How to Use Body Language to Your Advantage
According to psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian, only 7% of communication is verbal—38% of what we really mean is based on the tone of our voice and 55% is based on body language. While these findings have challenged, there’s no denying that a significant percentage of how we communicate is based on our actions, not just our words.
To help you understand and communicated with people better, here are 10 common gestures and what they usually imply, plus 5 actions that could help you influence your surroundings.
- Crossed arms: The person doing this is putting a barrier, and suggests that he or she is not open to what is being suggested
- Nail biting: This action indicates insecurity, nervousness, anxiety or stress. Like most body gestures, people do this unconsciously and some have even turned this into a habit.
- Scowling: A person scowling is typically judging or thinking about something disapprovingly. It may also indicate that that person is unhappy or upset about his or her present situation.
- Touching one’s cheek: This signals that a person is thinking about something, especially if this gesture is paired with a faraway look.
- Rolling one’s eyes: People roll their eyes when they’re being told something that they find dull, boring or even stupid, but they can’t openly disagree with the speaker or get away from the situation.
- Locked ankles: Whether it’s done standing or sitting, locked ankles signals being apprehensive. A person with locked ankles often wants to get away from the situation and is only stopping himself through the position.
- Lowered head: A lowered head indicates that a person is trying to hide usually either due to shyness or shame. It may also mean that a person is thinking; he or she is looking down to avoid seeing distractions.
- Stroking one’s chin: A typically male gesture (some stroke their beards instead), this implies that the person is weighing things in his mind and trying to come up with a decision.
- Standing close: A person standing close to you, especially if there are lots of space around, wants to know you better or wants to be in your favor.
- Handshake: A weak handshake signals that the person lacks confidence, while an overly strong one indicated that they person is trying to dominate you. Handshakes should be firm but not too strong or aggressive.
Now, here’s five ways you can “hack” your mind by doing certain actions:
- To boost confidence: Raise your arms in a V or stand tall with your hands on your hips.
- To subtly tell your date you want to get closer: During dinner, rest your forearm on the table, with your fingers directed to your partner. This indicates that you want to reach out to him or her.
- To make your kid calm down: If your child is frightened or alarmed, talk to him or her in a soothing voice.
- To make people like and trust you: It’s all in the chin—if it’s too raised, it makes you look indignant; turn it too low, however, and you’ll look weak. Keep it centered to exude honesty and confidence.
- To bond with someone: Simply make brief but occasional body contacts, such as lightly touching their arms, tapping them on the shoulder or giving them a high five.