The Definitive Book of Body Language

by Allan and Barbara Pease

The Basics

  • Kinesics: study of non-verbal communication.

  • People form 60-80% of their initial opinion about a new person in less than four minutes.

  • Words are used primarily for conveying information, while body language is used for negotiating interpersonal attitudes and, in some cases, is used as a substitute for verbal messages.

  • Body Language is an outward reflection of a person’s emotional condition.

  • When we say that we have a “hunch” or “gut feeling” that someone has told us a lie, we usually mean that their body language and their spoken words do not agree.

  • “Audience Awareness:” If an audience were sitting back in their seats with their chins down and arms crossed on their chest, a “perceptive” speaker would get a hunch or feeling that his delivery was not going across well.

  • Being “perceptive” means being able to spot the contradictions between someone’s words and their body language.

  • Signals like pupil dilation, sweating, and blushing cannot be consciously faked, but exposing the palms to try to appear honest is easily learned.

  • Many politicians are experts in faking body language in order to get the voters to believe what they are saying, and politicians who can successfully do this- such as JFK and Hitler- are said to have “charisma.”

Universal Gestures

  • Shoulder Shrug: Used to show that a person doesn’t know or doesn’t understand what you are saying. It’s a multiple gesture that has three main parts: exposed palms to show nothing is being concealed in the hands, hunched shoulders to protect the throat from attack, and raised brow, which is a universal, submissive greeting.

  • Critical Evaluation Gesture: Hand to face gesture with the index finger pointing up the cheek while another finger covers the mouth and the thumb supports the chin. Further evidence that this listener is having critical thoughts about what he hears is supported by the legs being tightly crossed and the arm crossing the body (Defensive) while the head and chin are down (negative/hostile). This body language “sentence” says something like “I don’t like what you are saying” or “I disagree” or “Im holding back negative feelings.”

Hand Gestures

  • Throughout history, the open palm has been associated with truth, honesty, allegiance, and submission. Many oaths are still taken with the palm of the hand over the heart, and the palm is held in the air when somebody is giving evidence in a court of law; the bible is held in the left hand and the right palm held up for the members of the court to view. One of the most valuable clues to discovering whether someone is being open and honest- or not- is to watch for palm displays. Just as a dog will expose its throat to show submission or surrender to the victor, humans use their palms to show that they are unarmed and therefore not a threat.

  • When people want to be open or honest, they will often hold one or both palms out to the other person and say something like, “I didn’t do it!” or “Im sorry if I upset you” or “Im telling you the truth.”

  • When children are lying or concealing something, they’ll often hide their palms behind their back. Similarly, a man who wants to conceal his whereabouts after a night out with the boys, might hide his palms in his pockets, or in an arms-crossed position, when he tries to explain to his partner where he was. However, the hidden palms may give her an intuitive feeling that he is not telling the truth. A woman who is trying to hide something will try to avoid the subject or talk about a range of unrelated topics while doing various other activities at the same time.

  • When men lie, their body language can be obvious. Women prefer to look busy as they lie.

  • Keeping their hands in their pockets is a favorite ploy of men who don’t want to participate in a conversation.

  • Gestures and emotions are directly linked to each other. If you feel defensive, for example, you’re likely to cross your arms across your chest. But if you simply cross your arms, you’ll begin to experience defensive feelings. And if you are talking with your palms exposed, it puts even more pressure on the other person to be truthful, too. In other words, open palms can help to suppress some of the false information others may tell and encourage them to be more open with you.

  • The palm facing up is used as a submissive, non-threatening gesture, reminiscent of the pleading gesture of a street beggar and, from an evolutionary perspective, shows the person holds no weapons.

  • If you want someone to talk, you can use the palm-up as a handover gesture to let them know you expect them to talk and that you’re ready to listen.

  • When the palm is turned to face downward, you will project immediate authority. The other person will sense that you’re giving them an order.

  • When couples walk hand in hand, the dominant partner, often the man, walks slightly in front with his hand in the above position, palm facing backward, while she has her palm facing forward. This simple little position immediately reveals to an observer who wears the loincloths in that family.

  • The palm-closed-finger-pointed is a fist where the pointed finger is used like a symbolic club with which the speaker figuratively beats his listeners into submission. Subconsciously, it evokes negative feelings in others. This gesture is one of the most annoying gestures anyone can use while speaking.

  • If you squeeze your fingers against your thumb to make an OK type of gesture and talk using this position, you’ll come across as authoritative, but not aggressive.

  • Women who initiate a firm handshake are rated- in most places- as more open-minded and make better first impressions.

  • Dominance is transmitted by turning your hand so that your palm faces down in the handshake. Your palm doesn’t have to face directly down, but it is the upper hand and communicates that you want to take control of the encounter.

  • Women simply need to avoid signals of femaleness such as soft handshakes, short skirts, and high heels if she wants equal credibility.

  • Women who show high feminine signals in a serious business meeting lose credibility.

  • It makes good business sense for women to practice firmer handshaking, particularly with men.

  • There are two key ingredients for creating rapport in a handshake. First, make sure that yours and the other person’s palms are in the vertical position so that no one is dominant or submissive. Second, apply the same pressure you receive.

  • If nervous before a new meeting; visualize that you are holding your palms in front of an open fire.

  • The one who stands to the left side of the pictures is perceived by viewers to have a dominant edge over the other.

  • The double handed handshake is like a miniature hug and is acceptable only in circumstances where a hug could also be acceptable.

  • The intention of a two handed handshake is to try to show sincerity, trust, or depth of feeling for the receiver. The farther up the receivers arm its placed, the more intimacy the initiator is attempting to show.

  • The Vice Handshake: this quietly persuasive style is a favorite of men in business and reveals a desire to dominate and assume early control of the relationship or put people in their place.

Smile & Laughter

  • Smiles are controlled by two sets of muscles; the zygomatic major muscles, which run down the side of the face and connect to the corners of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi, which pull the eyes back. They zygomatic majors pull the mouth back to expose the teeth and enlarge the cheeks, while the orbicularis oculi make the eyes narrow and cause “crows feet.”

  • The first place to check for the sincerity of a smile is to look for wrinkle lines besides the eyes.

  • Insincere people smile only with their mouth.

  • When you feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of your brain that processes emotion, making your mouth muscles move, your cheeks rise, your eyes crease up, and your eyebrows dip slightly.

  • Smiling directly influences other peoples attitudes and how they respond to you.

  • Science has proved that the more you smile, the more positive reactions others will give you.

  • Most people can’t consciously differentiate between a fake smile and a real one, and most of us are content if someone is simply smiling at us- regardless of whether its real or false.

  • When liars lie, the left side of the smile is usually more pronounced than the right.

  • The Tight Lipped Smile: The lips are stretched across the face to form a straight line and the teeth are concealed. It sends the message that the smiler has a secret or a withheld opinion or attitude that they will not be sharing with you. It’s a favorite of women who don’t want to reveal that they don’t like someone and is usually clearly read by other women as a rejection signal. Most men are oblivious to it.

  • Richard Branson is always seen sporting a wide toothy smile and is happy to explain the exact details of his success because he knows that most people wont do it anyway.

  • The Twisted Smile: (peculiar to the western world) shows sarcasm

  • Sideways Looking up smile: A regular in women’s courtship repertoire for attracting men, as its read by men as seductive and is a powerful “come-on” signal.

  • As with smiling, when laughter is incorporated as a permanent part of who you are, it attracts friends, improves health, and extends life. When we laugh, every organ in the body is affected in a positive way. Our breathing quickens, which exercises the diaphragm, neck, stomach, face, and shoulders. Laughter increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which not only helps healing and improves circulation, it also expands the blood vessels close to the skins surface. This is why people go red in the face when they laugh. It can also lower the heart rate, dilate the arteries, stimulate the appetite, and burn up calories.

  • Smile constantly. Everyone will wonder what you’ve been up to.

  • The Neurologist Henri Rubenstein found that one minute of solid laughter provides up to 45 minutes of subsequent relaxation.

  • The older we become, the more serious we become about life. An adult laughs an average of 15x a day; a preschooler laughs an average of 400x.

  • Humor has a positive impact on counteracting stress.

  • Chimpanzee laughter sounds like panting, with only one sound made per outward or inward breath. Its this one to one ratio between breath cycle and vocalization that makes it impossible for most primates to speak. When humans began walking upright, it freed the upper body from weight bearing functions and allowed better breath control. As a result, humans can chop exaltation and modulate it to produce language and laughter.

  • Endorphins are chemicals released from the brain when you laugh. They have a similar chemical composition to morphine and heroin and have a tranquilizing effect on the body, while building the immune system.

  • People who have trouble with laughing at the tough things in life often turn to drugs and alcohol to achieve the same feeling that endorphin-induced laughter produces.

  • Alcohol loosens inhibitions and lets people laugh more, which releases endorphins. This is why well adjusted people laugh more when they drink while unhappy people become even more despondent or even violent.

  • If men want to be more persuasive with women, they need to smile more in all contexts.

  • The ability to make others laugh is perceived as a dominant trait and women prefer dominant males. A subordinate person will laugh to appease a superior person and the superior person will make subordinates laugh- but without laughing himself- as a way of maintaining his superiority.

  • Studies show that women laugh at men they’re attracted to, and men are attracted to women who laugh at them.

  • Humorous men look more attractive to most women.

Arm Signals

  • When a person has a nervous, negative, or defensive attitude, its very likely he will fold his arms firmly on his chest, showing that he feels threatened.

  • When you fold your arms your credibility reduces.

  • When a listener folds his arms, not only does he have more negative thoughts about the speaker, but he’s also paying less attention to whats being said.

  • Avoid crossing your arms under any circumstances unless your intention is to show others you don’t agree or don’t want to participate.

  • Crossed Arms on Chest: Both arms are folded together across the chest as an attempt to put a barrier between the person and someone or something they don’t like.

  • Most people will take an arms-folded position when they disagree with what they’re hearing.

  • As long as someone holds an arms-folded position, a negative attitude will persist.

  • The attitude causes the gesture to occur and maintaining the gesture forces the attitude to remain.

  • A simple but effective way of breaking the arms-folded position is to give the listener something to hold or give them something to do. Giving them a pen, book, brochure, sample, or written test forces them to unfold their arms and lean forward.

  • Reinforced Arm-Crossing: If a person has clenched fists as well as a full arm-cross, this cluster, called Fists-Arms-Crossed, shows hostility as well as defensiveness. If its combined with a tight lipped smile or clenched teeth and red face, a verbal or even physical attack could happen.

  • Fists-Clenched-Arms-Crossed: Shows a hostile attitude.

  • Arm-Gripping: A person’s way of comforting himself with a  form of self-hugging: show’s a negative, restrained attitude.

  • Arms-Crossed-Thumbs up: Defensives, but still think he’s cool.

  • Partial Arm Barriers: often seen in meetings where a person may be a stranger to the group or is lacking in self-confidence.

  • Some people may use a partial arm barrier known as holding-hands-with-yourself; its commonly used by men who stand in front of a crowd to receive an award or give a speech. Also known as the broken zipper position, it makes a man feel more secure because he can protect his “crown jewels” and can avoid the consequences of receiving a nasty frontal blow.

  • Humans make a point of hiding the areas they think are their weakest or most vulnerable.

  • As in all arm-cross gestures, one arm swings across in front of the body toward the other arm, but instead of the arms crossing, one hand touches or holds on to a handbag, bracelet, watch, shirt cuff, or object on or near their other arm. Once again the barrier is formed and the secure feelings is achieved.

  • The Coffee Cup Barrier: Offering a refreshment during a negotiation is an excellent strategy for gauging how the other person is receiving your offer. Where a person places their cup immediately after they take a drink is a strong indicator of whether or not they are convinced or open to what you are saying. Someone who is feeling hestitant, unsure, or negative about what they are hearing will place their cup to the opposite side of their body to form a single arm barrier. When they are accepting of what they are hearing, they place the cup to the side of their body, showing an open or accepting attitude.

  • Sitting with your elbows on the armrest of a chair is a position of power and conveys a strong, upright image. Humble, defeated individuals let the arms drop inside the arms of the chair, so avoid this at all times unless your goal is to appear defeated.

  • Skillful elbow-touching can give you up to 3x the chance of getting what you want.

  • The elbow-and-hand-touching waitresses made 36% more tips from male diners than nontouching waitresses and male waiters increased their earnings by 22% regardless of which sex they touched.

  • When you meet someone new and you shake hands, extend your left arm, give a light touch on their elbow or hand as you shake, repeat their name to confirm you heard it correctly, and watch their reaction. Not only does it make that person feel important, it lets you remember their name through repetition.

  • Elbow- and hand-touching- when done discreetly- grabs attention, reinforces a comment, underlines a concept, increases your influence over others, makes you more memorable, and creates positive impressions on everyone.

Hand & Thumb Gestures

  • Using hand gestures grabs attention, increases the impact of communication, and helps individuals retain more of the information they are hearing.

  • Rubbing the palms together is a way in which people communicate positive expectation.

  • The speed of the hand rub signals whom the gesturer thinks will get the benefit.

  • Hands-Clenched gesture shows a restrained, anxious, or negative attitude.

  • Steeple: frequently used in superior-subordinate interaction and that it indicates a confident or self assured attitude.

  • People who are confident, superior types often use this gesture and, by doing so, signal their confident attitude.

  • As a general rule, the steeple should be avoided when you want to be persuasive or win the other person’s confidence, as it can sometimes be read as smugness or arrogance.

  • The Face Platter: Presenting the face to an admirer, common in courtship.

  • Holding hands behind the back: Superiority, confidence, and power. If you take this position when you are in a high stress situation, such as being interviewed by newspaper reporters or waiting outside a dentists surgery, you’ll begin to feel confident and even authoritative, as a result of cause and effect.

  • Hand-Gripping-Wrist gesture communicates a different emotion to palm-in-palm behind the back. It’s a signal of frustration and an attempt at self-control.

  • The higher up one hand grips the opposite arm, the more frustrated or angry the person is likely to be.

  • Thumb Displays: a man will use protruding thumbs around women to whom he is attracted.

  • Thumb protruding from coat pocket: Gesture is common to men and women who feel they are in a superior position to others.

  • Arms-Folder-with-Thumbs-Pointing-Upwards: This is a double signal, showing a defensive or negative attitude (folded arms), plus a superior attitude revealed by the thumbs.

  • Thumb pointing is irritating to most women, particularly when a man does it.

Evaluation & Deceit Signals

  • Lying is the oil that greases our interactions with others and lets us maintain friendly social relationships.

  • Even when your major body gestures are consciously suppressed, numerous small microgestures will still be transmitted. These include facial muscular twitching, dilation and contraction of pupils, sweating, flushed cheeks, eye-blinking rate increasing from ten to as many as fifty blinks per minute, and many other microsignals that indicate deceit.

  • The best way to lie is over the phone or in an email.

  • The Mouth Cover: The hand covers the mouth as the brain subconsciously instructs it to try to suppress the deceitful words that are being said.

  • The Nose Touch

  • The Eye Rub: When an adult doesn’t want to look at something distasteful. They also avoid a listeners gaze by looking away.

  • The Ear Grab: Person grabs their ear, looks away to the side; they are trying to block the words they are hearing by putting the hand around or over the ear or tugging at the earlobe. The ear grab can also be a signal that the person has heard enough or may want to speak.

  • The neck scratch: The index-finger- usually of the writing hand- scratches the side of the neck below the earlobe. This gestures is a signal of undoubt or uncertainty and is characteristic of the person who says “Im not sure I agree.”

  • The collar pull: Lies cause a tingling sensation in the delicate facial and neck tissues, and a rub or scratch was required to satisfy it.

  • Boredom: When the listener begins to use his hand to support his head, it is a signal that boredom has set in and his supporting hand is an attempt to hold his head up to stop himself from falling asleep. The degree of the listeners boredom is related to the extent to which his arm and hand are supporting his head. It usually begins with the chin being supported by the thumb and then by the fist as interest wanes. Drumming fingers on the table and continual tapping of the feet on the floor are often misinterpreted by the professional speakers as boredom signals, but in fact signal impatience. If you are addressing a group of people and see these signals, a strategic move must be made to get the finger drummer or foot-tapper involved in the conversation to avoid his negative effect on the other listeners. The speed of the finger or foot tap is related to the extent of the person’s impatience- the faster the taps, the more impatient the listener is becoming.

  • Evaluation is shown by a closed hand resting on the chin or cheek, often with the index finger pointing upward. When the person begins to lose interest but still wants to appear interested for courtesys sake, the position will alter so that the hell of the palm supports the head as boredom sets in.

  • Interested evaluation: the head supports itself and the hand rests on the cheek.

  • Genuine Interest is shown when the hand lightly rests on the cheek and is not used as a head support.

  • Chin Stroking: A signal that the listener is going through the decision making process.

Eye Signals

  • When someone becomes excited, their pupils can dilate up to 4x their original size. Conversely, an angry negative mood causes the pupils to contract to what are commonly known as “beady little eyes” or “snake eyes.” Lighter eyes can look more attractrive because its easier to see the dilation taking place.

  • This is why romantic encounters are most successful in dimly lit places, because everyones pupils dilate and create the impression that couples are interested in each other.

  • The golden rule is: Always eyebrow flash people you like or those who you want to like you.

  • Lowering the eyebrows is how humans show dominance or aggression otward others, whereas raising the eyebrows shows submission.

  • The Looking up Cluster: Chin Down while looking up exposes the vulnerable neck.

  • When a woman wants to get a mans attention across a room she will meet his gaze, hold it for 2-3 seconds, then look away and down. This gaze is long enough for her to send him a message of interest and potential submission. When she finally gets his attention she will often use a small version of the eyebrow flash that is a small, subtle eye-widening  gesture that tellshim the signal was intended for him.

  • When a person’s gaze meets yours for more than 2/3’s of the time, it can mean one of two things: first, he finds you interesting or appealing, in which case he’ll also have dilated pupils; or second, hes hostile towards you and could be issuing a challenge, in which case the pupils will be constricted.

  • Most primates avert their gaze to show submission. If an ape is going to display aggression or is likely to attack, it will lock eyes onto his victim. To avoid being attacked, the victim will look away and try to make itself appear smaller.

  • Sideways Glance: Used to communicate interest, uncertainty, or hostility. When it is combined with slightly raised eyebrows or a smile, it communicates interest and is frequently used as a courtship signal.

  • Extended Blinking: A normal, relaxed blinking rate is 6-8x/min and the eyes are only closed for only about 1/10th of a second. People under pressure- for instance, when they are lying- are likely to dramatically increase their blinking rate.

  • Darting Eyes: When the eyes dart from side to side it can look as if the person is checking out the activity in the room, but the reality is that the brain is searching for escape routes.

  • The Social Gaze: A triangle between the eyes and lips.

  • Women’s wider peripheral vision means never getting caught; mens tunnel vision means always getting caught.

  • The Power Gaze: Imagine the person has a third eye in the center of the forhead and look in a triangular area between the person’s “three eyes.”: It works well on the person who you want to intimidate or on the person who simply won’t shut up.

  • Extended Gazing can create intimate feelings.

  • In simple terms, if a person is remembering something that they saw, their eyes will move upward. If they are recalling something they heard, they look to the side and tilt their head as if listening. If they are recalling a feeling or emotion, they’ll look down and to the right. When a person is mentally talking to themselves, they look down and to the left. The difficult is that these eye movements can occur in a fraction of a second and comes in clusters.

  • Impact on the brain of information from the senses during a visual presentation: 83% Sight, 11% Hearing, 3% Smell, 2% Touch, 1% Taste.

  • A Wharton study in the US found that the retention of verbal presentations was only 10%. The retention rate of combined verbal and visual presentations is 50%. The study also found that using visual aids cuts the average business meeting time from 25.7 minutes to 18.6 minutes- a 28% time saving.

  • Power Lift: To keep control of where a person is looking, use a pen to point to the presentation and, at the same time, verbalize what he sees. Next, lift the pen from the presentation and hold it between his eyes and your eyes.

  • What men describe as the “come-on” look that women use relates to a sideways glance, dilated pupils, and intimate gazing.

Territories & Personal Space

  • Public Zone: over 12’

  • Social Zone: 4-12’

  • Personal Zone: 18-48”

  • Intimate Zone: 6-18”

  • If you want people to feel comfortable around you, the golden rule is “keep your distance.”

  • The distance that two people keep their hips apart when they embrace reveals clues about the relationship between them. Lovers press against each other and move within each others close intimate zones. This difference from the kiss received from a stranger on New Years Eve, from your best friends spouse, or dear old Aunt Sally, all of who keep their pelvic area at least 6” away from yours.

  • Why Mobs become angry: As the density of the crowd increases, each individual has less personal space and starts to feel hostile, which is why, as the size of the mob increases, it becomes angrier and uglier and fights may break out. The police try to break up the crowd so that each person can regain his own personal space and become calmer.

  • The adrenal glands play an important part in the regulation of growth, reproduction, and the level of the body’s defenses.

  • People choose the end toilets about 90% of the time, and if they are occupied, the midway principle is used.

  • The closer people feel emotionally to each other, the closer they will stand to each other.

Legs

  • The farther away from the brain a body part is positioned, the less awareness we have of what it is doing.

  • Jiggling the feet is like the brains attempt to run away from what is being experienced.

  • Regardless of gender, people dramatically increase the number of unconscious foot movements when lying.

  • Open or uncrossed leg positions show an open or dominant attitude, while crossed positions reveal closed attitudes or uncertainty.

  • A woman who is not interested in a man will fold her arms on her chest and cross her legs away from him, giving him the “no-go” body language, while an interested woman would open herself to him.

  • 4 main standing positions

    • At attention: this is a formal position that shows a neutral attitude with no commitment to stay or go. “No comment” signal.

    • Legs Apart: Crotch Display. The crotch displayer plants both feet firmly on the ground, making a clear statement that he has no intention of leaving. It is used as a dominance signal by men because it highlights the genitals.

    • Foot forward: The body weight is shifted to one hip, which leaves the front food pointing forward. This is a valuable clue to a persons immediate intentions, because we point out lead foot in the direction our mind would like to go and this stance looks as if the person is beginning to walk. In a group situation, we point our lead foot at the most interesting or attractrive person, but when we want to leave, we point our feet at the nearest exit.

    • Leg Cross: This is how most people stand when they are among people whom they don’t know well. Crossed legs show a closed, submissive, or defensive attitude as they symbolically deny any access to the genitals. “No Comment.”

  • Studies show that people who lack confidence also take leg cross positions.

  • Open legs show male confidence, closed legs show male reticence.

  • Seated Positions

    • The American Figure Four: A seated version of a Crotch Display.

    • Figure 4 Leg Clamp: Locking a competitive attitude into place. Not only does this person have a competitive attitude, they lock the figure four into a permanent position using one or both hands as a clamp. This is a sign of the tough-minded, stubborn individual who rejects any opinion other than their own.

    • The ankle lock: When an interviewee locks his ankles, he is mentally “biting his lip.” The gesture shows that he is holding back a negative emotion, uncertainty or fear.

    • Leg Twine: Trademark of shy and timid women. A warm, friendly, low-key approach is needed if you eventually hope to open this clam.

    • Parallel Legs: Position taught to women in deportment and modeling classes. Woman who constantly cross and uncross her legs when she fancies a man- this is done to draw attention to her legs.

  • When we’re interested in either a conversation or a person, we put one foot forward to shorten the distance between us and that person. If we’re reticent or not interested, we put our feet back, usually under a chair if seated.

Common Gestures

  • The head nod: Research shows that people will talk 3-4x more than usual when the listener nods their head using groups of three nods at regular intervals. Head nodding is also contagious. After you’ve asked a question and the listener gives an answer, nod your head during his answer. When he finishes speaking, continue to nod your head another 5 times at the rate of about one nod per second. Usually, by the time you have counted to 4, the listener will begin by speaking again and give you more information. And as long as you nod and stay silent with your hand on your chin in an evaluation position, there’s no pressure on you to speak and you wont come across like an interrogator. When you listen, put your hand on your chin and give it light strokes because, as previously stated, research shows that this encourages others to keep talking.

  • Basic Head positions

    • Head Up: Neutral attitude.  When the head is lifted high with the chin jutting forward, it signals superiority, fearlessness, or arrogance.

    • Head Tilt: Submission Signal. Women will use this gesture to show interest in men they fancy because a woman who is nonthreatening and shows submission is attractive to men. If you are giving a presentation or delivering a speech, make a point of looking for this gesture among your audience. When you see an audience tilting their heads and leaning forward using Hand-Chin evaluation gestures, you’re getting the point across. When you listen to others, use the Head Tilt  and Head Nods and the listener will begin to feel trusting toward you because you appear non-threatening.

    • Head Down: When the chin is down, it signals that a negative, judgmental, or aggressive attitude exists.

  • When a person disapproves of the opinions of attitudes of others but doesn’t want to say anything, displacement gestures are likely to occur, that is, apparently innocent body-language gestures reveal a withheld opinion. This is a common signal of disapproval.

  • Hands on Hips: Universal gesture used to communicate that a person is ready for assertive action.

  • Cowboy Stance: Thumbs tucked into the belt or into the tops of the pockets, frames the genital area and is a display used mainly by men to show a sexually aggressive attitude.

  • Straddling a Chair: The straddle wants to dominate or control while at the same time, protecting his front. The easiest way to disarm the straddle is to stand up or sit behind him, making him feel vulnerable to attack and forcing him to change his position.

  • The Catapult:  Cool, confident, knows it all. This is a seated version of the Hands-On-Hips pose except the hands are behind the head with the elbows menacingly pointed out. It’s a male gesture used to intimidate others or it implies a relaxed attitude to lull you into a false sense of security just before he ambushes you. This is the trademark gesture of men who like you to realize just how knowledgeable they are. If you are a woman and a man does this, continue the conversation standing up. This forces the Catapulter to change position so he can continue the conversation. When he stops the Catapult, sit down again. If he catapults again, stand up. This is a nonaggressive way of training others not to try to intimidate you.

Mirroring: How we Build Rapport

  • We mirror each other’s body language as a way of bonding, being excepted and creating rapport, but we are usually oblivious to the fact we are doing it. Mirroring was also a social device that helped our ancestors fit in successfully with larger groups.

  • The synchronicity of the crowd promotes a secure feeling the participants. Similarly, people in an angry mob will mirror aggressive attitudes and that explains why many usually calm people can lose their cool in this situation.

  • A powerful way to create a rapport with others by intentionally matching their body language and posture.

  • Research with these techniques shows that when a man hears a woman’s facial expressions as she talks, she will describing him as caring, intelligent, interesting, and attractive.

  • The person with the highest status often makes the first moves and the others copy, usually in pecking order.

  • Never speak at a faster rate than the other person. Studies reveal that others described feeling ”pressure” when someone speaks more quickly than they do. A person’s speed of speech shows the rate at which the brain can consciously analyze information.

  • Mirroring is a good strategy to use if you are part of a presentation team.  Decide, in advance, that when the team spokesperson makes a gesture or takes a copter speaking, the entire team will mirror. This not only gives your team the powerful parents of being cohesive, confronting the hell out of competitors who suspect something is, even though they can’t quite figure out what it is.

  • Any new meeting with someone, mirror is seating position, posture, body angle, gestures, expressions, and tone of voice. Before long, will start to feel that there’s something about you they like- they’ll describe you as “Easy to be with.”

Glasses

  • Putting glasses back on often means that someone wants to ”see“ the facts again.

  • Folding glasses and putting them away signals an intention to terminate the conversation.

  • Throwing the glasses on the desk is symbolically rejecting the proposal.

  • Those who wear sunglasses on the head are perceived to be relaxed, youthful, and cool.

How the Mind Points to Where the Body Wants to Go

  • In any face-to-face meeting, when one person has decided to end the conversation or wants to leave, he will turn his body or feet towards the nearest exit.

  • A speaker who takes a strong attitude to his listeners will standing straight and facing them directly is perceived as aggressive. The speaker who delivers exactly the same message but points his body away from the listener is deemed confident and cool oriented but not as aggressive.  To avoid being seen as aggressive, we stand with our bodies angled 45° to each other during friendly encounters to form an angle of 90°.

  • When two people want intimacy, their body angle changes from 45° to 0°.

  • Crossing the knees toward another person shows a sign of interest in or acceptance of that person. If the other person also becomes interested, he will cross his knees toward the first person.

  • Not only do the feet serve as pointers indicating the direction in which a person’s mind is going, they also point at people who we find the most interesting or attractive.

  • If you want to make others feel comfortable, use the 45° open position and, when you need to exert pressure, use the direct body point. The 45° position allows the other person to think and act independently, without feeling pressure. Never approach a man directly from the front or women from behind.

Courtship Displays and Attraction Symbols

  • When a person wants to attract the opposite sex, they do so by emphasizing sexual differences. To discourage the opposite sex, we play down or hide these differences.

  • Highlighting gender differences is what makes a person look sexy.

  • Studies into courtship show that women do this by sending a series of subtle eye, body, and facial signals to the targeted man, who, assuming he is perceptive enough to pick them up, responds to them.

  • Women tend to bombard men with courting rituals in the first minutes of meeting them.

  • The attraction process

    • Stage 1- Eye Contact: She looks across the room and spots a man she fancies. She waits till he notices her, then holds his gaze for about 5 seconds and then turns away. He now keeps watching her to see if she does it again. A woman needs to deliver this gaze, on average, three times before the average man realizes what’s happening. This gaze process can be repeated several times and is the start of the flirting process.

    • Stage 2- Smiling: She delivers one or more fleeting smiles. This is a quick half smile that is intended to give a prospective man the green light to make an approach. Unfortunately, many men are not responsive to these signals, leaving the woman feelings that he’s not interested in her.

    • Stage 3- Preening: She sits up straight to emphasize her breasts and crosses her legs or ankles to show them to best advantage or, if she’s standing, she tilts her hips and tilts her head sideways toward one shoulder, exposing her bare neck. She plays with her hair for up to 6 seconds.- suggesting she is grooming herself for her man. She may lick her lips, flick her hair, and straighten her clothing and jewelry. He’ll respond with gestures such as standing up straight, pulling his stomach in, expanding his chest, adjusting his clothing, touching his har, and tucking his thumbs into his belt. They both point their feet or entire bodies towards eachother.

    • Stage 4- Talk: He approaches and attempts to make small talk, using clichés.

    • Stage 5- Touch: She looks for an opportunity to initiate a light touch on the arm, either “accidental” or otherwise. A hand touch indicates a higher level of intimacy than a touch on the arm. Each level of touch is then repeated to check that the person is happy with this level of intimacy and to let then know that the first touch was not accidental. Lightly brushing or touching the shoulder of a man is done to give the impression that the woman cares about his health and appearance. Shaking hands is a quick way to move to the touch stage.

Common Female Courtship Gestures

  • The Head Toss and Hair Flick: This is usually the first display a woman will use when she’s around a man she fancies. The head is flicked back to toss the hair over the shoulders or away from the face. Even women with short hair will use this gesture. It’s a way for a woman subtly to show that she cares about how she looks to a man.

  • Wet Lips and Pouting, Mouth slightly open: A woman’s outer genital lips are proportionately the same thickness to her facial lips. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, her lips, breasts, and genitals become larger and redder as they fill with blood. The use of lipstick is an Egyptian invention that is 4000 years old and is intended to mimic the reddened gentials of the sexually aroused female.

  • Self Touching: Women have dramatically more nerve sensors for experiencing touch than men, making them more sensitive to touch sensations. When a woman slowly and sensually strokes her thigh, neck, or throat, it implies that, if a man plays his cards right, he may be able to touch her in these same ways. At the same time, her self-touch lets her imagine what it might feel like if the man was initiating the touch.

  • Limp Wrist: Walking or sitting while holding a limp wrist is a submission signal used exclusively by women and gay men.

  • Fondling a Cylindrical Object: Fondling cigarettes, a finger, the stem of a wineglass, a dangling earring, or any phallic-shaped object is an unconscious indication of what may be in the mind. Taking a ring off and on the finger can also be a mental representation of having sex.

  • Exposed Wrists: An interested woman will gradually expose the smooth, soft underside skin of her wrists to the potential male partner and will increase the rate she flashes her wrists as her interest grows. The wrist area has long been considered one of the highly erotic areas of the female body because it is one of the more delicate skin areas; its uncertain whether this is a learned behavior or is innate, but it certainly operates on an unconscious level. The palms are also usually made visible to the man while she’s speaking. Women who smoke cigarettes find this wrist-palm exposure simple to do while smoking by simply holding the palm up besides the shoulder.

  • Sideways Glance over Raised Shoulder: The raised shoulder is self mimicry of the rounded female breasts. With partially drooped eyelids, the woman holds the man’s gaze just long enough for him to notice, then she quickly looks away. This action produces the feeling of peeping in the woman who does it and being peeped at by the man who receives it.

  • Rolling Hips

  • The Pelvic Tilt: The way a woman highlights this ration is simple- she simply tilts her pelvis when she stands.

  • Handbag in close proximity: The handbag becomes a strong signal of intimacy when she puts it close to a man. If she finds him particularly attractrive, she may slowly fondle and caress her handbag. She can ask him to pass the handbag or to even retrieve something from it.  

  • Knee Point: One leg is tucked under the other and points to the person she finds the most interesting. This is a relaxed position, which also takes the formality out of a conversation and gives the opportunity for a fleeting exposure of the thighs.

  • Shoe Fondle: Dangling the shoe on the end of the foot also indicates a relaxed attitude and has the phallic effect of thrusting the foot in and out of the shoe. This action unsettles many men without them knowing what is happening.

  • The Leg Twine: One leg is pressed firmly against the other to give the appearance of high muscle tone.

  • The good news is that a woman doesn’t need to be naturally beautiful to attract a man- beauty certainly gives her an initial edge over competitors- she mainly needs to be able to display the signs that she could be available. This is why some women who are not particularly physically attractive always seem to have plenty of suitors. Overall, a man is more attracted to a woman by the signs of her availability than by her physical attractiveness, and you can learn and practice availability signals.

  • Studies show that we prefer to find mates who are roughly as attractive as we are.

  • Humans are the only primates that mat face to face.

  • Men love high heels on a woman because it gives her the illusion of having fertile looking legs. High heels enhance a woman’s sexual shape by lengthening her legs, arching her back, forcing her buttocks to protrude, making her feet appear smaller, and thrusting her pelvis forward. This is why the show with the highest heel- the stiletto- with its bondage straps, is by far the most efficient sex aide on the market.

  • Male displays involve the show of power, wealth, and status. While a woman will dress sensually, wear makeup, and use a wide range of courtship gestures, men rev their car engines, brag about how much they earn, and challenge other men.

  • An American survey found the three words women would most like to hear from their male partner: You’ve lost weight.

  • As with most animals, the human male displays preening behavior as a potential partner arrives on the scene. In addition to the automatic physiological reactions already mentioned, he will straighten his tie, smooth his collar, brush imaginary dust from his shoulder, touch his cufflinks or watch, and rearrange his shirt, coat, and other clothing.

  • Why men talk to women at the beginning of a relationship: Many men understand that talking at length to a woman about the personal intimate details of her life wins points and can open her mind- and more- to him. At the beginning of a new relationship a man will often use the talking strategy, but after the honeymoon period, he’s likely to go back to his stereotypical behavior of not talking- sticking only to facts, information, and solutions to problems when he does talk.

  • The Male Crotch Obsession: The most direct sexual display a man can make toward a woman is the aggressive thumbs-in-belt gesture that highlights his crotch. He may also turn his body toward her and point his foot at her, use an intimate gaze, and hold her gaze for longer than usual. When he’s seated or learning against a wall, he may also spread his legs to display his crotch.

  • The Crotch adjust: The most common form of public male sexual display is the crotch adjust. The implication is that his genitalia are so large and cumbersome that they need constant attention to prevent the cutoff of blood circulation.

  • Wearing a tie to one side: If you’re a man and you want to find out which women like you, wear a neatly pressed suit and tie, but wear the tie slightly off to one side and put a little lint on one shoulder. Any women who find you attractive can’t resist brushing the lint off and straightening your tie so that you look just right.

  • Women continually express a preference for men with deeper, smoother voices because deep tones are directly linked to testosterone levels. When a man is around a woman he fancies he’s likely to start speaking in deeper tones to highlight his masculinity, while a responsive woman is likely to start talking in higher pitched tones to contrast her femaleness.

  • Women are also universally split into three groups: legs, butts, and chest/arms with butts take 40% of the votes. Overall, women also look for athletic body shape, broad shoulders, muscular chest and arms, and a tight butt.

  • The male chest developed to house large lungs enabling more effective distribution of oxygen and allowing him to breathe more efficiently when running and chasing.

  • A small, compact butt is the favorite of women everywhere. The secret is that a tight, muscular rear is necessary to make the strong forward thrusting motion needed for successful sperm transfer during sex.

Ownership, Height, & Territory Signals

  • When someone touches property, it becomes an extension of his body and this is how he shows others that it belongs to him.

  • An easy way to intimidate someone is to learn against, sit on, or use their possessions without their permission.

  • Through the institute of management, we recorded the height and salaries of 2566 managers at company director level and found that every inch of height above the company norm added almost $683 to that person’s salary package, regardless of whether the person was a man or a woman. On wall street, every inch of height added $583 to each person’s bottom line.

  • Ideal Couple Height Difference Ratio: 1: 1.09

  • Women are, on average, 2” shorter than men.

  • If someone is overbearing or standing over you while you are sitting, get up and walk over to a window and gaze outside as you discuss an issue. You will look as if you are giving deep consideration to the discussion and the bigger person can’t have a hight advantage when you aren’t looking at them.

  • Shorter people can increase their perceived height and are more likely to be remembered as taller when they wear dark colored clothing, pin striped suits or trouser suits, softer, more muted makeup (for women), and full size chrono watches.

Seating Arragements

  • Sitting directly opposite others create bad vibes

  • Rectangular tables create a competitive or defensive relationship between people because each person has equal space, equal frontage, and separate edges. It lets everyone take a position on a given subject and allows more direct eye contact across the table. Square tables are ideal for having short, to the point, conversations or for creating superior or subordinate relationships. Most cooperation comes from the person seated beside you, and the one on the right tends to be more cooperative than the one on the left.

  • A round table creates an atmosphere of relaxed informaility and is ideal for promoting discussion among people who are of equal status.

  • Researchers at the U of O determined that people can retain up to 3x more information about things they see in their right visual field than they do in their left.

  • Teachers almost ignore the pupils on their right. The study showed that teachers looked straight ahead 44% of the time, to the left 39% of the time, and to their right only 17% of the time.

  • Next time you have a dinner party, try this experiment: place the shyest, most introverted guest at the head of the table, farthest from the door with their back to a wall. You will be amazed to see how simply placing a person in a powerful seating position encourages them to begin to talk more often and with more authority and how others will also pay more attention to them.

  • First, never tell the audience you feel nervous or overawed- they’ll start looking for nervous body language and will be sure to find it. Use confidence gestures as you speak, even if you’re feeling terrified. Use steeple gestures, open and closed palm positions, occasional protrudting thumbs, and keep your arms unfolded. Avoid pointing at the audience, arm crossing, face touching, and lectern gripping. Studies show that people who sit in the front row learn and retain more than others in the audience.

  • When you stand to the audiences left- the right side of the stage- your information will have a stronger effect on the right brain hemisphere of your audiences brains, which is the emotional side in most people. Standing to the audiences right- the left side of the stage- impacts the audiences left brain hemisphere. This is why an audience will laugh more and laugh longer when you use humor and stand to the left side of the stage, and they respond better to emotional pleas and stories when you deliver them from the right side of the stage. Comedians have known this for decades- make them laugh from the left and cry from the right.

  • If you are going to do business over dinner, it’s a wise strategy to complete most of the conversation before the food arrives.

Interview, Powerplays, and Office Politics:

  • First impressions are the “love at first sight” of the business world.

  • Research in the field of linguistics has shown a direct relationship between the amount of status, power, or prestige a person commands, and their vocabulary range. The higher up the social or management ladder a person is, the better he is likely to be able to communicate in words and phrases.

  • The person at the top end of the status scale can use his range of vocab to communicate his meaning, whereas the less educated, less-skilled lower status person will rely more on gestures than words to communicate his message.

  • Other form up to 90% of their opinion about you in the first 4 minutes and that 60-80% of the impact you will make is nonverbal.

  • In the reception area: Always stand in a reception area- never sit. Receptions will insist you “take a seat” because when you do, you’re out of sight and they no longer have to deal with you. Stand with hand-in-hand behind your back and slowly rock back and forth on your feet (confident, controlled) or use the steeple gesture. This body language is a constant reminder that you are still there and waiting.

  • The entry into an office: When the receptionist has given you the green light to enter, walk in without hesitation. When you walk through the door of the person’s office, maintain the same speed. People who lack confidence change gears and perform small shuffles as they enter.

  • The approach: Even if the person is on the phone, rummaging through a drawer, or tying his shoelaces, walk in directly and confidently with a smooth motion. Put down your briefcase, folder, or whatever is in your hands, shake the person’s hand, and immediately take a seat. Let the other person see that you are accustomed to walking confidently into offices and that you don’t expect to be kept waiting. People who walk slowly or take long strides convey that they have plenty of time on their hands, are not interested in what they are doing, or have nothing else to do.

  • The handshake: Keep your palm straight and return the pressure you receive. Let the other person decide when to end the handshake. Step to the left of a rectangular desk as you approach to avoid being given a palm-down handshake. Never shake directly across a desk. Use a person’s name twice in the first 15 seconds and never talk for more than 30s at a time.

  • When you sit: If you are compelled to sit in a low chair directly facing the other person, turn it away 45d from the person to avoid being stuck in the reprimand position. If you can’t angle the chair, angle your body instead.

  • When someone keeps you waiting: Always take a book, PDA, laptop, or office work, which shows that you too are busy and are not prepared to be inconvenienced. When the person who has kept you waiting comes out to meet you let them speak first, lift your head slowly from your work and greet them, then pack up smoothly and confidently.

  • A study at UC showed that the most persuasive words in spoken language are: discovery, guarantee, love, proven, results, save, easy, health, money, new, safety, and you.

Secrets of Attractive Body Language

  • Face: have an animated face and make smiling a part of your regular repertoire. Make sure you flash your teeth.

  • Gestures: Be expressive but don’t overdo it. Keep your fingers closed when you gesture, your hands below chin level, and avoid arm or feet crossing.

  • Head Movement: Use triple nods when talking and head tilt when listening. Keep your chin up.

  • Eye Contact: Give the amount of eye contact that makes everyone feel comfortable. Unless looking at others is a cultural no-no, lookers gain more credibility than non-lookers.

  • Posture: Lean forward when listening, stand straight when speaking.

  • Territory: Stand as close as you feel comfortable. If the other person moves back, don’t step forward again.

  • Mirror: Subtly mirror the body language of others.