Body Language Cues You Should Know

Ever wonder what’s going on in another person’s mind? Reading their body language may give you some valuable insights.

Good communication is a vital basis for any relationship, but it doesn’t stop at what we say to each other. Nonverbal communication can express just as much as words. In fact, sometimes it can be more accurate.

Remember the context of a person’s body movements is also important. For instance, crossed arms could be a sign of hostility, but it could also simply mean someone is cold. Always keep the whole picture of your situation in mind.

And if you see someone displaying signs of defensiveness or irritability, maybe look a bit closer at your own nonverbal signals. You might be able to improve your body’s communication as well.

Here’s a closer look at common body language cues to watch out for.

1. Eyes

The eyes rarely offer a complete window to a person’s soul, but they can provide various clues as to how they might be feeling.

Eye contact – Does the other person comfortably meet your gaze and look directly at you while you’re talking? Holding your gaze too long can suggest aggression or that the person is lying to you. Whereas, avoiding eye contact can signal they’re nervous or hiding something.

Blinking – People may blink more rapidly when they feel stressed or uncomfortable.

Direction of gaze – When someone looks to their left, it often means they’re trying to remember something. Looking to their right typically indicates more creative thoughts and could mean they’re trying to deceive you. Directing eyes straight down can signal submissiveness or guilt, and the person doesn’t want to face you for some reason.

2. Mouth

The mouth expresses a lot more than words. These are a few twists to pay attention to.

Lip biting – A potential sign someone is feeling stressed, anxious or worried.

Covering mouth – We may cover our mouths to hide an emotional reaction, such as a smirk or shocked expression.

Real versus fake smile – A genuine smile involves the whole face, especially a crinkling around the eyes. A forced smile only uses the muscles around the mouth and typically leaves the rest of the face untouched. If you want to tell if someone is being genuine, watch if their eyes are smiling too.

3. Head

The head contains your brain and the majority of your sense organs, so head movements can tell you a lot about another person’s reactions to what they’re sensing.

Head held upright and pointing forward – The person is likely paying attention and listening to you with a positive attitude. They might also nod appropriately and mirror your own expressions as they follow your conversation.

Tilting head to one side – Often shows a person is interested in what you’re saying and that they’re considering it. It can also signal trust because the person is exposing their neck to vulnerability.

Angling head downwards – This suggests someone’s rejection or disapproval of what you’re telling them. It may also be a sign of defeat or shame.

Neck scratching – May mean the person doesn’t believe what you’re telling them.

4. Arms and Legs

Crossed arms or crossed legs are often viewed as someone feeling defensive or closed off. These are few more subtle gestures to watch out for.

Clasping hands behind back – If a person grips one hand in the palm of their other hand, this often signals confidence. Many members of royalty are known to maintain this posture. If one hand is grasping the opposite upper arm, this might indicate a person is feeling anxious or angry.

Hands interlocked in front of body – A potential signal of frustration and holding back a negative attitude.

Rapid finger or foot tapping or fidgeting – Could show someone is impatient, bored or irritated.

Standing with hands on hips – The person feels like they’re in control. It may also suggest aggression.

5. Torso and Posture

Posture can relate to arm and leg movements. For instance, a closed posture with arms crossed over your chest can display a desire to protect yourself and your torso. Some other significant postures are below.

Sitting up straight – Suggests a person is focused and paying attention to what’s going on and what you’re saying to them. It’s also a good sign of confidence and trust as they are not guarding themselves.

Slouching forward – May indicate the person does not want any contact with others. They may be bored, unfriendly or even hostile.

Leaning – When someone leans against a wall or other object, it can mean they’re feeling relaxed and open because it puts them in a vulnerable position.

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Colin C
Colin C2 months ago


JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris2 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

Daniel N
Daniel N3 months ago

Thanks for posting

Sue H
Sue H3 months ago

Helpful information, thanks.

Tabot T
Tabot T3 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersen3 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Martha P
Mia P3 months ago

thank you

Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago


Sue H
Sue H3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

hELEN hEARFIELD3 months ago