Body Language

Staffroom, Time Wasters

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!

 

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.

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.
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.

 

 

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