Tips To Read Body Language

Tips To Read Body Language

Tips To Read Body Language
Language is an essential part of human existence and one of the major medium of communication. There are both verbal and non verbal languages. Just like verbal language a person’s body language too has a lot to express it can reveal their thoughts and emotions. We can easily read their mind if their verbal language and body language are in contrast. Then we have to pay extra attention. If someone laughs with so many wrinkles around their eyes, it shows that your joke is not that much funny for that person. So it can be consider as an alarm to stop the joke. For example, a pointed finger with close hand is symbolic of the power they hold and continuous touch on the forehead shows the nervousness of that person. Reading someone else’s body language is an interesting and tricky attempt. Reading body language 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, research papers and journals and some books. Continue reading to find out the implications of different body language, you will be able to understand the danger behind excessive eye contact, crossed legs and so on.

1- Shoulder shrug
Shoulder shrug is a common and universal sign to convey that they are unaware about what’s happening. In “The Definitive Book of Body Language “ authored by Allan Pease and Barbara Pease states that every person does shoulder shrug, that much common it is.

According to them, the shoulder shrug is considered as a best example for a universal sign of showing the unawareness of a person about a particular thing or event or thing you are talking about. They argue that shoulder shrug is a universal gesture with multiple signs. It has three main parts , the exhibited hands which prove that nothing is hidden, bended shoulders is a pre- planned act to save the throat from surrounding attacks, and the raised eyebrow is a universal symbol of unassertive greeting.

2- Open palms

 Open palms are very common sign in ancient times for displaying the 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.


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 dog and 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 dilemma about the Duchenne smile, or faking. Duchenne smile is the expression of genuine positive emotion. What researchers put forward is the lack of crinkles around the eye during the smile suggests that it is faking. If the crow’s feet around the eyes crinkle, it shows that the smile is joyful and genuine. If a person tries to make happiness which is not real then you cannot see the crinkles.   Recently, a study conducted by Northeastern University researchers came into the conclusion that people could do really a good job of faking a Duchenne smile, even though they were not in a happy mood or relaxed condition. In most of the cases, the crinkles stand for the 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 in most of the occasions.

Eyebrow function is related with that of crinkles. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor of University of Masachussets, writes on Psychology Today that human expressions and emotions like terror- worry and surprise result in the raise of eyebrows as a sign of discomfort. Thus beware that if someone praises you with raised eyebrows, the compliment may not be genuine and sincere.

5- A pointed finger with closed palm

A pointed finger with closed palm indirectly shows the power and authority.If a person points you with his/ her index finger by closing the palm, indirectly shows the power he/she holds.


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

6- Same body language

During the conversation, if the other person maintains same body language as your, it means that 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.

In another occasion, like your day of date, both you and your crush try to maintain 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 eyes is a good way of communication. But a long time continuous look without a shifty look suggests some kind of negative attitude.

The person may be trying to lie or to hide something. Lillian Glass, a behavioral 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 organizational psychologist argues that, if you look into someone’s eyes, it makes a state of arouse in their body and the arousal can be interpreted based on the persons involved and the context.

He then tells that, the state of being stared by a stranger with an ominous look can be considered as a threat and a danger. However, there are positive looks like the romantic gaze of your sexual partner which has the tone of sexual invitation. 

9- An expandable pose

 People with an expansive pose are a common gesture and it symbolizes the power and achievement. Nowadays, it is easy to read a person because their gestures and body language 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, a research has proved that, even inborn blind people use this gesture when they have a success in any physical competitions.

10- A bundle of gestures.

 Sometimes we have a lot of expressions to display and it results in a bunch of gestures. This happens mainly in joyful occasions. For example, it is not possible to communicate attraction through a single gesture but needs a sequence of gestures.

Marsha Lucas, o neuropsychologist shares an example for this, “after having an influential eye contact, she shifts her gaze to down, then prettify her hair and then raises her eye towards you with a tipped chin”.

11- Crossed legs

 Crossed legs are usually considered as a negative gesture. It symbolizes resistance and reluctance to receive something. At the time of negotiation, crossed legs are treated as a bad sign. Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H.


Calero are the authors 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 symbolize a person’s mental, emotional and physical unwillingness. 

12- Trenched brow, tensed neck and clenched jaw

 Clenched jaw, tensed neck and trenched brow are signals of stress. These are “limbic responses” which associate with the limbic system of our brain. Joe Navarro, former FBI counter intelligence agent, writes that, “Our limbic system has basic responsibilities which include sensation, setting, reaction to the threats and assurance of survival”. He cites examples for these gestures; the moment when bus leaves and we cannot get into it we clench our jaws and rub our necks. When we get order to work at 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 have the ability to express their nervousness without the help of words.

Which means that human uses particular gestures to display their nervousness. Repeated touch on the face and rubbing the palm are the signals of discomfort. They can be considered as soothing gestures to showcase the nervousness within them. Navarro continues that, touching ourselves out of stress and strain is hilarious.

14- Laughing together

 Laughing together is a positive sign it means that the talking person or the person in the other end is into you or following your talk and style. If they are laughing on your jokes it means that they are interested on you.

According to Evolutionary Psychologists, humor and the positive acceptance of that humor have a significant role in the development of each human being. That acceptance serves as an indirect way to the emergence and development of a relationship, it may be platonic, romantic or any other kind of relationship. 

15- Expandable and authoritative postures

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

16- Shaky leg

A shaking leg symbolizes the shaky state within that person. As we all know, Susan Whitbourne , professor of University of Massachusetts, states that legs are the largest organ in our body, so if we move that it is not that much 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 an exact or direct eye contact has an intention of seduction. The research conducted by Riggio suggests that, people have a specific kind of smile when they intend to seduce. In Psychology Today, Riggio writes that, such people maintain a positive slight smile with a 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 in a proud and slow manner.

18- Inner corner’s of eyebrows

 Each and every minute part of our body carries a language. The inner corner of our eye brows too have something to convey. If the inner corner’s of the eyebrows hesitate to move up and in, it symbolizes that they are faking, or that person is not that sad as they express. Paul Ekman, a famous psychologist makes use of the term “reliable muscles”, to define the muscles in our face that cannot be contract voluntarily. Matthew Herstein, a psychologist, in his renowned book “The Tell” explains about how to use or apply the findings of Ekman.

He argues that, if a person expresses the 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 particular person doesn’t carry that much sadness. Due to the limitations of human muscles, though he makes maximum effort he is not able to contract the particular muscles voluntarily. 

19- Sides of face

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

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

These are 19 famous or most used body languages and its interpretations.