The ability to read and understand someones body language is a great skill to have. Listening to the verbal communication may not be enough to gauge a person's motives. Picking up on the Non Verbal Communication cues is essential in certain situations. You can tell if a person is being honest and what they are really feeling by reading this Non Verbal Communication.
Body Language encompasses the whole gamut of body movements, from head to toe. Every gesture will have a different meaning depending on the situation. Once you learn to read body language gestures you will have a great advantage in any relationship, whether it is with friends, family or even your work colleagues or boss.
In most countries nodding the head means "yes" and shaking the head means "no", but there are exceptions to this. For example in Bulgaria, parts of Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, and Bengal a nod means "no" and a shake means "yes".
Tilting the head to one side is a signal of interest, and/or vulnerability. This would suggest a level of trust. Head forward and upright, in the direction of a person, would indicate interest in that person. A person holding their chin up is trying to signal strength, resilience, pride, resistance, etc.
Facial expressions are the most obvious signs of how a person really feels. But there are people who can control their expressions to such an extent that they have what could be described as a "poker face".
But the eyes can be a complete giveaway to what is really going on. Not being able to hold eye contact can mean a person is lying, whereas strong eye contact would indicate interest, attraction and honesty. Looking away can give mixed signals. It could be that the person was just distracted for a few seconds, but it can also signal boredom, dishonesty or lack of interest.
Rubbing or touching the nose is usually a sign that a person is trying to hide something or is lying.
Licking or biting the lips (by a woman) is typically means she is flirting. This would usually be done with a head down eyes up posture. Kissing is a sign of affection. From the kiss on the cheek for a close acquaintance to the more passionate kiss on the lips, it conveys the message that you are comfortable with that person.
Arms & Hands
Arms crossed over the body is a defensive position and can also signal suspicion or doubt. Any other arm position in which the arms are in front of or cross the body are protective or creating a barrier. Hands in the pockets can signal disinterest.
A firm handshake will signify confidence and self-assurance but that doesn't mean that a weak or limp handshake means the opposite. There can be many reasons for a weak handshake ranging from age or illness to the person using their hands in their profession making it important not to injure them.
Hands on the hips can signal confidence, readiness or availability. The person is emphasizing their presence and readiness for action.
Legs & Feet
Usually when a person is sitting they direct their knee or knees towards what interests them. The opposite is then true - the legs would point away from that which is uninteresting or threatening. This applies with crossed legs as well, with the upper knee pointing towards something or someone of interest and away from something or someone uninteresting.
The reading of body language is not an exact science. Some people have the ability to give off mixed signals and can be hard to read. Look for clusters of gestures instead of concentrating on only one signal. With a bit of practice you will find that your body language reading skills will improve and you will become more aware of the Non Verbal Communication going on all around you.