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How to Read Hand Gestures


While palmistry requires a very close look at hands or handprints, reading hand gestures can be done at any time and can reveal a lot about someone’s personality.

However be weary of external factors such as temperature, pain, reaction to an outside movement of any factor that may influence a conscious or subconscious gesture. Therefore, this article provides interesting information that needs to be considered in context.

Let’s start with gestures touching the head or the face.

Hand gestures – Rob Pattinson running his fingers through his hair
Rob Pattinson running
his fingers through his hair
Scratching the top of the head
In everyday language, saying that someone is scratching his head means he is thinking hard and trying to solve a problem or puzzle. This is quite accurate. This gesture indicates a certain confusion that the person is trying to clear.

Running fingers through the hair
Very similar to scratching the head, this gesture is often seen when a person is not sure of what to say. In a way, it gives him time to think before reacting.

Rubbing the brow
When someone is rubbing his brow, he expresses worry or doubt.



Hand gestures – Rubbing eyes
Rubbing eyes
Rubbing the eyes
As you could have guessed, rubbing the eyes is related to fatigue. The person is overburdened and is saying “Enough!” If you are interacting with this person, it is time to give him a break!




Hand gestures – Index on temple
Index fingertip on temple
"Enough work for today!"
Fingertip – usually index – on the temple
Similar to rubbing the eyes, this person is approaching mental saturation and may be having critical or negative thoughts.

Touching the nose
Be very careful analyzing this gesture since the person may be touching his nose because of a specific pain or may be wiping his nose. If the gesture is casual, he is probably feeling pressured or cornered. This gesture is often assimilated to lying – think of Pinocchio – but not always.

Hand gestures – Covering the mouth
Covering the mouth
Covering the mouth
If this gesture is done while listening, the person doesn’t believe in what is being said. If it is done while talking, it may be a good idea not to believe what he is saying! Sometimes the hand covers partially the mouth and the nose. It may be part of the thinking process.

Holding the lips
It shows greed so beware of what the person is saying. It may not be in your best interest!

Hand gestures – Fingers in the mouth
Fingers in the mouth
Fingers in the mouth
When an adult puts one of more fingers in his mouth, often on his teeth, it denotes an inner need for reassurance.

Stroking the chin
The person is going through a thinking process. This gesture may also involve the mouth and the nose.

Holding the chin without moving
Opinions differ regarding this gesture. It may be a feeling of being insecure or inferior. But it can also mean that the person is evaluating the situation.

Rubbing behind the ear
The person may be afraid of being misunderstood of may fear not being able to understand what is being said.

Touching the earlobe
Because the earlobe is a sensitive part of the body, the person is looking for comfort.

Hand gestures – Rubbing the back of the neck
Rubbing the back of the neck
Rubbing the back of the neck
This “pain in the neck” gesture is self-explanatory. The person is thinking “I prefer not think about it right now” or “I’d rather be somewhere else.”

Let’s now look at hand gestures that do not involve the head.

Hand gestures – Hitler showing authority with the palm down salute
Hitler showing authority
with the palm down salute
Palm down
This gesture feels like the person is pushing others down. It alters the way he is perceived. It shows authority and power, and often forcefulness. This is probably the reason why Hitler chose it as his infamous salute.

Hand gestures – Palm up
Palms up
show openness
Palm up
As opposed to palm down, a palm up gesture shows openness. It is totally non-threatening and sometimes submissive.

Hand gestures – Pointed index
Pointed index
Pointed index
A pointed index creates negative feelings in others because it shows aggressiveness to a certain extent.

Hand gestures – Okay sign
Okay sign
Okay sign – Thumb and index together
This a positive sign that conveys authority without aggressiveness.

Hand gestures – Nicolas Sarkozy’s steepled hands show confidence
Nicolas Sarkozy’s steeple
showing confidence
Hands making a steeple
The steeple gives authority and exhibits a confident attitude. Sometimes, the person is feeling insecure and wants to appear in control.

Rubbing hands together
With this positive gesture, the person expects the best result out of a situation.

Hand gestures – Clenched
Hands clenched together
Hands clenched together
This gesture may reveal restraint, anxiety or frustration. The higher the hands are held – the whiter the knuckles – the more difficult the person is to deal with. Usually the hands are held in front of the chin, lying on a table, or in the lap.

Now how does someone use his pockets?

Hand gestures – Both hands in pockets
Both hands in pockets
Both hands in pockets
When a person hides both hands behind his back or in his pockets, he wants to keep to himself. This is a closed attitude.

Only right hand in pocket
When he stuffs the right hand in his pockent, the person wants to hide an aspect dealing with his external or professional life.

Hand gestures – Left hand in pocket
Left hand in pocket
Only left hand in pocket
If he keeps only his left hand in his pocket, he is hiding something personal or connected to relationships or feelings.

Hand gestures – Thumbs out
Thumbs out
Hands in, thumbs out
As I mentioned in another article, the thumb is “the driving force for the rest of the hand. It gives us control of our life.” By showing his thumbs, a person looks “cool.” This gesture indicates high status, dominance and assertiveness.



Finally, a very masculine gesture:

Holding belt buckle or inserting thumbs into belt loops
Sometimes called the “crotch display” this gesture shows assurance and, as you will have guessed, virility!

Hand gestures – Crotch display
Crotch display
It is always interesting to analyze someone’s gestures, but don’t draw any hasty conclusions. Remember to use your knowledge to help others, not to take advantage of them, and they will love you for it!