Body Language Basics: 19 Tips To Help You Understand Others Better

Understanding the body language of people around you enables you to read into their minds and emotional states, which leads to better communication overall.

In many cases, body language can reveal more information than words can express.

This can apply to both work and personal relationships.

A word of caution, interpretation of body language is not a science, more like art. There is no way that you can be 100% sure of what a gesture means, so use the below information as a general guideline only.

  • 1. Crossed Arms

    Indicates a state of unwelcoming or blocking when someone is not interested in having a conversation. Could also mean a state of self-calming when someone is worried or anxious.

  • 2. Avoiding eye contact

    If someone sitting in front of you tries to avoid eye contact, it probably indicates that they are not confident, ashamed, or feel anxious.

  • 3. Interlaced fingers

    Indicates that the person across you feels troubled or worried.

  • 4. Hands on hips

    Exerting authority. When someone puts their hands on their hips, it usually indicates that they somehow feel superior to you.

  • 5. Crossed legs

    Crossed legs are usually a sign of resistance in situations where people feel threatened.

  • 6. Rubbing legs with hands

    People usually do that when they are trying to calm themselves. The repetitive linear motion acts as a soothing mechanism in stressful situations.

  • 7. Clearing the throat

    The person is not comfortable answering the question especially if they are hiding something.

  • 8. Rolling eyes

    Indicates contempt. The person across you is angry or at least not impressed.

  • 9. Starring and exaggerated direct eye contact

    Someone is trying to lie and they are looking at you to see if you are into them. It can also indicate an intimidation attempt.

  • 10. Taking glasses off during a meeting

    "Oh god, what a disaster" or "Let me try to understand this".

  • 11. Looking at the watch

    Someone wants to leave. This one is fairly obvious and understandable by almost everyone.

  • 12. Steepling

    When someone steeples it means that they are very confident.
  • 13. Standing with hands crossed in front

    This indicates the person lacks confidence.

  • 14. Rubbing nose or touching the face excessively

    This possibly means that the person in front of you is hiding something.

  • 15. A smile with no wrinkles around the eyes

    Indicates a fake smile. Real smiles wrinkle the eyes.

  • 16. Excessive blinking

    This means that the person is distressed, feels discomfort, or trying to hide something.

  • 17. Biting the lips

    Such gestures are involuntary and serve the purpose of self-soothing in stressful situations.

  • 18. Raised eyebrows

    More often than not, raised eyebrows mean that the person feels discomfort. It can also mean that they probably don't believe or think that you are wrong about something.

  • 19. Tapping (Pen or Fingers)

    Shows a state of impatience or that they are very nervous about something.