Our body language and facial expressions make up so much of what we say – experts suggest that it may make up 50 – 70% of all communication! If we use it so much in our daily lives, have you ever wondered: what exactly am I saying with my body language? Here are some common movements and habits that people have and what we might be saying without words!
- Eyebrows: your eyebrows can say a lot about your emotions! Furrowed or scrunched up eyebrows typically mean frustration or confusion, while raised eyebrows shows interest, curiosity, or surprise!.
- Blinking: most people blink an average of 6-8 times per minute. If you’re under stress, you blink a lot more. You can tell if others might be stressing out by how much they’re blinking.
- Looking up or to the side: this tells a lot about how our memory works. If you are trying to remember something you’ve seen before, you will typically look up like you’re trying to picture it. If you are trying to remember something you’ve heard, you will look to the side towards one of your ears, like you’re listening for it.
- Lowering your eyes: can you picture little kids doing this when they feel sorry or want something? Lowering your eyes is a common human response to wanting the support of others or needing some empathy.
- Smiling: there’s a reason people say smiling is contagious! When you smile, it sends signals to the other person that they should be smiling, too.
- Chewing on your lip: many people have a habit of biting or sucking on their lip when they’re in an awkward situation or feel uncomfortable. It could be because they’re trying to soothe themselves!
- Tense lips: pursed or tensed lips are often a sign of anger or annoyance. Be sure to pick up on this cue and try to alleviate the tension next time you’re around some with pursed lips!
- Scratching your nose: this is often associated with telling lies. This is because when someone tells a lie, they get a small adrenaline rush which causes your nose to itch! So watch out for people itching their nose when saying something suspicious.
- Tilting your head: this is a sign of interest and engagement. We do it out of habit when listening to a friend’s interesting story, both out of intrigue and also it helps us hear better when we angle our ear towards them.
- Angling your body: we will usually angle our feet towards those we are paying close attention to or respect. For example, you may angle your body towards your professor when listening to a lecture. It’s also a sign of acceptance when a friend walks up to join your group and you angle your body out to welcome them in!
- Slouching shoulders: doing this too much can make your body hold on to stress and feel sad or weighed down. Try to stand up straight and you’ll feel more confident and positive!
- Rocking from side to side: when you shift your weight back and forth between your legs, this is often a sign that you are anxious and are trying to comfort yourself.
- Handshakes: some people say the way you shake hands says a lot about you! A firm but nice grip implies that you’re outgoing and confident, while a limp squeeze or too quick of a shake could mean you are shy or unsure.
- Gesturing when you talk: research shows that those who gesture more with their arms tend to be energetic and agreeable, so if you are trying to make an impression or be more memorable, try to use your hands when you talk. But don’t overdo it! Too much arm movement can seem overly excited or out of control.
- Picking at your nails: this is a sign of low confidence or stress. Instead of messing with your nails, try finding something else to do with your hands such as a stress ball, fidget object of some sort, or folding your hands together so you’re not able to reach the nails.