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Body Language - Hand to face gestures

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The Mouth Guard

The Mouth Guard  Gesture
  • The mouth guard is one of the few adult gestures that is as obvious as a child's. The hand covers the mouth and the thumb is pressed against the cheek as the brain sub-consciously instructs it to try and suppress the deceitful words that are being said. Sometimes this gesture may only be several fingers over the mouth or even a closed fist, but its meaning remains the same.
  • Many people try to disguise the mouth guard gesture by giving a fake cough.If the person who is speaking uses this gesture, it indicates that he is telling a lie. If, however, he covers his mouth while you are speaking, it indicates that he feels you are lying!

Nose Touching and Eye Rub

Nose Touching and Eye Rub Gesture
  • The Nose Touch - In essence, the nose touch gesture is a sophisticated, disguised version of the mouth guard gesture. It may consist of several light rubs below the nose or it may be one quick, almost imperceptible touch. Like the mouth guard gesture, it can be used both by the speaker to disguise his own deceit and by the listener who doubts the speaker’s words.
  • The Eye Rub - 'See no evil' says the wise monkey, and this gesture is the brain's attempt to block out the deceit, doubt or lie that it sees or to avoid having to look at the face of the person to whom he is telling the lie. Men usually rub their eyes vigorously and if the lie is a big one they will often look away, normally towards the floor. Women use a small, gentle rubbing motion just below the eye, either because they have been brought up to avoid making robust gestures, or to avoid smudging make-up. They also avoid a listener’s gaze by looking at the ceiling.

Ear Rub and Neck Scratch

Ear Rub and Neck Scratch Gesture
  • The Ear Rub - This is, in effect, an attempt by the listener to 'hear no evil' in trying to block the words by putting the hand around or over the ear. This is the sophisticated adult version of the handsover-both-ears gesture used by the young child who wants to block out his parent's reprimands. Other variations of the ear rub gesture include rubbing the back of the ear, the finger drill (where the fingertip is screwed back and forth inside the ear), pulling at the earlobe or bending the entire ear forward to cover the earhole. This last gesture is a signal that the person has heard enough or may want to speak.
  • The Neck Scratch - In this case, the index finger of the writing hand scratches below the earlobe, or may even scratch the side of the neck. Our observation of this gesture, reveals an interesting point. The person scratches about five times. Rarely is the number of scratches less than five and seldom more than five. This gesture is a signal of doubt or uncertainty and is characteristic of the person who says, "I'm not sure I agree." It is very noticeable when the verbal language contradicts it, for example, when the person says something like, "I can understand how you feel."

Collar Pull Gesture and Fingers in the Mouth Gesture

The Fingers in the Mouth and The Collar Pull gesture
  • The Collar Pull - when a person is feeling angry or frustrated or sweating and needs to pull the collar away from his neck in an attempt to let the cool air circulate around it. When you see someone use this gesture, a question like, "Would you repeat that, please?" or, "Could you clarify that point, please?" can cause the would-be deceiver to give the game away.
  • Fingers in the Mouth - Morris's explanation of this gesture is that the fingers are placed in the mouth when a person is under pressure. Whereas most hand-to-mouth gestures involve lying or deception, the fingers-in-mouth gesture is an outward manifestation of an inner need for reassurance. Giving the person guarantees and assurances is appropriate when this gesture appears.

Cheek Gestures

Boredom and Interested Gesture
  • Boredom Gesture - When the listener begins to use his hand to support his head, it is a signal that boredom has set in and his supporting hand is an attempt to hold his head up to stop himself from falling asleep. Extreme boredom and lack of interest are shown when the head is fully supported by the hand.
  • Interested Gesture - Interested gesture is shown by a closed hand resting on the cheek, often with the index finger pointing upwards. Should the person begin to lose interest but wish to appear interested, for courtesy’s sake, the position will alter slightly so that the heel of the palm supports the head.
  • Genuine interest is shown when the hand is on the cheek, not used as a head support.

Chin Stroking Gestures

Chin Stroking Gestures
  • When the index finger points vertically up the cheek and the thumb supports the chin, the listener is having negative or critical thoughts about the speaker or his subject. Often the index finger may rub or pull at the eye as the negative thoughts continue.
  • The next time you have the opportunity to present an idea to a group of people, watch them carefully as you give your idea and you will notice something fascinating. Most, if not all the members of your audience will bring one hand up to their faces and begin to use evaluation gestures. As you come to the conclusion of your presentation and ask for the group to give opinions or suggestions about the idea, the evaluation gestures will cease. One hand will move to the chin and begin a chin-stroking gesture.
  • This chin-stroking gesture is the signal that the listener is making a decision. When you have asked the listeners for a decision and their gestures have changed from evaluation to decision-making.

Head-Rubbing and Head-Slapping Gestures

Head-Rubbing and Head-Slapping Gestures
  • Pain in Neck Gesture - A person who uses this when lying usually avoids your gaze and looks down. This gesture is also used as a signal of frustration or anger and, when this is the case, the hand slaps the back of the neck first and then begins to rub the neck.
  • Forgetfulness Gesture - The slapping of the head communicates forgetfulness, the person signals how he feels about you or the situation by the position used when he slaps his hand on his head, either the forehead or the neck. If he slaps his forehead he signals that he is not intimidated by your having mentioned his forgetfulness, but when he slaps the back of his neck. He non-verbally tells you that you are literally a ‘pain-in-the-neck’ for pointing out his error.

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