Nonverbal cues refers to the way in people and animals communicate with each other through unspoken motions or actions. They usually refer to the manner in which people express anger, frustration, anxiety, defensiveness, and other emotions without using direct verbal communication. Crossing one’s arms during an encounter, for example, is a nonverbal cue, indicating that the individual is feeling defensive or confrontational, or is simply lacking in interest. Eye contact, or avoidance of it, is another nonverbal cue that communicates level of interest, confidence, openness, etc. Avoiding eye contact is generally interpreted as a form of insecurity or as an attempt to avoid an encounter.
How individuals, especially males, shake hands can be another of nonverbal cue. A firm handshake, without squeezing, is considered appropriate and a demonstration of self-assuredness; conversely, a weak handshake is usually interpreted as a sign of weakness. Flirting often involves nonverbal cues, including different forms of body language that indicate an individual is romantically interested in another individual. Scratching the back of one’s head or neck during a conversation is often interpreted as a sign of dissastisfaction or concern about what one is hearing.
Comfort zones can be a nonverbal cue. They refer to those spaces, like office cubicles, bedrooms, kitchens, favorite bars, and other geographic locations where one feels safe from confrontation. They can also refer to more subtle physical manifestations of disinterest or anxiety, like moving one’s wine or water glass around on the dining table while engaged in an uncomfortable conversation. Finally, comfort zones can be mental rather than physical. For example, an individual is “out of his comfort zone in a business meeting when the topic of conversation revolves around an issue with which he is not knowledgable, but for which he is expected to contribute ideas. When the conversation turns to a subject with which he is familiar, then his back “in his comfort zone.”