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What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People Paperback – April 15, 2008
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While I do understand body language, It doesn't always come naturally to me - I might miss seemingly obvious things like someone doing the "Come here" motion with their hand, Someone needing me to get something for them that's behind me and pointing at it (but without verbally saying it), etc. A book like this is incredibly valuable to me, since it shows me what the body language looks like and what it means or may mean. Since I don't always recognize these things, even moreso than most people - This book is worth it's weight in gold to me.
If you are a people watcher, this book will provide insight light years beyond what you think you understand.
It also can help people who are a bit socially ackward with feeling comfortable around people they do not know.
A phenomenal book! I will now look at everybody in a different way, and try not to be creepy when I pay attention to their body language, haha.
Seriously, though, this was fascinating. I originally read this book partly because I wanted more insight into writing the bodily gestures of my characters during dialogues, but of course, these tips are useful for my daily interactions with others too.
One thing I realized for writing body language in fiction, is that even though we can see gestures in detail in real life, we may not necessarily describe these gestures with so much precision in our books: one, because readers might not understand what it means or they might even misunderstand; two, when we interpret someone’s facial expression, we may jump to the emotion without consciously processing what physical gestures expressed that emotion. So we’ d think: “her gaze turned wistful” rather than a detailed portrayal of her eyebrow, pupil, mouth, etc. movements.
I really liked the general principle of spotting comfort versus discomfort behaviors, as this heuristic makes everything easier to understand. And I appreciate how honest Joe is in telling us that there is no sure-fire way to know if someone is lying or not. Real life is never that simple to figure out.
The only reason why I took off 0.1 stars, was because I was led to believe by a certain paragraph in the book that we would see a chapter on people’s idiosyncratic, personal bodily gestures. So I was disappointed to find that I was mistaken.
Still, this was a fabulous book! Highly recommended!
Goes bottom-to-top across the human body to describe (and show, with good photography) what behaviors indicate confidence and openness, and which others indicate discomfort or avoidance.
Useful. Pay attention.
I'm giving this to my teen son to read next.
Top international reviews
This is a beginners' book. So if you are already a whiz at reading body language, or you are a psychology graduate, this is not the book for you. It's the pop-science/pop-psychology version, aimed at the ordinary man-in-the-street who wants to know about more about the subject, to be better able to read friends, family, colleagues, and so on. If you want something more complex than that - if you want a high-level textbook or an academic thesis - this is not the book for you.
On the other hand, if you are an ordinary person wanting to know a bit more about body language, this is a good place to start.
Equally, I think this would be a good book for writers who want to write realistic body language - there's a difference between being able to read body language instinctively, and having it laid out exactly what you're looking at, and the types of things people do when they're comfortable/not comfortable, so that you can then reproduce it.
Navarro might have interesting information to impart, but his delivery tends to be a little flat. This is not the kind of narrative non-fiction pop-science book that pulls you along with the sheer sparkiness of the prose. Get used to that, suck it up, and read the information. This is the boiled cauliflower of prose: good for you, but bland.
Unlike some reviewers, I am not naturally gifted with a brilliant ability to interpret other people's body language. Nor am I a psychology graduate. However, the content seemed to me to be accurate. When I replay what I've seen in my head, it matches up with what Navarro is saying. Furthermore, Navarro is very clear that body language tends to indicate comfort/discomfort - what that means is something you have to interpret in context. There is no 'tell' that will infallibly indicate when someone is lying.
Four stars for content, provided you're in the right target audience. Delivery could have been better, but not everything in life is fun and exciting. A useful book for those who want to know a little more on the subject for general-purpose use.
If you've ever read books about body language before, you probably know what's in this book already. Nothing unusual or surprising is revealed by this FBI guy.
I recommend this great book to anyone looking to gain that extra confidence and gift you the knowledge to be a step ahead in many day to day situations.
Rather than just saying "a person doing this, means this" he explains what the brain is doing. He goes in to detail about context and not just using non verbal language but the situation you are in, what is said and much more.
I've read a couple of books on this subject and I really should have just read this one!
The thing about body language is, we naturally know more than we realise and some of what he says, and all books say, is obvious.
This book just gives you a more thorough knowledge.
Ample demonstrations of the principles are provided through individual cases from the author's experience and pictorial material. I would councel against taking the cases too literally, though.
As with most material in this genre, I suppose the practice of observation is key, while this is a useful summary of what some of the stuff observed could indicate.
I also enjoyed the author's unpretentious approach and most of the time he keeps the security professional that he is out of the picture (although many of the examples come from that period of his work) - i.e. he does not let general suspicion get the better of him at every single occasion.
If you want to help yourself by learning to read body language you can't do much better than to read this!
Behavioral science is amazing!!! Seeing what people do and why they do it is fascinating. It makes you aware of what even you yourself do and what message you are giving out to people all without moving you lips! As the book says, it enlightens your life, and I do truely do believe so.
Its an easy read, and you don't have to have a degree to understand it.
If you're unsure about it, STILL GO FOR IT!!! And you wont regret it!
besides this, the book gives a very thorough walk-through of everything from pacifying behavior (adapters), the limbic system, to every major body part and their connection to what we think and feel. I especially enjoy the parts related to business and boardrooms, since that is where I (mostly) apply it.
What is particularly enjoyable about this book is the real-life examples from his life as an FBI agent that is used to to frame the different parts. It makes the read much better when shown how theory was used in real situations. He also gives examples from his own life with family and friends, making it easier for the reader to identify with the situations where you can actually apply the art of reading body language (we're not all chasing bad guys for a living unfortunately)
There is alot of knowledge here that you will not find in other books on the subject due to Joe Navarro's former occupation. I'm on my second read, since remembering all that wealth of information and what to look for, is proving hard:-)
A fascinating read, worth every penny.
Author Joe Navarro tells us how, as a boy exile from Cuba who had to relocate to the US with no knowledge of English, he quickly had to learn to read facial expressions as vital survival cues that enabled him to predict whether strangers would be friendly or hostile to him. Having developed this skill to a remarkable degree he was recruited as an FBI agent in his early twenties and served for 25 years, interviewing suspects and developing and validating his insights into the coherent and scientifically founded framework that he presents in the book.
Navarro goes through the whole spectrum of non-verbal expression, dedicating a chapter of his book to each body part: feet and legs, torso, arms, hands and face. Far from a dull lookup table listing merely that "this gesture means that", the book is rich with insights from evolutionary biology and explains how and why the limbic system, a more ancient part of the brain compared to the neocortex that allows humans to think, is primarily responsible for these involuntary gestures that happen subconsciously in response to emotions and outside stimuli.
The author is very careful not to allow the reader to take shortcuts and assume that, for example, a certain gesture means that the subject is lying. In almost all cases, he explains, all that can be accurately inferred from observing the gesture is that the person is under stress; other factors must then be taken into account to establish whether the stress comes from lying, from the mere fact of being questioned, from medical reasons or from yet other causes.
The book is well written and nicely illustrated with a wealth of clear photographs that really add value to the descriptions. The main text is complemented by over 50 "boxes" with memorable anecdotes from the author's FBI career that exemplify and demonstrate the principles described in the book. Up to date references to scientific research are scattered throughout the text.
A very informative, readable and entertaining introduction to the topic, by an author who clearly masters the subject. Recommended.