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How To Decipher Facial Expressions and Body Language

How To Decipher Facial Expressions and Body Language

If I had a nickel for every time I tried to read my partner’s thoughts, I’d be rich by now. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way, staring at a friend or employer, trying to figure out what’s going on in their brain. Well, it’s still impossible to read people’s thoughts, but learning how to read facial expressions and body language might be the next best thing.

As any poker player knows all too well, facial expressions (aka tells) can give away the thoughts of even the most well-trained stoic. Unlike words, facial expressions and body language are nearly universal. For the most part, a smile, frown, or furrowed brow mean the same thing, no matter where you are in the world.

More than anything else, looking into a person’s eyes can be the biggest indicator of how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. “As you engage in conversation with another person, taking note of eye movements is a natural and important part of the communication process. Some common things you may note is whether people are making direct eye contact or averting their gaze, how much they are blinking, or if their pupils are dilated,” writes Kendra Cherry.

Learning to notice these subtle changes in a person’s facial expressions or body language is key to deciphering their mood, whether you’re trying to win a poker game, or diffuse an argument with a loved one.

Wish you were better at reading emotions? This infographic can help.

Poker Facial Tells


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Image via Thinkstock

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.


+ add your own
12:28AM PDT on May 13, 2015

Waow this is one amongst great post! Thank you for the big help.
expression recognition

4:47AM PST on Jan 27, 2014

Reading body language other than facial expressions can be helpful as well...

4:18AM PST on Jan 27, 2014

If poker players don't know all this stuff already they might not be doing too well at the game! I didn't learn anything new, but I'm not sure if that's from acting training, or just from being a human being... perhaps potential poker players might like to go to a few acting classes - you get the chance to read others and also learn neutrality, which can be a useful skill.

3:00AM PST on Jan 27, 2014

I could never play poker! I would smile and get excited if I got good cards and I would frown and stiffen up if I got bad cards (LOL)!!

8:49PM PST on Jan 25, 2014

i find these infographic stories difficult to I usually pass on them, but this one was laugh worthy.

8:49AM PST on Dec 25, 2013


11:54PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

As an artist, I am fascinated by people's expressions and how just a tiny movement can make a difference. I found this to be very interesting. Thank you.

11:27PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Interesting article. Thank you for sharing.

1:59PM PST on Dec 5, 2013


1:24AM PST on Dec 4, 2013

Thank you :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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