Empaths are sensitive to slight nuances of behavior that others may be oblivious to. If you notice these things, you are most certainly an empath.

If you find that you have a different reaction to someone than your friends, family, and colleagues, it could be that you are picking up on nuances in their behavior that others just don’t see. Empaths are often in the position of knowing something is not right about someone only to have this confirmed weeks, months or even years later.

Empaths have this amazing ability because they are so observant and sensitive to their environment. They may pick up on the slightest detail of another person’s behavior and just know something isn’t right. They may not know how they know, but they do.

Many empaths try to ignore this sensitivity. They convince themselves that they are overreacting or even paranoid. This isn’t usually the case and sooner or later, empaths find out just how accurate the information they receive is.

So what are the 7 nuances of behavior that can offer clues to another person’s thoughts, motives, and desires?

1. Words and body language don’t match

Empaths notice when there are subtle differences between what people say and their body language. A person may seem friendly and open. However, empaths recognize nuances in their body language that tell a different story.

The other person may turn away from them or close their arms or legs in a defensive pose even though the words they say are warm and friendly. They may also use their physical presence in a slightly threatening way such as crossing the boundaries of personal space or emphasizing their size with an imposing stance. Other signs might be rolling eyes, frowning, smiles that do not make the skin around the eyes crinkle or lifting the head in order to look down on people.

Highly sensitive people may not be aware that they are noticing these subtle clues. They just get a sense that something in the interaction is not quite right.

2. Tone of voice

Empaths are also sensitive to the tone of voice. If a person is saying something perfectly normal or friendly, a sensitive person might notice something about the tone in which it is said suggests a different meaning. This tone could be aggressive or patronizing. It may be just a case of emphasizing certain words.

It would never stand up in court, but a sensitive person can recognize when someone does not truly mean what they say.

3. Passive aggression

Empaths can always recognize passive aggression. This may take the form of body language or speech as above. However, it can also come about in actions.

Sensitive people notice slight actions such as a cup put down rather heavily on the table, a slightly harder slam of a drawer than is necessary, denying that something was said or promised, or a delay in sending urgent information. For sensitive people, these clues put them on high alert and let them know that something is not quite right.

4. Fake friendliness

Sensitive people notice incongruent behavior in others. They can pick up on someone who behaves differently towards them depending on the current company. They notice when someone is overly polite to them in company but curt and uncommunicative in private.

Empaths can also tell when someone is being friendly simply because they want something. This can be picked up from all the methods above but often just because a person behaves differently according to the circumstances.

Empaths will notice small details in fake people such as those who talk loudly about how much they give to charity but speak harshly about homeless people.

5. Masking behaviors and hiding things

Empaths also know when people are hiding things. When someone says they are fine, a sensitive person can easily tell if they are not. This can be a problem for more sensitive folk who don’t want to intrude but invariably know when another person is using a mask or persona to hide some inner pain.

Empaths can see guilt and lies on someone’s face as easily as if the person was admitting their guilt in words. They notice blushes and embarrassment, and a certain look in the eyes that accompanies a lie.

Sensitive people are smart. They know when someone is lying to them or hiding something from them. Again, the clues are so subtle that the empath might not know how they know. But they do.

6. Subtle changes in behavior

We give a lot away with our behavior and sensitive people always pick up on the smallest clue. When a usually critical person suddenly starts behaving in a sweet way, empaths will wonder what’s going on. If an open person suddenly becomes withdrawn, they will notice and wonder what could have caused the change.

7. A vague sense of energy that doesn’t match speech of actions

Highly sensitive people seem to pick up on an energy that others miss. Some people might put this down to them noticing other clues such as tone of voice or body language. But I genuinely think that there is an energy that each of us gives off that can be read by those who can tune into its frequency.

This is why we can tell if there is a bad atmosphere in a room even if we don’t hear anyone talking or see any actions. Some people can pick up on this energy even if the person is in another room. Empaths may come home and know that someone is in a bad mood as they enter the hallway, even if everyone else is upstairs!

Closing thoughts

Being an empath or highly sensitive person can be tricky. Having an understanding of these subtle nuances in speech, behavior, and energy can be exhausting, especially when you can’t quite put your finger on what is wrong. Empaths may think that they are suspicious, oversensitive or even paranoid.

The best approach is probably to trust these instincts and keep an eye on the situation while remaining open to the idea that the other person might have a good reason for hiding something or just be having a bad day. We should trust our intuition but also leave room for other information to fill in the whys and wherefores before we make judgments of others.


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Psychology Today

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