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Learn How To Read Basic Body Language And Facial Expressions

Updated on July 30, 2014
Basic body language
Basic body language

Basic Body Language - You can’t fake body language

Body language is a form of non verbal communication which consists of body postures; gestures; facial expressions and eye movements. The body tells the truth when the mouth is lying.

Most people are unaware of body language signals and there impact.

  • The things you can do nothing about: gender, race, age, height etc
  • The things you can do something about: with effort you can change your dress sense, hair style, your general appearance etc
  • The things that you already have, and choose to use: gestures, eye contact etc

People form up to 90% of their opinion about you in the first 4 minutes, and for the most part, the impact you will make is non-verbal.

Have you ever said that you have a ‘hunch’ or ‘gut feeling’ that someone has just told a lie, or that something just does not feel right? In this instance, someone's body language and their spoken words don’t marry up.

The body language component can be divided roughly into three parts:

Angle of your body position

  • We tend to angle towards people we find attractive, friendly and interesting.
  • Away from those we don’t – it is that simple.
  • This is noticeable even in the way we cross our legs or position ourselves around a table.

The Magic of Smiling

  • A natural smile produces characteristic wrinkles around the eyes and pulls back the mouth – insincere people smile only with their mouth.

Basic Body Language And Facial Expressions

Eye contact

  • The way we make eye contact is one of the most important aspects of how we communicate.
  • Do not constantly look around as if you are uncomfortable or not interested.
  • Men tend to rub one eye vigorously or look away if they are telling a fib, whilst women will use small, gentle touching motions just below the eye, usually to avoid smudging their make-up.


  • Your posture can have a significant impact on how you feel and therefore present yourself - next time you notice that you are feeling a little flat, take a look at how you are standing or sitting.
  • Chances are you will be slightly slouched your shoulders drooping. This can inhibit good breathing, which in turn can make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.

Head Position

  • Learning how to position your head when interacting with others can be a tremendous tool to have.
  • Make yourself feel confident and self-assured by keeping you head up and not stooped.
  • This head position can also be used when you want to be authoritative or be taken seriously.

Body Language Hands And Arms

The way one holds their arms and the manner in which we use our hands and fingers can also indicate a lot about our feelings, thoughts, beliefs and can set the mood particularly in an office environment. Be aware of your own body language and see if you can identify and of these indicators.

  • Drumming Fingers –Restlessness/Impatience
  • Open Palms – Sincerity, Innocence
  • Rubbing both hands – Anticipation
  • Hands clenched in a centre position like on a desk – Frustration, Negative or Anxious attitude
  • Hands on hips – Aggression, Authoritative
  • When you see someone take an arms-crossed position, it’s reasonably to assume that you may have said something with which they disagree
  • When seated, crossed arms and legs work against you
  • When someone is concealing information or lying, their nose and face touching increases dramatically due to an increase in blood pressure when lying

Common Reasons For Lying

People lie. We all know we do. In most instances it can be a small 'white lie' and in other cases rather significant lies. But why do people lie?

  • To hurt others reputation
  • To increase their own status
  • To avoid punishment
  • To cover mistakes & bad behaviour
  • To protect others and their feelings

Body Language And Your Voice  

Did you know that a simple change to our voice tone on certain words or by adjusting our body language we can give a whole different meaning to what we say. This is often a main reason why people opt for a telephone call over an email or SMS particularly when trying to convey an important message. Emails do not allow for tone, other than use of capitals, so a phone call, or even a face to face conversation is definitely best. However consider your voice tone.

“Jane why are you all dressed up”?

A smile, eyes wide, hands out and palms up. Our voice tone is friendly. How would Jane feel?

Lets do that again.

“Jane why are you all dressed up”?

No smile, arms folded, our eyes almost staring, our voice tone questioning. How would Jane feel?

Next time you are in a meeting, a work function, attending a workshop or conference, or simply catching up with friends, watch out for their body language. I wonder what you will discover.

© 2014 AnswerQuestions


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