#Talk Nerdy To Me’s @StaffWriter:
Leaning back in body language meaning
When it comes to body language, there is no one-size-fits-all interpretation. The meaning of leaning back can vary depending on the context and the person’s relationship with you.
Here are 10 possible interpretations of leaning back.
1) They’re Feeling Relaxed and Comfortable Around You
When we first meet someone, we tend to be on our best behavior.
We sit up straight, make eye contact, and smile. But as we get more comfortable around someone, we start to let our guard down. We might lean back in our chairs or slouch. We might even yawn or stretch out.
These are all signs that we are feeling relaxed and comfortable around someone.
And it’s a good thing. When we’re relaxed, we’re more likely to open up and share our true thoughts and feelings.
2) No Eye Contact? They’re Bored or Uninterested in What You’re Saying
When you’re talking to someone and they lean back, it’s a sign that they’re bored or uninterested in what you’re saying in the conversation.
There are a few reasons why this might be the case.
When we’re interested in something, we tend to lean forward, because we want to get closer to the action. When we’re not interested in what someone is saying, we tend to disengage with our body language. The next time you’re talking to someone, and they do it, take it as a cue to wrap up your story or switch topics.
3) They’re Trying to Create Physical Distance Between You
When you lean back, you are literally moving away from the person or thing that you’re interacting with. It’s a nonverbal cue that communicates disinterest, disapproval, or even boredom.
We might lean back when we want to create physical distance between ourselves and the other person, whether it’s because we don’t like what they’re saying, or we’re just not interested in them.
In some cases, it can also be a defensive move, like if we’re trying to protect ourselves from an aggressive person.
4) They Are an Arrogant Know-It-All
The next time you’re in a meeting, look around the room and see how people are sitting.
You might notice that some people are leaning back in their chairs, with their legs crossed and their arms folded. What you might not realize is that this body language is sometimes sending the message: “I’m smarter than you, and I know it.”
People who do it in their chairs might think they’re better than others.
5) They Don’t Want to Be Drawn Into a Conflict With You
When someone leans back away from you, it could be a sign that they’re not interested in getting pulled into any drama or conflict with you. They’re trying to create physical and psychological distance between the two of you.
It’s a way of saying, “I’m not part of this, whatever it is.”
If someone is leaning back while you’re involved in some sort of drama, it’s a good idea to take a step back yourself and give them some space. Otherwise, you risk coming across as Pushy McPusherson.
6) They Respect Your Personal Space and Don’t Want to Invade It
In a way, leaning back is a way of saying, “I respect your space and I don’t want to invade it.” It’s also a way of creating an invisible barrier that can make the other person feel more comfortable.
Therefore, when someone leans back, it could be because they want to respect your personal space.
7) They’re Trying to Signal That They’re Not a Threat
Leaning back is a way people try to appear non-threatening. Especially if they also open up their torso and keep their hands visible. This is a common cluster of body language cues people use to communicate that they are safe.
Of course, it’s not always accurate—there are plenty of devious people who know how to fake body language—but, in general, it’s a good way to gauge someone’s intentions.
8) They Think You’re Being Too Forward and Are Putting Them on the Spot
If you find yourself being leaned away from in a conversation, it could be because the other person feels you’re being too forward. When we lean in towards someone, we’re usually trying to close the physical distance between us.
This can make the other person feel uncomfortable and like they’re being put on the spot.
By leaning back, they’re trying to move away from you both literally and figuratively. To avoid making others feel uncomfortable, be mindful of how close you’re standing and try not to invade their personal space.
You may also want to take cues from their body language and mirror their stance. If they’re leaning away from you, chances are you’re coming on too strong. Try switching up your approach by backing off a bit—both physically and emotionally.
9) They Want to End the Conversation and Are Looking for an Excuse To Leave
When you’re talking to someone and they start leaning back, it’s a signal that they want the conversation to end.
There are a few reasons why someone might do this. They could be bored and want to end the conversation because they’re not interested in what you’re saying. They might also be feeling uncomfortable or threatened and want to create some distance between you.
Or, they could simply be ready to move on to the next thing. Whatever the reason, if you notice someone leaning back, it’s generally a good idea to wrap up the conversation. Otherwise, you risk causing them discomfort or making them feel unwelcome.
10) They’re Trying to Appear Confident
When people lean back, they might want to appear confident.
By appearing relaxed and in control, they’re trying to give off the impression that they’re confident and self-assured. Someone might do this in a meeting, on a date, or during a job interview.
It’s a subtle move to subconsciously signal they are comfortable and not worried.
This, of course, can shift the energy in any interpersonal interaction.
Bonus: What To Do When Someone Leans Back?
To properly interpret why someone is leaning back, you need to look at the big picture. Consider the person’s body language as a whole, as well as the context of the situation.
- Where is the other person?
- What are they doing? (Date, interview, meeting, casual conversation, etc.)
- What other body language cues support your interpretation?
- What other body language cues don’t support your interpretation?
- What’s the most likely meaning?
If you still can’t figure out what leaning back means, just ask them. One of the best ways to interpret body language is to get information directly from the source.