Body Language of Legs – Sitting Positions

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Welcome to the third installment in the body language of legs series.

In the first 2 parts we discussed how standing legs reveal attitude, but the main core of leg gestures are actually done when sitting idle.  In this article I'll focus on the different sitting positions, primarily those done when seated a chair.

We often can get a lot more info from seated variations of leg positions than from standing ones simply because when we sit our legs are quite... useless - we don't have anything specific to do with them; and these are the exact moments when we can easily identify all sorts of temperaments, when the legs have nothing else to do but to leak nonverbal information.

Alright, let's start with:

Indications of Interest

The first group of sitting leg gestures I want to mention are the Indicators of interest. I already talked about pointing with feet in the previous articles so I only mention it again to note that it applies to sitting positions as well.

In sitting scenarios it's actually even more obvious, as anyone who ever got stuck at the end of the sofa alone can tell.

Another form of orienting when seated comes in the shape of the knee point - when one leg is folded under the other and the knee marks the direction of attention.

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Don't forget leaning - it's the most direct way to show interest or lack of it.

Men - Exposing the Crotch

When we talk about sexual interest, expressive man have the "crotch display" - sitting with the legs wide apart to signal virility and availability. These men usually signal that they feel dominant, strong and even a little smug - this position takes a lot of space and exposes their groin for the whole world to see. Needless to say it can easily offend others (or on the contrary - entice them) So while it's good to show confidence, if you don't want to annoy anyone - mind the distance between your knees.

Women - Shoe play

Females have something a bit more sophisticated - the shoe play: While the shoe dangling off their foot, they remove and enter their foot back and forth into it. Such display can drive men crazy, because it reminds them of the repeated action during intercourse.

Leg over Leg

Crossing one leg over the other is a very popular way of sitting and has many variations. Women, for example, prefer the tight leg cross to emphasize their legs features. Men often use the 4 figure sitting cross leg position.

The leg over leg "standard position" is usually done with the dominant leg on top. While crossing the legs may indicate a closed and reserved attitude, it's not always so. It has a lot to do with habit and comfort. In an uncomfortable chair with no armrests, it might be more convenient to sit in crossed position and to lay the hands on the thighs.

For completely another reason, we adopt the crossed sitting position when we're cold.

Women have more trouble than man sitting in uncrossed positions mainly because their clothing often doesn't allow that (mini-skirts) or because it's an established habit.

Leg Stretch

A very sexual display with the legs females utilize extremely effectively is the leg stretch. Sitting with one leg crossed over the other stretches the muscles and reveal smooth sexy legs.

Women can easily use this flirting gesture to draw attention, especially if she's crossing and uncrossing them frequently (like in the famous scene of Sharon Stone in" Basic Instinct" for example)

crossing legs in sexy fashion.
4 figure leg cross.

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The 4 figure sitting position involves resting one foot over the thigh of the other, and it's usually much more comfortable for men than the tight leg cross. It’s a popular male leg cross, although it can be seen in some assertive and extrovert women too.

In an unconscious manner it exposes the genitals and takes more space – a confident, self assured and even cocky posture. It's also a way to show competitive and challenging attitude towards the others, as if to say "I'm not impressed, try harder"

Both Feet on the Ground

Placing both feet on the ground with a “standard” gap between them is the most basic, normal position you can think of. Just like with hands-to-the-sides posture it serves as a neutral but powerful starting point. It’s stable, focused and lacks any other nonverbal “noise” - so it’s very effective for formal and focused conversations.

I must add that placing both feet on the ground is much less common for females, who prefer the crossed leg position, either because they wear skirts or because they socially taught to sit that way.

Tension and Readiness to Action

Tension can wear many forms in body language, and it's easily exposed when we sit. When we're sit we're idle get lost in our thoughts and then our negative thoughts leak through unconscious motions. Some notable examples:

ankle lock.
  • Locking ankles

Entwining the ankles is usually a signal of self restraint; It's similar to biting the lip, holding oneself from slipping another word. It can hide emotions of anger, frustration, fear or other negative emotion.

Men will usually lock their ankles beneath the chair and their hands will clamp into fists or grab tightly the armchairs. Females will usually close both legs and turn them to the side while their hands rest on their knees or to their side.

  •  Wrapping legs around the chair legs
  • The Clasp

To reinforce his position, the guarded person will not only cross his legs but will also clasp his hands around them. Like a clamp - there’s no way he’s going to open up easily. It’s a very common posture to observe in subways where strangers sit in front of each other.

  • Keeping the knees together

This one is a tricky one, because while it can show a reserved and timid mindset, many females taught to sit this way for obvious reasons (skirts) and stick to this habit throughout their lives. But men have no excuse of using such display - and it’s quite rare to observe such an obvious display of insecurity.

  • Covering Gentiles

Covering the crotch can be done by holding the legs tight and\or crossing the hands over it.

Just like spreading the legs yells "Look at me! I'm here! I'm fertile and powerful" so covering the same area sends the opposite message "I'm unsure, tiny and timid, please don't hurt me."

Just like Adam and Eve had leaves to cover their gentiles when they felt ashamed - we mimic such behavior even when we’re fully clothed. Again, this gesture applies more to men, because females in general avoid touching or resting their hands around their crotch.

Feeling at Home

In informal relaxed circumstances the variations of different leg positions is huge, after all it is informal - anyone can sit however s\he wants. Most informal positions have the tendency to be spread out and take strange forms.

Placing the feet on a table is the ultimate "feel good" posture - What’s more relaxed than spreading the legs up, putting the hands behind the head and enjoy life, right?

I don't care what you think..

Nothing to do but chill and stare at passerby

Sitting on the floor

I won’t go into detail on each form, because their meanings are quite the same - they all tend to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Now..this is more serious..

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I do want to mention the leg spread forward because it but can really affront certain people due to its idle image. Serious and sensitive situation require attention and readiness, so this lazy posture is a signal that whatever happening isn't important or interesting enough for the person who adopts it. The eastern sitting posture is much more suited for such cases.

Instead adopt the "eastern sitting" - sitting on folded legs. It's still informal but shows more involvement than previous one.

We're Done

To sum this whole series in a few points:

  • Legs are honest - learn to watch and understand their stances and movements. Especially because most don’t.

  • In a group setting, relationships between the members can be revealed by the way people orient themselves and their feet.

  • Don’t show or cover your crotch if you don’t understand the implications.

  • Learn to identify when someone is interested in you or trying to dominate you.

  • Don’t use relaxed positions when attention is required.

You can review the series here

Body Language of Legs - Part 1

Body Language of Legs - Part 2


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