How to Decode Body Language

Body language is one of the greatest forms of communication people have at their disposal. Indeed, communicating without your body would be extremely difficult, as most non verbal communication happens without peoples knowledge, and isn’t really influenced by purposeful control. It’s been estimated that up to 55% of all communication can be put down to body language. Therefore, being able to decode it correctly is essential for people who want to truly understand what others are conveying.

Body language via a persons face

The way people move their face can indicate what they are feeling. Raised eyebrows can signal surprise, or be a sign that the person is attracted to someone, depending on the circumstances involved. When a person’s pupil dilates, it’s highly likely that they are enjoying what they are looking at, whether it be beautiful scenery or a face they find pleasing.

When a person’s eyes become elongated into a squint, it’s often the case that they are finding what they’re seeing or hearing confusing, or hard to believe. This is especially so if they raise their jaw at the same time, adopting a pose of full concentration. If they close their eyes, they may be listening, visualising something, or attempting to shut out a situation which is happening in the present time.

Perhaps the most common form of body language people can already decode is when they see someone smile. A smile is a positive form of non-verbal communication which indicates a person is happy. Interestingly a thin smile, or one accompanied by a strained expression, may indicate the opposite – that someone isn’t happy at all. Thin smiles are often produced out of politeness rather than sheer joy, and strained smiles can indicate fear, depending on the circumstances involved.

People who are sad generally turn down the corners of their mouth. For them, smiling would be a strain. A mouth which appears to go up one side but turn down on the other is an indication that someone is bemused or undecided.

When a person’s nostrils flare, they may be feeling angry. Nostrils can also flare however, when people have just been exercising and the body is attempting to allow maximum air to be circulated to the lungs. People who look down their nose don’t like what they see, and may be feeling high and mighty at the same time.


Posture is very important when it comes to body language. People who are depressed tend to walk with their heads hanging low, and with a compressed posture known as slouching. Those who are happy and confident are more likely to walk or stand with their spine straight and their head held high.


Arms can be utilized as extremely expressive tools when it comes to communicating. Many people gesticulate with their arms as they talk, and would find speech difficult if forced to sit on their hands. More self-contained people don’t use their arms so expressively, but may still adopt a form of body language referred to as mirroring using their limbs.


People tend to point their legs and feet in the direction they want to be headed. Thus, if a conversation is occurring where one person wishes to leave, but is staying out of politeness, their feet may point toward the opposite direction of the person with whom they’re engaged in a conversation. Women often cross their legs more than men, as it’s more comfortable for them to do so. Men are more likely to sit with their legs open as they take up the space around them and assume their position.


Mirroring really comes to the fore with body language when two people are attracted to each other. The result can be that they subconsciously copy  one another’s actions. Hence, when one person picks up their glass when out dining, the other will follow suit at the same time. People who are attracted to each other are also likely to engage in flirtatious behavior. They may show their attraction by preening themselves, checking their appearance frequently, and gazing a little longer than usual at the person they fancy.

There are many subtle (and not so subtle) forms of body language people use every day without realising. Understanding body language can aid in communication so that people can be sure to match what they say verbally with what they reveal via body language. When people adopt this principle, they are seen as being genuine and respectful, even if the respondent has no idea why they feel that way about them.