8 Disapproving Body Language Signs That Are Easy to Miss, Experts Say

Blink and you could miss these subtle signs from your friend or partner.

When it comes to someone's opinion of you—especially if they aren't your biggest fan—you can usually tell by what they say and how they act around you. Body language in particular can tell you a lot about a person's feelings, especially if they give clear disapproving signs, like a furrowed brow or a dismissive wave of their hand. Others, however, successfully hide their true feelings—either consciously or subconsciously—meaning you have to pay close attention to more covert body language indicators to understand how they're feeling.

"It is easy to control the words we select. However, when it comes to controlling the tone of our voice while simultaneously being cognizant of our body language as well as what our face is doing, all while thinking of what words we are going to select, it is much more common for our nonverbal communication to 'leak' out," Beth Ribarsky, PhD, professor of interpersonal communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, tells Best Life. "Although we can purposely control our nonverbal communication (think about forcing a smile when you're feeling down), a lot of our true feelings leak out subconsciously via our nonverbal communication."

If you get the inkling that someone isn't necessarily in agreement with everything you have to say, there are a few key tells you can look for in their physical communication. Read on to discover eight disapproving body language signs that are easy to miss, according to experts.

RELATED: 5 Body Language Signs That Mean Your Partner Wants to Break Up, According to Therapists.

1
They tuck their lips inward.

middle-aged disapproving man
Lasmsilver / Shutterstock

When you're talking to someone, pay attention to their lips, Ribarsky says: If they move them inward, it may indicate disapproval.

"Although people fidget with their lips/mouths quite frequently, when someone says something we may not like, we might suck our lips inward," she says. "This might be an unconscious way of literally biting your lip to suppress anger or avoid saying something that might turn into a conflict."

2
They have their head or chin down.

man looking down during conversation
YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Another easy-to-miss indicator that someone is displeased with something you're saying or doing is the direction of their head. According to Ali Levine, healer, and transformation and soul expansion coach, if you notice that their chin is pointed down, something is amiss.

"Most people see this as being 'shy,' but when you are truly observing someone from a healer/guided perspective, you are looking to bring them back to safety," she explains. "When they are tucking their chin down, they are actually saying, 'I am not comfortable, I do not trust you or this situation, I am looking for a way out. Let me be.'"

Levine continues, "Chin tucked down usually means: 'I disapprove of whatever is going on in my space or whatever is being communicated.'"

RELATED: 7 Body Language Signs That Mean Someone Is Attracted to You, According to Therapists.

3
They subtly shake their head "no."

disapproving doctor shaking head no
Stockbakery / Shutterstock

According to Ribarsky, another subtle indication of disapproval is if someone shakes their head "no" (from side to side) during a conversation.

"As I mentioned before, our true feelings often leak out. So, even if they are attempting to keep a poker face, someone who is disapproving might subtly shake their head 'no,'" she shares.

4
They avoid eye contact.

man avoiding eye contact
Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock

Avoiding eye contact can signal several different things in the U.S., including discomfort and also disapproval.

"Although eye contact varies from culture to culture, within American culture, eye contact is seen as a way to engage," Ribarsky says. "If someone says something that we disapprove of, we might avoid eye contact."

RELATED: 7 Body Language Signs That Mean Someone Is Lying, According to Therapists and Lawyers.

5
They turn away from you.

men talking at work
Portra / iStock

When someone deliberately turns away from you or won't face you directly while you speak to them, you know something's up. But body language isn't always this exaggerated, meaning you could miss this sign of disapproval if you're not paying attention.

"When we like someone, we often unconsciously turn our bodies toward them," Ribarsky says, sharing an anecdote where body language became more and more clear.

She continues, "Quite famously among my friends, I share the story of one of my funniest first dates. When we first met, we engaged in some deep self-disclosure, already creating an unusual first date. As the night continued and we moved to another location, he increasingly turned his body away from me. In fact, at one point, we were sitting at a bar, and while I was facing the bar, his body was turned so far away from me, he was almost talking over his shoulder to me."

As Ribarsky explains, this is something that people often do without realizing it—but not always.

"In conversations we'd like to no longer be part of, you might find yourself subconsciously turning away from others," she says. "Or, this can be a deliberate act and a subtle way of indicating that you'd like to disengage."

6
They have a "microexpression."

Business people talking in meeting
iStock

Courtney Hubscher, MS, LMHC, NCC, of GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also points to "microexpressions" as a body language sign of disapproval. Like the name suggests, these are "brief, involuntary facial expressions," which can occur in just a "fraction of a second," she says.

"They can reveal true emotions or intentions that someone may be trying to hide. However, they can also be easily missed as they are fleeting and can go unnoticed by an untrained eye," Hubscher notes. "Some common microexpressions include a quick flash of anger, fear, disgust, or surprise. These expressions are often a reaction to something that the person is trying to conceal, such as a lie or an uncomfortable situation."

She recommends keeping an eye out for these signs when trying to understand someone's true emotions or feelings.

RELATED: 7 Body Language Signs That Mean Your Partner Is Cheating, According to Therapists.

7
They tighten their lips.

bored woman listening to friend talk
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Disapproval or judgment is often associated with a purse of the lips, but according to Levine, tightening of the lips can also indicate this.

Tightening the lips is "essentially a disapproval or not liking something the other is doing," she says. "Lips can be a big indicator in general that I believe get overlooked many times."

8
They tighten their jaw.

man disapproving of conversation
fizkes / Shutterstock

When someone's jaw gets tighter during a conversation, this could be a sign of "dysregulation," according to Jessica Addeo, occupational therapist and nervous system clinician.

"Your body language is the language of your nervous system," she says. "Have you ever had the experience of leaving a conversation where all the right things were said but you feel icky inside? Yup, that's a conversation between nervous systems!"

One specific sign of dysregulation is the tightening of the jaw, which is a way the nervous system indicates it's detected a "threat," Addeo says.

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Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more