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Social Awareness

47 Examples of Social Cues

Social cues are subtle and indirect means of communication that can be both verbal and nonverbal. These can communicate emotion, mood, intent and meaning without words or as an extension to the literal meaning of words. Picking up on social cues is an important element of social perception and communication. These differ by culture such that social cues can be a challenge when learning a second language. The following are common types of social cues followed by a few concrete examples.
Active Silence
Avoiding Eye Contact
Back Slapping
Body Language
Breathing Patterns
Chest Specifically
Covering One's Mouth
Distance (Proxemics)
Energy Level
Eye Contact
Eye Expressions
Facial Expressions
Facing Someone / Angling Away
Fashion / Style
Head Bobble
Holding Hands
Listening / Not Listening
Nervous Habits
Personal Presence
Physical Touch
Power Posing
Shoulders Specifically
Speaking Rhythm / Speed
Standing Tall
Tone of Text
Tone of Voice
Turn-taking / Interrupting
Voice Loudness
Voice Pitch
Word Stress
Avoiding eye contact to sideline someone.
Using word choice, known as tone of text, to convey an optimistic attitude.
Bowing slightly to someone to acknowledge them without an extended greeting.
Using a head bobble movement to indicate that you agree or understand.
Expanding the volume of your chest to indicate aggression or physical prowess.
Putting your shoulders up in an uncomfortable but dominant position to indicate confidence or attention.
Touching someone on the shoulder to communicate sympathy or comradery.
Rolling your eyes to express cynicism, sarcasm or rejection.
Breathing deeply to express physical readiness.
Stressing one word in a sentence to change its meaning.
Smiling in order to appear friendly and approachable.
Subconsciously mirroring the breathing and energy level of another person in order to build rapport and communicate empathy.
You speak at a relaxed pace and take your time in order to convey confidence and professionalism.


Social cues can be viewed at the technical level in terms of the physical aspects of your communication and voice. They can also be viewed at a very high level such as the attitude that you are conveying with your physical presence and speech.
People are able to integrate many cues to communicate with detail and precision. For example, kind eyes, soft tone of voice and gentle movements designed to communicate empathy.
Signaling is the process of trying to convey positive information about yourself. For example, standing tall in a power pose to communicate strength.
Countersignaling is the process of downplaying yourself as a sign of strength. This is characteristic of those with a stronger social position. For example, a professional boxer who doesn't puff out their chest, raise their voice or stand tall when confronted by a stranger on the street.

Social Perception

This is the complete list of articles we have written about social perception.
Eye Contact
Social Awareness
Social Cues
Social Information
Social Perception
Social Proof
Social Significance
Social Status
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