How To Master the Art Of Body Language

Neil StraussNeil, The Game

I’m finally in the home stretch of the next big book. And the other day while writing, I was reminded of a story from early in The Game: The woman whose feet stunk up the room and turned one of my first “pickups” into one of my first “urban escape” situations.

It made me think of one of the routines I used to do during The Game days: I’d talk to a couple, and have them close their eyes, and I’d see if the man knew what shoes the woman was wearing and then if the woman knew what shoes the guy was wearing.

Almost every time, the woman knew what was on the guy’s feet, and the guy hadn’t even noticed his date’s shoes.

So that brings us to today’s lesson: Watch people’s feet. They will tell you everything.

We’ve brought in some amazing body language experts to teach The Society guys—Joe Navarro and Amy Africa, just to name two you’ve probably heard of—and they said, kids are often told things like, “Wipe that smile off your face.” So as adults they learn to conceal many facial expressions that will give their true thoughts away.

However, they don’t think about their feet. And if hips don’t lie, feet lie even less. As my right-hand man Aaron put it when I told this to him, “feet are the honest Abes of the human body.”

So today I’d like to share with you some great tips, all but one courtesy of Joe and Amy, about what people’s feet are telling you. And what your feet may be telling other people…unintentionally.

Here’s a quick breakdown to help you start reading others’ body language immediately—and changing yours. There is a lot of research out there on body language, and much of it often contradictory, but these were points that Society trainers mostly concurred on:

TOP TEN FOOT TELLS

1. Flighty Feet—If someone’s foot is pointed towards the door, they are in flight mode. This can mean something is making them uncomfortable, that they want to leave, or that they’re being dishonest.

2. Alliance Feet—People’s feet usually face the direction of the alpha in the group or the person they most want to ally with.

3. Jiggly Feet—If someone is seated and jiggling both feet, they are feeling positive happy emotions. But if they are jiggling one foot, they are expelling anxious energy.

4. Crossed Feet—If someone has their legs crossed, their feet will point toward the person they are most comfortable with.

5. At-Ease Feet—Stand at a slight right angle to people. Standing toe- to-toe is confrontational.

6. Get-Happy Feet—Pointing your toes up is a positive sign. So if you want to be more positive in life, start pointing your toes up. Like smiling to improve your mood, your mind will take cues from forced body language.

7. Hot Feet—If a woman is dangling a shoe showing her heel, it means “notice me.” Good time to approach.

8. IOI Feet—Feet are good to check for signs of interest, more often with women. Feet crossed or tucked under her body means she’s not comfortable with you, but if her feet are moving while she laughs (especially away from her body and toward you), it’s a strong sign she’s interested.

9. Persuasive Feet—The best way to elicit a confession, or make a request, is to stand up and head to the doorway. When you’re in the doorway, as if about to leave, turn partially back to the person (feet still angled toward the door) and ask the question or make the request. Because you’re leaving, on a subconscious level, you no longer appear to be a threat. And your likelihood of getting your way will be higher.

10. Finally, from neither speaker, here’s a fun fact from another discipline: the art of feet reading, which is the pedal equivalent of palm-reading—If someone can wiggle their pinky toe separately from their fourth toe, they are an adventurous, flirtatious charmer. If they can’t, they’re more predictable, loyal, and reliable. So drop that fact in set, and soon you’ll have everyone trying to wiggle their toes.

Just be careful not to be mistaken for a foot fetishist when watching for these signs.

Unless, of course, you are one.

To Your Body of Knowledge,
Neil

PS: Do you have a favorite body-language tip or tell? Send it to [email protected], and headline your email BODY ROCKING.

I’ll compile my favorite body-language-reading tips and tricks to share with the rest of the Inner Circlers in the next email.

I may even throw in a surprise at the end of it. But only if the tips you share are good, of course.