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Tips To Read Body Language

April 20,2022

Body Language

Tips To Read Body Language

Language is an essential part of human existence and one of the major mediums of communication. There are both verbal and non-verbal languages. Like verbal language, a person's body language has a lot to express. It can reveal their thoughts and emotions. We can easily read their minds if their verbal language and body language contrast. Here we have to pay extra attention. If someone laughs with so many wrinkles around their eyes, it shows that your joke is not that funny for that person. So it can be considered a warning. This is a body language communication example, and deciphering that gesture has helped you in a real-life situation.
Reading someone else's body language is an interesting and tricky attempt. Reading body language communication gestures is a very simple business if you are equipped with the tips to read it. Below are 19 scientific methods to understand different gestures, collected from psychology today, body language and communication research papers and journals and some books. Continue reading to find out the implications of different body language; you will be able to understand awkward situations you were creating without knowing the true meanings of body language communication gestures.

1- Shoulder shrug

A shoulder shrug is a common and universal sign to convey that they are unaware of what's happening. In "The Definitive Book of Body Language ", authored by Allan Pease and Barbara Pease stated that every person does a shoulder shrug, and it is a common gesture.
body language communication example

According to them, the shoulder shrug is considered the best example of a universal sign of showing a person's unawareness about a particular thing or event or thing you are talking about. They argue that a shoulder shrug is a universal gesture with multiple signs. It comprises three major components: exposed hands that demonstrate that nothing is concealed, bent shoulders that protect the throat from surrounding attacks, and the raised eyebrow, a global symbol of unassertive greeting. This body language communication gesture has a top spot in the open body language examples.

2- Open palms

Open palms are a very common body language communication sign from ancient times for displaying honesty. It is common in courts when someone swears to prove the truth. Then they hold one hand on the religious text and raise the other hand. Palm is open to the people whom they address.

body language and communication

This is the reason behind Peases' statement in their book "The Definitive Book of Body Language" that 'open palm is related with truth, openness, compliance and allegiance'. They compare the deeds of a dog and a human in expressing their surrender: a dog exposes its throat to show its submissiveness to the victor while humans show their palms open to prove that they are unarmed.

3- Absence of crinkles around the eyes

Researchers are still in a dilemma about the Duchenne smile and faking. Duchenne smile is an example of a positive body language gesture. Researchers put forward that the lack of crinkles around the eye during the smile suggests that it is faking. If the crow's feet around the eyes crinkle, the smile is joyful and genuine. If a person tries to make happy that is not real, you cannot see the crinkles. Recently, a study conducted by Northeastern University researchers concluded that people could do a good job of faking a Duchenne smile, even though they were not in a happy mood or relaxed condition. In most cases, the crinkles stand for authenticity. If a person lacks the crinkles, we can assume that the smile is genuine; note that this is not applicable always. 

4- Raised eyebrows

Raised eyebrows stand as a synonym for discomfort on most occasions.

body language communication gestures

Eyebrow muscle function is related to crinkles. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor at the University of Massachusetts, writes in Psychology today that human expressions and emotions like terror- worry and surprise result in the rise of eyebrows as a body language communication gesture of discomfort. Thus, if someone praises you with raised eyebrows, the compliment may not be genuine and sincere.

5- A pointed finger with a closed palm

A pointed finger with a closed palm is a strong body language communication gesture and indirectly shows power and authority. If a person points to you with his/ her index finger by closing the palm, it indirectly shows the power he/she holds.

body language postures

Though it is not the same in all cases, most of the time, by that gesture, what they mean is to display their dominance and power. Please write in their book "The Definitive Book of Body Language "that the gesture of a closed palm with the pointed figure is a fist where the index finger or the pointed finger is used like a symbolic club, by which the speaker tries to assert his/ her voice by silencing the listener.

6- Same body language

If the other person maintains the same body language as you during the conversation, you have a good connection. For example, in between the talk with one of your friends, he/she crosses his/her legs and probably you too will do that. This shows the intimacy you hold within you.

body language expert

On another occasion, like the day of the date, both you and your crush try to maintain the same gestures to make the conversation and the time a better one. Barbara Frederickson, a positive psychologist, believes and claims that this mirroring of body language is due to the connection you feel.

7- Continuous gaze for a long time

Having a conversation by keeping eyes to the eye is a good way of doing body language communication . But a long time continuous look without a shifty look suggests some kind of negative attitude.

body language signs of attraction

The person may be trying to lie or hide something. Lillian Glass, a behavioural analyst and body language expert , states that this continuous gaze results in an uncomfortable situation because they are even reluctant to blink their eyes.

8- Eye contact

Just mentioned above, eye contact is an important aspect of body language. But just like two sides of a coin, it too has both positive and negative implications. Ronald E. Riggio, an organisational psychologist, argues that looking into someone's eyes makes a state of arousal in their body.

body language signs of attraction

He then says that the state of being stared at by a stranger with an ominous look can be considered a threat and a danger. However, there are positive, positive body language communication gestures like the romantic gaze of your sexual partner; this love body language gesture points to the interest and attraction the other person have for you.

9- An expandable pose

People with an expansive pose are a common gesture, symbolising power and achievement. Nowadays, it is easy to read a person because their body language communication gestures are enough to understand their intentions and feelings. If you get a chance to see a person who leans back in a relaxed mood, there is no doubt that they are powerful. Recently, research has proved that even inborn blind people use this gesture when they succeed in any physical competition.

10- A bundle of gestures.

Sometimes we have a lot of expressions to display, and it results in a bunch of body language communication gestures. This happens mainly on joyful occasions. For example, it is impossible to communicate attraction towards another person through a single gesture but needs a sequence of gestures.

body language postures

Marsha Lucas, o neuropsychologist, shares an example: "after having an influential eye contact, she shifts her gaze to down, then prettify her hair and then raises her eye towards them with a tipped chin".

11- Crossed legs

Crossed legs are usually considered a closed body language communication gesture. And it symbolises resistance and reluctance to receive something. During a negotiation, crossed legs are treated as a bad sign. It means that the other person is in defensive mode and don't care about anything you say. Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H.
Calero is the author of the famous book "How to Read a Person Like a Book", who have videotaped more than 2,000 negotiations, and they claim that they cannot witness at least one settlement.


This happens due to the crossed legs of any one of the negotiators. Crossed legs are considered as a reluctance to negotiate and settle. Travis Bradberry, a psychologist, writes that, in psychology, crossed legs stands to symbolise a person's mental, emotional and physical unwillingness.

12- Trenched brow, tensed neck and clenched jaw

Clenched jaw, tensed neck, and trenched brow are body language communication signals of stress. These are "limbic responses" associated with our brain's limbic system. Joe Navarro, former FBI counterintelligence agent, writes, "Our limbic system has basic responsibilities, including sensation, setting, reaction to the threats and assurance of survival". He cites examples for these gestures; the moment when the bus leaves and we cannot get into it, we clench our jaws and rub our necks. When we get the order to work at the weekend, we do the same. Navarro argues that humans have started to follow these gestures to show stress or discomfort years ago.

13- Repeated touch on their hands and face

Repeated touch on the face and hands of the person shows that the person is nervous. Navarro states in Business Insider that humans can express their nervousness without the help of words. Therefore, it can be understood that this particular body language communication gesture is used to communicate nervousness and mental pressure.

Repeated touch on the face and rubbing the palm are discomfort signals. However, they can be considered soothing gestures to showcase the nervousness within them. And Navarro continues that touching ourselves out of stress and strain is hilarious.

14- Laughing together

Laughing together is a positive sign; the talking person or the person in the other end is into you or following your talk and style.
According to Evolutionary Psychologists, humour and the positive acceptance of that humour have a significant role in developing each human being.

body language communication example

Therefore, this acceptance is an indirect way to the emergence and development of a relationship; it may be platonic, romantic or any other relationship.

15- Expandable and authoritative postures

Body language postures with an authoritative and expansive tone show leadership. There are both learned and innate postures and signals among people to express their emotions and feelings when they are leaders or try to convince them. Those postures include holding an upright pose, walking intentionally, palm down poses, and open and expandable body stances.

16- Shaky leg

A shaking leg symbolises the shaky state within that person. As we all know, Susan Whitbourne, professor of the University of Massachusetts, states that the legs are the largest organ in our body, so if we move that, it is not that pretty for others to see. According to Susan Whitbourne, shaky legs are the signs of irritation and anxiety.

17-Slight smile with a direct and exact eye contact

A slight smile with exact or direct eye contact intends seduction, and it has a place among the top body language signs of attraction. The research conducted by Riggio suggests that people have a specific kind of smile when they intend to seduce.

body language signs of attraction

In Psychology Today, Riggio writes that such people maintain a slight positive smile with direct eye contact. Though they shift their glance, they keep the smile with them.
Another feature of this particular posture is that this seductive smile accompanies a submissive attitude and a dominant manner, and they shift their glance proudly and slowly.

18- Inner corners of eyebrows

Every minute part of our body has the innate ability to react to changes, and they act as body language communicators. The inner corner of our eyebrows also has something to convey. If the inner corners of the eyebrows hesitate to move up and in, it symbolises that they are faking, or that person is not as sad as they express. Matthew Herstein, a psychologist, in his renowned book "The Tell," explains how to use or apply the findings of Ekman.


body language postures

He argues that if a person expresses unhappiness in both facial and verbal manner, but the inner edges of the eyebrows are not moving up and in, there is no doubt that that person doesn't carry that much sadness. Due to the limitations of human muscles, though he makes a maximum effort, he cannot contract the particular muscles voluntarily.

19- Sides of face

Body language has a pivotal role in human body language communication and personality development. It is easy to know whether a particular person is fake or real and if one side of the face is more active or working than the other side, that person is faking.

body language and communication

Herstein writes that most facial expressions of feelings and sensation are bilateral, which means both sides of the face show up together, but when you tell a joke, look at his/her face and analyse whether his/her smile is symmetrical.


These are 19 famous or most used body language gestures and their interpretations. And these gestures will help you analyse others and perfect your body language communication  skills. After this, life would not be the same for you, you will see others differently, and they will see a different you.

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