What are good examples of body language?
Body language is how we communicate without words, this may be obvious but the brain picks up on nonverbal language cues 1/5 of a second faster than when someone is speaking. An example would be if walk into my house, I can probably figure out real fast if my husband is in a good or bad mood.
There are some people who send nonverbal signals that are actually wrong. They may be perfectly normal and happy, but they end up sending off the wrong body language to someone that makes them seem angry or not happy.
Psychology is studying human behaviors and helping others understand. You should learn more good examples of body language so you do not accidentally send the wrong signals to someone: maybe a first date, girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, or boss.
Understand that these body language cues listed below may only apply to Americans. Different countries and cultures have their own types of body language and way of communication. For example, Americans that fold their arms during a conversation usually is a bad sign and means the person is not pleased or wants to get out of the conversation. For someone in the Vietnamese culture, crossing your arms while listening is a sign of respect and you are paying attention to what that person is saying.
Below are listed some good examples of body language that you can learn and you can eventually read on other people.
A handshake can be a good indication of how you are feeling since it is one of the only times we are in contact with someone we first meet. It is an extremely important part of nonverbal communication. A simple handshake can make or break you.
If you have a firm handshake you will receive instant credibility and it will put off confidence to the other person. If you have a weak handshake it will make you look fragile and easy to dominate. There is a balance, you do not need to crush the other person’s hand in order for you to put off that you are being confident. Giving someone too tight of a handshake will communicate that you are a bully or trying to overcompensate.
When you go to an important meeting with a boss or have a class with a teacher. It is important to take notes, this puts off the signal that you really care what they have to say. It makes you look really engaged and makes you look smarter. You will see most politicians debate with a pen in their hand, and they take notes while the other person is talking. It makes them look intelligent and engaged, even if they are only doodling. Taking notes in every conversation is not ideal.
Pulling your collar.
Pulling the collar of your shirt or making a scratch or wipe underneath it means that you are stressed. It can mean that you are under a lot of pressure or in a stressful situation.
If you are having a conversation with someone and want to let them know that you care, sit up and lean in toward them. If you lean back, hang your arms on the chair, and have your legs every which way possible, it puts off to the other person that you do not care about the conversation.
Crossing arms is the most common form of body language, and probably the easiest to read. If you are talking with someone and they fold their arms it is probably a good idea to get out of the conversation. For the most part, it means that the other person is not interested or losing interest in the conversation.
When you breathe and go slow when you speak and have slower movements it makes everyone feel calmer. Some people are really rough around the edges and do not know that they make people feel uncomfortable when they talk and react to things a million miles an hour. Breathing deeply also helps you calm down if you are nervous and it takes the edge off.
No eye contact.
If you are having a serious conversation and you do not look the other person in the eyes when speaking it makes it look like you are lying. People who are good liars make it a point to look at peoples eyes when they are speaking to them.
Too much eye contact.
Looking into someone’s eyes too long is a sign of aggression. There is a fine line between not looking into someone’s eyes and looking like a liar, rather than looking at them too long and looking aggressive. It is better to take the middle ground here and just hold the look for a second or two. Do not be looking around all the room but just hold a stare with them for a couple seconds and look away briefly, but go back to their eyes often. It makes people feel more comfortable and you make it seem like they can trust you and you are not being too aggressive.
First of all, biting your nails is just gross and not a good habit.
If you want to learn about breaking a bad habit check out our post: How Do I Create Good Personal Habits?
When you bite your nails it communicates to other people that you are nervous, stressed out, and insecure. A lot of nail-biters do this subconsciously and do not realize they have this habit.
Never check your watch.
If you are talking to someone important and you look at your watch, it is a sure sign of being bored and makes them feel disrespected. It makes it seem like you have better things to do or you are in a time crunch and have to be in another place.
Putting your hand on your cheek.
This form of body language communicates that you are lost in thought and pondering something. When your head is leaning on your hand and you are looking down with your eyebrows crinkled, it puts off that you are thinking deeply.
When you tap your fingers on something or drum like you are at a rock concert it can put off two signals. Either you are tired, or you are waiting for something and your patience is running out.
If you constantly look at the ground when you talk to people it makes it seem like you are shy or you do not care. It can also mean that you are not interested in the conversation.
Holding your own hand.
Usually when a person feels stressed they will put their hands together as if they were holding their own hand. This makes it seem like you are not sure of yourself and insecure.
Sucking in lips.
Sucking your lips into your mouth makes it seem as if you do not want to express something, either a thought or emotion. You are very reluctant to share information about yourself with the person.
Stop messing with things.
If you are messing with your clothes, fingernails, a pen, or papers, just stop! If you are fiddling with things it makes it seem like you are bored and you disapprove of what they are saying. If anything, it communicates that what they are saying to you makes it seem like you don’t care.
If someone knows you well they can always tell when you are faking anything, especially smiling. Do not even try to smile if you do not mean it because people can see right through it.
Blinking a lot.
Blinking is normal but it is apparent when you are blinking a lot, it usually means you are nervous or you disagree with what is being said.
Stay out of my bubble, getting too close to people can be uncomfortable and will turn them off to the whole conversation.
Putting fingertips together.
“Steepling” is the word when someone places both hands together at the point of their fingers. This is a sign of power and authority. A lot of people in authority positions will do this, usually bosses and superiors.
Hands behind your back.
This is a type of body language that indicates that you have something to hide. People tend to do this subconsciously, and it makes it seem like people are nervous about something when they have their hands in their pockets.
Touching your face.
The area around your face is a subconscious sign of deceit. If you touch your nose, mouth, or face it speaks that you are resisting what the other person is trying to tell you.
Shaking your head yes too much.
When talking to someone it is ok to nod your head to communicate to the other person that you are listening and you agree. It is not good to do it too much because it comes off as you being weak and that you are indifferent.
Hands on head.
Putting both hands on your head puts off that you are angry, upset, ashamed, or not happy about something. Instead of showing disgust on your face, you do it by putting both your hands on your head.
Stroking your chin.
This language says to people that you are thinking about something very deep. If you are having an intelligent conversation with someone and the person starts stroking their chin or beard, it means they are really invested in the conversation on a deep level.
When a person pulls on their ears it means they are thinking about a decision. They are nervous and pondering what the right answer should be. The person is in between two decisions and can not make up their mind.
If you are standing up straight with your shoulders back it makes you look confident, especially if you are walking with even paced strides. It makes you look relaxed and confident in yourself, but do not stick your chest out too much, it may look like you are arrogant.
Hands on your hips.
Standing with your hands on your hips means you are either ready to go or you are trying to be aggressive with someone. Most of the time it means you are ready to do something, but notice what kind of mood you are in, and if you are mad and trying to make a point to someone, you are probably putting your hands on your hips.
Rubbing your eyes can be body language that you are doubting what is being said. It can also mean that you are in disbelief of what is happening.
People play with things when they are bored. They fidget with their hands or some object like a pencil or a fidget spinner! The most common form of fidgeting is bouncing your leg on the ground. I remember in junior high when kids started doing this as a fad and it just caught on. It was cool to fidget during class.
This is usually a sign of sadness or insecurity. Make sure and always put your shoulders back and stand up straight, it won’t put off to everyone that you are sad. Even if you are not sad your bad body language still says you are.
Making big gestures.
If you are not giving a speech to a group of people, it is not wise to make big gestures. This is only appropriate if you are giving a speech or presentation. If you are just talking to a few friends or a couple people you do not know this may seem like you arrogant.
Looking at your cell phone.
Never look at your phone when you are talking to people, it is not only rude but it makes it seem like you do not care about that person. It shows them that there is someone else out there that is more important than you. If you need to, stop the conversation politely and go and check your phone if it is that important.
If someone is telling you something that you are really interested in you may unconsciously mirror that person body language. This can be done on purpose or unconsciously to put good body language to show them you care about what they are saying.