19 Examples of Body Language Of Men
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT
The body language of men can be easy to read if you know what you are looking for. Men have a certain way of standing, gesturing with their hands, shaking hands, and using their eyes that will tip you off to their real attitudes and emotions.
The definition of body language is any non-reflexive or reflexive movement of a part or all of the body that is used to communicate a message or emotion to the outside world. This can be conscious or subconscious body messages that are sent by the man to other men or women.
How Common is Body Language
Many men may think that they exude a certain air or attitude to the people around them. However, their body language could be telling a different story without them even realizing it. The most body language of men is subconscious or done without their notice. Therefore, a man who is consciously trying to appear confident may have body language that shows the opposite.
Body language is extremely common. All men have certain body language that comes out at some time or another. Studies on the body language of men have varied in results, but all agree that body language makes up 50 to 80 percent of our communications. Studies have also found that a lot of body language is the same across cultures.
How To Read The Stance Of Men
The pose and posture, or stance, that men use when they stand can say a lot about their attitude and emotions in a particular situation or with a particular person. A normally confident man who is intimidated by another man might subconsciously take on a different stance. A man who is typically meek might take on a dominant stance with women if they feel that they are superior.
Studies have shown that the stance men take during conversations is largely a reflexive movement that does not give much thought. However, some men have successfully learned to use this body language of men movements and consciously make use of them to emit the attitude that they hope to convey.
When a man stands with their shoulders squared off and hips facing forward with hands down at the sides, it is a dominant stance. This means that the man is extremely confident and feels that they are dominant over the person they are speaking with. This stance can also be used intentionally when a man wants to exert dominance over someone that they are not necessarily already dominant with.
In an aggressive stance, the man will have their legs close together with their weight pushed forward. The dominant leg might be shifted forward by a half step as well. The head and chin might be tilted forward, and they may shift to be off-center. When a man takes this stance, it means that they are ready to fight, either verbally or physically.
When a man takes up the defensive stance, it means that they feel threatened, worried, fearful, or perhaps even simply submissive. In this stance, the feet turn away, and the shoulders become hunched. Arms are held close to the body, perhaps with hands clasped in front or arms crossed over the chest or stomach. A man may take up this stance when they are feeling that they are or will be under verbal or physical attack from the person that they are conversing with.
The body language of men is different from women when it comes to hand gestures. Many women "talk with their hands," using their hands in expressive ways as they talk animatedly. However, men are much less likely to do this.
With men, hand gestures are typically much subtler and may not be a conscious display of body language. While hand gestures may be used intentionally to get the point across, the position of the palms during hand gestures and other uses of the hands can sometimes show the real attitude or emotion of the man who is speaking.
When a man has open palms, they are displaying sincerity, trust, and openness. They are saying I am trustworthy; I am telling the truth, I mean what I say. Having open palms is a way of showing that you do not hold a weapon, either figuratively or literally. The open-handed wave that is employed by politicians and celebrities are one example of how this body language is used on a routine basis.
Hiding the Palms
Facing the palms inward or closing the hands into a fist to hide the palms conveys a much different message. It can be used to show aggressiveness or defensiveness. When the palms are closed or hidden in some way, it is usually because the man is trying to win an argument, show dominance, or defend a position.
Touching the Face
Some men touch their face during certain conversations or in certain situations. Touching the face is often a sign of either anxiety or dishonesty. Many gamblers have "tells" that involve touching the face when they are bluffing. Politicians will also touch their face when they are being dishonest or don't agree with what they are saying. Other men will touch their face when they are in high anxiety situations, such as an important job interview.
Fidgeting is another form of body language that differs between men and women. When a woman fidgets, it could mean that she is anxious. However, most men only fidget when they are bored. If a man is fidgeting quite a bit during a conversation, they are likely bored with the topic and may not be giving their full attention.
Handshakes are a form of the body language of men that most men obsess about. Men worry about what their handshake tells the person they are shaking hands with. They also try very hard to read another person while they are shaking hands.
Overall, a handshake is pretty much just a handshake. However, some things can be conveyed through a handshake. Handshake strength is not nearly as important as the way you put out your hand to be shaken. Many men obsess over handshake strength, but really if you grip the other hand tightly, it may just show that you are trying too hard to impress.
When the hand is turned palm down while being offered for a shake, it shows that the man either has dominance over the other person or they are trying to establish dominance. They are forcing the other person to come up to meet their hand. The grip is usually firm but not tight. This handshake done with a forward lunge and tightening grip could be read as being very aggressive.
Offering the hand with palm turned upward shows that you are submissive to the other person. The man offering his hand palm upturned may feel intimidated by the person they are shaking hands with, or they may be inferior to the other man in some way, such as with an employer or elder. This handshake can also put people at ease if they appear to be intimidated by you. If you don't want to appear weak, make sure you use a firm grip.
Two-handed shakes where the opposite hand comes up to grip the shaking hands or the wrist or arm above the hands is a very familiar handshake. Using it shows that you feel very comfortable with the other person and see them as an equal. It is usually only used between two people with a significant history. Using this handshake with strangers can seem overly invasive.
The eyes can convey a lot of messages. They say that the eyes are windows to the soul. While you may be able to control where your gaze is, you may not be able to control other eye movements. These are largely involuntary and subconscious, and they give a lot away about what you are thinking and feeling.
A few blinks only at random are likely just normal eye movement. However, if blinking is rapid, it is a sign of stress. The man who is rapidly blinking may be agitated, worried or nervous. Blinking that is slow and deliberate is usually a sign of boredom or tiredness. It is very difficult for a man to control how frequently they blink, so this is a good indication of their current mood.
A naturally focused gaze, particularly on the lower half of the face the man is talking to, is an indication that they are paying attention to what is being said. On the other hand, a focused gaze with no eye movement, where the gaze is forced, is likely to indicate that the man is pretending to pay attention but is uninterested or thinking of something else.
A wider gaze that takes in the whole face with natural eye movements at intervals is an indication of rapt attention being paid to the speaker. It can also be an indication of attraction when conversing with someone that the man might be sexually attracted to.
A gaze focused above the eyes or at the top of the head is an indication that the man feels superior or is trying to establish dominance. Many women can tell immediately if a man has a sexist attitude by where his gaze falls. If you find yourself the object of such a gaze, you can try to bring attention to your hands to bring the gaze down. But, if the attitude of dominance is strong in the man you are talking to, they may very well continue looking over you.
People look sideways when they are talking to themselves either mentally or out loud. Many liars look sideways, the myth says to the left, when they are lying. This is more about the man trying to think about what he wants to say to himself while lying rather than not wanting to look someone in the eye when they lie. However, a straightforward gaze is not necessarily an indication of truth-telling, because a man might be aware of this tale and intentionally avoid it.
Other Body Language
Some other general body language movements and gestures might indicate an overall mood. Keep in mind that many people are aware of these body language movements and can fake them. For example, someone who is vastly unconfident could appear domineering simply by changing their body language.
When a man crosses his arms, it could indicate some things. This is typically a defensive gesture. A man who crosses his arms feels intimidated or is in the midst of an argument. Crossed arms are also closing one off, which could indicate that the man is stubborn in his attitudes and not going to change his mind about what the other person is saying.
A lowered head is a sign of submission. When a man lowers his head while talking to others, it means that he feels inferior to that other person. A lowered head could also be an indication of remorse or guilt if being reprimanded by a boss or someone else in a position of authority.
Reduced Personal Space
Reducing personal space is also a sign that the man is intimidated. A man who is intimidated or submissive to the other person will consciously or unconsciously pull their body in closer to them to take up as little space as possible. If you find yourself in this position frequently, you might want to work on taking up more space consciously. Taking a more open stance exudes confidence and can make you feel more confident.
Turning Side On
Turning the body to the side slightly is typically a sign of aggression. It is an open stance with the side of the body facing the other person, even if only slightly. When someone stands in this way, it generally means that they are bracing themselves for an argument or a physical fight, or they are in the midst of an argument, and they are trying to regain control of the situation.
Controlling Body Language
Controlling your body language to a degree is possible. However, body language can tell you a lot about yourself. If you find that you are always taking up defensive or submissive stances and gestures, it may mean that you lack confidence. Sometimes in these situations, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist to evaluate why you are not confident and help you build your confidence up. Sometimes consciously taking a more dominant stance can help you feel that confidence superficially until you can work on gaining more genuine confidence.