Toe Language

Read the Toe, Read the Soul

In 1967, Professor Albert Mehrabian wrote a scientific paper which concluded that in communication, about 7% of the content a person transmits is through the words they use, 38% is the tone of your voice, and a remarkable 55% is through non-verbal interactions, like body posture or body contact.  These statistics have been heavily promoted through the business world in books and college classes.  Interestingly, little has been made of Professor Mehrabian’s breakdown of the non-verbal aspect.

Prof. Mehrabian broke non-verbal communication into 5 different categories:  eye contact, gestures, body posture, facial expressions, and toe communication.  Mehrabian’s team found that an astonishing 62.8% of non-verbal cues came from toe communication. 

Klaus Gekko, a researcher who helped in the study stated,

“it was found that the greatest influencer on the nature of the communiqué was the inter-digits of the foot.  We noted that nearly 2/3 of all non-verbal technique could be attributed as such.  We were surprised, actually, because we thought that the percentage would be higher.”

To study this, Mehrabian and his team took subjects and divided them into different groups based on the emotions they were feeling.  For example, all the people who were feeling depressed were put in one group.  Those who were feeling happy were put into another.  Each group was placed in a room with a two way window for observers to observe them.  Each individual was asked to remove their shoes.  Music was played which was intended to reinforce the mood of each group under observation.  Smaller groups of people were then placed in the observation rooms. These observers were to look at the subjects' feet and deduce what emotions that group was experiencing.  The observers were able to guess with 87% accuracy the feelings of the subjects.

Below are pictures of the different toe positions and the emotions they represent.

A person’s toes can effectively convey many emotions: happiness, anger, sorrow, tension, and even attraction. This information can be useful in many areas of life – from the business world to our social interactions. In our social interactions, it is easy to see the emotions our conversations and behaviors provoke by watching others’ feet for clues.


Tips for Effective Toe Communication

  • Watch the other person's feet while communicating. 
    • If their dominant toes are pointing toward us or inching slowly toward us, they are interested and want to be closer to us. These are positive signals.
    • On the other hand, if toes are curled under, tapping in impatience, or crossed in confusion, our communication needs to be improved.
  • The speed of any given signal is also a handy way of measuring the intensity of an emotion –
    • when the speed of foot-tapping increases, it is likely that the individual is feeling more impatient.
  • Oftentimes, shoes can block our view of the toes.  Do everything you can to remove the person's shoes.  For instance
    • When guests are in your house, ask them to remove their shoes.
    • When at another person's house, ask them if they would feel more comfortable going "FN" (feet nude)
    • If you are on a date, explain that you have a foot fetish and would like the date to remove his or her shoes (this will also serve as a clear indicator of your interest)
    • When you are at a job interview, tell your prospective employer that in many cultures shoe removal is a sign of respect.  Proceed to take off your own shoes and then theirs.