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Here’s what those puckered lips mean

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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

Colour of the faceembarrassed

A person’s face turning pink or red usually indicates an emotional response such as excitement, embarrassment, or anger. But it can also indicate a serious physical or health problem occurring. A person’s face turning pale or white may indicate shock or surprise; and it may indicate a physical or health problem too.


Touching the cheek with the fingers or both hands flat often indicates shock, dismay, or horrified surprise.

Chewing the inside of a cheek shows uncertainty and nervousness. Pushing the tongue against the inside of the cheek denotes preoccupation or pensive thought.

The cheeks blown out with a forceful exhalation indicate exasperation and uncertainty, or perhaps relief after a lucky break or escape.

Red cheeks often indicate embarrassment, humiliation, or, perhaps, anger.


Lips, the opening of the mouth and the vehicle for speech, often signal what a person is thinking but not saying. The natural relaxed position of the lips indicates that the person is calm and relaxed.

When the lips are parted slightly, the person may want to speak or have something to say.

Slightly parted lips, especially if licked by the tongue, can be a strong flirting signal, especially if good eye contact is made simultaneously.

Lips moving slightly in the shape of words may indicate an urgent desire to speak, or that the listener may be following the other party so intently that they are unconsciously repeating their words.

Lips closed and moving up and down, the bottom lip sucked in, or the chewing or biting of the lips generally indicate nervousness, agitation, apprehension, or fear.

Rolling of the lips in a “smoothing-the-lipstick” gesture,  can  be a signal from a woman that she wants to appear attractive or else she may really just be smoothing out her lipstick. However, if this gesture is accompanied by a lowering of eyebrows, it more likely shows uncertainty or disapproval.

Lips squeezed shut and flat express tension, frustration, or disapproval, or a repressed desire to say something.

Lips sucked in, known as pursed lips, express tension, annoyance, frustration, and disapproval, as in “I’m not swallowing that!” Pursed lips also indicate that one may be “biting his or her tongue” to avoid verbal expression of difficult or unpleasant feelings.

Puckered lips, when not made in a kissing gesture, indicate thoughts of doubt and uncertainty, or reflect an effort to figure something out or come to a decision – even more so if an index finger touches the puckered lip.

The top lip protruding over the bottom lip, with or without the bottom lip being bitten by the lower teeth, indicates a feeling of guilt, being caught out, or put on the spot.

The bottom lip protruding over the top lip indicates an ambivalence or uncertainty that one is reluctant or unwilling to express.

The bottom lip jutting out in a pout indicates childish petulance at not getting what one wants.

A twitch in the corner of the mouth shows negative thoughts of disbelief and expresses a passive form of cynicism.

The corners of the mouth turned upward could be the beginning of a smile of pleasure, happiness, or amusement.

The corners of the mouth pinched or flattened express tension or a grimace of dissatisfaction.

The corners of the mouth turned down denote unhappiness, disapproval, sadness, or a sense of being burdened.


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