BY NOW we're all accustomed to heading to Zoom when it comes to work meetings or even social meet-ups.

But navigating body language via a video call is certainly more difficult than in person.

Luckily, body language experts at INEOS Hygienics have revealed how to tell exactly what people are thinking – and it's all down to the hands.

Here expert Darren Stanton reveals what specific hand gestures really mean – and how to tell when someone is judging you.


Action: Middle fingertips of each hand touching together – with thumbs also touching to form a triangle shape with both hands.

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“This is an authoritative position. Not that the person thinks they’re better than you, but it just shows they believe themselves to be an authority on the topic they’re discussing.

“And there are two main elements to this gesture.

“It’s a display of authority if their hands are together. They’re saying, ‘In my opinion, this is what needs to happen’. And they expect to be listened to.

“But in a creative environment, it can also mean evaluation.

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“Tapping whilst using the politician’s steeple means they’re considering what’s being said. They’re essentially thinking whether there is any merit to it.

“People who work in Sales use this when they’re talking to people, as they are processing a lot of information as they speak.”


Action: Fingers of both hands spread out, thumbs touching under the chin, other fingers spread out on either cheek, little fingers touching lips.

“This gesture could show fear and is usually accompanied by the micro expression which is where the cheek muscles tense up… the type of grimace which the popular cartoon character Wallace does in the Aardman films!

“Some people think it means, ‘Oh my Gosh’, but it’s actually a combination of both fear and surprise.

“When we talk about micro expressions, which show you what a person is really feeling, surprise lasts less than one fifth of a second.

“So, when someone is told some news and they put their hands to their face for around two seconds or longer, the likelihood is that they already knew what you’ve told them!

“If they over-egg the pudding and show ‘flash surprise’ and put their hands to their face immediately, then they knew what was coming. Static hands are very dominant.”


Action: Both hands placed on the top of the head with fingers locked together, commonly seen from Footballers.

“This is literally, ‘I can’t believe I am in this situation!’ It’s also self-reassurance when in a difficult position.

“Hands on the head is a stress position. It’s why the police ask people to do that when they arrest someone.”


Action: Thumb cradling the ‘V’ of the chin with a pointer finger on the face at a 20-degree angle, pointing to the temple.

“This is a judgement gesture, considering what you’ve been told.

"In a sales pitch or if someone is pitching an idea to you, you are running pictures through your mind."


Action: Hands out in front of the body, fingers spread out, left wrist rolls anti-clockwise, right wrist rolls clockwise.

“The Double Tumbleweed shows you can’t get the words out at the same speed you are thinking. The rolling hands show a bit of a delay in what the person is thinking about. There isn’t a pre-planned dialogue.

“Women are seen to be more open about their feelings and are in touch with kinesthetics – which come into play here. They’re talking on instinct.

“People who use the Double Tumbleweed talk at the rate they’re working things out in their head for themselves.

"For example, if someone is working out a maths problem, they might articulate it to you at the same time as they are working it out – so their hands may be rolling more slowly.

“Or perhaps it’s a difficult topic that they’re trying to get advice on. It might even be a difficult subject they are trying to navigate as they are talking.

“When women splay their fingers out – it shows openness and honesty. You’re not creating any barriers; your fingers are apart. So, they’re being open.

“You generally see this more from females than males – who might be more likely to clench their fists.

“If someone is showing a more staggered tumbleweed – then the thought process could be slower, stalling perhaps, as the mind and the body are linked and that is shown in this gesture.”


Action: One hand held out in front of body with wrist rolling in a circle.

“This literally means ‘get a move on!’

“Sometimes people do it subconsciously. A lot of the time, people aren’t even aware of what they’re doing with their hands.

“If someone is talking and moving one hand, they’re not wholeheartedly confident with what they’re saying.

“If someone else is speaking and they do that, it means, ‘I want to speak now. It’s my turn’. Essentially, they’ve already decided what they’re going to say in response to you.”

“If someone is using one hand to gesture when they’re talking, it can also be a sign they’re being insincere because it’s not congruent. If I’m lying and saying, ‘I didn’t take your phone’ and one hand is rolling, I am probably telling a fib.

“If I’m quite stoic, and I’m not moving my hands at the same rate at which I am speaking to you verbally – that’s a red flag. There’s something which is not quite right.

“If I’m speaking to you quickly, but my hand isn’t moving in time, or is moving quite slowly, there is an incongruity there. The hands will always move in proportion.”


Action: Hands in front of cheeks, with fingers flapping back and forth.

“There are no tears here, but that doesn’t mean this is a false gesture. It’s real and is a way of showing emotion. As in, ‘I’m happy for you’, or ‘I’m overwhelmed for you.’

“This is generally a more female gesture, and one which shows empathy in emotionally-charged situations.”


Action: Four fingers of each hand touching dead centre of chest with middle fingers an inch apart, thumbs in the air.

“If hands are together, this is an authoritative gesture. If it’s tapping the chest, it can be a gesture of self-reassurance.

“It also means ‘I’m being sincere’, as a gesture of sincerity, and ‘we’re together on this’.

“This is a subconscious gesture that says, ‘I’m being straight and honest with you here’. “People aren’t being deceptive when they use this gesture.”


Action: Arms interlocked in front of chest. Hands resting on opposite bicep.

“Anything across the chest was always thought to be defensive, showing disinterest, as in, ‘I’ve switched off now’.

“But more recent studies show it’s actually just a comfortable posture. Certainly though, if someone sits back in the chair a little bit and locks their fingers together, then that’s showing disinterest.

“But if you’ve got someone in a meeting who is quite pro-active in what they’re saying, and they lean back and fold their arms, they’re merely getting themselves into a comfortable posture.

“If someone turns their body away and shifts their posture, this is disinterest.

“But on its own, folding arms is not dismissive. It’s just to enable the person to feel more comfortable physically in that situation.”


Action: Arms stretched out at 45-degree angle form the body, palms facing the sky, fingers spread out.

“This is saying ‘hands up’ and again has an open palms gesture. It’s almost like the police saying “Freeze”, for example. The first thing people would do would be to do that.

“Even jokingly, this is what people do. For example, if you’re walking out of the supermarket and the alarm goes off, you place your hands up and out like this. It’s saying What!?? It’s an openness, a surrender.”


Action: Similar to the look of someone praying with hands held together tightly in front of lower face with forefingers touching the bottom lip.

“If you are listening with your hands in this position, you are considering very carefully what the other person is saying.

“If someone is talking with their hands further up by their face, they’re not very trustworthy as they’re blocking the mouth up. It's disingenuous doing this.”


Action: Fingers locked with hands fully behind the back of the head.

“This is complete arrogance, as in ‘I’m the king of the castle’.

“Psychologically, we want to guard our torso because it’s where our vital organs are.

"So, if you are in this position, you are comfortable that you’re not going to be attacked verbally or physically. This is a very cocky position indeed.”


Action: Arms out straight in front, on the desk, palms down – usually seen in business meetings.

“This is a deceptive gesture because you’re not opening your palms. You’re keeping your palms down, you’re keeping a secret.

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“You are reading the room and are about to drop a bombshell that someone or everyone won’t like. Perhaps you’re going to shoot someone or something down in flames.

“You could be about to say something that you are keeping very guarded, like playing poker and keeping your cards close to your chest.”

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