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How to Read People in 9 Simple Steps

We all know that reading people is definitely a skill that many of us have. Do you ever meet someone new and get that feeling from them? Either something’s not right or something just feels really good? That’s partly thanx to your intuition and the other part due to your skill for reading people.

Having the ability to know how to read people and their body language can not only save you from danger but also from knowing that this is someone who you may not want to spend much time with.

On the flip side of that. when you know how to read people like a book, you will have the ability to know that this person may turn out to be your new best friend!

In this article we are going to discuss how to read people’s eyes, their faces and understand other nonverbal cues that can indicate what type of person they really are. Knowing how to read people like a book may take some practice but if you follow the tips below, you’ll be a master in no time.


Why Reading People is a Good Skill


As humans, it’s important for us to want to know someone thoroughly before we trust them but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some of us trust first only to get harmed or disappointed later. If we build our skill to read people we can most certainly avoid this.

When was the last time you thought someone was really friendly and nice only to find out in a week they were actually very dishonest and had questionable character (ie lying, cheating or stealing from others). All isn’t always what it seems on the surface.

That’s why it’s so important to understand and know how to read people’s body language and watch out for other nonverbal cues.

Did you know that only 7% of human communication is actually language? That’s quite a low number! That translates to 93% of communication is actually body language and expressions. This is why it’s so important to know how to read people like a book.

Here are a few other reasons why we should build this skill:

  • It can warn us of impending danger
  • It can help us to understand the person better
  • We can feel more empathy towards this person
  • We’ll know better if this is a person we can possibly bond with and befriend
  • We’ll be able to tell if this person is one who can be trusted

So let’s dive a little deeper into this. For those of you who struggle with following your intuition or trying to understand it, and don’t feel bad, that’s a whole other skill, it’s important for you to learn how to read people’s eyes, their body language and pay attention to the nonverbal clues that will reveal who they really are.


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How to Read People: 9 Tips to Help You Master This Skill


The following are 9 fantastic tips that will surely help you sharpen your skills to read people. Learning how to read people like a book will definitely take some practice. Try some of these tips next time you meet someone new or you can even test them out on someone you’ve only known for a brief period.


  • The first meeting and the handshake


When you first meet someone you generally reach out your hand for a friendly handshake. Next time you do this pay attention to these two things: is it a weak handshake or a firm grip? If it’s weak, it could indicate this person may simply be shy but it also could mean lack of self confidence or self esteem. If the grip is firm this person is very confident and also sincerely happy to meet you!. It also signifies strength and assuredness.

Also note if they look away from you when they do shake your hand. This could mean one of two things: either they are just extremely shy or dishonest. When we know how to read people’s body language we will then be able to discern the two.

What’s your handshake like? Have you ever really paid any attention to it? You’d be surprised at how many people find this one gesture really important. For some, this could make or break a business deal.


  • Folding their arms across the chest


Does the person you are talking to have their arms folded firmly across their chest? Though many of us are pretty comfortable in this position it has a couple of meanings. This person is showing that they might not be so comfortable either with this conversation or with you.

Crossing your arms is a symbol of protection. We are guarding ourselves from something we really don’t want to partake in, like the conversation or forming any kind of bond with the person we are talking to. When we learn how to read people’s body language we will then be able to respect the other person’s privacy.


  • Avoiding eye contact during conversation


Is the person you are talking to avoiding eye contact at all cost? This can actually mean a few things. They are really disinterested in you or the conversation, they are really shy or they are really nervous. Once you get talking to them a wee bit more you will be able to figure out which one of these things it is.

If you find the person looking around at other people or his/her watch then clearly they are just not interested in your conversation. If the person is looking down at the ground or at other inanimate objects they simply just could be shy or nervous.

Knowing this will help you gauge whether or not you want to carry on with this person or cut the time short.


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  • Nervously fidgeting


Do you ever talk to someone and they fidget endlessly? Picking things off their clothes that aren’t even there, twirling their hair, picking their hands or fingernails or just simply can’t stay still? This is probably one of the most often misunderstood nonverbal clues.

Though we may assume this is often disinterest in the conversation or you, it’s not. If the person you are talking to is doing this, it’s because they are uncomfortable with the conversation or something that was said. You may have said something that they completely disagree with but don’t want to, or know how, address it. It’s actually somewhat of a defense mechanism.

It’s also good to point out that some people fidget lots because of nervousness. You’ll be able to tell next time you run into this depending on the conversation you are having.


  • Leaning in closely


If you’re talking to someone and they are leaning in close to you, this can mean two things. The first being, they are very comfortable with you and are thoroughly enjoying your time and your conversation. The second is they are affectionate and simply love to be close to people.

For some of us, this kind of closeness does make us uncomfortable. We all like to protect our personal space and when someone steps in it, we get nervous. This person means no harm. They just enjoy your company! When you step back are they stepping in closer? They just like you!




  • Observe the way they walk


Do they shuffle their feet and hang their head down low or do they walk tall and proud with their head held high? Pay attention to this. Those who shuffle and hold their head down may be shy, lack self esteem/confidence and be lonely. They may just need a good friend.

The ones who hold their head high or confident, proud and happy. Careful here though, sometimes confidence can translate to arrogance or cockiness. You’ll know the difference when you get to talking to them. When we know how to read people’s body language better, even the way they walk, we can understand the difference confidence and cockiness.


  • Check their posture


Much like the way they walk, their posture can hold many clues as to who they are or what they’re all about. Remember the crossing arms tip? Well they are a few other things to watch for. Hands in their pocket, slouched shoulders, chest out, head down or up.

To understand posture better there are two things to remember: head up and shoulders back means confidence and pride (it could also signify this person is happy!) and head down shoulders slouched means low self esteem/confidence, nervousness and shyness. If you sense the latter, try to make the person feel more comfortable with a warm smile or a gentle touch to their arm!


  • Facial expressions


The sooner we learn how to read people’s eyes, the sooner we will be able to understand if they are happy, sad, displeased or anything else. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and it really is true. It’s so important to make eye contact with someone to get a better look at what’s inside.

Is the person smiling when they talk to you or do they have a totally disinterested look on their face? Are they rolling their eyes, raising an eyebrow or maybe even smirking? Keep a close eye on their facial expressions and you will find many answers. Either this person is genuinely interested in your or the conversation or they are completely bored or not really into it.


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  • Are they always late or early?


When you have to meet them somewhere what’s their arrival time like. Do they always show up late or a little early? Though this may seem low on the scale of importance in reading people it’s actually a really good sign of who they really are.

If they are always late, it can mean a few things. They lack time management skills, they are completely disorganized or they simply don’t want to attend this meeting/event/or whatever and head to the door at the very last minute.

On the other hand, if they are always early, punctuality is very important to them as is this meeting. It shows a certain level of integrity and confidence. It also shows that they sincerely want to attend either for personal growth or to meet new people.


Having a better understanding of nonverbal cues


When you get to understand and know how to read people’s body language interactions with others will become very clear to you and you will know where you stand in order of importance to people. Not only that, it will help you better get to know the person you are dealing with.

Also pay attention to people’s energy. We all have our own energy and one thing to remember is that energy doesn’t lie. Do you recall running into someone or even meeting someone for the first time and feeling dark or gloomy? Did you feel like you wanted to back away from this person or not be with them for very long?

That’s energy and your intuition. Remember to always trust your intuition. It never lies. If you feel something is amiss or off, it probably is. Also, if you feel something is good and full of joy, it is.

Though learning how to read people’s body language may seem difficult at first it really isn’t. Pay attention to different shifts in their stance, their face, their eyes and even their tone of voice or conversation. All these little signs hold great meaning behind a person’s character.

This was a really good video from a former FBI agent on how to read non verbal cues. I think you might like it:

When we know how to read people we are better prepared


Once you have built up the skill of how to read people like a book you will be more aware of what to watch out for and what to avoid. You will also know what to trust and what not to trust. This can protect you from a lot of harm or danger. Many people have lost money, jobs and friendships (among many other things) by trusting the wrong person and not knowing how to read people.

Reading people and trusting your intuition really do go hand in hand. Watch out for some of the tips mentioned here but also tune into your gut.

Though there are some people who, quite simply, are just really hard to read, if you practice some of these tips you may have a bit of an easier time trying to understand them. Many of these nonverbal clues can’t be hidden or disguised.

Watch, listen and observe carefully. In no time you’ll be able to know how to read people like a book and possibly help others hone in to their people reading skills too.


xo iva xo


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