80% of communication is non-verbal.
Or maybe it’s 90%, or possibly 55%. It depends on what study you’ve read really.
The point is, a lot of what we communicate to other people is done through our body language rather than the words we say.
What’s interesting is that when we think about non-verbal communication we generally think about our facial expressions and the gestures we make with our hands. But have you ever given any thought to how much you communicate with your feet?
When we want to make a good impression we focus on maintaining eye contact and smiling. We might make a point of giving a good, firm handshake or keeping an open, welcoming posture with our arms uncrossed. But I don’t think many of us pay any attention to what our feet are doing.
Turns out though that our feet give away more than we think.
A lot of people judge others by the shoes they wear. And studies have shown that we can quite accurately guess personality traits based on a person’s footwear.
I’m not sure how fair this is when there might be various factors that limit a person’s options when it comes to shoes. If you have particularly wide feet, for example, or have medical issues that mean your feet are bandaged or swollen, then you won’t be able to wear the pointy-toed, high heeled shoes that you would love to wear.
If you’re choosing women’s wide fit shoes you don’t have to end up with something boring though, there are still plenty of fun and pretty options that can show more of your personality to anyone checking out your feet!
There’s so much more to this than our choice of shoes though.
The way we position our feet, how much we move them, the way that we move them, all give away so much more than we might think.
Body language expert Joe Navarro explains that all sorts of emotions and personality traits can be revealed through our feet and legs, including stress, fear, boredom, joy, confidence, playfulness and anger.
You can often tell if a person is nervous, for example, by keeping an eye on their feet. Studies have shown that women tend to keep their feet still when they’re nervous, but men move their feet more.
The thing to remember though is that you need to look at the person as a whole, not just their feet.
A woman who doesn’t move her feet or legs much might not be nervous, she might see herself as an alpha female, and keep her body still as a way of showing control and dominance.
So look out for a mix of non-verbal cues to work out what sort of person you’re dealing with!
We tend to be quite aware of our facial expressions so someone who is nervous might be hiding that quite well and look relatively calm, but their feet staying especially still can give them away.
Professor Geoff Beattie has said, “Whilst people might know what their facial expression or hands might be imparting, they will often have no idea whether their feet are moving or the messages their feet are sending out. The weird thing about feet is that most people know what they are doing with their facial expression, they may or may not know what they are doing with their hands but unless we specifically think about it, we know nothing about what we are doing with our feet. People can mask smiles, or mask what they are doing with their eyes, but feet are actually a bit easier to read because people don’t know what they are doing with them.”
So if you get the feeling that someone might not be being entirely straight with you, check out what their feet are telling you. And if you want to make sure that you’re sending a particular message with your body language, then pay attention to what your feet are doing too!
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post