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Understanding Body Language and Facial Expressions

Understanding Body Language and Facial Expressions

1. The Eyes

The eyes are frequently referred to as the “windows to the soul” since they are capable of revealing a great deal about what a person is feeling or thinking.

As you engage in conversation with another person, taking note of eye movements is a natural and important part of the communication process.

Some common things you may notice include whether people are making direct eye contact or averting their gaze, how much they are blinking, or if their pupils are dilated.

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following eye signals.

Eye Gaze

When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention. However, prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.

On the other hand, breaking eye contact and frequently looking away might indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable, or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.

Blinking

Blinking is natural, but you should also pay attention to whether a person is blinking too much or too little.

People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements.

For example, a poker player might blink less frequently because he is purposely trying to appear unexcited about the hand he was dealt.

Pupil Size

Pupil size can be a very subtle nonverbal communication signal. While light levels in the environment control pupil dilation, sometimes emotions can also cause small changes in pupil size.

For example, you may have heard the phrase “bedroom eyes” used to describe the look someone gives when they are attracted to another person. Highly dilated eyes, for example, can indicate that a person is interested or even aroused.

Glances

You should also watch a person’s glances, which can suggest a person’s desire for something. For instance, if someone glances at the door or the clock, this could indicate that they want to leave, or that their time is up.

2. The Mouth

Mouth expressions and movements can also be essential in reading body language. For example, chewing on the bottom lip may indicate that the individual is experiencing feelings of worry, fear, or insecurity.

Covering the mouth may be an effort to be polite if the person is yawning or coughing, but it may also be an attempt to cover up a frown of disapproval.

Smiling is perhaps one of the greatest body language signals, but smiles can also be interpreted in many ways.

A smile may be genuine, or it may be used to express false happiness, sarcasm, or even cynicism.9

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following mouth and lip signals:

  • Pursed lips.
    Tightening the lips might be an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.
  • Lip biting.
    People sometimes bite their lips when they are worried, anxious, or stressed.
  • Covering the mouth.
    When people want to hide an emotional reaction, they might cover their mouths in order to avoid displaying smiles or smirks.
  • Turned up or down.
    Slight changes in the mouth can also be subtle indicators of what a person is feeling. When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic. On the other hand, a slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness, disapproval, or even an outright grimace.

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