Honestly take a minute to think about what you think the most reliable part of the human body might be. “Maybe it’s the eyes or mouth?” I often hear people say. You might be surprised to hear that it is actually the lower legs and feet that give the surest indicator of a person’s feelings, and while they may not always give enough detail to read precise emotions they are more reliable than any facial muscles.
If you look at it from an evolutionary standpoint it makes a great deal more sense. While most emotion reading will rightly focus on the face and facial muscles as the centre of our social expression, your feet are the parts of your body that balance you, that take you in the direction you want to go in. Therefore it makes sense that the angle at which your feet are facing can indicate what kind of feelings a person has when viewed in context.
So imagine a conversation between a man and a woman within a crowd, maybe a dinner party. Her feet are angled away from him and towards the front door. I would say that, depending on the circumstances of course, that it is more than likely that she does not want to be talking to him, and would much rather leave! This is an instinctual response; people will often point their feet towards things that they want or like and away from things they don’t.
Take special note of the woman’s body language, her legs are crossed towards him rather than away, and shows no aversion to closeness with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two were together.
Take a more subtle example: John is sitting on the left of a woman in a theatre and has struck up a conversation during the intermission. Whereas before her body language was quite neutral and relaxed, now she has crossed her legs to her left, a subtle and missable but very classic display that indicates a positive emotion towards John.
Be on the lookout for things like this when in conversation with someone that you may not know that well. Negative displays with people that you have known for a while such as family friends or relatives are a little more uncommon, so use this bit of knowledge to know if what you are saying to people keeps their interest.