Scientists once said that body language accounts for 80% of the message we try to tell others and that what we actually say is only 20%. Body language definitely plays an important role in communication.
Body language is used to convey things that we may not be fully aware of. We are not fully conscious of signals we give off to others through our body language and what others are trying to send off to us.
Furthermore, body language means different things in different cultures or context. For example, direct eye contact is usually a sign of respect or interest, but in other cultures like Japan, eye contact is actually disrespect. Hence, when trying to read body language, pay careful consideration into the cultural and situational context.
Here I have a list of 20 body language and what they generally mean in Western culture.
Squinting - When people see what they don’t like, feel threatened, or are unhappy, they squint their eyes.
Arched Eyebrows - When we raise our eyebrows, it means we are contemplating what we’re listening to and that we’re mildly intrigued.
Direct Eye Contact - means we’re interested, we’re listening, and that we’re focused on you. It also conveys that we got nothing to hide.
Blinking too much - means we’re nervous or anxious
Hands the Church Steeple - fingertips touching, palms facing apart conveys we’re thinking and that we’re about to make a decision or move.
Arms Akimbo - planting your hands with your thumps backward on your hips and elbows out in a “V” shape displays dominance or authority.
Feet facing directly the other person - It shows that we’re focused on the other person.
Crossed feet (Standing or sitting) - When we cross our feet standing or sitting down, it shows that we’re comfortable or relaxed, but sometimes also defensive.
Shaking Your Head left and right - Means you’re in disagreement or disbelief
Shaking Your Head Up and Down (nodding) - means you’re agreeing
Thumb Sucking - means the person is stressed, relieving that, and/or thinking out of mind.
Shaking Your Legs - means you’re anxious, scared or impatient
Leaning Forward - means you’re interested in the other person and want to hear more of what they say.
Smiling - one of the universal emotions mean you’re happy, comfortable and approachable.
Tilting the head and smiling - means flirting or being playful
Lowered head - means you’re ashamed of something, shy or have something to hide.
Looking to the side or elsewhere - means you’re distracted or that you’re submitting.
Dilated Pupils - means you’re interested.
Eyes seemed far away - means they’re in deep thought or dosing off.
Mirroring - Mirroring someone’s body language means they’re interested in you and trying to build rapport.
Arms Crossed - reserved, uncomfortable or defensive. Or to display dominance or authority.
Hands on the hips - means they’re impatient or aggressive or tired.