Title: What Every BODY is Saying
Author: Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins
Type: #litnote #book #todevelop
Human body is a billboard that is constantly displaying what one thinks and feels. The subtle non-verbal behaviors can be used to decode ones intentions and thoughts in a particular circumstances. Humans have evolved to use certain body parts in a particular way in order to avoid the danger. And these behaviors are hardcoded in our system that its very hard to fake them unlike our words. Learning to decode these non-verbal behaviors can help you understand a persons feelings, intentions, and action he migh take.
Non-verbals are powerful. Learning to decode non-verbals is hard. But with deliberate practice you can automate this process. And this skill can give you an enormous advantage over other people when navigating this complex world.
10 Commandments for Decoding Non-Verbals
- Be a competent observer of the environment
- People look but don't see. They don't observe. Even when the information is on plain sight, they don't see it. They don't consciously look for information. Understaning non-verbals is a conscious process whic takes a lot of effort and mental energy.
- Observing in content
- If you don't know the context, decoding is hard. The more you are aware of the context, the easier it is to decode the non-verbals
- Decoding univeral behaviors
- Some behaviors are universal. Learn to identify them
- Idiosyncratic Non-verbals
- These are behaviors that are unique to people.
- Establish baseline behaviors.
- What does a an individual does in normal state. Estabiling baseline behaviors help you differentiate normal behaviors from abnormal behaviors.
- Look for cluster of behaviors
- A single non-verbal is not so certain. But by identifying clusters of behaviors, we can increase our accuracy of our decoding.
- Look for changes in behavior that signal changes in thoughts, emotions and intents
- Be a careful observer of these subtle changes
- Detect false and misleading non-verbals
- Not all non-verbals are true. Detecting false non-verbals is hard.
- Distinguish comfort and discomfort behaviors
- Understanding these behaviors can help to accurately decode what their body and mind is saying
- Be subtle about observation
- Don't make your observation obvious. Be subtle. You have to observe in a way that they don't know you are observing.
The Limbic Brain
We like to think that we have full control of our brain but we don't. We know very little about how our brain operates. Our brains have evolved to operate in a certain way. Its sole aim was our survival. Our limbic brain never sleeps. It never take breaks. And it has the largest role in non-verbal communication.
The limbic brain has especially evolved for three responses: Freeze, flight, Fight
- This is our first reaction when we perceive a threat or danger. We freeze and do no movement in order to avoid the attention of predators. Some animals even preted to be dead while freezing response
- The freezing response makes us invisible to the predators. We use it as opportunity to avoid detection.
- Thieves use this behaviors where they freeze and hunch and try to reduce the head exposure to avoid being caught
- If freeze response is not enough to protect from the danger, we response with flight. We run away from the danger.
- In modern day scenarios, we like to lean away from people we don't like. We place our feets towards the nearest door if we don't like being with other person. We like to avoid eye contact as a flight response
- Fight is the final response where we turn our fear into rage.
- In modern scenarios, we like to refrain from fight.
- Fight response evokes the agressive nature in us which affects our thinking and how we perceive things.
Pacifying behaviors & Others
Pacifying behaviors are the behaviors displayed by people when they are stressed. These behavior aim to calm them down. They occur as a result of the limbic brain sending a message to the body,"I'm stressed. Please pacify me!".
Pacifying behaviors can be in any form. For example, smokers may start smoking more. An individual who is chewing gum will chew faster. When you are stressed, the brain tells you to do something, anything. Pacifying behaviors soothe us in the presence of negative stimulus.
Some of the examples of pacifying behaviours are:
- Neck touching and massaging
- Stroking face
- Shoulder rubbing
- Leg cleanser
- Shirt collar adjustment
- Hand crossing
When someone is pacifying, you should ask yourself,"Why is this person pacifying? What caused this person to be stressed". The higher the stress, the greater the amount of facial or neck stroking.
Non-verbals of the feet & leg
Legs are the most hones part of our body. And the honesty decreases as we move up towards our heads. We evolved to react with legs fast. Whenever we sense danger, we freeze, distance ourselves from the perceived danger and use kick in the last stage.
Our legs react without conscious thought because the reaction is hard-wired. Leg behaviors is also influenced by the vigiliant action of others. Here are important non-verbals of the legs:
- Happy feet
- Constant wiggling and boundcing feet. Even shoulders are vibrating. Indicator of positive sentiment
- Feets Away
- The person is not interested in having a conversation. The meeting is not genuine.
- Knee Clasp
- Ready to conclude and leave
- Gravity defying behaviors
- Bouncing steps, toes pointed skywards.
- Indicators of confidence, excitment, positive sentiment.
- Leg splay
- Happens mainly in confrontational situations
- Display of balance and greater claim of territory
- You can never be comfortable in uncomfortable situations
- Territorial Imperative
- The higher, better we feel, the more territory we demand
- Leg crossing
- Seated leg cross
- The closer the feets, the better teh relationship.
- Legs mirror partners
- Walking style
- It determines the weather and attitudes of people
- Change in walking style means something significant might have occured
- Criminals have no purposeful walking unless they are about to strike. Legs turned towards the exit
- Uncomfortable displays
- Instant change in behaviors such as Kicking, freezing after hearing or seeing something
To increase the accuracy, look for cluster of behaviors.
- Instant change in behaviors such as Kicking, freezing after hearing or seeing something
Torso involves hips, abdomen, chest and shoulders. It prevents the important organs of body. Therefore, our body evolved to respond in certain ways to perceived dangers and comforts. Following are the different torso tips:
- Torso lean
- We distance ourselves fom things we don't like. We lean away in the exposure of unpleasant images, and thoughts as well.
- We lean towards people we like. We expose our ventral frontside to people we favor. Lovers in cafe. Students in class lean towards people who they like. This gives a limbic benefit that says,"I agree with you."
- Torso shield
- We use barriers infront of us while talking to uncomfortable people. Hands infront of us. Using buttons of jacket.
- More prevalent on womens. They use pursues, briefcases, etc. to give comfort.
- Men do it in more subtle ways
- Arms interlocked means comfortable while tightening of interlocked depicts discomfort
- Hygiense shows the persons state of mind or health
- Torso displays
- Torso displays are a sign of dominance. It might be disrespectful in presence of authority
- Torso Breathing
- Under stress our body contracts and expands.
- Chest puff
- Seen when an individdual is threatening or about to strike
- Shoulder shrugs
- Gravity defying behaviors shows comfort.
- Partial shrug means might mean ingenuine
- Full shrugs show that theres commitment in what the person is showing
- The turtle effect: wherre shoulders move towards ear show low confidence and low comfort. This is an example of trying to hide your head or reduce its exposure.
Non-verbals of Hand
Our hands serve a purpose. They are reactive and oriented to protect us. They will rise up to protect us even whend doing so is illogical. Some non-verbals of the hand are:
- Gravity defying movements
- Happy, content & excited. No hand restrictions
- Negative emotions
- worried, threatned, & sad- Hands by side, withdrawl, arms sinking
- Hands behind back
- Higher status signal
- Emits the message,"Don't touch me. I don't want to be in contact with you."
- Don't come near me
- No physical contact
- Doesn't want to welcome you
- People reach for things, and people they find pleasant
- People avoid and hold away from things and people they find unplesant
- Territorial display
- Arms Akimbo: Arms in V position displayed by millitary, police, authority. Shows dominance and sends signal, "Something's not right here."
- Spreading arms: Sign of confidence and gravity defying behaviors
- Free hugs
- Great way to connect with people and make them feel comfortable and in sync with you
Fingers & Hands
Hands are one of the most important body part. They are more expressive, skilled and more dangerous than any other body part. Magicians, speakers and influencers take advantage of this body part to create great presentations. Using your hands freely helps you to be more expressive. People will treat you as more honest and genuine than the person who is not using.
Hiding hands can give negative impressions about you to others. It can make people feel uncomfortable and feel less honest about you.
- Its the best way to make a first impression. Hold a firm handshake for a brief time. Handshake can be a defining moment in relationship. Don't use your both hands while shaking.
- Finger pointing
- Offends people. disrespectful
- Okay if you are alone but not when you are talking to someone else
- Hand quievering
- Do to positive or negative events.
- You need to understand the context is fear or joy
- Sudden start and stop deserves scrunity
- Touching spread finger tips like in praying
- Shows high confidence
- Hand wringing
- When we are stressed or concerned about something
- Thumbs up
- Shows high confidence and positive sentiment
- Thumb hidden/ down
- Low confidence or negative feeling
- Thumbs can be used to access how one feels about in a current situation
- Genital Framing
- Dominance display
Hands are used for expression. If hands are restricted while explaining something, he is probably lying. A person who is telling truth will try as hard as he can in order to make the other person understand by using hand expressions
- Dominance display
Non-verbals of The Face
Our face is the canvas to our mind. It serves as a universal language. Although faces can be honest in dispalying how we feel, they don't always represent our true sentiment. Because we are trained from our early age to fake our facial expressions. Concentrate on what you see and not what they say and you can learn a lot more than what the person is saying.
- Negative displays of face: Anger, fear, antipathy, disgust, displeasure, fear, etc.
- Jaw muscles tightening, flaring of nose wings, squinting eyes, lip occlusion
- Positive displays of face: Happy, joy, pleasure, etc.
- Loosening of furrowed lines, relaxation of muscles, feeling relaxed, widening of eyes
- Non-verbal of eyes
- Eyes are hard to control. They can be accurate barometer how the other person feels.
- Head tilt: When we are truly comfortable. It says,"I'm comfortable. I'm friendly"
- Pupilary constriction and squinting as eye blocking:
- When we like something, pupils dilate in order to let maximum amount of available light.
- When we hate something, pupils contentrate. This allows us to see exactly whats infront of us clearly to defend us. They are the indicative of concern, dislike, disagreement, or the perception of a potential threat.
- Eyebrow squint
- Lowered eyebrows to be agressive and confronting
- But too lowered eyebrows means weak and insecure
- I don't like what i just heard, saw or listened
- A person's negative perception of what is being discussed
- Eye flash
- Positive geunine display
- The bigger the eyes get, the better things are
- Looking directly at others because we are comfortable sitting around the person on the front
- Eye-gazing is a comfortable behavior
- Non-verbals of mouth
- False smile
- Social obligation towards people who are not close to us.
- Corner of mouth move towards ear with little emotion in eyes
- Real smile
- Reserved for people we care about
- It forces the corner of your mouth towards your eyes with emotion in eyes
- Disappearing lips: This happens when we are stressed. Our body is telling us to shutdown and not allow anything into our bodies.
- Lip pursue: Disagree with what is being said
- Tongue display
- During discomfort, we tend to rub our tongues back and forth acroos lips to pacfiy an calm ourselves
- Tongue jotting: When we get caught doing something we shouldn't screw up
- False smile
- Non-verbals of the face
- Relaxed face
- Tight face
- Nasal wing dilations
- It happens either in excitment or anticipation
- Nosal Wrinkle
- Indicates dislike or disgust
- Disapproval cues
- Rolling of eyes
- Expression of disgust and anger
- Gravity defying behaviors of face
- Tucked chin & nose down shows low confidence and concerned for ourselves
- High chin and nose shows comfort and confidence
Deception is worth the study. Deception is difficult to detect because lying is used as a tool for social survival. When there is discomfort in conversation, its a probable sign of deception. The other person trying to distance and seperate is an uncomfortable sign of deception.
Liars will rarely make physical contact when making false statements. False smile is a discomfort display. Pacifiers and discomfort
- Get clear view
- Expect initial nervousness
- Establish a baseline
- Look for increased use of pacifiers
- Ask, pause, and observe
- Keep the person you are interviewing focused
- Chatter is not truth
- Stress coming in and going out
- Isolate the cause of the stress
- Pacifiers say so much
- Look for differences in between what is being said and the non-verbals
- Observing emphasis is important. Its universal when people are being genuine. Liars engage their cognitive brains in order to decide what to say and how to deceive, but rarely do they think about the presentation of the lie.When liars attempt to fabricate an answer, their emphasis looks unnatural
- Lack of emphasis in hand behaviors is a sign of deception