We’ve all been in those positions where we’ve read someone’s cues to gauge how they were thinking or feeling. It’s more than just the face. Our bodies communicate our emotional state or thoughts – sometimes subconsciously.

You can tell when two people are in love. You know when your fidgety kid is lying. On a first date, we try to see if the person is into us. In meetings, we can tell if the audience is engaged, or if the speaker is confident. During normal conversations, we want to feel comfortable, but sometimes body language will indicate dominance, anger, anxiety, or deception.

You may consider yourself a good “reader” of people, but we’re going to outline telltale signs of how a person is feeling or thinking as you interact with them, based on body language. From the feet to the head, the vibes are there if you know how to look.

  1. Thinker

    When someone is evaluating or thinking something over, a finger on the lip or chin is a signal.

  2. Eye Rubs

    A tip of the finger to the eye is a motion that can mean someone is trying to block out something unacceptable. It could also be a sign of deceit or insincerity. Men may rub the eye directly, while women may use a gentle swoop just beneath it.

  3. Folded Arms

    The universal sign of being closed off, aggressive, or defensive.

  4. Nose Swipe

    Touching the nose could mean something as basic as allergies or nasal irritation. But it could be a case of the “Pinocchio Effect”, indicating that person is lying. Scientists discovered that when people are lying or anxious, tissues inside the nose swell from increased blood flow. It can cause the nose to itch or tingle.

  5. Shyness

    See this how this woman’s shoulders and neck are clenched together? She’s a bit timid in this encounter. Other indicators are sitting with the legs turned away from someone.

  6. Ear Tug

    Tugging or rubbing the ear during a conversation can show that a person doesn’t want to hear anything else. It’s also a sign of anxiety or nervousness.

  7. Boredom

    body lang boredgeralt via Pixabay

    You know this one: boredom with a side of disinterest.

  8. Sleeve Grab

    Fidgeting with the cuff of a sleeve or a watch shows a person is probably agitated.

  9. Neck Scratching

    A huge indicator that someone disagrees with you, especially when they do it multiple times.

  10. Back Pat

    Ever hugged someone who pat you on the back when they did it? They’re trying to break the hug, are confused about the gesture, or could be insincere about it.

  11. Embarrassed

    This is one way to show embarrassment – looking down and away. The face may also become flushed.

  12. Gazing Upwards

    A person is trying to remember something, usually an image in their mind.

  13. Workplace Leg Cross

    When men sit crossed-legged with one ankle resting on their knee, it can be a show of defensiveness, tension, know-it-all, or dominance. That person is not open to hearing another’s ideas or viewpoint. If the leg is bouncing, it shows impatience.

  14. Grasping Hands Behind Back

    Clasping the hands behind the back can be a show of power or confidence. However, the higher one hand moves up – to grab the arm – the more frustrated or angry the person is.

  15. Eyelids Slightly Down

    This person could be expressing either contempt or sadness. Are you the source?

  16. Attraction Facial Cues

    If you’re wondering how tell if the opposite sex is into you, women tend to touch their faces or hair, and men touch their chins or get a slight flare in their nostrils.

  17. Looking Sideways-Down

    Scheming liars have a way with their movements. They may look away or squint to hide their deception (or guilt).


Pay attention the next time you interact with someone to see if you can pick up on any of these cues. Don’t fall for their tricks if you think they have sinister intentions, but be compassionate to those who are shy or embarrassed!

Do you consider yourself a body language expert? Are any of these part of your behavior? Which of these have you encountered the most?


Westside Toastmasters