Whether you want to ace your next interview or score a second date, being aware of the signals your body is sending is the key to success. Psychologist Dale Atkins and body language expert Blanca Cobb joined TODAY to offer insight on body cues you might not even realize you're putting out there.
One crucial thing to remember? Context is important, so always keep the setting in mind when assessing someone else's signals, or trying to monitor your own.
Here are the five body signals most people don't realize they're sending:
1. Twirling your hair
Outside of the workplace, this behavior can signify a woman is attracted to the person she's talking with. It's frequently regarded as flirtatious behavior.
In other settings, when playing with your hair becomes excessive or repetitive, it typically indicates anxiety, incompetence, uncertainty, stress, discomfort or shyness. If you're doing it at work, you likely won't be taken seriously since it's such a distracting habit, according to Cobb.
2. Tapping your toe
This one means exactly what you'd think: You're feeling uncomfortable, impatient or stressed. This type of tapping or fidgeting can actually relieve tension in the body, which is why so many of us do it, Atkins said.
If this happens when you're having a conversation with someone, it could also indicate a question has made them uncomfortable.
3. Crossing legs
There are many ways to cross your legs, and they each can signal very different messages:
- Ankle over knee: Means you're feeling confident, relaxed and dominant.
- Crossing knees: You're likely feeling anxious or defensive.
- Crossing ankles: You could be holding something back, or feeling afraid or uncertain.
Another interesting tidbit: If you notice a person's feet are angled toward the door, they may be unconsciously indicating they're ready to cut the talk short and move on.
If their legs AND their hands are crossed, they could be trying to block off information, and using those body parts as a barrier.
4. Hands in pocket or fidgeting with your hands
Maybe you just love pockets, or maybe you're hiding something. Often, when people put their hands in their pockets or hide them behind their backs, they're not feeling trust in the conversation, said Atkins. So as a way of hiding their tense feelings, they hide their hands. Stuffing their hands in their pockets could also be a reactionary sign of defiance.
5. Extended eye contact
Extended eye contact can come off as creepy or aggressive. Atkins' advice: Try to aim to look someone in the eye 60 percent of the time, and look down at points to break it up.
If someone is avoiding eye contact, that may indicate that they're feeling anxious or lacking confidence. Or they could be lying.