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Knowing how to read body language can help you better communicate. Whether it’s you that’s giving off the bad vibes or someone else, knowing how to read body language basically changes everything.

Whether you know it or not, your body is speaking volumes even when your mouth is closed. Non-verbal communication can reveal your true feelings and intentions to others – and it’s possible that sometimes you are giving off bad vibes even when you don’t mean to. Facial expressions, eye movements, gestures and posture combine to form a non-verbal message that is displayed to everyone around you.

One of Gandhi’s most famous quotes is: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

If your non-verbal and verbal messages are at odds with each other, people around you will notice – and you should too. Pay attention to yourself and notice when you find your body in the positions noted below. Analyze why your body and your brain appear to contradict each other. Your body might be silently shouting out your subconscious fears and anxieties to the world.

Crossing Your Arms – You are either cold, or defending yourself against unwanted feelings, actions or messages. By protecting your body with your arms, you create a physical barrier to others. Great for prison guards; bad if you’re trying to be approachable.

Messing with Your Clothing – Adjusting your collar, straightening your skirt or readjusting your outfit tells the world that you are insecure and uncomfortable. Even if your skirt is actually wrinkled, it will give less of a bad impression that you do when you fuss with it.

Inspecting Your Fingernails – Checking your cuticles screams “I AM BORED.” It’s the equivalent of looking at your watch.

Narrowing Your Eyes – When humans like or are interested in something or someone, our eyes widen, our eyebrows go up and our pupils dilate. When we don’t like someone, the opposite happens – our eyes narrow and our eyebrows go down. Even your dog can read this signal, which is common among many mammalian species. Don’t narrow your eyes unless you want to send a negative message.

Touching Your Nose and Mouth – Can’t keep your hands away from you face during a conversation? You should know that touching your nose or mouth is often interpreted as a sign of deception.

Finger Tapping and Foot Shaking – Stress much? These movements indicate impatience, boredom and/or stress – and your fidgeting may be infecting those around you with your stress.

Turning Away from the Person You’re Speaking To – If you’re in a conversation, you should be facing the other person directly with your entire body (and when you are interested, this happens naturally). If your body or your feet are turned to the side, you are broadcasting that you are unsure of the other person or uninterested in the conversation.

For further reading on body language:

“The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Allan and Barbara Pease

“What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People” by Joe Navarro

“SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma” by Patti Wood

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Image: Jay Aremac