To say cheese or not to say cheese: Seven body language gestures to avoid

Your body is the message, make sure you don't give away the wrong one. Learn to master the language.

Ali Awais Amin March 17, 2014
Every move you make reveals something about you. Sherlock Holmes decodes it quite easily. Patrick Jane (The Mentalist) solves his murder cases by reading the body language.

Your body is a message.

There is an unabridged science behind body language (Google Kinesics). The best examples of how important body language is are the silent movie actors, who used to perform back in the day when the television screens only supported black and white images. Charlie Chaplin can be considered as one of the pioneers of body language skills, given that this was the only means of communication available on the screen during his time.

A powerful indicator than you might think, your body language exhibits your emotions and feelings in a way that is easily interpreted by others. Now, this can work for or against you depending on the kind of body language you use. Here are some body language errors that you should definitely avoid.

Do not fidget

Those nervous little movements can kill your impression. The worst form is playing with your hair, messing with the collar of your shirt or playing with a pen. Just don’t do it! It signals discomfort, nervousness and anxiety.

A child fidgeting with her fingers. Photo: AFP

Do not glance at your watch

That’s a big turn off for the person you are conversing with. However, if you want the person to quit talking, that’s the way to go. Nothing says ‘I don’t care, please shut up as soon as possible’ better than a quick glance at your wrist watch or the wall clock.

Even if you don’t mean it, this is what it conveys. Remember, your body is the message.

Do not cross your arm

Crossed arms can be detrimental. It’s a defensive position. You may disagree and argue that arm crossing is simply comfortable but others will think you’re not approachable. In addition, this position has a sense of egotism involved, a bit more towards arrogance. So, avoid it.

Do not fake smile

Say cheese!

Well don’t say cheese. It just portrays a fake smile, which comes off as an insincere one. Do not smile with the mouth only, smile with your eyes as well. You will notice those characteristic wrinkles around the eyes in real smiles.

Act natural and smile natural. Faking it is arrogance, so avoid it

Do not touch your face

Avoid it, especially during a conversation.


It’s a sign of deception. You touch your face subconsciously when you tell a lie. When you tell a lie, your brain instructs you to block the deceitful wording coming out of your mouth. It’s natural though, but try not to do it.

Do not face away

Obviously, this shows disinterest. It is only when you see eye to eye with another person that a healthy and mutual communication gets established. Now, this does not imply that you stare blankly and scare the person away. Even if you are not interested in the boring discussion, a sudden cut off is rude.

Good eye contact builds trust. It shows that you are connected and engaged.

Do not give a lousy handshake

The power is in your hands!

A lousy handshake kills off your first impression.

An assertive handshake depicts strong character whereas a weak handshake depicts submissiveness. A firm handshake with a warm smile and a sincere look gives the perfect introduction. But make sure that the handshake is just firm; do not go for the ‘I will crush you’ handshake.

If you are just not in the mood for a handshake, try the ‘Namaste’ gesture or the greeting nod. Lousy handshakes are, well, just crummy. So try and avoid it.

I once came across this quote by the beautiful Mae West.
“I speak two languages; Body and English.”

All human beings speak the first one, and like any other language, there are slips that must be avoided.

Remember, your body is the message, so do not give away the wrong one.
Ali Awais Amin A LUMS Electrical Engineering Graduate 2012, Ali loves to follow the tech world.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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metro | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Namaste? Now we know this article has been copied from some indian website! ET people pls note.
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