This story first appeared in the May 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

We asked body language experts to translate some common gestures into business vernacular.

  • Crossed arms: A closed-off posture implies resistance. "People might just be cold, but the stereotype is that they aren't listening," explains Ronald Riggio, director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College.
  • A brief touch to the hand: This captures your attention and forms a quick connection. But toward employees, make sure the action doesn't appear condescending.
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    To learn what facial expressions tell you -- and what they don't -- visit entrepreneur.com/shortcuts.
    A nose rub: This motion is often linked with deception. If you notice people doing this while you talk, you could be coming across as disingenuous.
  • A barrier: Personal space is sacred in Western business culture, so back off if clients put up a barrier, like a purse, says Carol Kinsey Goman, president of Kinsey Consulting Services. "I've seen managers and salespeople who didn't pick up on that cue and lost the deal."
  • A hand placed under the chin: When you see this, a decision is being made. Don't oversell if someone looks interested afterward, but if you spot negative signals, bring up your second-best idea--stat.
  • Feet pointed toward the door: The feet are the most honest part of the body, so no matter how mesmerized people seem to be, this proves they're actually over it.
  • A back-of-the-neck scratch: Your client might have an itch, but it could mean he still has questions and concerns.