11 Psychological Tricks That Basically Tell You What People Are Really Thinking

man with hand on chinBen+Sam via Flickr

Question: do you ever find yourself tossing and turning at night with thoughts of the day’s conversations haunting your psyche? Yeah, we’ve been there, too. As we get older, we get wiser in some ways but tapping into the true intentions of those around us still doesn’t come all that easily. That’s why we like to spend our free time reading up on the holy grail of psychological tricks–body language.

Some discredit the study as a sort of ‘pseudoscience’, but we find it to be a well-researched discipline that rings true more often than not. See for yourself with these 11 body language tricks revealed and soon you’ll be picking up on conversational subtexts in no time!

Here’s what it means…

  1. When someone crosses their legs

    Sure, skirt-wearing folk may cross their legs to “hide the goods,” so to speak, but the action doesn’t always have to do with outfit choice. If someone is doing this in front of you, it’s a sign that they may be feeling insecure and in need of some reassurance. Of course, if your goal is to make them feel inferior, in the first place, then good job! We guess

  2. When someone crosses their arms

    It probably comes as no surprise to you that crossed arms are almost always a sign of frustration and indignation. If a partner or family member is serving up this body language while they are delivering supportive words, they are likely attempting to communicate the exact opposite sentiment to you through this stance. Passive aggressive much?

  3. When someone touches their face

    This can happen for a few different reasons. Perhaps the person with whom you are speaking feels either threatened by you or just generally insecure, two strong emotions that would make anyone want to hide their face.

    On the other hand, it can also be a sign of attraction, especially for men who have facial hair. In this scenario, the rubbing of the face equates to a sort of “come hither” look. Strange, but true!

  4. When someone gives you a firm handshake

    Ever read a book on self-improvement? If so, then chances are the author suggested that you offer up a firm handshake when you meet a new person— even if you’re completely out of that person’s league.

    Well, believe it or not, practically everyone has been given that very same advice, which can only mean one thing— the person that is squeezing your hand simply wants to impress you. Doesn’t that make you feel special? It should!

  5. When someone touches your head

    Recently, we told you about how one body language expert decoded Prince William and Duchess Kate’s body language towards their kiddos— and one result was particularly interesting. As it turns out, both of them have a habit of touching their little ones’ heads often, a protective signal that is, interestingly, seen in folks of all ages.

    This means, for instance, if you have a spouse who tends to reach for your face or your hair often, especially in public, they are simply trying to shield you from danger or even unwanted attention! Sweet, huh?

  6. When someone shakes their legs or taps their feet

    No, this isn’t a sign of someone who has taken one too many trips to Starbucks, it simply means that the person is super anxious about something and may need to get some energy out. Because it can be uncomfortable to sit across from someone who is shaking the table with their foot, we suggest taking this nervous colleague or loved one for a walk to ease their nerves!

  7. When someone is slouching

    Bad posture can be a sign of poor health or even too much time on the old smartphone, but it can also mean that the person is trying to gain some sympathy from you. For instance, if an employee of yours walks into your office with a slouched posture, chances are they are going to deliver some bad news and, subsequently, may be in need of some positive reinforcement.

  8. When someone is twiddling their thumbs

    Twiddling thumbs is a hallmark of boredom, but, more often than not, it’s a sign of high anxiety. It makes sense, too. After all, why do you think this stressed out generation spends so much time on their phones, devices that, essentially, mimic this action?

  9. When someone is giving you TOO much eye contact

    This can be a tricky one. Like the firm handshake example, many people have heard that strong eye contact communicates confidence, so they tend to mimic this behavior when they feel that they are around someone who is “better” than them.

    On the flipside, it could mean that they are lying to you. You see, children have the tendency to break eye contact when they are fibbing, but adults, because they are aware of this tendency, tend to overcompensate with MORE eye contact. So, what’s the takeaway? TOO much of a good thing rarely makes for a comfortable situation!

  10. When someone is not giving you ENOUGH eye contact

    Ever have a conversation with someone who just can’t seem to meet your gaze? The whole situation probably made you feel pretty awkward, huh? Well, it turns out that the person that you were speaking with was surely just as uncomfortable as you were. They could be grappling with feelings of shame or—sorry to break it to you—complete boredom. Yikes.

  11. When someone looks down while they are talking to you

    Guess what? When a person looks down towards the ground when they’re speaking to you, it’s a surefire sign that they like you—especially if they grant you plenty of eye contact when you have the mic. This evasive stance just means that they’re bashful and not quite sure how YOU feel about THEM. A helpful signal to know on a first date!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these psychological tricks. Are you a believer in body language decoding techniques? Have you noticed people around you displaying these behaviors? Do you have any others that you would like to share?

Sources: Psychology Today

Psychologist World

Life Hacker