What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People - by Joe Navarro





my notes:


After an accident, people are suffering the effects of a complete hijacking of the “thinking” brain by a region of the brain known as the limbic system. The limbic brain is considered the “honest brain”

When people press their lips together in a manner that seems to make them disappear, it is a clear and common sign that they are troubled and something is wrong.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

His nostrils starting flaring (nasal wing dilation), which was a giveaway that he was oxygenating in advance of taking some action.

During surveillance of shoplifters, one of the things that stands out is how often thieves will try to hide their physical presence by restricting their motions or hunching over as if trying to be invisible.

Blocking behaviors may manifest in the form of closing the eyes, rubbing the eyes, or placing the hands in front of the face. The person may also distance herself from someone by leaning away, placing objects (a purse) on her lap, or turning her feet toward the nearest exit.

We want to learn to look more closely at the comfort and discomfort behaviors we see every day and use them to assess for feelings, thoughts, and intentions.

Adapters, serve to calm us down after we experience something unpleasant or downright nasty

I don’t know if he is lying, because deception is notoriously difficult to detect. But I do know that he is bothered by the inquiry, so much so that he has to pacify himself after he hears it.

Neck touching and/ or stroking is one of the most significant and frequent pacifying behaviors we use in responding to stress.

When women pacify using the neck, they often do so by covering or touching their suprasternal notch with their hand

Our brains send out the message, “Please pacify me now,” and our hands respond immediately, providing an action that will help make us comfortable again.

The brain requires the body to do something that will stimulate nerve endings, releasing calming endorphins in the brain,

Rubbing of the forehead is usually a good indicator that a person is struggling with something or is undergoing slight to severe discomfort.

He appears simply to be preening himself, but in reality he is calming his nervousness by drawing his arm across his body and giving his hands something to do.

During stress, as the mouth gets dry, a yawn can put pressure on the salivary glands.

I find the leg cleanser to be very significant because it occurs so quickly in reaction to a negative event.

When you see a person make a pacifying gesture, stop and ask yourself, “What caused him to do that?”

Note what part of the body a person pacifies. This is significant, because the higher the stress, the greater the amount of facial or neck stroking is involved.

Happy feet are a high-confidence tell.

That gravity-defying foot behavior can be readily decoded to mean that the man on the phone had just heard something positive.

When people find themselves in confrontational situations, their feet and legs will splay out, not only for greater balance but also to claim greater territory. This sends out a very strong message to the careful observer that at a minimum there are issues afoot or that there is potential for real trouble.

This dominant stance communicates very clearly, “Something is wrong and I am ready to deal with it.”

When you cross one leg in front of the other while standing, you reduce your balance significantly.

For this reason, the limbic brain allows us to perform this behavior only when we feel comfortable or confident.

When our body parts are out of sight, such as under a table or under water (or under the covers), they seem out of mind—or at least out of the realm of observation.

As a relationship wanes, a very clear sign couples often miss is that there will be progressively less foot touching of any kind.

The feet are the most honest part of the body.

Scientists recognize approximately forty different styles of walking

If, however, someone’s feet are pointed away from you while his body faces toward you, you should ask yourself why.

Both honest and dishonest people will twitch and jiggle. The key factor to consider is at what point do these behaviors start or change.

While jiggling may be a show of nervousness, kicking is a subconscious way of combating the unpleasant.

The foot freeze is another example of a limbic-controlled response, the tendency of an individual to stop activity when faced with danger.

Interlocking ankles is again part of the limbic response to freeze in the face of a threat. Experienced nonverbal observers have noted how often people who are lying will not move their feet in an interview, seeming frozen, or they interlock their feet in such a way as to restrict movement.

People tend to restrict arm and leg movements when lying

When a high-stress question is asked, the respondent will often withdraw his or her feet beneath the chair, which could be seen as a distancing reaction and one that attempts to minimize the exposed parts of the body.

When one’s torso does lean away from something, it is because the brain demands it; so we can count on the honesty of these reactions.

Not only can we use this information to read the body language of others, but we must also always remember that we are projecting our own nonverbals.

It is by gauging changes from baseline postures that we can note when uneasiness arises.

When you are upset, your digestive system no longer has as much blood as it needs for proper digestion.

A child whose parents fight at the dinner table really can’t finish his meal; his limbic system has trumped alimentation and digestion to prepare them for escape and survival.

Perhaps it’s time to consider how you are being perceived.

Expect people to give full (high) shoulder shrugs when they confidently support what they are saying.

The upper limbs provide solid nonverbal cues that more accurately portray what we—and those around us—are thinking, feeling, or intending.

Ever have that “sinking feeling”? It’s a limbic response to a negative event. Negative emotions bring us down physically.

Cessation of arm movement is part of the limbic system’s freeze response. To the abused child, this adaptive behavior can mean survival.

When people place their arms behind their backs, first they are saying, “I am of higher status.” Second, they are transmitting, “Please don’t come near me; I am not to be touched.” This behavior is often misunderstood as merely a pensive or thinking pose, but unless seen in someone studying a painting at a museum, for example, it is not.

When a person leans back and interlaces his hands behind his head it is reminiscent of the way in which a cobra “hoods” to alert other animals of his dominance and power. This hooding effect makes us larger than life and tells others, “I am in charge

Fingertips planted spread apart on a surface are a significant territorial display of confidence and authority.

Tattoos were perceived by jurors as being low-status (low-class) adornments and/ or vestiges of youthful indiscretion, which, in general, were not very well liked.

I feel sorry for those who are not huggers; they are missing so much in their lives.

Our brains give a disproportionate amount of attention to the wrists, palms, fingers, and hands, as compared to the rest of the body

When the hands are out of sight or less expressive, it detracts from the perceived quality and honesty of the information being transmitted.

The finger pointing is so distasteful that it may actually divert the child’s attention from what is being said as they process the hostile message of the gesture

Self-preening is acceptable, but not when others are talking to you. This is a sign of dismissiveness.

When you make contact with someone who has sweaty hands, you can assume he or she is under stress (since limbic arousal causes sweating).

Hand steepling may well be the most powerful high-confidence tell as its displays are difficult to overcome, because particularly when an individual is excited, he or she forgets to monitor and control the reaction.

Hand-wringing is a universal way of showing we are stressed or concerned.

Thumb displays are so accurate that they can help you effectively assess who is feeling good about himself and who is struggling.

Research tells us liars tend to gesture less, touch less, and move their arms and legs less than honest people

In the face of a threat (in this case having a lie detected), we move less or freeze so as not to attract attention.

When people tell the truth, they make every effort to ensure that you understand them. They gesticulate with their arms and face and are emphatically expressive.

People who touch their necks (anywhere) while speaking are, in fact, reflecting lower-than-normal confidence or are relieving stress.

Microgestures of the hands come in many forms, including pushing the hands downward along the legs and then lifting the bird finger at the moment the palms reach the knees. This has been observed in both men and women.

When the hands stop illustrating and emphasizing, it is usually a clue to a change in brain activity

It is estimated that humans are capable of more than ten thousand different facial expressions

We miss facial cues because we have been taught not to stare and/ or because we concentrate more on what is being said than on how it is being said.

Head tilt says in a powerful way, “I am comfortable, I am receptive, I am friendly.” It is very difficult to do this around people we don’t like.

Eye blocking with the hands is an effective way of saying, “I don’t like what I just heard, saw, or learned.”

Real smiles are difficult to fake when we have a sincere lack of emotion.

If people touch and/ or lick their lips while pondering their options, particularly when they take an unusual amount of time, these are signs of insecurity.

A furrowed forehead is an easy way to assess for discomfort or anxiety.

We bite our nails not because they need trimming primarily, but rather because it pacifies us.

Blanching takes place as the involuntary nervous system hijacks all the surface vessels and channels the blood to our larger muscles to prepare for escape or attack.

When confidence is low or we are concerned for ourselves, the chin will tuck in, forcing the nose down.

If the verbal and nonverbal facial messages are not in agreement, always side with the negative emotion as the more honest of the two.

There is no method, no machine, no test, no person that is 100 percent accurate at uncovering deception. Even the vaunted polygraph is accurate only 60 to 80 percent of the time, depending on the operator of the instrument

There is no single behavior that is indicative of deception—not one

In pursuing the detection of deception, you must realize your impact on the actions of a suspected liar, and recognize that how you behave will affect the other person’s behavior

Often merely getting someone to expand on his or her statement will suffice in eventually sorting deceit from truth.

Watch for liars to use obstacles or objects (such as a pillow, a drinking glass, or a chair) to form a barrier between you and them

Although it may be very subtle, the delayed movement of the head is an attempt to further validate what has been stated and is not part of the natural flow of communication.

People who lie do not consider how synchrony fits into the equation, and their nonverbals and stories will eventually fail them.

People who are being deceptive lack commitment and confidence in what they are saying.

I would question any declarative statement made with the palms up. The palm-up position is not very affirmative and suggests that the person is asking to be believed.

A person who is not comfortable, not emphasizing, and whose communication is out of synchrony is, at best, communicating poorly or, at worst, being deceptive.