What every BODY is saying by Joe Navarro



The long and the short of this book is that reading nonverbal cues is hard but very telling. As an ex-FBI agent, Joe Navarro built this skill over many years with endless opportunities to practice. While I do not think I’ll ever master this subject, this book did help me better understand the nonverbal cues I give off. For example, standing with a wider stance can help you feel more comfortable in a situation as it helps you have better balance and claim more territory. To others, this will show you have confidence in the situation you are in, and show that you are comfortable. I broke down many more examples he gave and how they can be interpreted below….happy cue hunting.


1. Mastering the secrets of nonverbal communication - nonverbal communication often tells you more than the words people actually speak. You can tell how someone feels based on their nonverbal cues and use that and the words to get the whole picture. It is important to be a competent observer of your environment. Don't just see, observe. Observing in context is key to understanding non-verbal behavior. You also need to learn to recognize non-verbal behaviors that are universal. Learn to recognize and decode idiosyncrasies. There are certain tells for individuals that you learn over time. When you interact with others, try to gather their baseline behaviors. Also, always try to watch people for multiple tells. It's important to watch for sudden changes in behavior. Learning to detect false nonverbal signals is also critical. Knowing how to distinguish between comfort and discomfort will help you decipher what the bodies and minds are truly saying. When observing others, be subtle about it. Intrusive observation will tip others off.

2. Living our limbic legacy - the limbic brain is or emotional and honest portion of our brain that is key to understanding non-verbal behavior. This system creates the freeze, fight , or flight response. Freezing is a modern response when we freeze in an uncomfortable situation. Flight is no longer needed in the modern world, but this has changed into distancing ourselves from the situation. Fight has also evolved from a physical response to a negative vocal response. Limbic responses are engrained in our brains unless we teach it otherwise.

3. Pacifying behaviors - or first pacifying behavior is sticking on a pacifier. After this, we Deloitte more subtle behaviors when uncomfortable. These are usually different variations of touching yourself. A few examples include massaging the neck, whistling or talking to yourself, and cleansing the legs. It is important to remember that people will do these naturally as well, so you need to get a baseline feel for how much someone pacifies before jumping to conclusions.

4. Legs and feet - our legs and feet give some of the most reliable nonverbal tells because they have been crucial to the fight or flight response since day 1. Our early ancestors had to be prepared to run at any instant. One example is the happy feet when something really exciting is about to happen to someone or that they're very excited about what just happened. Another notable change is the direction the feet shift when you enter a conversation. When people's feet shift towards you, they would like you to join, but if they shift away, they would prefer you to exit the conversation. While standing, the distance between your feet can show if you are trying to show a territorial display or not. During confrontation, people tend to widen their feet as this is taking up more territory and strength.

5. Torso - similar to the feet directions, the way you lean shows how you feel about something. We will lean away from things we dislike and towards things we are comfortable with. We will also subconsciously turn towards/away from people we agree/disagree with. Another way of showing discomfort is shielding which is covering your torso with your arms crossed or any other way of moving their arms or an object like a coat or pillow in front of their torso. Breathing deeply and puffing out the chest are two ways someone will nonverbally use the torso when in a confrontation. Overall, the torso so many vital organs that it has been crucial for us to protect since the early human days. This makes it a key location to look for nonverbal cues.

6. The Arms - our arms have long been the protector of our torso and viral organs, so they are another great indicator. And up = excited, arms down = upset. Similar to the feet and torso, when we keep our arms closer to someone it means we feel comfortable with then, but if we keep our arms behind our back, it gives a standoffish vibe. We also use our and to claim territory. Higher confidence individuals will take up more space at a table than lower confidence people that might out their arms between their legs. Touching and giving are a great way to show comfort as well. Overall, the arms can be used to defend or torso and vital organs, claim territory and show confidence, and also sure comfort through openness and touch.

7. Hands and Fingers - as humans, we are trained to focus on the hands. One example is the use of hand gestures in persuasive speeches. You always want to keep your hands in the open while talking with people as this helps build trust nonverbally. When your hands sweat or shake, it's an obvious tell that you're feeling a strong emotion. This could be shaking in excitement or because you're nervous. You need to use context clues to be certain.

8. The Face - nonverbals of the face can be very honest, but you need to be careful the person is not putting on a fair front. This is because the facial cues are the ones that we are most aware we are giving. Some negative cuts include tense neck, hiding your lips, flaring your nostrils, and wrinkle in your forehead. All of the opposites of these show a more relaxed state. Watching the eyes can also be telling. Wide open eyes can show surprise which you can use context to fine the meaning behind. Also, any form of eye blocking like closing, covering them with hands, or squinting are all negative reactions. Lip pursing is a tell that someone doesn't agree with what was just said. The lip sneer is a tell that the person does not respect the other. Blushing is another uncontrollable tell that can mean different things like stress and excitement based on the situation. Overall, facial expressions are tough to pinpoint and should be used more as supporting information based on other cues.

9. Detecting Deception - determining if someone is deceiving you is one of the biggest challenges of analyzing nonverbal communication. You need to make sure you build a baseline for the person's normal nonverbal cues, take all of their clusters of cues into account, and ask questions that will allow you to see the cues again to confirm them. If you repeat the ask, pause, and observe process over and over again, you will get more and more accurate analysis ok if someone is lying. The more you practice picking up on nonverbal cues and finding a way to confirm them, the better you will get. It's an ongoing learning process.

Review by Tyler Diderich

If you are interested in learning more about nonverbal cues and how to intepret them, you can use my link to purchase the book on Amazon: What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People