Want to Know How Someone is Really Feeling? Look At Their Feet

January 8, 2018

A person's feet or "feet language" can tell a lot about how they are feeling in a given moment.

When we are reading someone’s body language, we tend to focus on their upper body: what they do with their hands, the facial expressions they make.

Really want the truth? Look lower. Much lower.

“When most people think about improving their body language, they focus primarily on facial expressions, posture and hand gestures,” Carol Kinsey Goman said in her LinkedIn Learning course, Body Language for Leaders.  “Because feet go unrehearsed, they often tell more than you realize.”

    1. People point their feet at the person they agree with most.

If someone is pointing their feet directly at you, that’s a good sign – it means they agree with you and are comfortable with you, Goman said. Obviously, if they are pointing their feet at someone else in a meeting, it means that they most agree with that person.

If you are meeting with them one-on-one and they are pointing their feet away from you or are pulling their feet back to them, this is a bad sign – it means they most likely disagree with you or feel uncomfortable.

    2. Bouncing feet can be a tell in a negotiation.

Say you are negotiating with a seated person and their feet start bouncing up-and-down after hearing an offer – it means they are really excited about it, Goman said. Maybe too excited – it means they think they are getting a really good deal and would likely be willing to give up more.

If the feet suddenly stop bouncing, it’s a sign that they are unsure or waiting to see what will happen next, she added.

    3. Feet point to where the person wants to be.

Say you are talking to someone and they seem engaged with you but their feet are pointed at the door. That’s a bad sign – it means the person wants to be going to the door.

    4. Feet reveal how confident a person is feeling.

If someone is standing and their feet are close together or crossed, they most likely are feeling insecure, Goman said. Same goes for someone shifting their weight from foot to foot.

Conversely, a wide stance means the person is feeling confident.

How you can have better “feet language” yourself

You can reverse-engineer the four tips above to have great “foot language” yourself and make people feel more comfortable around you. So, have a wide stance, keep your feet solidly on the ground and point them directly at the person you are speaking with.

One other tip – when giving a presentation, you'll grab people's attention more if you walk when you speak, Goman said. But, when you are making a crucial point, freeze – it’ll cause your words to stick into your audience’s mind.

Want to learn more body language tips? Watch Goman’s LinkedIn Learning course Body Language for Leaders today.

Other courses you might be interested in are:

Topics