The clues: Hardened expressions, hostile gestures (slamming books or flinging paper), massaging heads, little verbal feedback.
The read: Crankiness or anger
What to do next: “To bring a bit of humanity into the atmosphere, it may help to make small talk for a couple of minutes,” says Greenwood. And if the situation has blown up beyond casual chitchat? She suggests you put on your best poker face and speak in a calm, even tone, while acknowledging people’s emotions and trying to redirect focus to a specific goal at hand. “Get people into the present,” says Greenwood. “Instead of focusing on what happened in the past, ask them what they want now.” As for moody kids and teens, Laura Farrelly, who teaches high school-age kids in Eugene, Oregon, finds giving them a break may clear the air, as long as you turn it into a choice for them: “Do you want to grab a drink or take a walk?”