There are quite literally thousands of ways that humans express emotion without words. There are dozens of emotions that humans can feel, and often times the best way to express those emotions are with actions and not words. Can you read emotions from people? Are you capable of telling what your loved ones are feeling when they do not utter a sound? What about strangers, or coworkers? It is possible, and it is a developed, practiced talent, so if you are asking yourself ‘How can I read peoples’ emotions?’ first you should decide what kind of emotions you wish to decipher from people. How to read peoples’ emotions is a skill you will cherish for the rest of your life once you have mastered it.

One of the most common emotions that is expressed without verbal implication is love or affection. It is also one of the easiest to recognize. If two people in a room are romantically or sexually involved, it is almost impossible to hide it. Pupils dilate (grow larger) when an individual looks at a person they have intensive feelings for. Those feelings can be love or dislike. When a man is physically attracted to a woman in a conversation, if the two are present in a group of people, the man will instinctively ‘square off’ with her. His chest and shoulders will face her, no matter who he is directly speaking to. Women can be a little more obvious about their affection for someone. They tend to touch more than males, often times gently letting a hand rest somewhere on her lover’s body as if for reassurance that she is there for him.

Neuroanatomical Basis for Emotional Lateralization

Fear is another easily recognized emotion that people betray without verbal communication. Discoloration and a lack of blood flow to the face (otherwise known as the phrase ‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost) is this emotion’s trademark. It may be accompanied by trembling of the fingers or perspiration along the hair and neckline. If the person does speak, the words are often stuttered or quiet. Sometimes the individual finds it increasingly difficult to breathe.

Embarrassment is close to fear, but instead of the face becoming pale, increased heart rates cause the face to have increased blood flow. This causes the individual to blush. Stuttering also comes with embarrassment as well. Nervousness accompanies embarrassment and cause the individual to have different ‘tells’. The person may shift uncomfortably on their feet. They may begin playing with their hair, tugging at their shirt tail, or wringing their hands. Depending on the individual, you can learn how to read peoples’ emotions and determine what they are feeling.

Anger is a great noticeable emotion for those who are not good at hiding it. Anger is another emotion that causes increased blood flow, causing the face, neck, and shoulders to flush a violent red color. Sometimes perspiration on the brow or hands is noticeable in someone who is angry as well. The jawbone instinctively sets, causing the individual’s teeth to clench. The same happens with fists. Often times, especially in males, the need to fight instead of flight causes hands to clench. If the individual is speaking, their voices will be louder, or sometimes quieter, depending on their personality. In many cases both men and women’s voices will become an octave higher if they are angry.

Sorrow or sadness can be a bit difficult to detect if you are not an emotional expert. While the most recognizable symptom of sadness is the production of tears, more subtle signs are more abundant to the practiced eye. Many people have tells, just as with any other emotion. Disappointment will cause an individual’s voice to become softer or their demeanor to sound more resigned. Instinctively, humans will want to shrink. Females will often hug their bodies, and men may duck their head when they are feeling sad.

Frustration, agitation, or irritation is often easy for those who are new to identifying emotions to become familiar with. They are each associated with negative feelings. The tell-tale fidgeting is common with all of the above. Often times the individual will begin sweating as well. Redness or flushed areas of the face and neck area are common as well. These emotions are usually associated with impatience as well. Impatience’s most known sign is pacing.

Depending on the individual, anxiety is either easily recognized or quite difficult to recognize. Nervous anxiety is a sort of fear. People will become afraid of what the future may hold. It may be for the results on an important test or the nervousness that we all experience before a big performance of some kind. Some people sweat nervously. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and sometimes the individual may find it difficult to breathe. It is not completely unheard of for people who are nervous and anxious to pass out because they have a lack of oxygen supplied to the brain.

People usually believe that happiness is easy to spot in an individual. While this is true, what traits are common to enthusiasm? Eager anticipation? Often times the individual will become jittery. In fact many people may mistake it for nervousness or an anxiety attack. Their voice pitch may rise as well, if they are eager for an event to occur.

These are just a few of the emotions that humans are able to physically express. If you spend your time people watching, you can often learn much about how their emotions play into their physical appearance. How to read peoples’ emotions can be a very useful skill that you will use throughout your life. Not only will you find it easier to detect when someone is lying, but you can also learn to hear sincerity when someone apologizes to you. When you suspect that someone is lying to you, watch their eyes. Do they make eye contact with you or do they purposefully avoid direct eye contact? Do they seem to be fiddling with something? Perhaps their hands, a piece of clothing, or a stray piece of paper? Watch their feet, too. Do they shift weight between their right and left legs? When someone seems as though they are uncomfortable in a situation, it often means they are hiding something. When someone is being honest and genuine, they will want to make eye contact with you. They will want to show you that they mean what they say, even if they are not entirely capable of articulating their feelings as well as they wish they could.

You can use the ability to read peoples’ emotions in the business world as well. If you are looking for a job and putting in applications, managers and bosses who are genuinely interested in hiring you will make time to speak with you. They will be polite. Managers who are not wholly interested will not make eye contact, nor will they take an extensive amount of time to speak with you. If you are a manager looking to hire for your business, then you can learn which people will make good employees. Confidence is an emotion that is easily conveyed. Listen to their voice. Are they talking in an assured manner about themselves? Even if the individual rambles or becomes quiet at times, remember that they are nervous as well, because their future depends on your decision.

There are perhaps a hundred or more emotions that humans can experience and a broad spectrum of ways to convey them. If you are eager to learn how to read peoples’ emotions, you must keep in mind that you cannot pigeonhole individuals. Every person experiences the spectrum of emotions differently. Every person will not display a certain emotion in the exact same physical way that another person might. Anger between two individuals can be very different because of personality traits. Men are notorious for becoming more violent and explosive when they are violent. Women are infamous for holding grudges. They keep that anger to themselves. They let it fester and often times find themselves plotting revenge. That is why they say that poison is a woman’s murder weapon. She prefers the subtle approach. When a man’s wife is angry with him, he is more afraid when she is quiet and soft spoken than when she is yelling or throwing things. People can identify with outward, physical representations of anger. When anger is kept in the person’s mind, no one can know what is truly going on. The secret is kept until the individual decides to let that anger out.

Remember that identifying love between two individuals is often easy? What about when you are the subject of those affections? Love and affection may be easy to identify as a third party, but when you are involved, it is easily the trickiest emotion to read. Just as with anger, each person perceives love differently. That perception is brought upon by what you perceive love should be and how it should be portrayed by another person to you. This is why so many people clash in relationships. It is also why many people miss chances with one another, because they do not know how the other person feels about relationships or love. Even still, this confusion is the reason that best friends often fall for best friends. What’s not to fall for when you know anything and everything about a person so thoroughly you could fill a book with it? You know what that person expects from a lover.

When it comes to gauging how someone else feels for you though, it can be one of the most difficult things you can ever do in your life. Since each person conveys their romantic feelings differently, you will never have a lover that represents their devotion in the same way. Of course some of the representations will be similar, and it could tip you off; but don’t think that will always happen. If you have a lover who does one thing and you begin to expect all your future lovers to do the same, you are asking for some major trouble. Shyer individuals tend to approach their feelings quietly. They may leave you love notes in your locker or on your desk. Those notes could be anonymous. They want to see the way you react to them. Reacting in a positive way will encourage them, while reacting negatively will spur them on to someone else. Someone who has a loud, boisterous personality may have no problem with coming right up to you and declaring their feelings. While this tactic is often awkward for most, there is no better policy than honesty. To them, they are taking a chance. They are putting their heart on the line for what they believe may be a true love. In their mind, they are seeing this chance as a reason for you to accept their affections. In your mind, this could be the best possible way for someone to approach you with a romantic offer. But, it could also be the worst possible way. Who wants to be put on the spot like that? Many people do not like such public declarations of emotion or feelings, because it entitles the target of those feelings to reciprocate. Often times if they are not reciprocated, there is negative backlash from onlookers.

How to read peoples’ emotions is one of the best talents you can have as an individual. Not only does it make many aspects of your life easier but it can help you understand those you love better too. As you learn to read the emotions of the souls around you, you may wind up learning something about yourself. You may learn how to better handle a problem you are experiencing in your own life. If nothing else, you are developing a skill that will forever be used in your life. You will always have an advantage to those who are oblivious at reading other people. You can also pass your talent on to your loved ones and your family, should they ever seem to need it. Learning how to read peoples’ emotions is a skill that you will not ever regret developing.