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Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security by Paul Ekman, Paul Kelly F., Christopher Hadnagy

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Chapter 4

The Torso, Legs, and Feet

The language of the body is the key that can unlock the soul.

—Konstantin Stanislavsky

The preceding chapter touched on how the hands can communicate feelings. The hands can be so descriptive and engaging that they can tell a whole story without your ever having to speak. But what about the lower half of the body? Is it as telling? Are key indicators of a person's emotional state buried deep in the torso, legs, and feet?

The legs and feet are a means of transportation. They take us places, help carry heavy loads, and keep our bodies balanced. At the same time, the legs and especially the feet can be a source of sensual pleasure and extreme sensitivity.

The limbic system, which controls our nonverbal behavior, keeps the lower half of our body honest. Because the hands and arms are in front of us, we notice what we are doing, but with the legs and feet, we often don't. This means that leg, foot, and torso movements often can be keys in determining the true emotions of the person you are dealing with. Let me start with the legs and feet and work up.

Legs and Feet

The legs and feet can tell us if someone is feeling happy, sad, nervous, uncomfortable, or even territorial. Learning to pick up on these indicators can help you read your subjects and understand their frame of mind. You may have seen the film Happy Feet, about a dancing penguin. He was happiest when he was dancing.

That is not too far from reality. When someone is happy, he may bounce ...

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