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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 gestures. They are very advantageous during social interactions. There are different categories of under which different gestures fall. Only manipulative, pointing, declarative and territorial gestures are quite common cross the globe.

Symbolic and Emblematic gestures vary from one culture to another. Also, meaning of same gesture might have entirely different meaning in two 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 hind.")
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
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Reading Body Language - Common Facial Expressions

Human face is unique among all animals that can express various emotions and feelings. Surprisingly, we all express them in quite similar ways across the globe because we inherit them from common group of ancestors.

43 muscles of our face help us to portray over 10,000 different configurations. Dr. Paul Ekman has made a great contribution in science area of facial expressions and their decoding.
Following are some common expressions (including basic emotional expressions):
Enjoyment
Fear
Focused
Anger
Contempt/Disrespect
Disgust/Dislike
Happiness/Enjoyment
Nervousness
Calmness/Serenity
Sadness
Disappointed/Contempt
Worry
Jealousy
Hurt
Surprise
Weepy

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Reading Body Language - Common Postures

Confident, Open and Bold
Postures possess a huge amount of weightage in interpreting body language. Postulating (adopting and dropping postures) is very fundamental approach for defending ourselves from, adjusting and connecting with various physical environments, climatic conditions, social situations, events, incidents, objects and persons.

Adopting postures has been hard-coded in our subconscious and genes minds millions of years ago as primary defense, adjustment and connecting mechanism. Our aquatic ancestors started adopting postures and hence we got them in genes.
 
Unlike facial expressions, gestures and vocal tones, postures can be observed, detected or sensed from long distances thus they have unmatching power to convey message to a larger audience. Postures speak very loudly over a much long distance, even through their silhouettes.

Following are some commonly, apparently and globally observable postures (with their titles and descriptions given below images) that people adopt while standing, seating and laying in public and private. 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 adopt 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 adopted 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, suppress emotions or distancing away from something or somebody. This posture is also adopted 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 adopted 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 adopt this posture.
Can't Fool Me: This is classical posture which is adopted 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 adopt 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 adopted 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 starts 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 adopt 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 adopted (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 adopted 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, he/she seats in a chair by facing its back in front of the other individual(s).
Leave me Alone: This is typical posture adopted 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.

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