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January 31, 2012

Reading Body Language - Common Hand Gestures

Walking on two feet and thus having free hands (fore limbs) gives us an unique ability to make different hand gestures. They are very advantageous, important and decisive too during face to face social interactions. Even if we're talking on phone, we subconscious make hand gestures as if we're standing in front of another person.

In some cultures, making too many hand gestures, too frequent hand gestures or too bold hand gestures is strictly prohibited or frowned upon e. g. Southern India especially Tamilnadu. In other cultures, it has been accepted, adored and even institutionalized.

According to body language, there are different categories under which different gestures fall. Only manipulative, pointing, regulatory, declarative and territorial gestures are quite common across the globe.

Symbolic and Emblematic gestures vary from one culture to another. Also, the meaning of same gesture might have entirely different meanings in two different cultures.

Directing ("This way."), Pointing ("It's the thing.") or Blaming ("You are a culprit.")

Skyward/Upward, Ruler's Finger or "One God"

Allowing ("Come here.", "Let it approach.")

Stopping ("It's enough.", "Don't come.")

Blessing or Suppressing

Submission or "Give me."

Powerful, Strong or Winner

Questioning or Demanding

Offering or Picking

Clarification ("Believe me.", "Nothing to hide.")

Helping Hand or Making Clear

No Arms In Hand or Hand Wave ("I'm here!")

Symbolic Pistol or Sign of Shooting

Symbolic Punch ("Beat you") or Power Fist

Related Articles:
1) Words and gestures are alike 2) Body Language Brain 3) Clusters 4) Congruence 5) Proxemics 6) Context 7) Micro Expressions 8) Para Language 9) Facial Expressions 10) Postures 11) Challenges 12) Interpretation 13) Baseline 14) Perceptual Bias 15) Self-communication by gesturing 16) Basic Bodily Clues

January 29, 2012

Reading Body Language - Common Facial Expressions

When it comes to talking about body language, facial expressions come first because our eyes pick the muscular movements given away by the face on which they're located. Paying attention to the face and facial experssion is obvious due to the peculiar location of eyes. We pay a lot of our attention to the way our entire face move its muscles.

The face we see everyday in the mirror isn't given thought to seriously but human face is unique among all animals living this planet because it can express various emotions, feelings and moods by moving its muscles. Surprisingly, we all express them in a quite similar manner because we inherit them from the common group of ancestors.

43 muscles of our face help us to portray over 10,000 different configurations, including emotional facial expressions, emblems and gestures. Prof. Dr. Paul Ekman has made a great contribution in scientific area of facial expressions and their decoding through FACS (Facial Action Coding System).

Different Facial Muscles

Following are some common expressions (including basic emotional expressions):

















Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Body Language Brain 3) Clusters 4) Congruence 5) Proxemics 6) Context 7) Micro Expressions 8) Para Language 9) Postures 10) Hand Gestures 11) Challenges 12) Interpretation 13) Baseline 14) Perceptual Bias 15) Botox hampers emotional awareness 16) Basic Bodily Clues

January 22, 2012

Reading Body Language - Common Postures

Confident, Open and Bold
Postures possess a huge amount of importance in interpreting body language. Postulating (adapting and dropping postures) is very fundamental approach for getting adapted to and negotiating with various physical environments, climatic conditions, performance demands, circumstances, social situations, emotional states, events, encounters, incidents, objects and individuals.

Adapting different postures has been hard-coded in our subconscious minds and genes millions of years ago as a defending, adjusting, compromising and negotiating mechanism. We can spend moments without gazing, moving, speaking, gesticulating and expressing emotions on our faces but not a single moment without adapting a posture.

Unlike facial expressions, gestures and vocal tones; postures can be easily observed, detected or sensed from a very long distance. Thus they have unmatching power to convey or send a message to a large number of observers, spectators, onlookers and followers. Postures speak very loudly and clearly over a longer distance, even through their silhouettes.

Following are some commonly, apparently and globally observable postures (with their titles and descriptions given below images) that people adapt while standing, seating and laying in public and private. Please keep in mind that there can be a number of smaller variations in each posture.

Seating Comfortably (Female): This is normal sitting posture that most women adapt quite often. Unlike legs put parallel on ground by male, they rest their one leg on the another.

Alert/Attentive/Ready/Interested: This posture is unconsciously adapted when we are looking at or listening with interest, attention, alertness and focus.

Ready to Stand: After finding no reason to seat anymore at given place, we rest our forearms on knees or thighs to help ourselves to stand up and most probably - walk away.

I'm Nervous/Stressed: Opposite to aggressive stance, putting hands in pockets or tightly clasping them alongside torso/trunk is sign of insecurity, anxiety or nervousness.

Hold my Hands: To provide comfort to ourselves in a slightly uncomfortable situation, we entwine fingers of both hands together and hold them near abdominal area. It's an unconscious imitation of holding somebody's hand.

Fencing Arms: Both arms are crossed over chest to defend, to protect, to soothe, suppress emotions or distancing away from something or somebody. This posture is also adapted while waiting. In cold climate, crossing arms over chest is done to retain body heat that leaks from armpits and palms.

Self-Saving Stand: While lacking energy, courage, strength and confidence; we can't stand perfectly upright and tend to lean forward. This posture is also adapted while being threatened, challenged or attacked.

Hostile Hands#1: Clenching feasts tightly and clasping them alongside torso/trunk is a clear sign of aggression with high possibility to beating somebody.

Hostile Hands#2: Clenching feasts tightly and resting them on hips is a clear sign aggression with high possibility of beating somebody.

Ready for Action: Under aggression or excitement, hands are automatically rested on hips to bluff the overall body size in appearance. Resting either hand on hip is sign of insularity or even frustration.

I'm Authoritative/Armed: To exert authority and confidence, we clench palms behind our back. By doing this, chest is pushed forward as a sign of warning against any misconduct. Palms held behind pose threat with possibility of holding any weapon. Many security personals, officers or higher authorities adapt this posture.

Can't Fool Me: This is classical posture which is adapted by an accomplished individual (mostly men) who wants to convey that he/she can't be easily convinced, pursued, fooled, tricked, allured, wooed or played with.

Let's Argue: This is classical posture which most people adapt while arguing in a seating position. One leg is put on another to secure vulnerable parts of body from being hurt and torso is elevated to appear bigger/taller in front of the others.

Can't stay here: This posture can be seen adapted by the person who wants to stand up and walk away from an unpleasant, unclean, unhygienic and/or uncomfortable situation or place.

Relaxed Stance: Unlike putting entire body weight on both legs, we put entire body weight on a single leg to give relaxation the other one.

On the Move: We unconsciously start pointing by one leg in the same direction we want to go, advance or move in.

Thinking/Evaluating: This is very classical posture which we adapt while seriously thinking or evaluating something.

Laying Comfortably: We tend to rest our back and hands at near horizontal position on a flat and comforting surface. Legs are stretched to imitate falling asleep.

Seating Fearlessly: This posture is adapted (mostly by men) which unconsciously conveys that the individual is fearless, relaxing and full of confidence but doesn't mind good seating etiquette.

Keeping Warm: This posture is adapted when a person is feeling cold (in weather), embarrassment, insecurity or vulnerability.

Seating Comfortably: We tend to rest our back at near horizontal position on the back of a chair. Legs are also stretched to imitate falling asleep.

Waiting Impatiently: When we impatiently wait for somebody or something to finish, we rest palms of both hands over hips. Sometimes, palm of only one hand is rested over hip.

Hiding Aggression: Unlike authoritative stance, we grip upper arm behind our back to control ourselves from beating somebody.

Imposing Smartness: If an individual (mostly male) on wants to pose himself as smarter than others, it seats in a chair by facing its back in front of the other individual(s).

Leave me Alone: This is typical posture adapted when person is troubled, afraid, shocked, sad, crying or ruminating about something or somebody.

Can’t seat any longer: Under unconscious disinterest or impatience, we unconsciously prepare ourselves to remove ourselves from chair, stand up and walk away.

Defeated Duck: When we lack confident to confront, upper body bends towards ground. It’s a clear sign of submission, exhaustion, surrender or acceptance of defeat/failure.

Confident, Open and Friendly: When we're open, confident and friendly; we stand perfectly upright, keep hands parallel to torso and let palms to remain open and visible to others.

Related Articles:
1) Body Language Brain 2) Clusters 3) Congruence 4) Proxemics 5) Context 6) Micro Expressions 7) Para Language 8) Facial Expressions 9) Hand Gestures 10) Challenges 11) Interpretation 12) Baseline 13) Perceptual Bias 14) My posture discovery 15) Good posture is Healthy 16) Basic Bodily Clues 17) Power Postures