Body Language

Not everyone says what they mean, but according to Navarro and Karlins in What Every Body is Saying, our bodies are more truthful. Apparently people are prone to look at faces first for meaning when they should be looking at the feet, torso, arms, stance and posture. The central idea of the book is that our physical actions are governed by our limic system which controls the fight or flight response. If you didn’t like someone, you might unconciously lean away or turn your feet away from them. If a person puts you at ease, you may find yourself copying their posture, e.g. crossing your leg in the same manner they did. Recently, I saw someone report a delay to a manager. The manager suddenly dropped their cell phone, thinned their lips and looked to their left for 10 seconds, a clear indicator of the manager’s emotional state. Because it was a departure from the previous behavior and occurred in response to a statement (“the project will be late”), I could make a compelling case that the manager was upset even though no displeasure was registered verbally. The book trains you to use body language as a way to make educated guesses on the emotional state of people. You can’t tell if people are lying, but knowing if they are anxious, upset or pleased can help you communicate effectively. The book is well-written, contains copious case studies and citations which makes interesting and credible reading.



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