Deciphering Body Language Signals
Fast nodding, fronting, and other body language markers that can say more than words
From the LifeMinute.TV Team
November 6, 2023
Understanding body language signals can provide insights into mood and emotions. Discover these signals, then use what you have learned to communicate more effectively.
Slow nodding typically indicates the person is listening and showing interest in what is being said and wants you to continue talking. Exaggerated nodding could signal they have heard enough. It could also mean they want approval and agree with something they don’t understand. To avoid undermining your own credibility, try only nodding one to three times to show agreement.
Making eye contact releases the hormone oxytocin, creating those warm feelings we feel when forming a connection. Someone not making direct eye contact or frequently breaking contact during a conversation could be distracted, disinterested, or hiding their feelings – particularly if they look away to the side. They may be shy, nervous, or insecure if looking toward the ground. To hold someone’s attention, maintain eye contact.
Smiling is a powerful body language signal. When it’s authentic, the corners of the eyes crinkle (crow’s feet appear), and the corners of the mouth curve upwards. Smiling helps you look (and feel) more friendly and approachable. If smiling seems unnatural or forced, think about someone or something that makes you genuinely happy and harness that memory. Avoid pursing lips. It generally conveys displeasure or distrust.
Sitting up straight indicates the person is focused and attentive. Hunching forward or slouching can imply boredom. To express confidence and foster engagement at work, maintain good and open posture. Keep in mind when the head, torso, and toes of someone are angled and aligned toward your entire body (known as fronting), this generally displays interest and respect.
Arms and Hands
Uncrossed hands and arms signify openness. Crossed arms can imply resistance or self-protection. Placing hands on the hips gestures readiness or aggressiveness. When communicating, use your physical openness to show others you are open-minded.
Feet and Legs
Crossing your legs at the ankle may display trying to hide something. Crossing your legs at the knees and pointing your knees away from the other person may indicate discomfort with them. Talk to someone with both feet pointed in a V-shape toward them to convey interest.
Standing or sitting near someone during a conversation is a strong cue of camaraderie. But if they back up or turn slightly away when you move in closer, this could signal that the connection is not mutual. If they are holding an object between you and them, it could represent a barrier to establishing a relationship. To build rapport, try leaning in.
If you notice someone subtly copying your body language, like fronting or taking a sip of a drink right after you, that can be a positive sign. Most people do it unconsciously, showing a bond or attraction. But mirroring can encourage positive social behaviors. It can also help you more productively engage in a conversation and understand the person you're interacting with.