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Back body language

 

Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Back body language

Rejection | Power | ProtectionSee also

 

The back, which includes the spine and the rear of the torso, does not send much non-verbal body language and is probably the 'least communicative' part of the body.

Rejection

The face is on the front of the body and so we present the front when talking to other people. If we do not want to talk to them, we can indicate our desire not to talk with them in several stages:

  • Avert the gaze, not making eye contact.
  • Turn the head.
  • Twist the torso (feet not moving).
  • Twist further (one foot rotates).
  • Turn at an angle (both feet move).
  • Turn around (so they can only see our back).

Each of these is an escalating signal, with complete 180 degree rotation as the maximum rejection. Even turning at a slight angle sends a clear message (giving the 'cold shoulder'). Turning fully around thus sends the loudest possible non-verbal signal 'I do not want to talk with you.'

Power

Turning around means you are potentially vulnerable to attack as you cannot see anyone behind you make a move on you. This can thus be a power move, usually between men, which says 'I do not have to look at you to decide if you are going to attack me because I am so powerful you do not dare.'

Protection

Whilst having the back facing someone makes you unable to defend yourself, if you are about to be hit with something the back provides perhaps the least sensitive area on the body. It is broad and well-muscled, with ribs around the organs.

When we face imminent impact we turn around, typically also putting our hands behind our head to protect it and crouching down to make ourselves a smaller target. This is a reflexive action for example when something is thrown at us or someone tries to his us with a stick.

See also

 

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