Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


November 12, 2010

Body Talk… Pam and Her Five Sisters, its the Hands

If your a humbug like me you will be more than bored with the fact the shops have had the Christmas decorations up for far to long already, and be even more please to hear its 6 weeks till Christmas, Rock ‘n’ Roll. So to create a little distraction we are going back to body language this week, and discovering what our hands are telling us.


Many people are very expressive when they talk, so its probably no surprise to many of you that the hands are a good place to be looking when it comes to subconscious communications.

So one of the first and most obvious tell tale signs with the hands is when you are unable to see them, when someone has their hands in their pockets, or under a table you quickly feel the tension that this brings. Are they showing disinterest, are they hiding something, are they sitting on their hands to restrict themselves from expressing emotions, this is a real indicator to dig deeper to find out what is being withheld.

Looking at someone’s hands can also give us some insight into the activities they partake in. Those that are hands on (manual labour) tend to have rougher hands, possibly scared or injured in some way. Softer more cared for hands may indicate someone who works in an office, and takes more care and consideration in their appearance. We all know how we feel when we see dirty and clean finger nails, we immediately begin to pass judgement.

Shaking and trembling hands also have something to tell us. Often people will immediately link this to a negative experience, and while this is true the same visual signs can be seen when excited. The key to properly read the situation, if the hands are then comforting (touching of the neck, changes in the eyes to suggest stress, etc) and other body parts are signalling stress, then this is most likely when the trembling relates to a negative emotion.

Another common sign of stress is when people clasp their hands together interlocking the fingers (like a prayer), this is a sign of lacking confidence, showing stress and desperation. This is the complete opposite of a steppled type of hand gesture where palms are not touching, and fingers are apart only touching at the finger tips, this is a clear confidence tell.

Hopefully your giving some of this information the thumbs up, and that’s a good sign 🙂 We often subconsciously give things the thumbs up and down, and this shows our confidence / approval, as well is discomfort and lacking in confidence. These signs are very subtle, thumbs in your pocket and finger out, low confidence, fingers in thumbs out, high levels of confidence and comfort. When you clasp your hands together, are your thumbs sticking up and out, or are they tucked into your palm, how does this change as you discuss matters you are not happy with? Subtle but effective.

Finally we will talk about a very obvious form of body language regarding the hands, of course its the handshake. Many cultures have different ways of performing and introduction, but in the western world especially a handshake is something common and expected (its an expected pattern / process). People have many different types of handshake, some firm, some very subtle, some give a short handshake, some a long handshake, and in some situations the overhand clasp. One of the reason handshakes are so important is because of the human requirement for touch and intermacey to demonstrate trust. Many people try to use a handshake to intimidate or appear more dominant, in reality it just leaves people feeling uncomfortable. When you experience this, it is a good signal as to the type of person you are going to be dealing with, however a limp handshake does not always mean someone is not confident. Trust your instincts and experience on this one.

As always with body language, the key is baseline. What you are looking for is the change in behaviour, that is what is important. So if someone’s hands are always trembling, perhaps they have a medical reason for this, and when they suddenly stop trembling for a short period of time we should be alert and aware of what was happening to cause this change from the norm, as this situation caused focused attention to withhold that tremor.

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    About the Author

    Dale Pearson
    has worked in IT since 1998, Infosec since 2004, and studied and performed hypnosis, mentalism etc since 2009. Dale is a full time Red Teamer with a love of social engineering and qualified hypnotherapist. He spends a great deal of time researching the various skills and techniques that make up the art and science of Social Engineering.


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