How to Read Body Language: 10 Secret Tools of the Trade

How to Read Body Language: 10 Secret Tools of the Trade
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


Wouldn’t it be of tremendous value to know how to read someone’s body language?

Research shows approximately 55% of all communication comes from body language. Can you imagine what an advantage it would be to your career and your personal relationships if you were able to hear what is not being said!

(Guys, this might really come in handy for you one day – just sayn!)

High Emotional Intelligence & Body Language

Not coincidentally, people with high emotional intelligence are well aware of the importance of non-verbal communication. They pay close attention to body language and other non-verbal cues while communicating with others.

Here’s some really good news. Everyone can learn to read body language.

Following are ten secret tools of the trade for reading body language. With a little effort you can implement these tools and gain an incredible advantage (and boost) to your career and personal relationships.

10 Secrets Tools for Reading Body Language

Let's start with the face.

1. When Someone is Smiling - Watch their Eyes. A true, authentic smile creates a crinkling of the skin around the outside corner of the eyes. This crinkling is commonly referred to as crow’s feet.

If someone’s smile doesn't produce crow’s feet around their eyes, this suggests their smile may not be genuine. The person smiling may be hiding their true feelings or thoughts from you.

A happy smile is defined by crow’s feet – and you can’t fake it.

2. Staring Eyes. If someone is intentionally looking at you for too long - this usually makes you feel uncomfortable. Deliberately staring at someone suggests one of two things.

The person staring at you is either lying to you or they are trying to intimidate or scare you. Be aware.

3. Raised Eyebrows. Raised eyebrows indicate one of three emotions: worry, surprise or fear. People raise their eyebrows when they are feeling uncomfortable about something. Again, raised eyebrows can’t be faked.

It might take a while to figure out what the discomfort is all about.

But it is to your advantage to at least know someone isn’t totally comfortable and relaxed with what is going on or being said.

4. Clenched Jaw, Furrowed Brow or Tightened Neck. These bodily responses are controlled by the limbic system of the brain. They are all signs of considerable distress (i.e. stress reactions).

When you see these reactions, be sure to look for the discrepancy between the verbal and non-verbal messaging you might be receiving to help you figure out what may be causing the distress.

Moving on to the Body

5. Mirroring of Body Language. During conversation, if someone imitates what you are doing, that means they are in agreement with you and the conversation is going well.

For example, if the speaker crosses their legs and the listener proceeds to crosses their legs – both parties are engaged in a comfortable dialogue.

When people are feeling connected, they unconsciously mirror each other’s body language.

6. Crossed Legs and Arms are usually signs of resistance. They suggest that the listener is closed off to your message – regardless of whether they are smiling and nodding to the contrary.

Again, these body motions are unconscious reactions so it is important you pay attention to what the listener is negatively reacting to.

7. Shrugging Shoulders is a common gesture that indicates a lack of understanding to what is being said or a situation that is unfolding.

If you notice a listener shrugging their shoulders, you might want to pause and find out what is not being understood.

8. Open Palms when Speaking. Barbara and Allan Pease state that an open palm historically represents “truth, honesty, allegiance, and submission.”

For an interesting read on this, check out the Pease’s book: The Definitive Book of Body Language”.

9. Power Posture. We all know who the boss is when he/she enters the room. How? Their body posture speaks loud and clear.

The purposeful stride, erect posture, head held high, shoulders back, eyes forward and opened palms facing downward suggest strength, confidence and leadership.

Sustaining good posture commands respect and power; sloughing projects lack of power and lack of confidence.

10. Pointed Finger with a Closed Hand is displayed when someone is trying to dominate and evoke submission in others.

Nobody likes to have a finger pointed at them and it creates much tension and negative feelings.

Try to learn one or two of these tools at a time. Before you know it, you will be a master at reading body language.

To learn more about Dr. Patty Ann visit:

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Popular in the Community