Body language provides an amazing amount of information on what other people are thinking if you know what to look for. And who hasn't wanted to read people's minds at some point? Next time you're in a meeting (or even on a date or playing with your kids), watch for these cues:
Crossed arms and legs signal resistance to your ideas
Crossed arms and legs are physical barriers that suggest the other person is not open to what you're saying. Even if they're smiling and engaged in a pleasant conversation, their body language tells the story. Psychologically, crossed legs or arms signal that a person is mentally, emotionally, and physically blocked off from what's in front of them. It's not intentional, which is why it's so revealing.
Copying your body language is a good thing
Mirroring body language is something we do unconsciously when we feel a bond with the other person. It's a sign that the conversation is going well and that the other party is receptive to your message.
Real smiles crinkle the eyes
When it comes to smiling, the mouth can lie but the eyes can't. Genuine smiles reach the eyes, crinkling the skin to create crow's feet around them. People often smile to hide what they're really thinking and feeling, so the next time you want to know if someone's smile is genuine, look for crinkles at the corners of their eyes.
Posture tells the story
Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position; it appears to maximize the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form; it appears to take up less space and projects less power.
A clenched jaw signals stress
A clenched jaw, a tightened neck, or a furrowed brow are all signs of stress. Regardless of what the person is saying, these are signs of considerable discomfort.
Raised eyebrows signal discomfort
There are three main emotions that make your eyebrows go up: surprise, worry, and fear. If somebody who is talking to you raises their eyebrows and the topic isn't one that would logically cause surprise, worry, or fear, there is something else going on.
The bottom line is that even if you can't read a person's exact thoughts, you can learn a lot from their body language, and that's especially true when words and body language don't match.