Body Language: How to Read Others' Thoughts by Their Gestures
also be stroking the chin. The person is evaluating the proposition, while making decisions at the same time. When the listener begins to lose interest in the speaker, the head begins to rest on the hand. Figure 67 shows evaluation with the head supported by the thumb as the listener becomes uninterested.
                 
    HEAD-RUBBING AND HEAD-SLAPPING GESTURES
    An exaggerated version of the collar pull gesture is the palm rubbing the back of the neck in what Calero called the ‘pain-in-the-neck’ gesture. A person who uses this when lying usually avoids your gaze and looks down. This gesture is also used as a signal of frustration or anger and, when this is the case, the hand slaps the back of the neck first and then begins to rub the neck. Let us assume, for example, that you asked a subordinate to complete a certain task for you and that the subordinate had forgotten to do it within the time required. When you ask him for the results, he non-verbally signals his forgetfulness by slapping his head, either on the forehead or the back of the neck, as if he were symbolically hitting himself. Although slapping of the head communicates forgetfulness, the person signals how he feels about you or the situation by the position used when he slaps his hand on his head, either the forehead or the neck. If he slaps his forehead (Figure 69) he signals that he is not intimidated by your having mentioned his forgetfulness, but when he slaps the back of his neck (Figure 68) he non-verbally tells you that you are literally a ‘pain-in-the-neck’ for pointing out his error. Those who habitually rub the backs of their necks have a tendency to be negative or critical, whereas those who habitually rub their foreheads to non-verbalise an error tend to be more open, easy-going people.
           

Six

Arm Barriers
    FOLDED ARMS GESTURES
    Hiding behind a barrier is a normal human response that we learn at an early age to protect ourselves. As children, we hid behind solid objects such as tables, chairs, furniture and mother’s skirts whenever we found ourselves in a threatening situation. As we grew older, this hiding behaviour became more sophisticated and by the age of about six, when it was unacceptable behaviour to hide behind solid objects, we learned to fold our arms tightly across our chests whenever a threatening situation arose. During our teens, we learned to make this crossed-arms gesture a little less obvious by relaxing our arms a little and combining the gesture with crossed legs.
    As we grow older, we develop the arm crossing gesture to the point where it has become less obvious to others. By folding one or both arms across the chest, a barrier is formed that is, in essence, at attempt to block out the impending threat or undesirable circumstances. One thing is certain; when a person has a nervous, negative or defensive attitude, he will fold his arms firmly on his chest, a strong signal that he feels threatened.
    Research conducted into the folded arm position in the United States has shown some interesting results. A group of students was asked to attend a series of lectures and each student was instructed to keep his legs uncrossed, arms unfolded and to take a casual, relaxed sitting position. At the end of the lectures each student was tested on his retention and knowledge of the subject matter and his attitude toward the lecturer was recorded. A second group of students was put through the same process, but these students were instructed to keep their arms tightly folded across their chests throughout the lectures. The results showed that the group with the folded arms had learned and retained 38 per cent less than the group who kept its arms unfolded. The second group also had a more critical opinion of the lectures and of the lecturer.
    These tests reveal that, when the listener folds his arms, not only has he more negative thoughts about the speaker, but he is also paying less attention to what is being

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