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07 July 2008

25 Acts of Body Language to Avoid [More:] As I kid I was totally guilty of many of those. Even now I have to make an effort not to cross my arms or pick lint off my fleece jacket when I talk to people. You?
That reads like a list of poker tells.
posted by Ardiril 07 July | 19:55
Gee. What's left? How are you supposed to stand?
posted by netbros 07 July | 19:58
Gee. What's left? How are you supposed to stand?

I had the same reaction and I've been self-conscious since I read that list. I dunno, stand perfectly still, upright and maintain unbroken eye contact without looking at your fingers or jacket while ignoring that scratch on the back of your head.
posted by special-k 07 July | 20:04
From my point of view, the important ones:
Standing too close.
Crossing your arms.

All the other ones people don't give a shit about. Just let your hands sweat? Seriously? Makes for a really uncomfortable handshake. And who stands with their hands over their genitals besides soccer/football players, anyway?

What I'm most guilty of:
Fidgeting with small objects.
posted by Stewriffic 07 July | 20:17
Where are you supposed to hold a cup of coffee then? On top of your head?
posted by puke & cry 07 July | 20:49
What you should do is fire a gun and see which part of themselves they try to protect, then threaten to poke them there with a stick during the entirety of your interaction.
It will keep them from studying your posture very much.
posted by ethylene 07 July | 21:00
As someone who excessively fidgets this pretty much means I should just have someone wheel me around in one of those Hannibal Lecter restraint devices. I almost always have some kind of beverage and holding it the side seems unnatural and likely to spill.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 07 July | 21:20
I do pretty much all of these things, and I don't caaaaaaare.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 July | 21:26
"...stand perfectly still, upright and maintain unbroken eye contact without looking at your fingers or jacket while ignoring that scratch on the back of your head." ...and try not to project the fact that you look like an out-patient.

Also, stop sharpening the knife/oiling the chainsaw/whittling the stake whilst being talked to. Hold it by your side and maintain eye contact. Smile a lot and affect a casual manner. Don't grip the object too hard or they'll see your knuckles go white. Smile even more. Wiggle your toes to release tension. Breathe for god's sake, or they'll know!
posted by Zack_Replica 07 July | 21:51
I stand with my hands on my hips all the time and am constantly amazed how many people walk into my elbows. Respect personal space, peoples!

And I never scratch my head in public because my mom always told us that would make people think we had head lice. (Scratch your genitals and she would accuse you of having "crotch crickets.")
posted by jrossi4r 07 July | 21:59
Also- women do more sitting next to each other- it's less confrontational. And the 4 feet of personal space thing is pretty much a western thing- maybe even just American.

They should have labelled it something like: How to pass for a member of the straight, white, male, dominant class.
posted by small_ruminant 07 July | 22:09
Being POSH (person of scandinavian heritage, natch) I take great umbrage at item number 12, "Not Directly Facing the Person You’re Speaking To".

Any damn fool knows that the more important the subject, the more important it is to stand side by side, hands in pockets, gazing into the middle distance while speaking.
posted by Triode 07 July | 22:29
#12 also precludes those introspective discussions held at public urinals.
posted by Ardiril 07 July | 22:37 are you supposed to hold drinks without spilling them, if not in front of your body?

I think I've done at least 2/3 of these things in the past week. During meetings, no less. I'm an incorrigible fidgeter; I don't think I've ever been able to sit still in my life.
posted by kiripin 07 July | 23:00
Rule #26 is don't have big hair. It scares people, and just because the Los Angeles Times says it's coming back doesn't make it right.
posted by taz 07 July | 23:04
Some good advice here but it must be remembered that some of these can be highly effective acts in the right setting. Things like 3, 4, 5, and 6 can be used to let people know you are not interested or don't care. Crossing your hands over your genitals or behind your back can give you a look of casual authority in the right situation.

Like most lists it works sometimes and not others. Still, things like blinking a lot or looking at the floor are always bad.
posted by arse_hat 07 July | 23:35
You cannot access the following Web address:
The site you requested is blocked for all staff under the [redacted] Policy and Procedures Register (PPR), ICT-PR-004, Using the Department's Corporate ICT Network.
But I don't need to see it to know that I probably exhibit at least most of the behaviours, being an inveterate fiddler and fidgeter. It doesn't mean anything other than I am a fiddler. Body language, by and large, is a pile of crap.
posted by dg 07 July | 23:45
If someone DOESN'T exhibit any of these signs during a meeting, I become very afraid of them. Meetings are boring, irritating, power-grabs and/or attempts to deflect responsibility. It's an inherently competitive space, and often quite dysfunctional and toxic. Exhibiting signs of discomfort in such situations means you're human, and not exhibiting them, ever, means that your reaction to situation is somehow deeply and disturbingly off-kilter.
posted by treepour 08 July | 00:25
Don't look down? I'm 6'2", I'm either staring into the middle distance or I'm looking down at people.
posted by octothorpe 08 July | 01:16
I hate this one - the "touch your nose/cover your mouth= lying" thing. Also, covering up the mouth is a common gesture people make when they’re lying. - I had braces for many MANY years. BRACES people. Not just the regular kind, the largest kind available (my mom talked them ot of teh HEADGEAR BRACES oh god thank you mom) with RUBBER BANDS strung between the upper and lower teeth that would have this horrible habit of going flying across the room if I laughed or opened my moyuth too wide. I cover my mouth to this day when I speak, laugh or giggle (just like a young asian-culture girl) because somewhere in my head, I'm still wearing braces and will DIE if you see my horrible teeth and will fall through the earth of those damned rubber bands go a-flying again.

So people think I lie all the time. Meh.

also: fidgety when I can't smoke. Get over it.
posted by dabitch 08 July | 04:53
Any damn fool knows that the more important the subject, the more important it is to stand side by side, hands in pockets, gazing into the middle distance while speaking.

Triode's got it! YES!
posted by dabitch 08 July | 04:57
This list totally validates my usual posture strategy in social situations: fists clenched to the side of my body, shoulders back, feet apart, square-on the interlocutor, eyes forced open really wide, and constantly, rhythmically thrusting my pelvis.
posted by chrismear 08 July | 05:54
If I were to start trying to remember all 25 of these things every time I got in a conversation with someone, I'd never be able to carry on a conversation for being distracted and thinking about my body language. (And yes, I'm a born fidgeter, so deal.)
posted by BoringPostcards 08 July | 07:11
Man, what a waste of time--I can tell just by reading the comments that this list doesn't offer any good advice about how to hold my drink.
posted by box 08 July | 07:38
I don't drink coffee, and I can't stand the odor of it, but I always carry a piping hot* cup of it around the office with me. I keep it between me and the person I'm talking to not merely in an effort to separate myself from people, but rather in case I need to splash it in someone's face for being an idiot.

I always check my watch, adjust my fingernails, etc. It's called ADHD. Deal with it or I call the ACLU.

I often stroke my chin purposely to put people on edge.\

I cannot yet change the width of my eyes. I can close them slightly, but not actually make them narrower.

I was continuously shifting my weight while composing this reply. SUCKERS!

* is piping really that hot?
posted by Eideteker 08 July | 07:53
I can tell just by reading the comments that this list doesn't offer any good advice about how to hold my drink.

Or, apparently, your dink.
posted by danostuporstar 08 July | 08:14
I really have to be careful with fidgeting with small items. When I was teaching, I always made sure to have nothing in my pockets--keys went on the table, all loose change went in the briefcase. Now, I have to really concentrate not to fiddle with my pen or notebook in meetings.
posted by mrmoonpie 08 July | 09:41
This list just further strengthens my belief that humans were never meant to walk erect.
posted by Atom Eyes 08 July | 10:16
Question for Yahoo Mail users: || Frankly, you bore Smooshie.