Arts & Style

Navarro gives insight to reading body language

Almost everyone has been in a situation where they wished that they had telepathic powers so they could read other people’s minds. Perhaps this happens at a job interview or on a first date.

Although the ability to read minds is still impossible, the next best thing can be done—reading body language.

Having spent 25 years as an FBI counterintelligence special agent and a supervisor specializing in nonverbal communications, Joe Navarro provides an insightful guide to reading body language in his book, “What Every BODY is Saying.”

In each chapter of his book, Navarro describes a different section of the body and analyzes the meaning behind each nonverbal movement. He covers everything from simple eye movements to shifts made by the entire body.

In addition to defining nonverbal cues, Navarro provides readers with images so they could better understand certain gestures.

Throughout the book, Navarro also tackles common misconceptions about body language. For instance, most people believe that the face is the most honest body part, and therefore the prime location to look for nonverbal signals that reflect an individual’s true feelings.

However, this is incorrect because most people, when trying to hide their true intentions, consciously attempt to alter their facial expressions.

People lie with their faces because that is what they have been taught since childhood. Kids are taught to put on a happy face and give a warm greeting to relatives, even though they may dislike them. People even compliment individuals who show no facial expressions by saying that they have a great poker face.

When gauging a person’s true feelings, most people start at the top of the body, where the face is, working their way down.

Having conducted countless interviews for the FBI, Navarro is convinced that the proper way to gauge a person’s true feelings is by starting with the legs and then working one’s way up.

Navarro writes that before humans learned to communicate verbally, they spoke with their body, the legs usually being those first body parts to speak.

If there was a threat, the legs would start to turn away from the danger; if something was attractive, such as food or a mate, the legs would turn toward the object of desire.

Having the ability to understand body language can be an incredibly useful tool in a person’s life. It is applicable to everything from job interviews to first dates to networking events.

It is true that certain gestures may have a different meaning among cultures. For example, holding two fingers up in a V shape means peace in some cultures, yet victory in others.

The vast majority of nonverbal cues have the same universal meaning, however.

If the popular saying, “Human communication is 20 percent verbal and 80 percent nonverbal,” is even approximately accurate, Navarro’s book is definitely one worth checking out.

October 9, 2017

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