“To derail anger’s appearance, note the body language gestures that announce its pending arrival and take action.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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“9 Body Language Signs

How To Quickly Detect And Uncover Hidden Anger”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Body language is powerful because it reveals insight into a person’s emotional state and intentions. And accurately reading body language allows you to detect and uncover the hidden anger they might possess. You might think, so what? What good will come from having this information? The answer is that it is information that might spare you embarrassment or save your life.

As a Master Negotiator and Body Language Expert, I have spent over 30 years studying and teaching people how to read and interpret body language. In this article, I will share nine body language signs that signal pending danger and how to detect and uncover them quickly.

1. Clenched Jaw

One of the most common signs of anger is a clenched jaw. When angry, someone may clench their jaw tightly, causing their facial muscles to become tense. That indicates the person is upset and may be on the verge of losing control. If you notice someone clenching their jaw, it is best to approach them cautiously and try to defuse the situation before it escalates.

2. Pressed Lips

Another body language sign of anger is pressed lips. When angered, people may press their lips tightly together, indicating that they are holding back their emotions. By doing that, they emit a warning sign that anger may be getting the better of their control, and they are about to explode.

When observing someone with pressed lips, take heed, especially if you have already noted that circumstances are altering for the worse. It is best to create distance between yourself and that person to allow time to defuse the situation.

3. Narrowed Eyes

The body language sign of narrowed eyes is another sign of anger. When angry, a person may narrow their eyes to focus on a particular point on your body. And if their irritation remains unchecked, their focus point on your body will most likely be where they attack you. So, if you notice someone narrowing their eyes, it is best to stay alert and be prepared to defend yourself from verbal abuse or, worse, harm.

4. Clenched Fists

Clenched fists clearly indicate that a person is upset and may be ready to fight. That action may be preceded by someone opening and closing their hand(s) as though they were flexing them. You should note that action first, particularly if it quickens. Because the faster the flexing, the closer they are to clenching their fists, and the sooner they may strike you. When you observe someone clenching their fists, staying calm and deescalating the situation before it escalates further is best.

5. Tense Shoulders

Tense shoulders, shoulders elevated, are another body language sign of stress, which may indicate danger. Accordingly, when anger besets someone, their shoulders may tense up, signifying they are ready to take flight or fight. They are also making themselves a slightly smaller target. When you observe someone with tense shoulders, consider slowing your speech pace to return calm to the situation while staying alert and prepared to defend yourself if necessary.

6. Flared Nostrils

A classic sign of body language anger is flared nostrils; imagine a bull doing so before charging, and the image should sear into your mind. Thus, flaring nostrils are an outward display that indicates a person is angry and may be ready to fight.

When a person is angry, their nostrils flare, indicating that they are taking in more oxygen to prepare for a physical altercation. If you witness someone with flared nostrils, stay calm and watch their reaction. If that does not lower their annoyance, first, seek to understand what is causing their response and how you might offset it. If that bears no positive outcome, guard yourself against attack.

7. Defensive Posture

A defensive posture is another body language sign that conceals anger. If a person is angry, they may adopt a defensive posture, exposing one side of their body to you. That indicates that they are ready to defend themselves. That can be a warning sign that the person is about to become unruly.

When noticing someone adopting a defensive posture, be mindful that things can quickly escalate if you do not take measures to control them. Do not tempt escalation by agitating the situation further.

8. Finger Pointing

Get your finger out of my face! Finger-pointing is a sign of aggression and dominance. And most people are angered by that gesture.

When angered, people may point their finger at their target, indicating they are attempting to become forceful. That can serve as your warning sign that the person is about to increase tensions.

If you observe someone pointing their finger at you, calmly ask why they are doing so. Let them know you could perceive their action as a sign of aggression. Note the degree that their demeanor alters from there. If their anger goes unabated, seek ways to exit the environment. 

9. Facial Expressions

When interacting with someone, note two particular facial expressions – an upturned corner of the lip and scrunched nose (like smelling something foul). The former is a sign of contempt and the latter disgust. Either signal may be the forerunner that leads to anger. If you notice them, begin de-escalation. That can keep danger at bay.


Being able to read body language is powerful. Doing so can reveal much about a person’s emotional state and intentions and keep you out of harm’s way.  

Thus, by learning to read and interpret body language better, you can quickly detect and uncover hidden anger and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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