Body Language


 Video Text

The body language is the movement and the positioning of our body while we communicate with each other. It includes the distance to one another, the posture, the positioning of our body, the movement, the facial expression, the breathing, and touching ourselves or objects like cigarettes or pen.

Why is it so important?

  • Because significant part of the communication goes through these non-verbal channels.
  • Because our first impression based on that.
  • Because if we have contradiction with the spoken world and the body language we believe on the body language.
  • And because this is universal. Meaning: all around the world people understand and interpret the signs in the same way.

Let me tell you a story.

In the Second World War when Russian troops approached the little village where my grand Parents lived, people were very scared. My grandma decided to hide the jewelry. So she did. In that evening, when my grandpa came home she told him.

I hid the jewelry so well that no one can find it!

Then, my grandpa answered:

– I bet I can tell you where they are!

– So, tell me!

– In the chimney!

That was true.

– How do you know? – Asked that grandma.

– Because, you glanced to the chimney when you told you hid the jewelry.

  • So this is the 5th reason why you have to be very aware of your body language if you want to keep your secrets.

So today I would like to tell you about the personal space, the positioning of the body, the body postures, leg and arm movement, the facial expression specially the eye and the mouth, the micro gestures, and last but not least why do you have to read the signs in clusters and context, not just as isolated signs.

Personal Space 

So. Let’s begin with the personal space.

Personal space is a distance people find comfortable between themselves and others. It differs from person to person, to relationship, to situation and it depends on culture as well, although, there are some major categories.

Close intimate zone from 0 to 6 inches. It is characteristic for romantic relationships.

Intimate zone from 6 inches to 18 inches. It is usual among friends, sport activity, public transport or crowd. Smell and touch is natural. Entering into this space without permission can be very threatening or upsetting.

Personal zone from 18 inches to 4 feet. This is the special arrangement for family and close friends. Touching is welcomed, intimacy is not.

Social, consultative zone from 4 feet to 12 feet. This distance is appropriate for social interaction, business meeting and consultation.  Touching, for example hand shaking is possible only when participants reach out.

Public zone: 12 feet or more. In this distance people avoid interaction with one another. Entering this space create disturbance or expectation of introduction.


People relate health, fitness, confidence, even pride to the straight back. The opposite; bent back is usually associated to low self esteem, low fitness level or sadness, even depression.


Turning toward the others maintains interest and openness, turning away or turning a back to you shows the wish to leave the conversation, and the loss of interest.

Mirroring each other body language means rapport, openness, cooperation. People who are in resonance with each other tend to maintain the same body language posture. It works backward too. If you want to create a trustful atmosphere, pick up the same posture what your partner makes. It creates empathy, understanding, cooperative attitude.

Standing straight in front of a person favors contradiction and opposition. Position yourself in about 30-60 degrees in an average conversation or in an interview. From this angle you can see the body language of your partner, you can still share the same document, and you can listen to your partner.

Sitting near each other can be unnecessary invasion to the personal space, in the same time you cannot see the facial expression of your partner.

Table can be a barrier between people.



Legs are the least under the control of the conscious mind, so they reveal what the mind wants to do. They are pointing to the point of interest, the most popular group member, or where the person is listening.

Parallel stance is confidence, wide stance is the “tough guy” attitude, one foot forward shows where the person wants to go.

Crossed stand reveals insecurity, but still the person stays in the conversation.



Open arm is a welcoming friendly atmosphere, attitude, open for new influence.

Fold arms represent defensiveness, insecurity, negative attitude or, the person is withdrawn from communication.

Folded arm with and arm grip represent insecurity or not buying what you say.

Folded arm with clenched fist is hostile attitude.

Partial arm cross or keeping something in front of the body like folder or purse is the less intense version of insecurity.



Palm display traditionally means honesty and openness.

Palm facing down i8s a power gesture.

Displaying thumb sticking out from pockets demonstrate confidence.

Hands clenched together holding back negative or anxious attitude.

Staple is superiority and confidence. “I know the answer.”


Often handshake is the first interaction between people. With it you can communicate dominance, submission and equality. Reaching out with vertical hands creates equality. Reaching out palm facing downwards try to dominate the situation. Reaching out palm facing upward shows submission.

Adjust the strength of the grip to your partner’s grip. Nether too weak nor too strong grip are popular.

Distance between the two party can show the personal preference and also differs between cultures.

Self touch signs

If you want to understand the self touch signs, think of the three wise monkeys. “Hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil.” The milder version of these moves are:

Ear grab; – “I don’t want to hear like that.”

Eye rub:  – “I don’t want to see that.”

Mouth cover: – “I shouldn’t have said that.”

It might be strange but research shows that the slide nose touch is associated with intentional lying.

Neck scratch expresses doubt or uncertainty.

Fingers in the mouth means reassurance like it did it in our infancy, this way it reveals insecurity.


Face is the most informative body part. Huge number of muscles make possible to express the 7 basic emotions and its numberless combinations. These 7 emotions are universally recognized in every culture. These are: HAPPINESS, SURPRISE, SADNESS, FEAR, ANGER, CONTEMPT, DISGUST. But be aware that most of the time we feel and express mixed emotions.


The eyes express so many things, that it’s difficult to put in words. Maintaining eye contact is essential for every communication. However, we don’t look permanently to each other’s eyes. An average gaze length is about 3 seconds, a mutual gaze is a little bit more than 1 second.

Staring into someone’s eyes is a sign of aggression, as the lowering the eyebrow is also aggression or anger.

Eyebrow flash is also a universally recognized sign of greeting and recognition.

Looking up from lowered head is quite child-like, and reveals the sensitive neck area therefore it is a sign for submission.

Extended blinking is blocking out the view.

Darting eyes are looking for the escape route.


Smile has a powerful positive effect on all of us. It creates friendly atmosphere, People with more smiling get along better with people, get more positive response than people with less or no smile. It’s contagious in addition. A study shows that we are easily smiling back to smiling face, but we have problem smiling back to frowning faces.

The original meaning of a smile is: “I am not a threat for you.”

Human society associates smile with joyfulness and happiness. And this is true for the genuine smile. In the genuine smile both of our mouth and eyes are pulled back.

The fake smile occupies only the muscles around the mouth., ad this way makes this “cheese” expression.

Tight lipped smile is more deceitful, because it reveals secretive thoughts, maybe negative ones.

Micro gestures

Micro gestures are the tony facial movements which last only for a fraction of a second and are not under our conscious control. Therefore they are the most honest signs of our inner thoughts; most of the time they are processed in the sub-conscious level. When we have a “gut feeling”, or a hunch, or don’t even know why but we have a certain impression, usually it comes from these micro gestures.

Allan a Barbara Pease, the two Australian body language experts tell a story about an interviewee in their Body Language book. A man in a job interview was speaking of his ex boss with appreciation. He told, that he left the company because he wanted more challenge. Everything else seemed to be nice, however, one of the interviewers had one unidentifiable bad feeling. When they looked back the video about the interview with slow motion, they discovered that every time when the applicant mentioned his boss name, he sneered. This hardly detectable negative feeling let them to phone his ex boss. They’ve learned that the applicant was fired because he was dealing with drugs to other staff members.

Small incongruent signs like this are the best lie detectors.

Liars can choose their word. They can look into your eyes. They can smile – although they are smiling less when they are lying. They can open up their palm to seem honest. What they cannot do for long is to suppress these micro gestures or pupil dilatation or blushing or sweating.



No matter how good you are in micro gestures, you cannot evaluate isolated signs. For example hair touch can mean more things depending on the circumstances.

For example: if the head was supported before, the person looked out the window, turning away with legs or body, it’s probably boredom.

If the person draws her neck in, rub her hand, crosses her arms or legs, it’s probably anxiety.

If the whole body is in open posture, eyes are widened; the person shows her neck and wrist, sensitive areas: it’s probably belong to the “flirt” cluster.

Finally, if you see that someone is continuously playing with her hair, it probably doesn’t mean more than she is in the usual state of mind.


Always consider the context!

Someone sitting arms and legs crossed chin down in a conference, he’s probably in defensive mode, but frozen in the winter bus stop.

Simplest way to improve body language reading is; drawing  attention to what you see. Make it as conscious as possible. If you want more special training, turn off the voice of the TV and try to figure out what’s going on. You will be really surprised how much more you can see when you are not occupied with the words.

Thank you for your attention!

Good luck with it!

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