Expertly read body language and facial expressions

Although people often try to conceal their emotions, the way they hold their bodies and move their faces speaks volumes about them. Learning how to decipher these unspoken messages can improve your awareness in all types of relationships.

Expertly read body language and facial expressions

Breaking down body language

  • One of the most treacherous examples of body language is the blush or flush, which betrays arousal, attraction, embarrassment, or anger. Yawns are also a dead give away. You're not bored, are you?
  • A nod of the head is a gesture of approval, but persistent bobbing of the head is indicative of nervousness or anxiety.
  • Open hands speak of sincerity and a willingness to help. Conversely, clenched fists are a sign of tension or hostility.
  • When we like or agree with someone, we lean in towards them. Leaning away, with folded arms, signals dislike or disagreement.
  • A sudden folding of the arms signals discomfort, defensiveness, or a determination to resist a point or idea.
  • Arms behind the back signals others to stay back.  It's an indication of anger, frustration, or apprehension.
  • An unconsciously displayed thumbs-up or the turning up of a toe signals a positive thought or response.
  • Touching at the throat betrays doubt or insecurity.

Reading facial expressions

There are certain facial expressions that are the same in all cultures, like happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, and disgust. These universal expressions are easy to read, but it's often the case that a person is saying one thing while their face is sending a different message.

When a person smiles at you, look at their eyes. Unless you see crow's feet wrinkles and movement in the muscle that orbits the eye, the smile isn't genuine. You should also watch out for "micro-expressions," or moments when a person's real feelings flit across their face. These micro-expressions are only momentarily visible, but extremely revealing if you can spot them.

We've all heard of the judge or police officer who can "read people like a book." This isn't just a special talent that some people have: it's skill that you can practice and acquire. Use these tips and start paying attention to people's body language and facial expressions. You're bound to learn a lot.

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