Legs set in body language talk. This is usually born out of simple habit. Being that we can’t always see our figure speech of the foot is especially habitual and subconscious. For example, it’s why people tend to fidget with their legs so much and jiggle them. It might not indicate anxiety, but it definitely means some emotion is being felt inside and only being expressed externally.
Legs in your body language talk, frame, toe, hands
So while I am going to touch upon some common leg body language signals, there are a host of additional ways to interpret them.
Legs frame you.
While facial expressions, eye positioning, and eye activity mean a lot, your overall presence is directly impacted by what you do with your legs. It is your foundation and builds your posture, and you have to remember that your posture communicates how much power you feel that you have.
It communicates how confident you are and whether you lack confidence. The way you stand and the straightness of your posture speaks a lot regarding your respectability, your place in terms of dominance and your comparative strength compared to the people around you.
Weaker framing, stances, and poses will be used in the presence of those perceived to be stronger and more influential than yourself. A strong stance with minimal fidgeting, shoulder-width apart, and knees locked will convey confidence and power.
Your toe positioning indicates your priorities. If your toes are positioned in such a way that they are pointed at the speaker or the person that you are interested in, this shows that you are paying attention to that person. This shows that you are taking that person seriously or you respect that person. However, if your toes are positioned at an exit or you are shaking your toes, this means that you are either evasive, or you just don’t want to be there.
This is extremely important to understand in the context of a date or a job interview. If you want to be taken seriously, you might want to redirect your toes away from the exit and focus it on the person interviewing you. The toes also signal how interested someone is in you, romantically or professionally.
When you are standing, there are many ways to position your legs. You can position your legs parallel to each other and never cross them, or you can cross your legs while standing up, putting most of the weight on the back leg. If you cross your legs, it has been shown to indicate submissiveness and a lack of strong will. You may look to some people that you can be easily swayed, and that you don’t have strong convictions… at least regarding whatever the topic of conversation is.
Of course, if you add shifting your weight from foot to foot, it just looks like you need to urinate – which is also easily confused with anxiety and nervousness. Regardless, crossing the legs can indicate insecurity, defensiveness, passiveness, and overall weakness.
If you’re getting a feeling that this section is more confusing than elucidating, welcome to reality. Body language is subjective, but there are high probabilities of what specific signals mean according to the context. If someone crosses their legs, it’s likely that a feeling of discomfort, at the very least, is present and you should change your message and act accordingly.
Wide foot stance, knees straight
A wide foot stance refers to when people are standing with their feet apart, knees straight, toes pointed forward, and legs parallel.
It’s essentially a neutral position, which means that you have to look elsewhere for indications of how to read them. A wide foot stance is a blank slate, which means one of two things.
First, that they don’t feel strongly one way or another, or second, that they have managed to control their leg body language, and their true feelings will manifest elsewhere.
The most common place for it to really show up is through the hands. I’ll get into this a bit more in the next chapter, but here’s a brief summary of hand positioning.
Hands can be hanging at their sides, clasped front of them, clasped behind them, crossed, or gesturing. Each of these can mean very distinct feelings.
For example, if hands are hanging at their sides, studies have shown that it indicates defensiveness. There might have been something that was to their dissatisfaction, and they wanted to say something but didn’t. Pair this with the hands being stiff, and you likely have an angry person. Pair it with clenched fists, and you have an enraged person!
If hands are clasped behind them, it can show confidence. They could be supremely comfortable around you and not threatened by you – hence leaving themselves defenseless and at your mercy. It can also show thoughtfulness and that someone is pensive.
If hands are crossed, it is likely that other body language matches that of someone that is either shrinking away, or just doesn’t want to be in the situation. It indicates a lack of confidence, boredom, or anxiety.
On the other hand, if there is great posture paired with crossed arms, that person is probably confident and feels a degree of control over the situation. They aren’t trying to dominate, at least not outwardly.
How you stand, how you point your toes, as well as what you do with your hands speaks volumes regarding your state of mind. This might not reflect your real state of mind, but it is definitely in your best interest to make sure that your body language signals aligns completely with the specific message or impression you are trying to create in the minds of others around you.