“This Is How To Avoid Trouble In The Reading Of Body Language” – Negotiation Insight

“Body language is the fortune teller of trouble.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Avoid Trouble

In The Reading Of Body Language”

“People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating.”

He sensed that something wasn’t right. But he wasn’t sure what body language signs he was sensing or when his sensations began. He suspected more trouble lie ahead. And he didn’t know which gestures to observe that would foretell the arrival of more substantial problems. When was the last time you had sensations of pending troubles?  

Being able to read body language accurately will give you a huge advantage when dealing with people. And, correctly reading gestures may be effortless for you, or more difficult, based on your current level of interpreting body gestures accurately.

The following information will help you increase your ability when reading body language. Doing so will help you avoid trouble as a result of not recognizing such signals.

Facial Features

When observing the facial signs emitted by someone you’re interacting with, take note of the following factors.


How someone uses their eyes can give you great insight into what they’re thinking. When they look directly at you, the assumption is, they’re giving you their full attention. But based on how they appear, the meaning could be interpreted as they’re off into the inner sanctums of their mind (i.e., daydreaming or severe contemplation).

Closed eyes convey a different sentiment about how someone is receiving your message. It could mean the person doesn’t want to see what’s happening; I don’t believe what I’m seeing, or I’m too embarrassed to look at this.

Eyes darting to the right or left might imply, the person needs a momentary break from the conversation. It could also mean that he doesn’t want you to see the surprise that just gripped him based on something you said or the way he interpreted it.

When discerning the meaning of eye movement, note when such actions occur, based on what you were saying that caused the gesture that was displayed. That’ll give you insight into what motivated that person to exhibit the gesture when he did per what he was thinking. Having that insight will provide you with a sense of how to alter how you present your information if you choose that such is warranted.


To better understand the words someone speaks, you should also observe the meaning conveyed through the gestures they emit with their mouth. As an example, if someone says, “I agree with you,” while stating such with a frown, scowl, or corner of their lip turned upward, they’re sending a different message than if they displayed a more pleasant demeanor. One corner of the mouth momentarily turned upward is a sign of contempt, while a frown or scowl usually conveys disagreement or disappointment. Thus, even if someone said they agreed with you, if they display the signs mentioned while doing so, they’re indicating their agreement is not 100 percent heart-felt.  


When someone momentarily rubs or touches their ear, they’re sending a different message than when they fondle it. And those differences are what you should note. In one case, the momentary rubbing or touching of they’re ear may signal, “I can’t hear you, or I don’t understand you.” It could also imply that the individual doesn’t believe what you or they are saying. Fondling the ear is a more substantial gesture, because of the length of time over which it occurs. And that may imply that person is attempting to comfort themselves.

In all cases, note the action’s cause, and to what degree it’s altered based on the repositioning of your statements. If one emits those gestures due to discomfort, based on their gesture, they may be signaling future trouble. Pay attention to those signs to abate that trouble.  

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs can be challenging to interpret because their meaning can be very diverse based on the individual displaying them. So, to understand the meaning of shrugs to a particular person, take note of when he engages them. As an example, one person may shrug one shoulder when implying through the gesture that he’s not sure of the answer to the question you’re asking him. While another may display a double shoulder shrug (i.e., both shoulders) when posed with the same query.

The one thing to remember is, shoulder shrugs are a quick way of protecting one’s self. Therefore, the larger the shrug, and double versus single, the more the meaning of the shrug. And the degree that one tucks his head into his shoulders, the more significant the protection he’s seeking. Even when someone says, “I don’t know,” and they’re telling the truth, they’re signaling a form of self-protection. In the latter case, they may be indicating that they want you to believe them and stop your line of questions.

Feet Placement

Feet placement can imply a great deal about the person promoting this gesture. It can state when individuals have their feet aligned with each other that they’re engaging out of mutual respect. It can also imply that one person is attempting to convince the other to alter his perspective.

To gain more insight into the meaning of someone’s feet placement, take note of their closeness to the other person, hand movements such as pointing in a stabbing motion, versus gently poking the air in that person’s direction. You’d also be observant to recognize the facial feature displayed, be it a smile, frown, or neutral. The combination of those gestures will allow you to more accurately discern the intent of someone’s feet placement and what action they may engage in next.

The last thing to note about this gesture is observing the moment when either participant alters the alignment. As an example, if two people are engaging one another and they’re feet are also aligned, when one of them points a foot in a different direction, that person has indicated that he’s growing weary of the engagement with the other individual. A particular point to note is whose feet or foot is pointing towards whom when more than two people are engaging. The individual with the most feet pointed towards her is the person to whom the others are giving their attention. And when the others shift their feet position, that signals the mental shift. So, if you’re speaking and you note others begin to move their feet from you, that might be an indication that you’re losing their attention. And depending on what you’re saying, it might indicate pending trouble. 


When viewing and assembling the gestures you perceive, note how you feel. And assess to what degree you may be reading someone’s body language accurately. If you experience angst, that’s a clue that you’re sensing something about the environment that’s making you feel uneasy, and that could be the forbearance of pending trouble.

To become better at reading body language, know the gestures that indicate someone’s demeanor, how they use such signs in different situations, along with the fact that different people may emit the same signal while giving a different meaning to them. Once you assemble that base of knowledge, you’ll be able to more accurately interpret the purpose of the body language signals people emit. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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

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