Category Archives: arms/hands

The Handshake

The person shakes hands with someone else.body language The Handshake

Greeting, Farewell or Completion There are three different kinds of handshakes:
The dominant (palm facing down – upper hand),
The equal (palm perpendicular) and
The humble (palms facing up – underhand).

Explanation
In the past, management books recommended the dominant handshake. Today, this behavior is deemed too aggressive. Therefore the equal handshake is preferred. During this handshake the other should feel that there is a counterpart, but the other’s hand shall not be squeezed too hard. A lax handshake (also called ‘dead fish’) is only acceptable in Asia, where minimal physical contact is preferred. For photos, politicians like to stand on the right of their partner, so the ‘upper hand’ is more visible in the photo. Thus, the status shown is higher.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Self-Hug

The arms are folded, while the hands embrace the body and the thumbs point upwards.body language The Self-Hug

Defense and Self-confidence The person feels secure in what he/she does and does not allow arguments to come near him/her.
“Don’t even try to attack what I am saying.”

Explanation
This ambiguous signal shows a negative attitude. The thumbs show dominance. Give the person something for the hands or walk with him/her. This may relax the situation.

Categories arms/hands,

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Laydown

The palms are spread-out on the table.body language The Laydown

Possessiveness and Dominance The person wants to establish his/her authority.
“I’m in charge!”

Explanation
The hands claim ownership. Through spreading the fingers, the hands appear larger. The person takes up more space and shows authority.

Categories arms/hands, dominant, territorial

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Stretch

The person pulls the collar away from the throat.body language The Stretch

Stress or Anger or Constriction The person is emotionally heated.
“I need a cool breeze now.”

Explanation
This gesture is more commonly observed in men. Women may throw back their hair to let the neck breathe. The Stretch is often associated with lies. As if the untruth causes an itch or the difficulty to breath.

Categories arms/hands, uneasy

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Lint Picker

The caller interrupts eye contact and removes real or imaginary lint.body language The Lint Picker

Rejection and Reservation The person does not like what he/she hears or thinks that there is no place for his/her point of view. Alternatively, he/she dismisses an argument figuratively.
“I don’t want to hear this.”

Explanation
The lint picker is found when a person does not agree with the other person. The person holds back expressing his/her opinion. Encourage the person to say what he/she thinks.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Tap

The fingers drum on a table or the person’s body.body language The Tap

Impatience The person wants to be somewhere else or is under time pressure.
“Please make your point now.”

Frustration The person would like to interrupt the person speaking.
“Stop talking. I don’t like what you’re saying.”

Explanation
The non-verbal sound sends a clear signal of frustration. The louder and faster the knocking, the more the person feels stress. Change the subject or end the conversation.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

OK Sign

Thumb and index finger touch, while the other three fingers are spread apart.body language OK Sign

Western Culture Everything is OK or if a speaker wants to emphasize a point.

France Zero.

Japan Change (of money).

Brazil, Spain and Turkey Inappropriate gesture.

Explanation
This gesture shows how different body language can be perceived around the world.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Open Hands

The person opens arms, such that palms and fingers are visible.body language The Open Hands

Openness and Honesty The person wants to show that he/she can be trusted.
“Look, I have nothing to hide.”

Explanation
Many people find it difficult to lie when showing their palms. The gesture exposes vulnerable parts of the body. Thus, it shows trust in the other person. For example, a legal defender would make his/her palms visible in the courtroom. Use this gesture in presentations and sales.
Caution: This does not apply if the shoulders are pulled up.

Categories arms/hands, open

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Thumb Pointer

The hands are in the pockets and the thumbs are visible.body language The Thumb Pointer

Sovereignty and Self-confidence The person has a high status.
“I know that I am good.”

Sexuality The person is looking for a partner.
“Look at my genitals.”

Explanation
The visible thumbs indicate dominance and sovereignty, no matter if the hand disappears in your pocket or holds the lapel. This gesture is a common sign that someone feels comfortable. It may also indicate low status, if the thumb disappears in the pocket. Gestures showing a low status should be to be avoided – especially by persons in executive positions.

Categories arms/hands, easy, dominant

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Armshake

During the handshake, the left hand touches the other’s elbow, forearm or shoulder.body language The Armshake

Trust The person wants to strengthen the personal bond.
“We are good friends.”

Dominance The person raises his/her status.
“You are beneath me.”

Explanation
With this gesture the person tries to establish trust in a dominant manner. It is only acceptable between close friends. Using this gesture with customers, may cause distrust and you may commit social suicide. As an answer to this dominant gesture, you can either reciprocate the touch or use the left hand to push the other person back slightly and then stand sideways.

Categories arms/hands, dominant, territorial

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Palm

The palms face upwards or downwards.body language The Palm

Submissiveness (Palm up) The person asks for a favor.
“You have to believe me.”

or Dominance (Palm down) The person claims a right.
“We will do it this way!”

Explanation
Palms facing upwards have a pleading and inviting character. The downward hand is giving and dominant.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Upper Grip

The hand touches the upper chest, the jugular or the neck.body language The Upper Grip

Discomfort The person feels insecure.
“This situation makes me uncomfortable.”

Explanation
The neck is a very vulnerable area. We protect it by pulling up the shoulders or placing our hands in front. Men grab the neck more forcefully than women.

Categories arms/hands, uneasy

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Breast Toucher

One or both hands touch the heart or chest.body language The Breast Toucher

Honesty The person wants to show, that you can trust him/her.
“Let’s be honest: You can trust me.”

Explanation
Moving the hands to the chest shall demonstrate sincerity. The gesture is easy to fake and it may be used consciously – for example by sales man. If the gesture is shown as a reaction, the person feels attacked and he wants to reaffirm his/her innocence. You can not draw any conclusions about truthfulness from this gesture.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Patrolman

The hand holds the other wrist behind the back.body language The Patrolman

Authority and Self-assurance The person walks through his/her terrain fearlessly.
“Nothing can harm me.”

Distance The person monitors the situation, but does not want physical contact with the other – usually subordinate – persons.
“Please do not touch me.”

Explanation
This gesture is found with high-level personal, such as high-ranking police officers, military personnel or bosses. They pace out their territory and inspect. The vulnerable front demonstrates that the person has no fear. The hands on the back offer little opportunity to engage in physical contact with them.

Categories arms/hands, easy, , territorial

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Wrist

The wrist shows openly.body language The Wrist

Sympathy and Trust The person likes the other and has a positive attitude towards him/her.
“I would like to learn more about you.”

Explanation
Wrists are – especially for women – very sensitive body parts. Vital veins run through them. The gesture shows openness and indicates that the person is attracted to the other. The Wrist can be interpreted as flirting signal.

Categories arms/hands, easy, open

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Clinger

One or two hands hold on to a desk or chair.body language The Clinger

Insecurity The person feels uncomfortable and seeks protection.
“This situation is very unfamiliar.”

Explanation
We cling to objects when we seek protection. They serve as a barrier and holding on keeps our hands under control. At the same time, this gesture takes the freedom to move. This gesture should be avoided in presentations, so the speaker remains flexible.

Categories arms/hands, uneasy,

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Plucker

The person tugs cuffs, sleeves or other clothing.body language The Plucker

Nervousness This self-soothing gesture shows that the person is insecure.
“I’m anxious.”

Explanation
The mechanical act occupies the hands and distracts from the situation.

Categories arms/hands, uneasy

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

Thumbs Up

The hand clenches to a fist and the thumb points up.body language Thumbs Up

Western Culture Super! or as a sign for hitchhiking or the number one.
“Can I hitch a ride?”

Mediterranean Inappropriate gesture similar to the American ‘two fingers up’.
“You can lick my …”

Japan Five.

Explanation
Depending on the country this gesture has different meanings. This generally applies to body language and here in particular.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Double Handshake

During the handshake, the left hand touches the other’s hand, wrist or forearm.body language The Double Handshake

Trust The person wants to strengthen the personal bond.
“I am sincere.”

or Dominance The person takes the lead.
“Trust me, I will lead you.”

Explanation
Touches strengthen the bond between two people. The extra hand shall emphasize the intimacy of the relationship. When touching the other, the person shows affection – but also dominance. On average the handshake becomes longer when touching. The double handshake is often used by politicians and sales men. The gesture enters the intimate space and should therefore only be used with friends.

Categories arms/hands, dominant, territorial

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Pointer

The finger points at a person while holding eye contact.body language The Pointer

Aggression The person attacks someone non-verbally.
“This is your fault!”

Explanation
Nobody likes it when being pointed at. This gesture can lead to aggression and fights. Avoid this harsh gesture.

Categories arms/hands, dominant

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Escort

The person ushers the other or offers a seat.body language The Escort

Sovereignty The person takes the role of the host and lays out the rules.
“Please sit here.”

Explanation
The dominant effect increases if the person touches the other. This establishes who is in charge. Generally, it is good if the host takes the leading role.

Categories arms/hands, dominant, territorial

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Prayer

The hands are folded and pressed against the body.body language The Prayer

Self-confidence The person is confident and has no intention to change his/her mind.
“This is where I stand and I will not move!”

Anger or Concern The negative feelings are compensated by strong embracing oneself.
“This can not be happening!”

or Restraint The person is still assessing the situation and holds back to avoid rash actions.
“We’ll see how things will develop.”

Explanation
There are three different positions: hands in front of the face, hands placed on the table or hands in front of the crotch. The higher the hands are held, the stronger the signal. Give the person something in his/her hand or bring him/her to do something else.

Categories arms/hands,

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Half Barrier

One hand holds the arm or the other hand.body language The Half Barrier

Defense and Protection The person feels insecure in the situation.
“What is going to happen?”

or Self-doubt The person does not feel up to the current – socially tense – situation.
“I’m not used to that much attention.”

Explanation
Holding one’s hand helps in difficult situations. It is reassuring and reminds us of childhood days, when our parents protected us. The gesture is often seen when someone enters a new group or receives an award. In this situation, the unexpected attention causes discomfort.

Categories arms/hands, uneasy, submissive,

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Roof

The finger tips touch and the hands and form a triangle.body language The Roof

Self-confidence and Sovereignty The person is convinced of what he/she says and does.
“The situation is as follows…”

Interest The person listens closely, yet preserves a professional distance.
“Your statements are very well thought out.”

Explanation
There are two forms of the Roof. If the fingers point upwards, the person is probably speaking. If they are pointing downwards the person is listening. Women often use the gesture around the waist level. Body language trainers recommended this pose to people who have trouble positioning their hands. German Chancellor Angela Merkel often poses like this in photos.

Categories arms/hands, easy

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Handrub

Hands or fingers are rubbed together.body language The Handrub

Anticipation The person expects a joyful event.
“This is going to be great!”

or Insecurity The person has low self-esteem.
“How can I get out of this mess?”

Explanation
When doing this gesture, we look forward to something. This may as well be at someone else’s expense. Often, the look is unfocused for a moment, as if the person imagines the event.
Caution: Strong rubbing may also mean that the person is cold or under stress.

Categories arms/hands, easy

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.

The Scribbler

The person doodles or draws without a particular goal.body language The Scribbler

Boredom The person has no interest in the current topic or has tuned out completely.
“I would like to do something else now.”

Explanation
Change the subject or end the conversation. Sometimes it is just fatigue that prevents us from attentive listening. Research found that mechanical acts such as scribbling, help us focus.

Categories arms/hands

This is one out of 63 gestures from the body language trainer.