The mouth communicates with much more than words. You may not be conscious of it, but your mouth has a big influence on the way people perceive you, and this ultimately affects your relationships.
1. The smile
The smile is the most compelling non-verbal way to communicate. Easily recognized in any country or culture, it effectively signifies joy and positive emotions. A genuine smile involves the whole face – all the facial muscles turn upward, especially around eyes.
A smile with parted lips or teeth showing is perceived as more relaxed and playful. When you allow a genuine smile to expose your teeth, it makes people around you feel more comfortable, and it gives the impression that you are positive and approachable.
A forced smile does not involve the eyes, but is just an upward-turning of the lips. People put it on when they feel they are expected to smile but don’t really feel like it, usually to be polite.
Think of a laugh as an extension of a genuine smile – person is happy enough to let it show. When someone laughs in your presence, it indicates some degree of comfort; the more relaxed the laugh, the more at ease and familiar he is with you.
Just like a smile, laughter can be faked as well. A fake laugh can be a sign of tension or nervousness. This is not necessarily an indication of insincerity, but is more likely an attempt to relieve tension or show amusement.
3. Downward-turned lips, or frown
The opposite of a smile also indicates opposite emotions – when the corners of the mouth ate turned downward, it usually means sadness or disapproval. It also produces the opposite reactions in people: a frowning person is perceived as disagreeable and unapproachable.
4. Smirk, or twisted smile
A twisted smile is halfway between a smile and a frown; it indicates mixed emotions or confusion.
Sometimes, the corner of the mouth makes a slight, quick twitch. This hidden smirk betrays disapproval or disbelief, and is usually associated with sarcasm.
5. Tight-lipped smile or stretched lips
When lips are flattened or squeezed into a horizontal line, it’s an exaggerated way to close the mouth. It means that a person is controlling himself from speaking, and may indicate displeasure or frustration.
Similar to stretched lips, a smile with flattened lips and hidden teeth is a gesture of disapproval – the person is stopping himself from speaking and wants to appear agreeable.
This fake smile is a polite sign of disagreement or rejection. When your date does this, it’s probably an indication that she isn’t having a good time.
When a person bites his lips or chews the inside of his mouth, it usually means he is feeling uncomfortable or anxious. Combined with eyebrows tapering toward the sides, it can be a sign that the person is worried or frightened.
7. Protruding lip
A protruding top or bottom lip is a slighter variation of biting, and may indicate that a person is upset about something. When the bottom lip extends outward, it’s usually associated with childish defiance, pretty much how a little child sulks when he can’t get his way. When it is done by an adult, it can mean that she is getting ready to cry, either because she is really upset or begging for sympathy.
8. Pout or pucker
Pouted or puckered lips are a sign of uncertainty or evaluation, particularly when combined with converging eyebrows or narrowed eyes. This indicates that a person may be thinking something over or weighing options.
When pouted lips come with widened eyes or dilated pupils, they can be an expression of interest or a manner of flirtation. In a pout, lips are positioned into a slight kiss and may indicate desire or sexual interest.
9. Parted lips
Slightly parted lips accompanied by eye contact is a sign of interests and attraction. It’s even considered a flirtatious gesture, especially when the lips are licked.
Lip-licking is usually a sign of elevated interest, much like how you see the cartoon coyote lick his lips when he thinks about catching the Roadrunner. A person licks his lips when he desires something – such as food, information or another person.
When the person you are talking to casually licks his lips, this can mean, “Tell me more.” When the licking is combined with an intent gaze, it’s a manner of flirting and an expressing of sexual desire.
Rolling the lips – like women do after they put on lipstick – is a preening gesture, more often associated with females. Preening gestures usually signify attraction.
When combined with lowered eyebrows, rolling the lips inward and outward are a sign of uncertainty or worry.
12. Pursed lips
When lips are tightly pressed together, it usually indicates tension in one form or another – deep thought, annoyance, impatience or frustration. It can indicate suppression of a negative emotion: An angry person usually pulls his lips in to keep himself from saying something he might regret. Likewise, someone who is about to cry would purse her lips in an attempt to keep from exploding into tears.
Observing what people do with their lips can provide you with clues to what they’re thinking. But watch that you don’t stare at people’s lips – they might think that you want to kiss them.