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Foot body language

 

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

Pointing | Curling | Kicking | Stamping | Moving | Touching | BouncingSee also

 

After eons of using our feet mostly for erect walking, we have lost most of the ability that our primate cousins still have to pick things up and manipulate things as if our feet were another pair of hands.

Because we tend not to think about them, the feet can be the most reliable indicator of how a person is feeling. Faces get held still, but feet still move.

Pointing

Feet are elongated as walking and stable platforms and so can be used for pointing, as with other parts of the body. We point at things that are of interest to us and feet, being down on the ground are often not noticed. They thus may send a very subtle and subconscious signal about people we like or places we would like to go (like away from a current conversationalist).

In some cultures the feet are the lowest part of the body and exposing them to others is an insult, particularly the sole of the foot (so be careful when crossing your legs).

Angle

When feet are angled with respect to one another, the angle reaches outward. If another person is within that angle, then this sends an invitation to them.

If the feet are parallel, then the person is not open to others. When the parallel feet point to another person, then that person is the target of full attention.

Feet angled inwards can indicate defensiveness or introspection and perhaps a feeling of awkwardness.

Curling

We cannot move the foot a great deal and pretty much all we can do is curl the toes up or down. Curling the feet can be a sign of extreme pleasure (or extreme pain).

When feet curl around each other or a chair leg, this can indicate suppressed tension. This can indicate emotions such as frustration, excitement, fear and anxiety.

Kicking

The feet can be used for kicking and hurting others. We can kick with the toes (not always good as this may break them), with the ball of the foot (popular in martial arts), with the side of the foot, the bottom of the foot, the heel or with the top of the foot.

Stamping

We can stamp with the whole flat of the foot or the heel. Stamping makes a noise and can be an attention-getting signal 'Hey! Listen to me!' It can often be signal of anger and aggression, particularly when used with other noise-making devices such as shouting, perhaps to frighten the other person into submission or flight.

Moving

Tapping the foot can be a sign of impatience as the person gets into a kind of tense repetitive state. The foot becomes literally a like a clock's pendulum, marking and moving on time.

Moving the feet is also a common indicator of a person lying, particularly if they are sitting down and their feet are hidden under a table.

A way of noticing feet moving under the table is if the upper body (including clothes) can be seen to be shaking or vibrating a little.

Anxiety brings energy and presenters at conferences and teachers may walk up and down, even when they know they should really stay in one place. This is sometimes called 'happy feet'.

Swinging the foot can be a form of pointing.

Touching

The foot can be an erotic object and stroking it can be mildly suggestive.

When legs are crossed, the foot may be massaged or squeezed, perhaps to relieve tension or as a substitute for massaging tension elsewhere in the body.

Reflexology is a massage method that relieves all kinds of ills by using pressure points on the sole of the foot. If the person knows or has discovered some of these, then they may be subtly de-stressing themselves.

Bouncing

If a person bounces on their toes, so their whole body goes up and down, it can mean they are confidence especially if they are smiling or looking happy. This is often done with one or two bounces and may be with the body rocking back and fore slightly.

Bouncing on the toes can also be a sign of anxiety. In this case, the bouncing is likely to be on-and-off prolonged.

See also

Hand body language

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