What Every Body is Saying

Joe Navarro

What Every Body is Saying



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Non-verbal language, or body language, communicates feelings and intentions that are difficult to hide. This type of communication, in fact, is closely linked to our ancestral survival instinct as human beings. Mastering this language is essential if you wish to truly understand the person you have in front of you, and, at the same time, if you want to be able to better communicate what you would like to say. In the book What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People, former FBI agent, Joe Navarro, shows us the ropes in learning to decipher body language, starting with facial expressions - considered the least reliable because they are more easily altered, as poker players know all too well – until finally delving into what we can learn about people by observing what they do with their legs and feet.

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Analysis and key concepts


Understand others better and communicate what you think and feel more effectively by mastering body language


Body language is controlled by the limbic system - the part of the brain that has helped humans survive for millennia


The limbic system also controls the subconscious reactions used to regain balance after a stressful situation


The first step to understanding body language is to become a keen observer of your surrounding environment


Noticing when a person’s gestures differ from the norm will allow you to understand their deepest feelings


Facial expressions can be manipulated, however signals given by the feet and legs are more honest


The feet and legs reveal whether we feel comfortable or not, and if we tend to be the dominant party in an argument


Our limbic system tries to protect the torso and belly, as they are considered to be our most vulnerable areas


The movement and positioning of a person’s hands, arms, and feet can reveal serenity, excitement, discomfort, insecurity or domination




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Learn how to decipher body language.
  • Better understand people's feelings and intentions.
  • Communicate more effectively.

Joe Navarro was an FBI agent in counterintelligence for over twenty-five years. During his long career, he specialised in the study of body language - facial expressions, gestures, movements, posture, clothing – in order to decipher people's thoughts and intentions. He is a regular guest on television shows such as Today Show (NBC), Headline News (CNN), Cable News (Fox), and Good Morning America (ABC). In addition, he continues to teach seminars on non-verbal communication for the FBI, the CIA, and at Saint Leo University.

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