For the most part men and women feel the same emotions – the expression of those emotions however, differ between men and women in some cases. The difficulty arises when you don’t notice those differences and make massive assumptions about what is happening or intended.
Here’s a few things that women do in their body language:
- They like the goal to be met – and may get jabby and choppy with their hand movements especially with one hand towards a certain individual when it’s not met/they feel disappointed.
- They can send back the ‘ping’ (emotional trigger) they feel and the outward body language space distance may change. It can look like a step backwards or a lean backwards.
- They like to ‘share’ – thus releasing negative feelings, seeking compassion and support they will often touch down their central column to emphasise – touching the throat, heart, solar plexus (gut) as they say the words i.e. “I felt gutted that she could do that to me.” (whilst touching their belly button)
- They use communication to explore and organise thoughts as they go along. Lots of speech illustrators and hand directional body language to help explain concepts. Speech illustrators show you how big, small, far, wide, recurring etc. Directional body language directs someone’s gaze to where you want them to focus. (More likely to get the job done right first time).
- If they question competence/get personal under stress it can look dismissive/beyonce head wobble, eyebrows raised with wide eyes.
Here’s a few things that men do in their body language:
- When they feel threatened by other men, or emasculated by women they show what is called ‘Broken Zipper’ (hands crossed over private parts).
- If they are normally quite confident and show the ‘steeple’ hand movement regularly (fingers bought together raised at the centre). This is what I call the CEO move or who thinks they should be CEO. A sign that things have changed when a certain person walks into the room, the steeple may face downwards over private parts, submission/dejection/feeling ‘less than’ in the presence of this person.
- When they feel like they need protection they will bring their chin down and in to their chest.
- They tend to show severe trauma or hurt by rubbing or holding the back of their neck with both hands. This is so important to me in body language that I always notice this in men. A general rule of body language is that if it is difficult to do or looks weird it means more.
- Using their eyebrows can mean several things, as men often use body language alone and emblems like thumb up, ok sign where no speech is needed to lessen the words that they use. Eyebrow movements can mean, I recognise you, are you ok, I’m ok, how are you, and much much more to men.
- They resort to ‘posturing’ making themselves bigger, wider, open arms behind their head, open legs, using chair arms when they feel the need to impress, or be more dominant/get attention. I call this the silver back move. The female version of this is called Wonder Woman and has both hands on hips, fingers to the front and thumbs pointing towards the back. it gives women assurance and confidence (or portraying that).
- Men will often approach a female they don’t know – especially in a business setting from sideways on (which is less in your face). Alternatively they may approach with hands in their pockets (in their mind, less chance of stuffing up, or being perceived in a certain way such as overly sexual.)
- When men nod it usually means finality or agreement. When women nod it is more as a sign of encouragement so this is a key area where confusion can happen between sexes.
- Will go to self hugs when they feel out of their comfort zone – this can look like (hugging your torso, arms across you, or patting hand, knee, holding fingers or one finger) This is the sub-conscious’ way of saying “there, there, it will be ok” to yourself.
- Self soothes are where people play with jewellery, cuffs, hair twirling etc. And often the thing they sooth with is meaningful – such as touching a specific piece of jewellery that someone gave them who makes them feel good/supported. An example might be moving your wedding ring around if you wished your husband was with you in a certain environment to support you.
- Self soothes can be generational and inherited too, like if your mother twirls her hair then you might – even if you don’t feel that emotion. Soothes are an important one for me to watch as people may portray one thing but it’s actually not their emotion or experience but something someone else went through. An example would be someone wringing their thumbs (powerless, or power being taken away, bullied, sexual abuse in past) and yet they hadn’t experienced that.
What will help you read the opposite sex better? Being really present. Listening properly and fully. Using checking questions where you aren’t sure instead of making assumptions.
Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same like in some futuristic Sci Fi movie. There is curiosity, interest and joy in the differences, embrace them.
Want to learn more about body language? There are two great books in the shop for just $13 each: