Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.
If you haven’t already, you should consider having a look at my book review ‘What Every BODY is Saying’ by Joe Navarro, a book about body language and non-verbals (excellent book title btw, with a little play on words👀).
Amazingly, studies show a majority of our thoughts and emotions are actually expressed through non-verbal body language! Basically, with enough practice you can decipher a majority of a person’s feelings and thoughts just through their body language alone and how they’re acting. Naturally, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the amount of things you can do with this information. You can assess how a person truly feels about you, whether or not something/someone makes them uncomfortable, and in some cases even figure out if they’re being deceptive or not.
This book was truly an eye opener to the world of body language, and I strongly, strongly recommend you to at least read a sample of the book! It is no exaggeration when I say it is one of the books that has, at least up to this point, changed my life. But enough now about praising a book that I’ve already done a book review on. In this first post out of what may potentially be a new series, I would like to share a bit of what I’ve learned in the book, as well as tell a few tales of times where I actually used information from this book, i.e had some kind of ‘Sherlock’ moments.
⚠️The 10 Commandments⚠️
Before we even get started, it is first essential that we establish the basics first, or as to what Navarro likes to call, his 10 commandments in watching for non-verbals.
1. Observe the entire environment. This means activating all your senses to observe the environment, not just your sight. Smell, hearing, and touch can all play crucial roles in conveying a person’s true feelings, as we’ll see later.
2. Observe in CONTEXT. This means understanding the situation, and establishing why a person may feel certain emotions, or why a certain person’s body might be acting in some kind of way. For example, if it’s extremely hot and a person is sweating profusely while talking to you, you can most likely attribute the sweating to the hot weather instead of deception.
3. Always recognise and be able to decode universal non-verbal language, as they’ll be the most common ones we’ll probably be seeing.
4. Always recognise a person’s idiosyncratic behaviour, i.e a behaviour that’s unique to this person and is commonly seen from them.
5. Establish a baseline behaviour. This means working out what a person usually does/acts in certain circumstances. For example, intense neck and throat stroking is usually associated with stress and discomfort, but if this person regularly does this in all types of situations, then we can discard this behaviour as anything meaningful in our observations.
6. Watch for multiple tells at once. The thing with body language is, that you can’t really attribute anything to a single behaviour alone. If a person feels uncomfortable, it will usually be shown through a cluster of different non-verbal cues, rather than a single one.
7. Watch and take note of changes in behaviour. It can be especially telling, when a person suddenly stops doing their usual, most commonly-seen behaviour, and instead does something they usually have never done before, in situations where you’d normally see them do their usual behaviour. For example, it can be quite revealing when a frequent nail biter suddenly stops biting their nails once someone who makes them uncomfortable joins the conversation.
8. Watch for misleading non-verbals. As important as they are, it is still important to distinguish true non-verbal behaviour from false non-verbal behaviour. This can be done to try throw you off, so it is of utmost importance you know when someone may be trying to trick you with their body language.
9. It is also important to distinguish between comfort and discomfort, i.e knowing when someone is comfortable in a situation vs knowing when something is clearly bothering them. Luckily, I think many of us are already quite good at detecting this, as I find people can very easily tell when someone close to them/a loved one is undergoing some kind of stress.
10. Lastly, you should also try to be subtle in observing people (basically, please don’t creepily stare at someone for extended periods of time).
With those 10 basic commandments that Navarro gives out of the way, let’s now move onto, what I consider, some of the fun stuff!
In this first post, I want to talk about behaviours you’ll typically see when a person is happy, excited, or just genuinely comfortable with a person.
A good rule of thumb is to notice if there are any gravity–defying behaviours that the person is displaying, for example jumping/bouncy feet, toes pointing upwards, etc. Such displays are almost always associated with some kind of positive emotion that the person is experiencing. It can be extremely telling when this behaviour also abruptly stops for a moment. This is commonly seen when people sit with a shaking leg over their knee, which suddenly stops shaking once they hear something they didn’t like or when the situation has just turned uncomfortable.
In general, from what I’ve noticed anyway, is that if a person is comfortable with another, their overall body direction will be facing towards the person they feel comfortable with, i.e their feet, hips, and stomach will be facing towards a person they feel comfortable with.
This is also very true with body parts that usually stay covered, for example the neck, armpit, and areas below the wrist. This makes sense though, since these areas tend to be very sensitive, and we only expose them when we feel comfortable and not in danger.
Another cool piece of body language that hints positive emotions is pupil dilation. A quick Google search confirms that the pupil will usually become much bigger when we see a person we like/are comfortable with. Always remember about context though, as the pupil usually dilated in dark rooms and environments as well.
Interestingly enough, all these behaviours can also be applied in romantic settings. There have been a few times where I’ve been able to deduce which of my friends like which, and vice versa. My biggest success in this area was probably when I discovered 2 of my friends had mutual feelings for each other. My male friend had confided in me and wanted to know if they should give it a shot, to which I replied later that they should, since the other most likely had feelings for them too. This was deduced through ginormous pupil dilation whenever my male friend joined the conversation, general body direction always facing my friend, and always turning to look at him when everyone starts laughing. Sure enough, on the second day he had come up to me and confirmed that they were now dating.
A place where being observant can really, really shine though, is when you could be playing games with people.
I vividly remember one time in a summer camp, my friends and I were sitting around a table playing the game ‘Bullshit’, a game that is built almost entirely on being deceptive and trickery. Once it was my friend, Seamus’, turn to play, he simply set a card down and told us it was the king of diamonds or something. There was no obvious tell showing through his face (he had an exceptionally effective poker face), and none of us really wanted to challenge his bullshit. However, if you really, really observed, you’d notice his body was shaking just a little bit. And that’s when it hit me that his leg was jumping like crazy just under the table, a massive sign of excitement and happiness. By putting 2 and 2 together, I guessed he was ecstatic because he had just gotten away with a bullshit and nobody was calling him out on it. This was later confirmed after the game ended (unfortunately).
Alright, I think that’ll be it for this post then. Make sure to me know if you think this could be a good idea for a series. Regardless, I might go ahead with it as this is a topic that interests me greatly.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!