin on their hand, their elbow on the table, deep in thought. But did you know that the position of your hand on your cheek can convey different meanings? When you touch your cheek with your index finger, you signal that you’re evaluating the information you’re receiving.
On the other hand, if you touch your cheek with your whole hand, it can indicate a higher level of emotion. You may be feeling sad or troubled, and this gesture serves as a way to soothe yourself and calm your nerves. Either way, touching your cheek with your hand is a powerful nonverbal cue that can reveal a lot about your mental and emotional state.
#35: Rubbing Your Eyes
Have you ever been in a conversation where someone is telling you a story that just seems a little too far-fetched? Your mind starts to wander, and before you know it, you’re rubbing your eye in disbelief. It turns out, this common action isn’t just a coincidence. Rubbing your eye can indicate that you’re questioning or doubting the information you’re receiving.
Maybe you’re wondering if the person is telling the truth, or perhaps you’re trying to process the information and make sense of it. Either way, this gesture is a clear sign of skepticism. Of course, it’s important to note that rubbing your eye could also be a sign of tiredness or irritation, so it’s essential to consider the context of the situation.
#36: Mirroring Gestures
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the closest of them all? If you notice someone mirroring your gestures, it’s not just a coincidence. According to body language experts, mirroring is an unconscious attempt to bond and build rapport with someone else. Mirroring is the phenomenon where someone subconsciously imitates your body language, speech patterns, or even your tone of voice.
This is usually a sign that they’re trying to connect with you on a deeper level and build a stronger relationship. Mirroring can also be a sign of empathy, where someone is trying to understand your thoughts and feelings better. So, if you notice someone mirroring your gestures, take it as a sign that they’re interested in what you have to say!
#37: Wandering Eyes
This person was working in a store and picked up on an interesting body language sign: The wandering eyes. The eyes can reveal a lot about a shopper’s intentions, and as this person points out, wandering eyes are often a sign of the thoughtful, contemplative type of browsing. This nonchalant exploration, where one’s gaze flits from one item to another, often signifies that they’re on a mission to find the perfect gift.
This observation has become such a reliable indicator that it has evolved into a valuable icebreaker for this person! After all, they say that eyes are the window to a person’s soul, and in some cases, it may come in handy in the most unexpected situations. In this case, it helped this person become a more observant worker and possibly get a higher commission.
#38: Welcome to the Pack
This next one may sound funny, but in many ways, humans are like animals. The act of grooming during casual interaction carries a profound yet often unconscious layer of connection. Much like monkeys picking each other’s gnats, it signifies a desire for social bonding and inclusion. When a person engages in seemingly minor acts of care, they are subtly signaling their affection and a willingness to extend camaraderie.
This simple act can be seen as an unspoken invitation into the social pack, a way of forging connections and expressing warmth. It resonates with our primal instincts for mutual support and collaboration, reminding us that even in our modern society, these small, affectionate gestures play a role in establishing trust, closeness, and a sense of belonging within our social circles.
#39: Notice the Changes
The subtleties of body language often reveal more about a person’s feelings and intentions than anything else. As this woman points out in her example, changes in posture while talking to someone can convey a lot of information. These alterations in body language are meaningful because they represent a subconscious response to a particular situation or individual.
They reflect a heightened level of attention, interest, or even nervousness as the body instinctively adjusts to create a more appealing or comfortable impression. These nonverbal cues provide valuable insights into a person’s emotions and can often speak louder than words, offering a window into their thoughts and feelings that might otherwise remain hidden.
#40: Own the Room
The power of body language to command attention and influence social dynamics is exemplified in this person’s story. By taking a step or two towards the center of the circle of friends when he wished to speak, this guy employed nonverbal cues to assert control and direct the group’s focus. This subtle but effective display of body language demonstrated his confidence and leadership, compelling everyone to naturally quiet down.
It’s an example of how body language can serve as a tool for social influence, allowing individuals to navigate group dynamics and effectively convey their thoughts and ideas without the need for overt commands or words. This shows the significance of nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships and human interaction.
#41: Watch Your Feet
They say it’s impolite to look at the floor while engaged in conversation, but paying attention to the direction of someone’s feet can be a valuable insight into their level of interest and comfort. When both your feet and the other person’s are pointed toward each other, it’s a positive sign of mutual interest and active listening. This alignment indicates a connection and a willingness to continue the conversation.
Conversely, if you notice that the other person’s feet are pointed away from you, perhaps toward an exit or in a different direction, it’s often a subtle cue that they may be feeling less engaged or interested in continuing the conversation. While it’s not a definitive rule, watching the orientation of feet can serve as a helpful tool to gauge the dynamics of a conversation and adjust your approach accordingly.
#42: Swinging Your Arms
This next one was pointed out in a Seinfeld episode, and as it turns out, there’s a lot to unpack here! The way people use their arms while moving or walking can reflect their emotional state. In a typical, relaxed state of mind, people often swing their arms gently as they move, mirroring a sense of ease and comfort. Conversely, when someone is feeling angry or frustrated, there’s a tendency to hold their arms rigidly at their sides.
This behavior can be indicative of a closed-off or defensive posture, where emotions are tightly contained and physical movements become more controlled. It highlights the intricate connection between our emotional states and our body language, as our gestures and postures can unconsciously reveal our feelings to those around us.
The unspoken dynamics of group interactions often reveal themselves in subtle ways, including the way people react to humor. When someone cracks a joke within a group and laughter ensues, the immediate eye contact made afterward can offer some insights into interpersonal relationships. It’s been observed that the first person a group member looks at after a joke reveals a lot about their connections within the group.
This glance typically lands on the individual they feel most comfortable with, closest to emotionally, or even someone they may be attracted to. It’s an unconscious yet revealing gesture that showcases the underlying dynamics of trust, affinity, and attraction within the group, offering a glimpse into the intricate web of human connections and emotions that shape our interactions in social settings.
#44: Twisting Your Hair
Ah, the dreaded job interview. You’ve done your research, printed out your resume on fancy paper, and practiced answering all the standard questions. But what about your body language? You don’t want to come off as nervous or uninterested, do you? Well, here’s a helpful tip: resist the urge to twist your hair!
This common nervous tic can make you look fidgety and unconfident. Instead, try to relax your hands by clasping them together on your lap or resting them on the table in front of you. Remember, your body language can say just as much as your words in an interview.
#45: Looking Upward
Did you know that looking up at the ceiling can actually help you come up with new ideas? That’s right! When we’re stuck in a creative rut, we tend to look down at the ground or our work, which limits our perspective. But when we look up, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and inspirations.
In fact, there’s a reason why the phrase “thinking cap” exists. By physically looking up, we engage our brains in a way that stimulates creativity and problem-solving. So next time you’re feeling stuck, try looking up and let your mind wander. You never know what brilliant ideas might come to you!
#46: Proper Eye Contact
Hey, look over here! If you notice someone not maintaining proper eye contact during a conversation, it could be a sign that they’re not fully present or engaged. When we avoid eye contact, we’re signaling to the other person that we’re not fully invested in the conversation.
If you notice someone not maintaining proper eye contact, try to gently redirect their attention and engage them in the conversation. Ask them questions, show a genuine interest in their thoughts and opinions, and maintain your own eye contact to help build a sense of connection and trust.
#47: Tilting Your Body
Now, before you start to panic and think that your conversation partner is totally bored with you, it’s important to remember that there could be other factors at play. Maybe they’re feeling a little uncomfortable due to their physical position, or they have something else on their mind.
The good news is that there are ways to re-engage someone who seems disinterested. Try changing the topic or asking them questions that are more engaging or relevant to their interests. By showing a genuine interest in what they have to say, you may be able to draw them back into the conversation.
#48: Nodding Up vs Nodding Down
What’s up, buddy? Or should I say, what’s down, acquaintance? If you’ve ever wondered why you nod your head in different directions depending on who you’re greeting, you’re not alone. According to body language experts, the direction of your head nod can give subtle clues about the level of comfort and familiarity between you and the other person.
When we nod our head down towards someone, it’s a sign of respect and acknowledgement, but also a way of creating distance. But, when we nod our head up towards someone, it’s a sign of familiarity and closeness. It suggests that we’re comfortable with the person.
#49: Hiding Something
Well, well, well, it looks like we have a secret-keeper in the room. If you find yourself crossing your legs at the ankle during a conversation, you might want to ask yourself, “what am I hiding?” This is because crossing your legs in this way is a classic body language signal of holding something back. Perhaps it’s a secret, a thought, or a feeling that you don’t want to reveal just yet.
But why do we do this? When we cross our legs at the ankle, we are essentially creating a physical barrier between ourselves and the other person. It’s a way of protecting ourselves and keeping our inner thoughts and emotions hidden. So, if you’re in a situation where you want to appear open and honest, try sitting with your legs uncrossed or even leaning slightly forward.
#50: Raising Eyebrows
Raise those eyebrows, but watch out for the consequences! When we raise our eyebrows, we’re signaling that we’re paying close attention to what’s happening and that we have a strong emotional response to it. But this can be a sign of dissatisfaction or anger if the person’s expression is solemn or serious.
The solemn expression shows that they are taking the situation seriously, while the raised eyebrows signal that they are surprised or shocked by what’s going on. It’s important to pay attention to these nonverbal cues because they can give us valuable insight into someone’s emotional state.
#51: Tensed Limbs
When someone is lying, they may display signs of nervousness or tension, which can manifest as fidgeting, twitching, or other forms of restricted mobility. This is because lying can be stressful and uncomfortable, and our bodies often give away our true feelings, even if we’re trying to hide them.
If you suspect that someone may be lying, it’s worth paying attention to their body language and listening carefully to what they’re saying. Ask open-ended questions and see if you can get them to elaborate on their story. By showing a genuine interest in the truth, you may be able to get to the bottom of the situation.
#52: Posture Matters
If you’re going for a job interview, here’s a little secret to help you make a great impression: try mirroring your interviewer’s body language. According to body language experts, mirroring is a powerful technique for building rapport and establishing a connection with the other person.
When we mirror someone’s body language, we’re signaling to them that we’re in tune with their emotions and feelings. It creates a sense of empathy and understanding, which can help build a stronger relationship. Of course, it’s important to remember to be subtle when mirroring someone’s body language. You don’t want to come across as insincere or fake.
#53: Leaning Forward
Lean in close, because I’ve got a juicy fact for you! If you notice someone slowly leaning forward as you talk, it’s a great sign that they’re interested in what you’re saying. Leaning forward can create a sense of intimacy and connection, and it can make the speaker feel more confident and comfortable.
So, whether you’re giving a presentation or having a one-on-one conversation, keep an eye out for those subtle cues of engagement. And if you see someone leaning in, keep up the good work and keep them engaged with your captivating speech! After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being heard and understood by someone else.
#54: Open Hands
Have you ever noticed how politicians and salespeople always seem to have a way of using their hands to make themselves seem more trustworthy? That’s because an open palm is a universal sign of openness and honesty. When we show our palms, we are essentially saying, “Look, I have nothing to hide.” This simple gesture can instantly put others at ease and help to build trust in a relationship.
It’s no wonder that people in positions of authority often use this gesture to their advantage. In negotiations or when trying to persuade someone, an open palm can be a powerful tool. It not only shows honesty, but it also shows a willingness to cooperate and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome.