“Leaders Escape Desperation Perils How To Read Body Language Better”

“People reveal more truth about their feelings through their body language than their words would ever convey.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

Click here to get the book!

“Leaders Escape Desperation Perils How To Read Body Language Better”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Leaders can lead better when they can sense the desperation in others.  And the best way they perceive that is by reading someone’s body language. To what degree do you believe those statements to be factual?

Leadership is challenging. It requires a wide range of skills and abilities. One skill that is the most important is the ability to read body language and to do so accurately.

A person’s body language can reveal much about that individual’s hidden thoughts and emotional state of mind. It can also be a forerunner of their pending intentions.

Such insights can be crucial information for a leader to understand better the mindset of the person with whom they are dealing. And it is information gathered not from someone’s words, which might be misleading, but through their body language gestures. And someone’s body language tends to be more aligned with their true feelings, unlike their words.

Let me explain what I mean by someone displaying desperation through body language.

Premise – one of the key ways that leaders can use body language to their advantage is by understanding the signs of desperation.

From a body language point of view, desperation is a state of mind characterized by feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. It can manifest through body language in various ways, including facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice.

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions showing desperation could be frowns, eyes opening wider than usual for that person (this could also be a sign of surprise), wrinkled brows, and mouth turning downward. In any environment where a leader observes these gestures, they should note the discussion as to why someone made such a display.

Furthermore, as is the case with all body language displays, observe a cluster of actions, not just one. One gesture by itself does not necessarily validate what a leader has observed.


I am sure you have seen someone walking with slumped shoulders, hunched over, and slowed pace. They appear as though they are carrying the weight of some significant burden. And in their mind, they are precisely doing that – being weighed down by those burdens.

In addition to those gestures, a person experiencing desperation may appear irritable, tense, or shifting without a specific reason or purpose. Once again, the last gesture related to posture, moving without a particular cause or purpose, is a body language gesture indicating they may be attempting to comfort themselves.

A person’s body always seeks a state of comfort. And when it is not in that state, people attempt to soothe themselves to regain that condition.    

Tone Of Voice

When a person is experiencing desperation, they may speak at a higher pitch than what is normal for them. There may also be a sense of urgency in their speech (e.g., can we hurry up and get this done?).

If someone delivered that request with a quickened pace of speech, that would add more validity to the suspicions that the individual was experiencing desperation. Accordingly, a leader might observe a quiver in a person’s voice. The cluster of those signs will assist in validating that person’s mind per them experiencing desperation.  


Another critical aspect of reading body language is understanding the nonverbal cues indicating someone is lying. A person lying may avoid eye contact, cover their mouth when speaking, fidget, or touch their face. They may also begin to swallow excessively; the reason for that – the lye is causing their mouth to become dry.

These cues may signify the person is withholding something or possibly trying to deceive the leader. At a minimum, they display gestures indicating they are attempting to protect and perhaps comfort themselves.  

A leader needs to recognize these cues to assess the appropriate action they should engage. Recognition of the troubling sign of lying can help a leader provide the support and guidance needed to help the person through their difficult situation. Additionally, understanding the body language of desperation can help them identify potential problems before they escalate, which can help a leader take proactive steps to prevent them from getting worse.


Leaders have many obstacles to contend with as they seek to motivate others to follow them. And to enhance a leader’s abilities toward that goal, leaders must be mindful of body language signs that indicate someone is in a state of desperation.  

Thus, the ability to read body language is an essential skill for leaders. It can help them to understand the hidden thoughts, emotional feelings, and unspoken intentions of others, which can be crucial information in a variety of situations. Additionally, by understanding the body language signs of desperation, leaders can prevent problems before they escalate and provide the support and guidance needed to help others through difficult times.

Accordingly, a leader needs to note the body language cues mentioned and take them in context with the situations in which someone presents them; people express themselves differently based on their background, the environment, and the stakes at hand. Thus, what might be exact about one person’s gestures may not be accurate for the time and place someone else displays them.

Accordingly, once a leader becomes better attuned to the signs of desperation shown through someone’s body language, the better the leader’s capabilities will evolve to lead others better. From there, the leader and those that follow them will become positioned better to view situations from a better perspective. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

Check out this offer to learn more about negotiating better and reading body language!

Listen to Greg’s podcasts at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585  Once there, double click on the episode you would like to hear.

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

https://www.themasternegotiator.com/negotiation-speaker/   and sign up at the bottom of the page

Scroll to Top