When we talk about communication, we usually think first of all in verbal language (oral or written) as a means of expressing ideas, feelings, intentions and emotions. The messages issued in this way are usually almost always fully conscious and voluntary, controlling and choosing both what we say and what we do not.
However, we must bear in mind that everything, and not only the verbal, is communicative: from distances to posture, passing through gestures, transmitting information. This is part of the nonverbal language.
And not all of these aspects have the same control: for example, although we can consciously use gestures during our speech we also continuously emit corporal expressions and gestures in an unconscious and involuntary way, which can betray our thoughts, feelings or even elements of our personality without intending it. As an example, in this article we will see a series of gestures that betray us, revealing aspects of us unconsciously.
Main types of language
As we have seen, every act and even the absence of this is communicative. When evaluating a communicative exchange between two or more people, we usually consider two types of language: verbal and non-verbal.
The verbal language would refer to verbal or written communication through the use of the word as a symbolic element of representation of information, with the content of the message being relevant.
Regarding non-verbal language, this integrates the set of elements through which we transmit information regardless of the verbal content we are or not expressing. Nonverbal language is in turn integrated by proxemics, paraverbal language and kinesthetic language.
The proxemics is the use of distances as a communicative element, and the paraverbal language is configured by the set of qualities of the voice or the use of the word that do not refer to the content but to the format such as intonation or volume used. With regard to the kinésica or kinésico language, this integrates the set of movements, gestures, expressions and positions that we made during the communicative act and that are capable of transmitting information, being able to modulate the perception, meaning and interpretation of the message .
9 gestures that give you away
There are many gestures that we carry out throughout the day, often being voluntarily employed. However, we are not so used to controlling our expressions and even often we do not realize that we are carrying them out, letting us see parts of our psyche or how we take the interaction with the other in an unconscious way. Some gestures are uncontrollable, not being able to be forced naturally. But others can change if we realize and get used to them or stop carrying them out.
We will show a dozen gestures that betray us in our interactions, as well as their general meaning. Now, it must be taken into account that each person is a world and the same gesture can have very different interpretations depending on the personality or postural habits of the person who performs it, or of the situation.
Thus, although the gestures that we are going to mention often have a specific meaning, seeing a person perform a certain gesture does not necessarily imply that they are feeling a certain emotion, expressing a facet of a specific personality or reacting in a specific way to the communicative exchange .
1. Arms crossed over the chest
A classic easily visible this gesture is often used in case of anger or impatience towards another person or situation. However, it is also established as a gesture that implies the need to establish a separation or barrier between us and the other, whether due to insecurity or even disinterest.
If this gesture is considered necessary, it can be easily avoided on a physical level, although it may be useful to work on tolerance to frustration or to carry out training to promote self-confidence.
One of the possible gestures that betray us since they can give more information of what is intended occurs when we give or someone shakes hands with us. While it is a type of conscious movement includes aspects that can escape control, such as the level of force that is applied or whether it is accompanied or not by another type of physical contact.
A contact without strength or in which only the fingers are given usually expresses little trust and confidence in oneself, nervousness, rejection or a lack of interest in the interaction itself.
On the contrary, a too strong squeeze can convey the idea of wanting to subjugate the other, assuming a dominant and aggressive position although in turn can make see security and assertiveness. If we add another contact, such as grabbing the forearm with the other hand, we may be suggesting either a desire for closeness or an attempt to exercise control over the situation or interaction. Nervousness can also be expressed in the form of sweat.
Ideally, try to dominate the nerves before giving a handshake, as well as pre-test with other people the level of force to print in the grip, which must be firm and decisive but soft enough to not be aggressive. In case of sweating it may be advisable to dry your hands before giving it, in a way that is natural and not perceptible (for example, in a concealed way against the pants).
3. Shoulder guidance
We often do not realize how expressive parts like shoulders can be. The orientation and inclination of these forward, towards the other, usually suggests interest (regardless of the type of interest it may be) in the person with whom he interacts or in what he is telling us. On the other hand, if the shoulders are directed towards the sides of the body or towards the back, it may indicate indifference, disinterest or boredom.
In this sense, the knowledge of this fact and the correction of the posture can be controlled if we are aware of it, projecting the shoulders to convenience or maintaining the same position throughout the interaction.
4. Inflate the chest
The fact of inflating the chest is a gesture that may be unconscious and may reflect an attempt to appear larger, being used as a gesture with which to pretend to impress or show strength. It can be a defensive or even aggressive gesture.
In another context, in both men and women and regardless of sexual orientation the fact of inflating the chest is used at an unconscious level to people who are stimulating and attractive. In this sense men inflate the chest to show power and increase the figure, while women have a tendency to look for positions that highlight their breasts.
If we do not want to show this interest and the gesture is unconscious it will not be possible to stop it, but it is possible to perform muscle tension and breathing exercises that facilitate scanning and realizing this gesture.
5. Avoid the look
Avoiding the gaze of our interlocutor is usually a symptom of nervousness, and is one of the gestures that betray us in different situations. Such nervousness can come from different types of situations and emotions: it is usual for people who lie to look away, but it can also be done by shyness or feeling overwhelmed by the other, by discomfort or even by feeling attracted to our interlocutor.
The alternative is to try to maintain the look during a prudential time, blinking regularly (the absence of blinking is usually related to aggressiveness or an attempt to dissimulate) but without excess. However, it is very difficult to control.
6. Covering your mouth when you smile
This gesture is usually a sign of shyness, shame and insecurity, or an attempt to disguise a reaction that the other person could feel bad or that we simply did not want to be perceived.
If we do not want to project an image of shyness or vulnerability, it is recommended to try to control the fact of covering up and showing the smile in a direct way.
7. Scratching the ear
Although obviously scratching the ear can be the product of different types of itching, in many cases this gesture is used unconsciously in situations that tire us or bore us, and which we are looking forward to ending. Sometimes the same can be said for people who scratch their beards quickly.
Avoiding this kind of gestures is difficult given that some real hotness may appear, for this reason you must control your hands and avoid bringing them closer to your face.
8. Show the palms
With regard to the palm of the hand, if it is offered and it is upwards and towards the interlocutor, it is usually indicating openness and acceptance towards the other, respect or in other cases submission. At the opposite end, when in our gestures what we offer to the other is the back or we protect the palm we are expressing insecurity, desire for separation or concealment of feelings and / or authority.
The knowledge of this fact can make us consciously modify our habitual gesture and we can get used to it.
9. Legs crossed inward
Also when we sit down, the way we do it reveals aspects of our personality. For example, sitting cross-legged and inward (that is, leaving the feet in line with the trunk) and in such a way that only the toes remain in contact with the ground usually indicates shyness, submission and / or embarrassment , being a defensive posture. Other postures, such as having legs spread apart, involve extraversion and / or arrogance.
Thus, this type of gesture is usually linked to the personality. However, it can also be acquired or modified based on the creation of new habits when sitting. The ideal would be to maintain a relaxed and comfortable posture, that does not burden the legs and usually between the two cases previously mentioned.