The Importance of Body Language: What’s That, You Say?

These days, there are experts for everything, so meet former FBI agent, Joe Navarro, who specializes in body language. The language of non-verbal communication speaks volumes, and according to Navarro who was an agent for twenty-five years, it can help people succeed in business in ways heretofore unimagined.

Understanding body language can inspire confidence and convey authority and his book, Louder than Words, applies body language to the work place by promoting the understanding of unintentional physical cues that give away a person’s true intentions. It is a skill that anyone can learn.

According to Navarro:

“When you recruit a spy or you get someone to confess, it’s no different than making a sales pitch. If you’re watching a shoplifter in a store, you notice they try to hide in the open; their shoulders rise towards their ears and their head tends to be lower. It’s the same thing in business. You… ask someone what their projected sales are; if they answer with shoulders up towards ears they lack confidence and are trying to mask their answer.”

Non-verbal cues can and do convey anything and everything. They are exuded rather than spoken. Signs of discomfort, for example, can include someone touching their neck or rubbing their eyes. These cues are unconscious, but can be incorporated into a deliberate, silent vocabulary all their own. One way to develop desirable non-verbal cues is to pick some one you admire and begin to mirror their behavior. Study their mannerisms and adopt some of them as your own.

According to Navarro, some other tips to improve your own body language might include: when speaking to a group, hold your chin high, when using your hands for emphasis and keep the gestures open, but if you bring them together, “steeple” them with the fingertips from one hand pushing up against the fingertips of the other. (Watch some political leaders and evangelical speakers for just a few minutes; they have this gesture down to a science).

Body language and business coincide and overlap in what Navarro calls “the comfort dividend.” Making clients, customers or colleagues feel at ease is a selling tool, the true power and importance of which lay in recognizing when people are not comfortable. Reading body language will relay discomfort via squinting or rubbing of eyes, a furrowing forehead, compressing or biting of lips and the upwards crinkling of a nose. Interlacing fingers and rubbing hands together are two other true giveaways of discomfort.

An effective reader of body language will uncover deception even more rapidly than a lie detector. True clues can be found in the way the person responds to questions you may ask. Watch their process as carefully as you would listen to their answers, as errors in speech, neck-touching, lip biting and squinting and looking away are all tell-tale signs of dishonesty.

Navarro claims that one of the most interesting aspects of body language concerns its relevance to how other people perceive you. You have to dress for that job you aspire to have; you have to be presentable even if at home your dog couldn’t care less what you look like or what you wear. Clothes do make the man and the woman, as the old saying goes, because one dresses either to attract or detract.

Experts report that 93 percent of all communication is through gesture, facial expression and body movement, not words.

This translates into the fact that body language holds all our secrets if you can learn to look beyond words.

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  1. Vincent Harris says:

    Very good post. When learning to use body language to increase your communication power, pick one thing to work on at a time. Focus on it until it becomes an unconscious behavior, and then move to the next one. This will keep you from suffering the fate of most, who, by trying to do too much at once, never end up incorporating any of ot long term.