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gestures and facial expressions

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Subject: body language

Eyes, mouth and hands

Our eyes speak their own language and are seen as a mirror and expression of our soul. Glances can smile, exude joy, agree, ask questions, but also have a doubtful or strongly negative effect. Sometimes they should hit or hurt the other. The vernacular speaks of withering looks and some people wish that looks could even kill.

The effect of our eyes is of central importance. In conversations, it is therefore always advisable to give the other person an open look for a few seconds, accompanied by a friendly smile. However, be careful not to make eye contact for too long. This can easily be interpreted as "staring", excessive curiosity, or rudeness. Eye signals are often clear and easy to interpret:

  • If the other person lowers their gaze or does not react at all to your gaze offer, there is no interest on their part (at least at the moment).
  • A steadily or frequently lowered gaze, shimmering back and forth, searching eyes, knitted or raised eyebrows or demonstrative looking away are signs of insecurity, ignorance or even provocation.
  • An oblique look usually signals caution and is often used deliberately.
  • Frequent blinking indicates uncertainty.
  • The brief raising of the eyebrows at the sight of a person signals joy in contact or the recognition of a person who is perceived as sympathetic.
  • If the eyebrows do not rise, this can be a sign that the person feels that they are (still) neutral or unsympathetic.

Holding your gaze (without staring) during a conversation is a subliminal invitation to the other person to continue the conversation. If he also maintains eye contact, he appreciates the invitation and accepts it with thanks. During the conversation in a group, it is advisable to let your gaze wander in order to include everyone involved in the conversation.

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gestures and facial expressions
The mouth - winning with a smile

The smile is the supreme discipline to win sympathy. A natural, open-minded smile is the perfect door opener. This is exactly why it is advisable to think about who the door will be opened to beforehand. Because once someone has stepped in, it becomes very difficult to tactfully compliment them, in other words: to end the contact again. A quick look into the eyes of the other person gives you the necessary time to decide whether you want to get in touch with them. He can then understand the subsequent smile as an invitation that specifically applies only to him. In general, you should also pay attention to the how and when when smiling:

  • A stereotypical smile appears artificial, irritating and complacent.
  • An exaggerated smile that shows all the teeth, the so-called "piranha smile", can be seen as a sign of laborious self-control as well as giving the impression of arbitrariness and superficiality. It is then usually accompanied by an equally applied torrent of words: "Oh, my love, it's nice that you are here too! Aaach, there is too"
  • A tormented, barely visible smile can appear exhausted, ironic, gleeful, arrogant or insecure.
  • If only one corner of the mouth is raised, the facial expressions signal cynicism or arrogance and a feeling of superiority.
  • The mostly open mouth is considered extremely rude and shows a pronounced lack of self-control. It also signals undisguised curiosity.
  • Constantly pressed lips in combination with the corners of the mouth drawn down suggest dissatisfaction or even bitterness or the desire for distance.

The level of enhancement of the smile is laughter. Only show it when you are actually extremely amused or really excited. The "real" laugh is accompanied by raised cheeks and wrinkles around the eyes, hence the expression: "He laughs all over his face". When you laugh, only your mouth moves; the rest of the face, however, does not change. This is consciously or unconsciously perceived by the interlocutor and judged negatively. Also, be careful with the corners of your mouth that are often raised, this preliminary stage of smiling initially signals activity, but in the long run it also signals resistance.


Gestures and facial expressions: The hands - convince with gestures

The language of the hands is the same in many parts of the world: the victory pose with the raised fist, the raised thumb as a sign of approval, raised hands as a sign of peacefulness - these are all generally valid gestures. While we are communicating, we use our hands even more intensely and accompany and support our verbal speech in a more subtle form.

The following ABC shows you the crucial role the hands play in the course of a conversation. Knowing this helps you to better control your own behavior and to interpret the state of the other more easily.


Gestures and facial expressions: The little ABC of hand gestures


Put your fingers to your noseA sign of concentration or concern
Drumming his fingersMeans impatience or nervousness, provocation is also possible
Folded handsShow clear superiority
Hold your hand in front of your mouthWhat has been said should be withdrawn, uncertainty in the matter
Rubbing handsSuggests complacency, doesn't always come across as personable
Put your hands over your headWhen leaning back, the gesture shows boundless sovereignty
Playing around with fingersIndicates disinterest, lack of concentration or nervousness
Put your head on your handsStands for thoughtfulness, exhaustion or boredom
Scratching the headA sign of perplexity or uncertainty
Rubbing the chinStands for thoughtfulness and satisfaction
Crossed armsIn men: rejection and reticence; In women: insecurity or anxiety
Hands shaped into a pointed roofSignaling arrogance, at the same time defense against objections

Basically, two different hand positions are received positively by the other person. On the one hand, the hands should always be open and visible in front of or next to the body. The hand in the trouser pocket is perceived as negative. It is also important at what height you hold and move your hands. All gestures below the waist can seem provocative, but above the waist they are perceived positively.

The handshake is often the first physical contact between two people. It conveys a "solid" impression, increases or decreases the sympathy that is shown towards the counterpart. An exaggeratedly strong handshake is usually intended as a sign of dynamism and determination, but also easily conveys the impression of recklessness, competition or showing off. Too lax or even damp, it conveys clear uncertainty or even fear. A firm, but not exaggerated handshake, combined with a straight look in the eyes, is ideal.



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Body language is more important than the content of the conversation

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