10 proven tactics for reading people's body language

You can learn a lot about someone’s intentions and emotions by their body language — if you know what to look for. We’ve compiled a few key tips in the graphic below to help you better understand what people are really telling you. 

Reading body language is of course not an exact science, so here’s some more context on the tips above:

1. Worry, surprise, or fear can cause people to raise their eyebrows in discomfort. So if someone compliments your new hairstyle or outfit with raised eyebrows, that person may not be sincere. 

2. Whether you know it or not, your vocal range shows your interest. “Once a conversation begins, besotted women slip into sing-songy voices,” Psychology Today reports, “while men drop theirs an octave.” 

3. When you look at someone in the eyes, it sets an arousal state in the body. A leering stranger can evoke fear, while the stare of a lover can kindle romance.

4. In an attempt to avoid looking shifty-eyed, some liars will purposefully hold their gaze a touch too long, so that it’s slightly uncomfortable. 

5. Psychologically, crossed legs signal that people are mentally, emotionally, and physically closed off — which may mean they are less likely to budge in a negotiation.

6. When two people are getting along and feeling a connection, their postures and movements mirror each other’s.

7. The smile is all about the crow’s-feet around your eyes. When you’re smiling joyfully, they crinkle. When you’re faking it, they don’t

8. Someone who is receptive to your humour is most likely interested in you. Laughter serves as a way of signalling a desire for a relationship, be it platonic or romantic. 

9. They include holding an erect posture, purposeful walking, steepling and palm-down hand gestures, and generally open and expansive body postures. 

10. A shaky leg can signal anxiety and irritation. 

Drake Baer and Max Nisen wrote to an earlier version of this story.

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