Body Language Experts Discuss What Your Table Manners Reveal About You

Communication is an interesting phenomenon that sees body language playing a part almost as big as actual speech, according to Harappa Diaries. In essence, what someone says may become open to various interpretations if their body language is suggesting something different from what's coming out of their mouth.

Even when someone refuses to say anything, their body language can do all the talking, per Zen Business. For example, a half-smile from someone could sometimes be an attempt to mask their excitement or trying to not betray an internal joke. While at other times, it could be a show of embarrassment, per BBC. Shaky hands not related to any underlying health condition could, in some cases, indicate fear or anxiety, per Cala Trio. And in others situations, it could be a sign of excitement that a person is trying to contain, Healthline notes.

Clearly, nonverbal cues take on different meanings in different situations and circumstances. For instance, eye contact could mean something different when you are in love with someone versus when you are not happy with them, per Times Of India. During meals, people can also give off signals that can take on different interpretations. From the way you hold your utensil to the way you sit and even how you chew, all of these things have possible deeper meanings and you may have been practicing table manners that put people off (via Montiboli).

Your body language at a table says a lot about you

For an activity that requires silence — at least, intermittently — it is only normal that a lot of nonverbal clues will be dropped when eating, especially while with a group. However, you want to ensure that your body language is not painting you in an unflattering light to others. For example, according to Sales Force, refusing to keep eye contact with the people you are having a meal with is an etiquette mistake you shouldn't be making. It could send off signals that you are an untrustworthy person, or one who lacks confidence. These are two traits that can undermine you as a person.

How you sit will also send nonverbal cues. Maintaining an upright, straight-backed posture is good for conversation at a table as the other people at the party will be able to see that you are attentive to what they are saying and that you are taking them seriously. If you lean forward, that's even better for really engaged conversations, as that is a sign of being deeply interested in what the person has to say.

Tapping your feet can be interpreted as being fidgety and having wild hand movements when speaking may throw people off-balance, via Fast Company. One cue that is difficult to read is when you keep your head and chin balanced as opposed to being tilted to the side or bent inward, Sales Force notes. So, if you want to keep a poker face next time you are at a meal, you know how to achieve that.