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Here’s how to spot a fake smile

Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the third section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, we discuss and analyse the many different nonverbal, “body language” signals others give us during a negotiation, as well as how our bodies are communicating with the other party.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

Upper body


The mouth is used to do many things – breathing, speaking, singing, eating, drinking, smiling, smirking, laughing, yawning, kissing, whistling, and more.

The mouth assists the nose in inhaling and exhaling, often in expressive ways. A deep sighing or exhaling breath generally denotes boredom, sadness, or frustration. Deep or slow nasal breathing indicates someone who is calm and peaceful. Yawning shows tiredness, boredom, or simply a need for extra oxygen to maintain one’s energy or concentration.

Someone who mumbles or talks under his or her breath may have low self-esteem, or may be afraid to express him or herself fully on a particular point or situation. Someone mouthing words to him or herself may be silently expressing displeasure, a contrary point of view, or may be feeling an urgent need for expression.

Overenunciating or overemphasising words may indicate annoyance or frustration, or possibly a person who is fastidiously precise in his or her communication. Or, they may be British!

Smilingfake smile resize

A smile is an automatic, instinctive response. Babies born blind begin to smile at the same time as babies who have sight. A genuine smile is an involuntary response to genuine happy emotions. A genuine smile lasts from a half a second up to four seconds.

Not every smile means “I feel pleasure.” Some smiles are perfunctory, deceptive, manipulative, or insincere. A forced or insincere smile involves the mouth, but not the eyes. You can tell a fake smile from the eyes, which may glisten with intensity, but do not sparkle with genuine pleasure or happiness.

A full smile with lips open wide, teeth exposed, and eyes sparkling conveys happiness or joy. The same gesture without eyes sparkling may be a nervous social gesture expressing insecurity or the desire to be liked or reassured. The same gesture with the eyebrows creased and slanted downward, the eyes narrowed and staring intensely, may be an animalistic snarl indicating rage and possible attack.

A full smile with lips together may be a forced smile for the sake of social convenience that masks personal reservations or conflicted feelings.

A woman who is feeling uncertain and smiles at a man, may be seeking reassurance, support, or protection. A man or woman who smiles through uncertainty is either feeling supremely confident in the face of a challenge or is covering up feelings of inadequacy or insecurity.

A twisted smile is a combination of a smile and a frown, indicating sarcasm.

LaughterGirl laughing with dog

Laughter can express amusement, joy, or pleasure; it may also express nervousness, self-consciousness, or embarrassment. Different types of laughter express various feelings and can delineate distinctive personalities and character traits.

A titter, giggle, or gentle laugh indicates a shy, self-restrained, or cautious nature with a sense of humour. A louder laugh with a grin shows a person more at ease in social settings and comfortable in his or her own skin. Backslapping, gregarious, booming laughs are usually exhibited by masculine extroverts comfortable with fully expressing themselves aloud but may also be a form of compensation for some hidden insecurities.


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