Anger gets a bad rep. When you experience anger, that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or that you’re wrong about something. We’d argue that you’re a human experiencing human emotions. With that out of the way, though, you might be wondering how to detect anger body language signs.
Trying to understand what happens with your body when you’re angry, or struggling to figure out whether someone you’re talking to might be showing signs of anger? Analyzing body language signs and signals might be the best way to go. You’d be surprised at what the body reveals about a person.
Now, body language refers to the nonverbal signals and cues we use to communicate. Consciously or subconsciously, we tend to enrich our words with gestures, mannerisms, expressions, and movements we’re not even aware of. We smile when we’re happy and frown when we’re sad, for example.
When we’re angry, though, we’re not all the same. We react differently to everyday stress, frustrating conversations with family members, or unreasonable arguments with strangers. We might clench our firsts because we’re getting ready to fight or point fingers because we’re threatening them.
Whatever the case might be, understanding these nonverbal signals can allow you to detect and uncover hidden anger within yourself or the person you’re engaging with. You might stop yourself from doing something you’re going to regret afterward or remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation.
What’s the best way to detect hidden anger, and what are these body language signals we keep talking about? We’re bringing you all that and more down below!
Body language can provide you with an amazing amount of information about what other people are thinking, feeling, or even planning on doing – when you know what to look for. Before you give body language a pass, remember that reading body language cues is tantamount to reading people’s minds.
When reading body language signals of anger, focus on facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact. With these three things, you’re guaranteed to notice whether the person you’re talking to might be fuming with anger or simply getting a little irritated by your arguments.
Posture and personal distance, on the other hand, can offer you valuable insight and convey information, too. When the person you’re talking to stands straight with arms wide open or a wide stance, chances are they’re not angry with you whatsoever. When they’re approaching you with a menacing posture, though… Welp, you might need to run.
With that in mind, we do need to remind you of the importance of context in these situations. Reddening of the face, for example, can mean a million things, from being attracted to someone or getting embarrassed by something to getting frustrated and angry.
When you observe someone’s body language and try to read the nonverbal cues, make sure you’re getting the entire picture and that you’re being extremely cautious with your conclusions. We’re bringing you a few of the most common anger body language signs we could find. Let’s dive in!
10 anger body language signs that can save you from an altercation
1. Clenched jaw
Starting with one of the most common signs of anger, a clenched jaw typically signals that the person you’re talking to might be getting ready to attack you physically or verbally. When someone’s angry, they might clench their jaw and tighten their facial muscles as a natural response to intense emotional turmoil.
More times than not, a clenched jaw means that the person you’re talking to might be on the verge of losing control and doing something he or she might regret later. When you find yourself face to face with a clenched jaw, you might want to defuse the situation before it escalates or remove yourself completely.
2. Clenched fists
We can say the same thing about clenched fists, too. Clenched fists almost always send a message of anger and aggressiveness, warning the other person of what’s about to happen. Contrary to popular belief, clenched fists almost always lead to a physical altercation.
Depending on your role in the conversation, you might want to de-escalate the situation by talking calmly, changing the subject, or trying to talk some sense into the angry person. When doing that, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and protecting yourself, too. Leave the conversation when necessary.
3. Pursed lips
Pursed lips can mean many things, too, but when they’re coming from someone who’s yelling at you, telling you off, or trying to start a fight with you, you know they’re a sign of anger and aggression. When someone gets frustrated, they might press their lips tightly together to hold back their emotions, too.
What does that mean? When you’re talking to someone who suddenly starts pressing their lips together, you might not be in immediate danger. They’re giving you a warning sign that they’re about to explode and that you might be able to do something to prevent that. They’re giving you a way out.
4. Lowered eyebrows
Scrunching your eyes and lowering your eyebrows can be seen as a tell-tale sign that someone’s angry. Maybe they’re tilting their head and throwing threatening glances at you. Maybe they’re becoming red and fuming out of their ears when talking to you.
Whenever you notice the person you’re talking to lower their eyebrows and stare at you with little to no blinking, you might need to get out of there ASAP. They’re likely telling you they’re about to explode, and you’re the one who’s going to pick up the pieces of their anger.
5. Narrowed eyes
Narrowed eyes are super similar to lowered eyebrows. Generally speaking, when a person puffs up their chest, lifts their chin, puts their hands on their hips, and narrows their eyes at you, they’re showing you how frustrated they are with you.
They’re trying to focus on a particular point on your body and getting ready to attack you. They’re giving you the warning signs – you simply need to be able to read them.
When that happens to you, make sure you change your body language and appear more open for a conversation rather than an altercation. Stay alert and be prepared to defend yourself.
6. Reddening of the face
When we get angry, our blood pressure goes up and our faces become red. While a red face might signify a myriad of other emotions, we can’t rule out the possibility that the person you’re talking to might be getting red due to anger and aggression.
We suggest taking a quick scan of the person’s face and facial expressions to ensure you’re reading their body language correctly.
If they’re also scrunching their nose, pressing their lips tightly together, and narrowing their eyes, we’d say they’re angry with you. Try defusing the situation by talking things through, resorting to positive body language, or simply removing yourself from the situation entirely.
7. Licking of the teeth
We’re not kidding. When you see someone licking their teeth, there’s a chance they’re going through something super frustrating. Teeth-licking can be seen as a sign of aggression because our teeth are our primary weapon. When threatened, we might lick our teeth to show others what we’re capable of.
What are you supposed to do when someone licks their teeth? There’s always a chance they’re doing it because they’re getting a rogue piece of food out of their teeth, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not frustrated.
When they start making eye contact with you while licking their teeth, that’s when you run.
8. Poor posture
We’re not referring to people who are unable to stand up straight due to health reasons, of course. We’re talking about the person who suddenly becomes defensive, exposes one side of their body to you, and raises their hands to fight you.
We’re talking about the person who assumes a defensive position and maintains eye contact with you. When that happens, they’re sending you a message that they’re angry with you.
Doing the same can agitate them. That’s why you need to change your posture to reflect that you don’t want to fight or try to talk them out of the fight.
9. Stiff shoulders
Stiff shoulders are a sign of stress, right? Whether you’re getting ready for a presentation or going out on a date with your crush, you might notice your shoulders getting stiff. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we do need to mention that stiff shoulders can be a sign of hostility, too.
When anger besets someone, they might become tense to signify that they’re ready to fight or take flight. Consider taking the conversation down a notch, slowing down your movement, and adapting the way you speak to them to de-escalate the situation.
10. Flared nostrils
And you can’t have a proper fight without flared nostrils, right? A classic anger body language sign, flared nostrils are a surefire way to figure out whether the person you’re talking to might be getting too heated.
Actually, we flare our nostrils when we’re angry because we’re trying to take more oxygen to prepare for a physical altercation. When the person starts flaring their nostrils at you, you need to stay calm and observe their reaction. Seek to understand what’s causing their reaction and offer to settle the argument.