Reality cracking

An attempt at reversing body language
~ version June 1998 ~
by +Azzeccagarbugli

Courtesy of fravia's
Well, this seems indeed quite useful... reversing your fellow humans behaviour may happen to have some utility, after all :-)
An attempt at reversing body language
by +Azzeccagarbugli
June 1998

Non verbal communication (body language) is the means by which animals convey information through conscious or subconscious gestures, bodily movements or facial expressions. Human body language is as old as our species. The first book on body language appeared more than 350 years ago: John Bulwer's Chirologia: or the Natural Language of the Hand (1644), a pioneering study of meaningful hand movements.

Kinesics is the study of communication by the bodily movements used when people talk to one another.

Proxemics is the study of how people use the space around them to convey informations nonverbally.

Body reversing
Body reversing is the term I'll use meaning how to understand what is the HIDDEN meaning of the bodily movements that we can observe in our fellow humans.

NOTE: As usual certain body language may be exhibited for quite DIFFERENT reasons. For example, a certain posture or attitude may be struck out of habit, for the sake of comfort or because of nervousness. Expert body reversers will learn how to interpretate correctly the various signals.

There are many places where you can gather an incredible lot of "material": Crowded lifts, excalators, busses and underground trains are very useful for Proxemic studies; Parties and work meetings are extremely interesting for Kinesics studies; Doctors' waiting rooms, hairdressers' waiting "chairs", cinemas and all sort of human queues (busses, shops) hyde incredible treasures of information for the attentive eyes of us body reversers.

One of the most interesting gesticulation targets for beginner revrersers, are the hand/arm gestures used during speeches. Turn your TV on and seek some of those hysterical 'television priest' for some easy reversing fun...
Here we go...


Precision grips are used when we hold small things between our thumb and fingertips. Empty handed precision grips are displayed during speeches when the speaker wants to make a point with 'nicety'. Palm of the hand faces the body.

1. Thumb touching index finger, hand twenty cm from chin.
A speaker using this gesture mimics the precise grip of a craftsman manipulating a fine tool. The speaker reinforces a statement with "precision" and "delicacy".

2. Thumb touching all fingers.
Same as above, a signal for something that should be kept in mind.

3. Thumb almost touching index finger (~three cm between them, remaining fingers are closed)
Speaker is asking a question or is uncertain about a point at issue


Power grips are used when wielding objects, such as hammers, whit force. Can have a mild (hand bent) or forceful (closed fist) form. The grips show a speaker's wish to make a point with strength or to control the audience. Had the stupid Germans studied a bit body language in the thirties, they would probably never have believed the false promises of the nazist hystrionical little leader.

1. Fingers and thumb make a tightly closed fist.

A forceful power grip. It signals convictiona nd determination. usually deliberately exploited by public speakers, priests and politicians who might in reality have neither.

2. Fingers and thumb curl inwards as if loosely grasping an object.

A mild power grip, usually employed by a person saying something without great force of convinction, but who nevertheless wishes to be taken seriously.

Love Signs Used to Signal the Other SEX

Male Courtship Signals

Men are clumsy at signalling interest in someone of the opposite sex, ande very slow to pick up unspoken responses, when comlpared with women.

~ Smoothing the hair down with a hand, making little grooming gestures involving collar and shirtsleeves, or straightening the tie, and sweeping fanciful specks off a shoulder with a hand are typical preening male gestures.
~ Three things that are done with a jacket that buttons or zips are crucial signs of courtship. Men begin by slowly buttoning and unbuttoning, or zipping and unzipping, indicating slight nervousness. They then open the jacket at the waste with both hands and hold it open in this position for a few minutes; indicating further discomfort and nervousness. The third and most crucial step is when they take the jacket off after having completed steps one and two. Taking the jacket off means you have them hook, line, and sinker.
~ Men show interest in women by playing with circular objects in the presenct of a woman. He may squeeze, then let go of, a Coca Cola can or a glass, then squeeze and let go again.
~ Glancing at a woman's body, and letting her see him do it is also a courtship jesture made by males.
~ Used all over the world is the sock-pulling gesture. When uncomfortable or nervous, in the presence of a woman, men tend to pull up their socks.
~ Lightly stroking either the outer or, less often, the inner thigh is an indication of sexual interest.
~ When seated in a chair or leaning against a wall, he may sometimes spread his legs to give a crotch display.
~ To accentuate physical size and show readiness to be involved with a female, men will often stand with their hands on their hips.
~ The most aggresive sexual display a man can make is the agressive thumbs-in-belt, "cowpoke" stance. This is accomplished when one or both thumbs are hooked into the belt of the pants with the downwardpointing fingers framing the groin area. This posture draws attention to the male's crotch.
~ Men in a courtship situation usually tend to have high muscle tone, that is, body sagging seems to disappear, stomachs are tucked in a little tighter and chests tend to protrude a little more. It seems that the body assumes a more erect posture than usual.
~ Sly winks, accidental touches beneath a business table, gentle rugging of the back and moving in closer are also considered courtship gestures.
~ Excited interest can be seen in a flushed appearance in the cheeks and unconscious pupil dilatation.

Female Courtship Signals

NOTE: As I wrote above, certain body language may be exhibited for reasons other than sexual attraction. For example, a certain posture or attitude may be struck out of habit, for the sake of comfort or because of nervousness. real body reversers will learn how to interpretate correctly the various signals. In other words: don't start getting too hot if a girl gives you the "shoulder look", may be you'r just a pain in her neck :-)

~ Women toss their hair, whether short or long, briskly from side to side, over a shoulder, or away from the face to indicate preening. Hair is removed from face to leave it exposed for male admiration.
~ Sometimes with partially closed eyelids, the woman holds the man's gaze just long enough for him to notice, then she quickly looks away. This has the tauntilizing feeling of peeping or being peeped at, and can light the fires of most normal men.
~ Women also use the sideways glance to show interest. This glance involves looking at the man through partially closed eyelids, but dropping the gaze a moment after it has been noticed.
~ Licking the lips, slightly pouting the mouth, or applying cosmetics to moisten or redden the lips all are indicators of a courtship invitation. Unconsciously imitating the appearance of sexually stimulated and receptive female genitals.
~ Slight exposure of the shoulder from a partially fallen blouse is again an example of "flirting." Rae Dawn Cong said it best: "You can seduce a man without taking anything off...without even touching him." This revealed shoulder is one example. Also the "shoulder look": Looking at the man behind over a raised shoulder is typical self-mimicry: the shoulder resembles the brest and so is sexually inviting.
~ When women massage their necks or head with one hand, it has the effect of raising the breast on one side of the body intensifying cleavage. It also exposes the armpit, which, even when shaved, has an erotic significance.
~ A female interested in making a subtle courtship gesture might gradually expose the smooth, soft skin of her wrists. The wrist area has long been considered one of the highly erotic areas of the body. In this position, the palms of a woman are also made visible to the male. This is an inconscious invitation to caress.
~ Playing with any cylindrical object such as a pencil, pen, stem if wineglass or finger is a reflection of subconscious desires.
~ Sometimes women will even accentuate the roll in their hips when walking in front of a male they want to attract.
~ When a woman sits with one leg tucked under the other and points the folded leg toward the person whom she wants to attract, the message communicated is, "I feel very comfortable with you. I'd like to get to know you better."
~ Women tend to stand with their legs apart with weight on one foot, when displaying a sign of openness or availability. This draws attention to genital area. (Of course this may also be a feeling of superiority, agressivity or impatience as well, duh)
~ Slowly crossing or uncrossing the legs while being watched by an interested male is a strong attraction signal, especailly when the female is slightly stroking her thigh.
~ Women entwine their legs to draw attention. Most men agree that the leg twine, (one leg is pressed firmly against the other to give the appearance of high muscle tone which the body displays when it is ready for sexual intercourse) is the most appealing sitting position a woman can take. (Of course also: nervousness, shyness, defensiveness, duh)
~ Once the legs are crossed, sometimes a woman begins to slightly kick her top leg back and forth. this kicking or thrusting, again, displays a courtship signal.
~ Dangling one shoe while seated in a relaxed position, with one leg crossed over the other knee, is one of the most intense courtship signals woman use to indicate interest in a male. Phallic mimicry, as the foot makes tiny thrusting movements with the dangling shoe.
~ Even when a woman keeps time to music with her head and hands, leans forward towards a male, or even brushes the male's body with her hand or breast, she is still conveying effective courtship gestures.


The palms of the hands face each other and the fingertips touch, forming a shape rather like a church steeple. This is a characteristic gesture that people make, usually while seated, when fdeeling especially confident duringa converstaion. There are several variants:

1. The high steeple
Both elbows rest on a table or desk and teh forearms are raised,so taht the steepling fingers point upwards (Academics, Doctors, Lawyers while delivering an 'expert' opinion).

2. The low steeple
Both elbows rest on the arms of a chair or the tops of the steepler's thights, with the forearm pointing forwards and the fingertips steepling between the thights or knees. Most women steeple this way: in their laps if seated, at wais level if standing.

3. The concentrated (poker player's) steeple
The hands steeple while hidden under a table, for instance. This tends to occurr when an individual wants to hide his or her confident feelings. Poker players may betray that they have a good hand like this.

4. The semi-steeple
When sitting, the steepler places the arms in the low steepling position and the hands in the lap. The fingers of one hand clasp the back of the other, which is CLOSED, and forming a fist, its knuckles opressed into the upper hand's palm. This is a far ýmore subtle indication of confidence than the full steepling gestures.

Defensive hand and arm gestures

Crossing the arms in front of the body is an almost istinctive attempt to protect the heart and lungs against threat (Remember "the countrary position" as well: the 'hands behind the back' walkabout by teachers or police on foot patrol, holding the head high and both hands clasped behind the back has a precise meaning: this leaves the body vulnerable front area unprotected and signals a combination of superiority and self-assurance).

1. Basic crossed arms
Both arms are folded across the chest with one forearm crossing the other, so that one hand rests on an upper arm and the other arm is tucked between elbow and chest. We tend to do this whenever we feel slightly anxious, for instance standing in a crowded lift or in a queue.

+Azzeccagarbugli, June 1998 (To be continued... I'll try to update this document regularly)

redentrance redlinks red anonymity red ~~ redstudents' essays redacademy database
redtools red ~~ red ~~ redantismut redsearch bots redsearch_forms redmail_fravia