705 of 744 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2009
I thought some of the negative reviews were a bit critical of this book. This book lays a solid foundation to reading non verbal actions or "tells". I've read several other books on this subject and thought this was a solid read and I was very happy with my purchase. There is no single book offered that will turn you into an expert over night.
It is important to realize that reading people is a skill. You don't become great at it over night or an expert right after reading the book. Just like any other skill, you have to practice and work at it. You develop the skill of paying attention and picking up on the little things. Once you are able to do that, you then have to determine what all of those things mean. I'm a single male, small business owner and avid poker player. Being able to read people can be very useful in dating, business and at the poker table.
One thing that is very interesting is that some actions or "tells" are very common and seem to always mean the same thing. Other actions or "tells" are unique to each person. What may mean one thing for one person, may actually mean the opposite when done by another person. The "magic" of being able to read people is being able to determine what those actions mean for individual people. Sometimes it's not an action at all but it is what people DON'T say or do that can paint you the entire picture.
In my business, I use my ability to read people to determine whether or not they are being truthful or are uncomfortable with something. If I see them acting in a certain way that makes me believe they are uncomfortable, I go out of my way to explain things to them so that they might be more comfortable with the situation or outcome. In my personal life, I can determine whether or not my friends or family are having a good or bad day and/or might want or need something. This book should be a dating book as well. I can't stand dating. Not many people are very up front and honest about how they feel about another person, especially on a first date. I am not kidding you when I say that there are more non-verbal "tells" on a first date than in any other situation! If you want to know if a woman likes you or not, pay attention to her actions throughout the date. I'm not an expert, but I think I can figure it out in 10 minutes or less! (Good or bad!....ok, mostly bad, lol)
I enjoy playing poker. I play in home games and I play $1/$2 No Limit Hold Em in the casino poker rooms. This book really is a big help with poker tells. It's helped me make some extraordinary calls and folds. Several times I've stunned the entire table and the dealers with my reads. Just a few things off of the top of my head are, people who've made very strong hands will often tilt their heads while betting or thinking of betting, hold their hands together-touching only at the finger tips, bounce one leg like crazy (happy feet), slide their chips into the pot very slowly or gently or give off a genuine smile. People who have hit the flop also tend to look away right away if they notice they've hit their card(s). Normally people who hit the flop do not stare at the flop. People who are on drawing hands tend to call bets very quickly, seeming to give it no thought what-so-ever. People who have a poor hand or are on a bluff often force a smile (there is a difference if you pay attention!), or purse their lips together, have an increased blink rate, forcefully bet chips into the pot or speak very loudly as they announce "RAISE" or "ALL IN". They are trying to scare you or force you out of the pot. After reading this book, my poker reads went through the roof. I think it is because I was paying attention and putting more effort into it. I noticed another player at my home game would sometimes slide his chips into the pot without saying a word when he was all in. He keeps his chips in a big messy pile throughout the game. But sometimes he would actually take the time to count his chips and stack them neatly into the pot when he moved all in. He takes his time counting his chips and then announces the value amount to the table. When he counts them, he is bluffing. He wants his stack to be known in hopes of scaring off the other opponents. I call him with very weak holdings when he does this and I fold when he slides his chips into the pot without counting them or saying a word. He has no idea he is doing this and I'm not about to say a word! This tell is 100%. I actually saw another player do this in the casino and I made an extraordinary call to win the pot.
This book is full of good information to use in many situations. It teaches you the basics (and then some), but it is up to you to figure out how to put theory into practice and actually stay focused.
544 of 579 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2009
I have been in law enforcement for close to 30 years on a large agency- I am always on the lookout for useful tools of the trade that I can use and pass along to my investigators. This book is great! It is packed with useful information. No, I am not a shill for this book and do not know the author- although I have met many professional law enforcement investigators who have written good books and manuals. I am impressed with the insights and natural techniques contained in this book. I am ordering a copy for all the investigators in my unit, I am that impressed with this book. Sure, there is always something about any book that does not satisfy a reader- but I honestly must say there is little about this book that I didn't like.
284 of 303 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2008
Just finished the book this week, and I must say I am quite happy with my purchase! This is a great book that gives a very nice understanding of the limbic part of our brain (A part that reacts without conscious thought) and the reasons behind our body language to understand WHY the brain reacts with these certain resposes in our body language. One of the biggest troubles i'v had with body language is memerising what all the parts mean. But with this understanding of the Limbic brain I can now understand the WHY behind all the parts, and like other reviewers have said, this makes memorising SO MUCH easier as it changed the way I look at Body language.
For anyone really interested in body language, I would recommend you buy this book which will give you a great base understanding of the science behind our body language And then buy the "Definitive Book Of Body Language" Which in my view is like the "encyclopedia" of body language, These are the Must reads for Body language in my view. The combination of the two is really a knock out punch for a very good foundation in the understanding of Body Language.
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
This has to be the BEST book on body language available. The author gives you the groundwork for understanding the WHYs and HOWs behind gestures and behavior, which teaches the reader how to decipher body language for himself. He stresses the importance of individuality and the complexity of body language, rather than just giving black and white examples and assigning meaning. This book took the confusion out of reading body language for me. I really, really enjoyed it. I refer back to it often.
I highly recommend this book as a companion to Gavin De Becker's "The Gift of Fear", and anyone (especially women) who are interested in learning how to protect themselves from potentially dangerous people. I also highly recommend it for child abuse victims in recovery. This is the stuff we really didn't learn growing up, but need to know to protect ourselves in the future.
Over all GREAT book.
114 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2008
'What Every Body is Saying',
by Joe Navarro
If I could recall correctly, my initial introduction to social behavioural patterns of non-verbal communications probably began with Julius Fast's 'Body Language' during the seventies, followed by one of Desmond Morris' well-illustrated books, 'Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviours', in the late seventies.
My fascination with the subject grew, particularly from the standpoint of developing a competency in reading people, with the acquisition & reading of Allan Pease's 'Body Language: How to Read Others' Thoughts by Their Gestures', & more specifically, Gerhard Gschwandter's 'Non-Verbal Selling Power' during the eighties.
I reckon, with the wisdom of hindsight, those were roughly the pivotal books in guiding me to understanding the significance of body language in human interactions.
Throughout the ensuing years from the eighties, I didn't pursue any newer books on the subject, until very recently when I have come across Joe Navarro's book.
The author is a former FBI counter-intelligence special agent, which somehow has given the book an iota of authenticity, in contrast to an aura of mystery, about speed-reading people.
In a nut shell, speed-reading people successfully is essentially learning about the world around us, decoding & determining the meaning of non-verbal communications as manifested through facial expressions, gestures, touching, physical movements, posture, body adornment & even the tone, timbre, & volume of a person's voice - to predict human actions.
More specifically, it's collecting non-verbal intelligence to assess a person's thought, feelings & intentions, a competency that can be mastered through constant practice & proper training.
This wonderful book, with clear, concise & succinct writing on the part of the author, has been designed to serve that purpose.
It starts off in the beginning with the ten commandments for observing & decoding nonverbal communications successfully, followed by an insightful exposition of how our evolutionary triune brain structure contributes to our hardwired responses to the world.
For me, just understanding the freeze, flight & fight responses as well as an appreciation of the comfort/discomfort & pacifying routines - in reality, these are parts of our very robust survival mechanisms - has facilitated my renewed journey to becoming a better speed-reader of people. The author has discussed these emotional aspects at great length (Chapter II).
From Chapter III to VII, the author went on to discuss the non-verbals of the feet & legs; the torso, hips, chest & shoulders; the arms; the hands & fingers; & the face, respectively.
I have never seen such extensive as well as illuminating treatment along the foregoing lines by any of the other authors I have encountered earlier.
In spite of all the relevant insights & expert advice which the author has openly shared in his book, he has concluded in the end analysis that there is, however, one type of human behaviour that is difficult to read, & that is deception.
Nevertheless, the author has outlined for readers a dozen of important things to do & valuable points to keep in mind in the course of any interpersonal interactions. Reading them, I come to realise that they all boil down to developing acute observational skills.
In fact, the first commandment from the author, as outlined in the beginning segment of his book rings very true: be a competent observer of our environment.
As a case in point, with the author's assertion in the concluding chapter, paying attention to the synchrony between what is being said verbally & non-verbally, between the circumstances of the moment & what the subject is saying, between events & emotions, & even synchrony of time & space can often provide valuable clues to detecting deception.
Additionally, when we speak, we naturally utilise various part of our body - such as the eyebrows, head, hands, arms, torso, legs & feet to emphasise a point about which we feel deeply or emotionally. Observing such emphasis can also provide valuable tips on detecting deception.
To end this book review, I like to paraphrase a quote from the author's friend, as a result of the friend's personal experience in navigating the car to an unknown destination (in Coral Gables, Florida), mentioned in the epilogue:
"Once I knew what to look for & where to look, the signs were obvious & unmistakable. I had no trouble finding my way."
That reaction also more or less sums up my sentiment about developing mastery in speed-reading people.
[Reviewed by Lee Say Keng, Knowledge Adventurer & Technology Explorer, November 2008]
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2011
I had high expectations for this book because I read many of the overwhelmingly positive reviews before purchasing. Yes, this book is a fairly good read, but is not a great resource for reading body language. There are a lot of 5 star reviews posted from law enforcement mentioning how essential this book is to reading body language. Honestly, I am 20 years old and have no experience in law enforcement and I still found this book to be full of basic information. I think the most important message this book sends out is to pay attention when people are talking- not only to what they're telling you, but also what their body is telling you. If you pay attention, you'll notice when someone is comfortable or uncomfortable in response to certain questions or stimuli.
Since I found that a lot of the points made in the book are easy to pick up on and understand, I will point out some of the points I highlighted as interesting. If you have a decent amount of life experience, I think you'll find that you know as much as I do or more on the topic already.
- "When there is stress, the lips will begin to tighten and disappear" (Lip Compression)
- "We purse out lips or pucker when we are in disagreement with something or someone, or we are thinking of a possible alternative"
- Concealment of hands (under tables, behind objects) should be avoided because this can be perceived as uncomfortable, withdrawn, sneaky, or deceptive.
- Finger pointing is an offensive gesture.
- Steepling of hands is a sign of confidence.
- Thumbs sticking up, or sticking out of pockets is a display of confidence.
- Stroking of fingers or palms is a sign of nervousness/ low confidence.
- The feet are the most "honest" part of the body. How they react is most genuine, however, is often overlooked.
There are more interesting facts mentioned in the book that make it an interesting read, but I mentioned these because they are the ones I think are most interesting (that I didn't know of previously). Navarro also adds stories of his personal experiences in numbered boxes within the text to emphasize how these techniques have helped him in the FBI and throughout his personal life. The issue I have with these numbered boxes as well as the pictures within the text is that they are referenced throughout the text, but they are not organized well in the book. I feel like the pictures should have been added directly below the paragraph mentioning a certain behavior, rather than on the next page or 2 pages over. I bought this thinking it would have more information on micro-expressions, because of my fascination with the show "Lie to Me" based on Ekman's studies, but it didn't incorporate a lot on the topic.
Overall, it is an interesting book, but not quite as informative as I would have liked.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2009
This is a very well-written, entertaining, and easy-to-digest book that delivers exactly what it promises. The organization is well thought out and effective. The reason that I give the book four stars instead of five is that I think that it could be easily improved with the addition of short chapter summaries, e.g. bulleted lists of the points made within the chapter.
Note that the author repeatedly makes a point of reminding you that using body language to identify liars outright is extremely difficult. Instead, you use it to identify subjects/questions which cause discomfort in the person you are talking with, thereby identifying the areas that you need to explore further.
His observations on the innate "freeze/flight/fight" response of humans are fascinating. He puts into words things that you already sorta "know" subliminally but have never really thought about directly. I found myself able to recall having seen (and done myself) every single behavior he describes, and now I know directly what they mean & what to look for. He includes lots of personal anecdotes, too, which enliven the material.
Since finishing the book, I've found how readily this information can be put to use. Once I knew what to look for, I just automatically started looking. Curiously, I find myself decoding my own body language as often as that of others! It's amazing how accurate his interpretations of my own body language have been. For me, that has reinforced my perception that he knows what he's talking about. After all, you know exactly how you're feeling when you catch yourself performing some specific gesture or action, so if your feelings match your body language, well voila! Navarro just read your mind.
66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
This book can not only help you to be more aware of when to probe further about whether what someone says is inconsistent with what they may be feeling, but it also can help you be more aware of the messages you may be sending by your gestures, posture, etc. One of the things I like most about this book is that the author sets the expectation that you won't be able to know the "truth" based only on body language but that awareness of body language will help you to understand when you should be paying attention to other details of your interaction with someone. Anyone who works with people, especially in a customer-facing role, would benefit from reading this book.
74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
I found Joe Navarro to be long winded and not that witty in his explanations. Yes, he does make valid points and the book is peppered with FBI anecdotes but its more like reading prose. Besides, dont we want a book that will teach us the details we will encounter in everyday life, rather than in an interrogation room where stresses are magnified.
The Definitive Guide to Body Language is a much better read. It is more concise and contains more information. Its funnier too. Having said all this, I give it three stars because it is a good book. Just not a great one.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2010
Due to unfortunate circumstances in my life, I grew up quite alone, and without a good role model.
Consequently I didn't know how to show "tells" appropiately. This created great pain in my life as
I couldn't figure out why people would be so put out with me, especially authority figures.
I thought I was making people comfortable by slouching in my chair and tilting my head slightly
sideways and down to the right. I had no clue about sitting up straight when authority walked in
the room, or being at an interview, etc.
Reading this book has helped me realize this and so much more. I bought this book so I could
read people, but ended up changing my own "tells". Thank you Mr. Navarro.