What can gestures tell us? 75 Signs of Body Language

Few people know that communication between people consists not only of verbal contact, communication and verbal transmission of information, there is also body language and gestures. This is a non-verbal technique that involves giving signals and signs through movements, facial expressions, glances, as well as manipulation of different parts of the body, that is, gestures. Experts using such data can recognize lies, aggression and many other emotions.

Particular attention should be paid to non-verbal signs, as this will allow you to read between the lines, see truth and lies, and much more. Such skills will be useful to a person not only in personal relationships, but also at work, negotiations, in a team of employees, and at interviews. Therefore, it is worth considering each type of gesture and non-verbal presentation of information, gleaning the necessary information.

The meaning of gestures

In the human psyche, the meaning of non-verbal signals - gestures and facial expressions - lies in the sphere of the unconscious. People may not pay attention to their own and others' attempts to convey information, but they subconsciously recognize them. To read messages more accurately, it is necessary to study their meaning in accordance with the cultural environment to which the interlocutors belong.

Despite the common meaning of most facial reactions, in some cultures common gestures may have the opposite meaning. Thus, nodding your head usually means agreement, but in some cultures it means denial.

Body language varies depending on the speaker's gender, age, social status and other personal characteristics. Communication using gestures is limited: movements can only convey basic emotions, but it is impossible to show the subtleties of attitude. Therefore, body language is used to complement and enhance the emotional coloring of speech. The conscious use of gestures and control of facial expressions is the result of a volitional effort, aimed mainly at the desire to hide a lie.

Body language and sign language should not be confused. Unlike unconscious muscle reactions, sign language is a full-fledged linguistic unit used for normal communication. The use of sign language allows people with hearing and speech impairments to communicate and socialize successfully.

Examples of nonverbal communication

  • If a girl, showing off her wrist, communicates with a member of the opposite sex, she lets him know that she is ready to get closer to him. And if he also paints his lips with bright lipstick, then he has truly become the object of her passion.

Read more: How to know that a girl likes you - 14 signs

  • There is a common method of establishing contact with new acquaintances: you should copy his gestures and postures. If the interlocutor crossed his arms, you can repeat this body movement. This manipulation promotes non-verbal unity. There is a whole set of such small tricks.

To grasp the true meaning, you need to pay close attention to the position of the interlocutor's hands and feet.

Mainly gestures and postures emphasize the truth, and sometimes contradict what was said.

It is difficult to believe a person with crossed limbs convincing another of good intentions. It is unlikely that he will fulfill his promise. Surely he uses the location and trust of his partners for his personal interests.

Through gestures and posture you can hide some information from your opponents. Despite the casualness and ease of communication, the posture makes it clear that the owner does not intend to share important information with anyone.

Scientific research

Representatives of Ancient Rome already possessed the study of body language and the desire to characterize gestures. The science formed on the basis of the observations of researchers was called kenesics. The greatest contribution to its development was made by:

  1. J. Balwer. He created a fundamental work devoted to gestures, in particular, hand movements.
  2. I. F. Lavater. He studied physiognomy and conducted a comparative analysis of emotions and gestures.
  3. G. K. Lichtenberg. He published several works in which he examined Lavater’s ideas in detail, calling them superficial and far from reality.
  4. C. Bell. He studied the nervous system, studied the correspondence of facial features to the emotions experienced. He deduced a pattern between emotional reaction and muscular activity.
  5. C. Darwin. Studied the correspondence of facial expression to emotional reaction.
  6. F. Bacon. I came to the conclusion that there is a special body language that is understood by all peoples of the world.
  7. F. Lowen. In his book on the psychology of the body, he outlined the basics of psychosomatic problems

Psychologists and sociologists believe that body language can become a universal means of communication between people of different social groups.

Is it true?

Many people are skeptical about such an issue as nonverbal communication. Gestures and facial expressions are perceived as something natural and mechanical. But it is precisely taking this fact into account that we can talk about the objectivity of the nonverbal mechanism. Psychologists have devoted many scientific works to this issue. But if this is not an argument for skeptics, it is enough to conduct independent observation. So, for example, having learned to decipher the thoughts and feelings of your family and friends, later you will be able to see through strangers. Of course, we should not forget that there are exceptions to the rules. Thus, a person can take one position or another simply out of habit. In addition, it cannot be ruled out that he is not feeling well or is wearing uncomfortable clothes. Air temperature can have a significant impact on human behavior. Thus, the role of nonverbal communication should not be underestimated. However, before drawing final conclusions, it is worth carefully analyzing the conditions in which the conversation takes place.

Main body segments

When assessing the meaning of posture and movements, you need to pay attention to the segment of the body that gives signals. Each department is responsible for a specific issue:

  • eyes - an expression of fear associated with personal relationships;
  • mouth - difficulties in communication, fear of rejection;
  • neck - negative emotions, anger, aggression;
  • chest - suppression of emotional reactions, restraint, self-control;
  • diaphragm - social anxiety, volitional efforts, feeling of satisfaction;
  • stomach area - feeling of danger, external threat;
  • pelvis and groin area - true feelings, intimate interest.

When assessing the reaction of individual body segments, it is always necessary to compare the movements as a whole. Warning should be caused by desynchronization of movements of different departments: a person cannot control his body and it betrays his deception.

Facial expressions

Facial expressions closely border on visual contact, so pay close attention to the man’s face when you are in his field of vision. The eyebrows are the first to “give up”! In a calm state, they are unshakable, however, having caught a pretty woman, they begin to fly uncontrollably up and down, displaying their inner experiences. If a man deliberately raises one eyebrow, this gesture demonstrates deep interest in the girl!

Falling in love is clearly indicated by a man’s olfactory organ. Our nose is quite sensitive, so when we are nervous, excited, or emotionally uplifted, we breathe more often, more intensely, and deeper. At the same time, the nostrils flare, as if instead of oxygen, a person in love inhales hot air! At the same time, the lips also treacherously dry out, which is why men in love often have to lick them with their tongues. This gesture speaks of a secret desire to kiss a pretty person. We are accustomed to the fact that only women do this in attempts to seduce a man, but this is a common physiological need in the presence of the object of adoration.

And, of course, a smile! She begins to play on the lips from the first second the beloved woman enters the man’s horizons and does not go away until he sees her. Moreover, it appears involuntarily. A man may notice this and change his facial expression, but over time it treacherously resurfaces. A smile, as a rule, is sincere, wide, and kind.

Please note: if a man starts smiling from the first word you say (even if it’s not addressed to him), this is a gesture of sincere sympathy! So intuitively he wants to seem more attractive to you!

Gestures of closedness, isolation

For a full psychological assessment of a person based on body movements and gestures, it is necessary to distinguish between shyness and purposeful secrecy. He speaks about reluctance to communicate, fear and hostility:

  1. Crossing your arms over your chest. While sitting, a person can also cross their legs with their knee forward. This indicates a desire to fence off with armor, to be as far as possible from the interlocutor, distrust and hostility.
  2. Tightness, hands on knees. A defensive posture, the desire to quickly end the conversation.
  3. Stomping, tapping fingers, throwing objects from hand to hand. The desire to divert attention from oneself, to avoid a negative reaction.

For many people, secretive postures are comfortable, and they unconsciously adopt them when talking with trusted people. But during business communication they should be avoided so as not to cause misunderstanding.


Considering non-verbal means of gestures, one cannot help but talk about the distance that is maintained between people under certain conditions. Thus, the following indicators are generally accepted:

  • up to half a meter is an intimate distance between close people who are in a trusting relationship;
  • from 0.5 to 1.5 m is the interpersonal distance for friendly communication;
  • 1.5-3.5 m - social distance, which is comfortable for interaction between unfamiliar people, as well as on business matters;
  • 3.7 m is the public distance from which a speech is given to a large audience.

Gestures to help recognize lies

The main thing that any student of body language strives for is the ability to detect lies in the speech of the interlocutor. They say about dishonesty:

  1. Frequently touching the face, scratching the forehead and nose, covering the mouth with the hand. A person literally tries to stop himself from telling a lie, to cover his face, avoiding a direct condemning gaze.
  2. Stroking, scratching the neck. Talks about lies caused by fear or misunderstanding. Such gestures are often demonstrated by subordinates when talking with their boss.
  3. Touching the earlobe. During communication, touching the ears means that the person does not believe in the information he heard, but tries not to show it.
  4. Quick, frequent smiles, licking lips. It means excitement, a desire to hide deception.

The discrepancy between gestures and spoken words indicates a lie, but individual characteristics must be taken into account. Perhaps the dissonance is caused by anatomical features and is a consequence of the disease. Also characteristic is the discrepancy between movement and words among foreigners who do not know the language well and try to supplement words with gestures.


Tactile contact is perhaps the most straightforward gesture indicating a man’s sympathy for a woman. The desire to touch your partner always speaks of falling in love, since you only want to feel closely a person who is pleasant to you. What can a girl notice? Firstly, the satellite is trying in every possible way to reduce the distance between you. For any reason: come close to better hear your story (show something “important”), sit closer so that there is enough space for others at the table, ask something, etc. His goal is to enter your personal space and simultaneously assess the response to this.

Secondly, pay attention to the guy's hands. A man in love always tries to unobtrusively, gently and easily touch the girl he likes. Remove a speck from your hair, shake a bug off your shoulder, “accidentally” touch it, support your elbow when descending from a slippery porch, put your hand close to yours at a meeting. If you are at the level of friendly relations, you may notice constant body movements in your direction: comic pushes, slapping the cheeks, pinching, hugging, scratching hair.

If there is more than friendship between you, but you don’t know what exactly a man feels for you, focus on his direct touches. He puts your hand tightly in his - a sign of deep affection, holds you by the waist - demonstrates his importance, touches you from behind - he is always ready to protect, console, support.

Please note: if a guy for some reason is in no hurry to touch, he may show his sympathy in a different way. For example, stroking a glass, phone, table surface, etc. with your finger. These gestures mean that he is determined to give your body affection and tenderness, but due to indecision, he is waiting for initiative from his companion. If he touches his own face, hair, neck, he is nervous because he cannot openly show his sympathy.

If you want to test a man's feelings, touch him first and gauge his reaction. The chosen one in love will gladly reciprocate with approval, tenderness. He received the green light, which means he is ready to cross that very line!

Gestures warning of aggression

It is important to recognize gestures of aggression and threats in a timely manner - this makes it possible to prevent a conflict in time and get away from the direct line of attack of the interlocutor. An aggressive attitude manifests itself:

  1. Clenching your fists. The interlocutor speaks in a calm tone, his posture is relaxed, but his hands are constantly clenched into fists - a clear signal of pent-up anger.
  2. Fists resting on the surface of the table, hips or pressed to the waist - a direct threat, readiness to attack.
  3. Hands hidden behind back. The person is literally trying to control himself and not show aggression.
  4. Pursed lips, tightly clenched jaws. They express contempt and dissatisfaction with the interlocutor.
  5. Scratching the back of the neck and the back of the head. Anticipation of attack, demonstration of readiness for defense.

If during a conversation a person twitches his upper lip, flares his nostrils, squints his eyes, he is ready for open confrontation, demonstrates superiority over his opponent, and threatens.

Advice from psychologists

An experienced psychologist is able to read the gestures and facial expressions of even a very secretive person and assess his emotional state regardless of verbal information. For people unfamiliar with the subtleties of nonverbal cues, it can be difficult at first to monitor two channels of information simultaneously. You can start with the following techniques:

  • note the movements that a person reproduces most often and compare them with spoken words;
  • ask your interlocutor leading and clarifying questions, ask the same information several times;
  • do not look directly at the interlocutor, look away so as not to arouse suspicion;
  • having caught a person in a lie, do not immediately express complaints, do not interrupt the story - perhaps the first conclusions will turn out to be incorrect;
  • develop observation skills, learn to compare information.

Special books from which you can glean theoretical information and constant practice will help you learn to understand body language. To learn to read different people, you should constantly train your ability to study emotional reactions, movements, and other nonverbal signals. It is important to compare signals and identify a common series of symbolic gestures. This will help you recognize body signals without thinking in the future.

Interesting Facts

Not even facts, just a few things you need to know. Or interesting to know if you want to familiarize yourself with sign language.

  1. Sign language varies from country to country. There is an international sign language, but it is little used.
  2. Deaf people read lips, so it is important for them to see your lips as they pronounce words. Don't be closed off and speak clearly so that they can understand you.
  3. Sign language uses different grammar and word order. For example, question words are placed at the end of sentences.
  4. SL has its own linguistic features, structure and grammar. It cannot be said that this is simply a copy of ordinary language transferred to gestures.
  5. In New Zealand, sign language is the third official language.

Films, TV series, songs and performances are adapted for people with hearing problems. All these materials can be found on the Internet, in particular on YouTube.

Learning sign language is not only useful, but also interesting. You can discover a lot of new things, look at the world a little differently, and help a stranger in a difficult situation.

How to recognize gestures?

To get a complete picture of the correspondence of gestures and facial expressions to a person’s words, you need to evaluate the meaning of all movements:

  1. Gait. By the way the interlocutor enters the room, you can assess the degree of confidence and self-esteem: a long step, a confident gait - purposefulness and ambition, a shuffling gait - lack of will and aspirations, a slow, imposing gait - narcissism and demonstrativeness.
  2. Hand position while moving and sitting. Elbows pressed to the body indicate isolation, unsociability; broad gestures, waving your arms when talking - openness, sociability. Touching your interlocutor is a desire to enter the zone of closest trust, a desire to subjugate.
  3. Direction of view. The position of the eyes shows how interested the interlocutor is in the conversation and the desire to defend his point of view. A downward gaze means the person is telling the truth; an upward gaze means he makes it up as he goes along.
  4. Posture. A straightened neck and a raised chin indicate a person’s general confidence; a bowed head is a sign of humility and timidity.
  5. Body direction. A body leaning forward means interest in the conversation, sympathy for the interlocutor, a desire to reduce the emotional distance, and gain trust.

If a person often changes position during a conversation, his opinion is unstable. He is ready to accept someone else's point of view and submit to his interlocutor.

Male and female gestures

During a conversation, women tend to gesticulate more often if the subject of discussion is pleasant to them. When discussing unpleasant things or talking with an unpleasant interlocutor, women instinctively strive to move away, shrink, and become smaller. They press their hands, bow their heads, turn away. Expressing interest, women try to come closer, their gestures are open, their palms are turned towards the interlocutor.

Men are less likely to express irritation through gestures. It’s easier to assess their mood through their posture: a relaxed posture speaks of trust, openness, and a desire to continue the conversation. Hunching, squeezing your shoulders, putting your hands in front of you is forming a kind of barrier from an unpleasant interlocutor.

Expressing affection using gestures

By studying body language and gestures, a person can easily understand interest in intimate and romantic relationships. The body movements of women who attract the attention of men are actively expressed:

  • demonstration of the wrists, turning the inside of the palms up;
  • shaking hair, twirling a curl on a finger;
  • licking, biting lips;
  • touching the thighs, ankles;
  • pointing the toes of the shoes towards the man.

A man, showing interest in a relationship with a woman, subconsciously tries to demonstrate his best qualities:

  • stretches up, straightens his shoulders;
  • constantly adjusts his tie, cuffs and shirt collar;
  • runs his hands over his thighs and knees.

In representatives of both sexes, interest in intimate relationships is revealed by a searching gaze. It glides along the figure of the attractive person from top to bottom, lingering at the neckline and hip level.

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