What Every BODY Is Saying by Joe Navarro

One of my all-time favorite books is Presence by Amy Cuddy. That book talked all about how our body language speaks to our subconscious mind. Ms. Cuddy showed that our body language shapes who we are. I wanted to buy this book so I could see how it compared and contrasted. It was different in a lot of ways and spent a lot more time focusing on how our body language speaks to other people rather than ourselves.

The neocortex does a lot of things and it’s talked about in a lot of different settings. Most people who have studied it at all do know some of the basic functions of the neocortex. One thing that the author wanted to bring attention to is the way that the neocortex can deceive.

The neocortex is our “lying brain” and is known as the human thinking or intellectual brain, can deceive:

Ability to compute, analyze, interpret, and intuit at a level unique to the human species.

Critical and creative brain.

Covering vital organs or a neck is one way that people subconsciously express discomfort. If you say something and see someone begin to touch their neck, be sure that you are aware of what you are saying and have just said to them also. I have become more aware of people doing this in conversations with me and with others since the completion of this book. I have also become aware of when I do this in conversations with others and pay close attention to their awareness of my discomfort also.

We can know someone is pacifying by touching their neck but not if they’re lying. They may just be uncomfortable by the inquiry or comment.

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I have seen people do both. Women tend to be very subtle in this way but I see that happen frequently in social settings. Most times, I observe these habits from a distance and then pay attention to how the other person in the conversation continues as a result, most times… people don’t even notice when someone else expresses discomfort in this way.

“The ventilator” involves a person, usually a man, putting their finger between a shirt collar and their neck.

Often a reaction to stress and is usually an indicator that the person is unhappy with something.

Women may be more subtle and merely ventilate the front of their blouse, they may also toss the back of their hair in the air to ventilate her neck.

The author’s typical practice when meeting people is shared below and I loved it. I have made myself aware of this in all situations now. People do different things and oftentimes, people do these things out of instinct; but, they are all very telling.

“When first meeting someone, lean in, give a hearty handshake and practice the other cultural norms, make good eye contact, and then take a step back.”

1 of 3 things typically happens:

1. The person remains in place which signals they are comfortable at that distance
2. The individual will take a step back or turn slightly away which signals they need more space or want to be elsewhere
3. The individual takes a step closer which signals they are comfortable and/or favorable towards me

The author then went into sharing and explaining where he first looks when meeting new people. He looks at the feet. Most people look at people’s faces then go down, he does the opposite. I knew parts of this already as multiple research studies have shown that the direction of people’s feet shows their interest level. When I see people with feet turned away from me or from others, it is normally a dead giveaway that they are no longer interested or were not in the beginning of the conversation either.

“The feet are the MOST honest part of the body.” — Joe Navarro
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The author explained that interviews and meetings should be conducted without obstructions in the middle like desks or tables. It’s important that you are able to see people’s legs and feet as they are very telling, especially when you are sharing negative news or information. People do things for protection. I used to shake my legs out of habit and wiggle my feet. Eventually, I have since trained myself to stop that and no longer shake my legs or feet yet, I do interlock my ankles or feet for long periods of time as the author shared. While it does signify stress, it is important to note that not all stress is bad and often, I do that out of attentive stress and while I’m working for long periods of time. Nonetheless, I strive to stay aware of what I and other people are doing while conversing.

If a person constantly wiggles his or her feet and/or leg or legs and suddenly stops, you need to take notice.

This signifies that the individual is experiencing stress or emotional change or feels threatened in some way.

It’s unnatural to interlock ankles or feet for long periods of time — signifies stress, so is toes facing inward.

Interlocking feet around chairs or other items is also a sign that they need to be more secure or restrained. By moving feet under the chair they minimize exposed parts of the body for more constraint or security.

Does anybody do this? People are not always aware of these reactions or physical responses, but Joe Navarro definitely was. When interviewing people in high stakes cases, it’s essential to use everything possible that may signal deceit. He shared data that showed lie detectors are just as accurate as flipping a coin in most cases and while all the things he shared in this book cannot be entirely relied upon, they can be key indicators of things that do signal lying.

Shoulders rise higher to cover our heads when we are uncomfortable or potentially not honest.

Subconscious attempt to hide heads.

Turning the torso takes a lot of energy and turning it away subconsciously protects vital organs.

Pacifying behavior is anything that is used to calm someone and is anything with the goal of decreasing or suppressing aggressive or dominant behavior. Of the 12 things that the author shared to help identify and read pacifying nonverbal behaviors, the important part is that the person we are conversing with is comfortable and relaxed. When nervous, people may display the same nonverbals as they would if they were being dishonest. Number 11 is the most important thing in my mind, it is essential that the true stressor is identified.

12 things to do to read pacifying nonverbal behaviors:

1. Get a clear view of the person
2. Expect some pacifying behaviors
3. Expect initial nervousness
4. Get the person with whom you’re interviewing to relax first
5. Establish a baseline once pacifying behaviors have decreased and stabilized
6. Look for increased use of pacifiers — it is important to correctly identify the specific stimulus whether a question or information or event
7. Ask, pause, and observe — when grilled by an overzealous person in a staccato-like fashion, people will admit to things to end the stressful interview
8. Keep the person you are interviewing focused
9. Chatter is not truth — if they are quiet, they are not reserved, extensive drywall may be a smokescreen.
10. Stress coming in and going out, there will be 2 distinct behaviors, when a question is asked and when the response is provided
11. Isolate the cause of the stress
12. Pacifiers say so much. They identify what needs further focus and more information to achieve a better understanding of a person’s thoughts and intentions

When we talk to people, to verify truth, there are some key things to do. If someone is saying that something is a “yes” but they are shaking their head like a “no” that usually signals that they are being deceptive to some extent. This is one thing that I knew and had been aware of already but I think all are important. If there is inconsistency with some of the following things, the author shared that often it means that the speaker could be uncomfortable or not telling the truth.

Look for synchrony between:

What someone is saying and doing
Events and emotions
Time and space
A person answering in the affirmative should have congruent head movement

These are all things that I am very aware of now when people are talking. If people are deceiving, one thing that a lot of people do is become less emphatic, they do not want to feel as if they are overly convincing you of something they know is not true. If someone is usually quite emphatic and expressive suddenly becomes less emphatic, take note. Again, all of these are not clear signs of lying as nothing is 100% but there are things that signal discomfort or insecurities which are often related to deceit. One thing that is a red flag for me is when someone does something that I would not do. I’m a person of integrity and my word is gold, I never lie. If I ever have then it was not intentional and in the present, I never intentionally lie. While I’m not the most enthusiastic person, if people do things that are uncharacteristic for what I know of them, I’m immediately on guard and hyperaware.

To watch for deception, look for:

Lack of hand and arm movement
Sudden change in movement is because of a reason
People who are deceptive are often not emphatic

Palms up is not very definitive or affirmative.

Stooping is shown when people are uncomfortable/insecure and trying to hide in the open.

If one shoulder comes up or shoulders come to the ears it is a signal of great discomfort.

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This book was incredibly valuable. I love learning about people and understanding them further. I believe it’s valuable to pay attention to the nonverbals of everyone that we interact with, while they might not want to say something directly, their body will likely signal their true feelings.

I gave this book a 4/5

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