(Real Simple.com) -- Every last gesture -- whether it's a tilt of the head or plain fidgeting -- tells a story. How to read faces • Brushing hair off your face This movement, a combination of nerves and flirtation, helps call attention to and frame your feminine assets (think face and neck). People who grin for more than five seconds and only with their lips can be faking it.

Real Simple.com: What does your handwriting say about you? The only real smile, says Anita Barbee, a professor of social work at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky, is one in which eye muscles are engaged.

• Blinking The normal blink rate is six to eight times a minute.

But under stress, you'll blink more often and somewhat more dramatically.

Want to know who's freaking out and who's as cool as a cucumber at the next big meeting? • Nibbling your lips If you bite, suck on, or lick your lips when under pressure or in an awkward situation, you're attempting to comfort or soothe yourself, says psychologist Carol Kinsey Goman, the author of "The Nonverbal Advantage" ($20, amazon.com). "When a person fibs, it's often accompanied by an adrenaline rush," says psychologist Michael Cunningham, a professor of communication at the University of Louisville. Also, unlike a direct gaze, the back-and-forth variety is a protective measure: If he doesn't approach you, you won't feel rejected.

This release causes capillaries to expand, making the nose itch. A liar often overcompensates for being perceived as shifty by focusing a bit too intently on the person he is fibbing to. • Nodding your head If you nod in clusters of three, the speaker will sense your interest, and this can lengthen her response threefold, says Goman.

Real Simple.com: Boost your brainpower • Sending darting glances This catch-your-eye game, usually played in guy-girl situations, tends to mirror your scattered thoughts. Word to the wise: Nod only once when trying to escape Chatty Cathy.

• Closing your eyes By rubbing, covering, or closing your eyes for longer than a blink, you're trying to keep out certain auditory or visual cues.

It's a survival mechanism to prevent the brain from processing anything undesirable or threatening.

• Lowering your gaze This meek gesture is an unconscious bid for public support -- a favorite tactic of small children, not to mention the late Princess Diana. If someone does it to you, she may be searching for your empathy. • Pursing your lips Narrowing the red margins of your lips is a clear sign of anger, says Paul Ekman, professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco. When a person is not truly mad, she typically can't feign this gesture, even if she tries.

• Tilting your head Cock your head to the side when hearing a friend's sob story.

This movement indicates that you're interested and listening.

On a more literal level, you're revealing and angling your ear to her, physically showing that you want to hear every detail.