How to Interpret Body Language

Knowing how to read someone’s body language is like having your own personal lie-detector test. So start sussing out the truth today.

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Up next in How to Improve Your Communication Skills (68 videos)

Whether you're dealing with friends, family, a lover, or co-workers, you'll benefit from the communication skills taught in this Howcast video series. Among the advice included: how to tell someone off; how to deliver an ultimatum; how to complain; how to solve creative differences; how to give a compliment; how to take criticism; how to apologize; how to read social cues; how to learn to say no; and much more.

 
 

You Will Need

  • Keen observational skills

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Start with the eyes

    Let’s start with the eyes. Someone who can’t maintain eye contact could be lying—or, at the very least, extremely uncomfortable. Eyes that shift downward indicate guilt or shame. Direct eye contact signals interest, focus, honesty, and confidence.

  2. If you want to know if a person is lying, ask him to remember something. If he looks to the left when replying, he’s making it up; if he looks to the right, he’s being truthful.

  3. Step 2

    Look for fidgeting

    Watch for signs of fidgeting, like foot tapping: It means you’re boring the bejesus out of someone, no matter how many times he offers a polite, 'How fascinating!'

  4. If someone you’re talking to has his legs crossed and is briskly rocking the front foot back and forth, watch out: He’s annoyed enough to give you a good swift kick.

  5. Step 3

    Note eye focus

    Note where a person looks when he speaks to you. If he’s looking at your lips, he’s sexually interested in you. If he’s focusing on your forehead, he thinks you’re a dope.

  6. When a person is romantically interested in you, his eyes will be shiny because his glands will secrete a liquid that glazes them.

  7. Step 4

    Observe head tilts

    Observe head tilts. A person who feels superior to you will keep his head tilted back slightly. A head slanted forward means the person is being judgmental or harboring negative feelings. A tilt to the side indicates interest.

  8. If two people are talking face-to-face, with their hips aligned, don’t interrupt them—they are absorbed in their discussion and not open to interlopers.

  9. Step 5

    Watch the digits

    Watch how the person uses his fingers. If his thumb is under his chin, with his index finger pointing vertically along the cheek, he’s not buying what you’re selling. If his hand is blocking his mouth, he may be lying.

  10. If you want someone to like you, observe his posture and body movements and mimic them. When people are getting along, they unconsciously begin 'mirroring' each other. Studies show you can nudge this camaraderie along by doing it intentionally.

  11. Step 6

    Analyze like a pro

    Remember three rules: Put the gesture in context (a person may be tapping his foot because it’s asleep); track patterns (some people are always fidgety); and study clusters (one sign of lying is not proof, but several make a good case).

  12. As much as 80 percent of communication is non-verbal.

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