The Throat

Body Language Signals of the Throat

The throat, as with other parts of the body, has its own nonverbal signals; and are usually conveyed in the following ways:

  1. Adam’s Apple Jump
    An observable feature in the throat is the up and down movement of the Adam’s apple (prominent in men, less noticeable in women), when a person gulps or swallows. The Adam’s apple jump unconsciously signals anxiety, embarrassment, or stress. While two people are in a discussion, the listener’s Adam’s apple may inadvertently jump should he or she dislike or strongly disagree with a speaker’s suggestion, perspective or point of view (Givens, 1999).

    The Adam’s apple jump is an unconscious sign of emotional anxiety, embarrassment, or stress. At a business meeting, for example, a listener’s Adam’s apple may inadvertently jump should he or she dislike or strongly disagree with a speaker’s suggestion, perspective, or point of view. Anxiety, social discomfort (for example embarrassment), and fear are often visible in unwitting, vertical movements of the Adam’s apple shows, prominently in men, but less noticeably in women.
  2. The Jaw Droop
    The jaw droop is a facial expression seen as a sudden and frequently sustained opening of the mouth, with parted lips and dangling jaw. It is a gesture of surprise or uncertainty.

    Sometimes when a person is taken by surprise, he suddenly lets his jaw droop, thus leaving his mouth wide open. This gesture is also seen in cases of puzzlement or uncertainty. It is sometimes used as a ‘nonverbal sign to mock, challenge, or confront a foe’ (Givens, 1999). The expression is often seen in adults and children who have lost their way or are walking through unfamiliar, crowded, or potentially threatening places like darkened restaurants or hall. A sudden appearance of slightly parted lips can signal mild surprise, uncertainty, or unvoiced disagreement. In sleep, the chewing muscles relax and the jaw may droop of its own weight.
  3. Throat-clear
    The throat-clear in paralanguage is a nonverbal vibration of the vocal cords caused by a sudden, involuntary release of air pressure from the lungs. In a formal gathering or conference, a listener’s unwitting throat-clear may suggest disagreement, anxiety, or doubt. While speaking, the throat-clear may reveal uncertainty. If the throat-clearing is acute or abnormal, it may be a sign of deception. An aggressive version of the throat-clear may be used to interrupt, overrule, or challenge a speaker. Consciously, the throat-clear may be used to announce one’s physical presence in a room (Givens, 1999).