Alright, so in the first part we talked mainly about the ventral side of our body, and how we can understand the meaning of many body gestures by the way they expose or guard it.
In this second part... well let's jump straight to it:
Leaning - that's the body way to show involvement or lack of it. Simple as that.
When we talk and lean forward we're engaged and reveal that the matter is important to us, it doesn't mean that it's always a positive body gesture - when we're mad we also lean forward aggressively.
Backing off happens in the opposite scenarios obviously - boredom, disdain, superiority or even fear.
What we get, eventually, is that you can't really tell what the lean says except the level of involvement of whom you observe. I imagine it as some sort of driving stick: forward is engaged, backwards is hitting the brakes and the middle is the standby attention.
So how we can use this knowledge?
Firstly , if you're trying to sell something , even if it's an idea or yourself (during an interview) look to see if your listener approves it - when all you see is a lean back with crossed arms it means it's time to change your strategy.
You can often guess what is going to be the reaction of the listener by these and other preceding signs. When people evaluate suggestions they usually curl a finger around their mouths or touch their face somewhere. But the question is, do they lean forward or back while they do that? Leaning back is critical evaluation and leaning forward is a more enthusiastic evaluation.
Secondly, since most people understand the meaning of the lean subconsciously, you can use it to your advantage - if you want to show enthusiasm, even if a little fake, lean in and nod. (Don't overdo it! Nobody likes ass-kissing)
If you want to stay cool and keep your facade - lean back and signal that you're not impressed, they need to try harder.
The shoulder shrug is one of the universal gestures - meaning everyone does it the same.
Now, the full body shrug actually consists of several gestures (as described by Desmond Morris):
Who does that, right?
Well many do, just not in the way you think.
Actually, we have many body gestures that either emphasize or cover the genital area of our body. These gestures are more frequent in men, because we have a subconscious drive to show females that we are virile and strong, by putting the emphasize on our virile part.
All these signs are associated with dominance, sexual aggression and little regard for social norms. Meaning you will often see these signs in young men trying to establish their social status and reveal their sexual desire.
When these signs appear in females they send a strong image of disregard for what others may think and a free spirit personality - "I do what I want and get what I want."
The opposite body gestures obviously send the opposite message - covering your genitals by holding hands over them sends messages of insecurity and shyness. It often appear in times of distress and vulnerability. Like when we're being reprimanded.
This gesture with a combination of the shoulder shrug sends a strong message of innocence. Watch Paris Hilton walk out of prison with the good girl look on her (she was obviously instructed to do so):
If there is one gesture that can define authority - it's the hands on hips display - AKA arms akimbo.
In this gesture the message is action, or to be more precise - readiness to action. It can be the impatience of a passenger in the waiting line, the anxious wait of the boxer before his fight or the stance of a parent waiting for an answer from his misbehaving child.
What happens when a subordinate use this gesture with his superior? Obviously it sends a message of defiance, even if it's not the intention it may very well perceived that way. The manager might think: "Why does he look so puffed? Does he thinks he runs the show here?"
Note: Remember when we put our hands on the hips we grow bigger and therefore more dominant and threatening - we take more space!
Powerful and determined women prefer the more delicate way of putting only one hand on the hip.
We finished with body gestures for today! Some words to conclude what we learned:
The torso might not be the most expressive part when it comes to body language, but we can learn a lot from the way others treat it.
The bottom line is this - the torso and the body gestures revolves around it only gives you a general attitude, "the skeleton" for your reading. But don't read too much into it because without additional tells it's very ambiguous.