What Every Body Is Saying: Quotes by Joe Navarro

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Are you looking for Joe Navarro’s quotes from What Every Body Is Saying? What are some of the most noteworthy passages worth revisiting?

In What Every Body Is Saying, former FBI agent Joe Navarro explains how to read speed-read people off their body language. He argues that body language cues are more accurate indicators of someone’s intentions and emotions than their words because the body doesn’t lie.

Here’s a selection of passages with explanations.

What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People

In What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro provides expert insights into how to decipher body language. He argues that by practicing good observation skills and learning to decode universal patterns of behavior, you can master the language of nonverbal communication, gain access to people’s true thoughts and feelings, and detect signs of deception.

The following Joe Navarro’s quotes highlight some of the key ideas from the book:

“We lie with our faces because that’s what we’ve been taught to do since early childhood. “Don’t make that face,” our parents growl when we honestly react to the food placed in front of us. “At least look happy when your cousins stop by,” they instruct, and you learn to force a smile. Our parents—and society—are, in essence, telling us to hide, deceive, and lie with our faces for the sake of social harmony. So it is no surprise that we tend to get pretty good at it, so good, in fact, that when we put on a happy face at a family gathering, we might look as if we love our in-laws when, in reality, we are fantasizing about how to hasten their departure.”

Unlike other parts of our bodies, we’ve trained our faces to mask how we truly feel. This means that when reading facial expressions, you must use careful judgment and look for subtle cues. He contends that lying is an adaptation that many of us have formed since childhood—we’ve learned to hide displeasure and feign agreement to maintain relationships and avoid conflict.

With this in mind, Navarro suggests you pay more attention to the first emotion that you notice when reading someone’s facial cues. For example, if you make a suggestion to someone and notice they furrow their brow before nodding in agreement, give more weight to the first behavior you observe (the furrowing of the brow).

Also, focus more on displays of negative emotions over positive ones. If someone says they’re excited but their facial expression indicates displeasure, consider the negative emotion as more truthful. This is because it’s often harder for someone to conceal their body’s limbic response to discomfort than it is to feign pleasure.

“Research tells us liars tend to gesture less, touch less, and move their arms and legs less than honest people.”

No behavioral cue can directly indicate whether or not a person is lying. Research has shown that even the most experienced behavioral analysis experts have, at best, a 60% chance of correctly guessing whether someone’s lying. However, as a general rule of thumb, liars display less expressive body language.

“For our purposes, any touching of the face, head, neck, shoulder, arm, hand, or leg in response to a negative stimulus (e.g., a difficult question, an embarrassing situation, or stress as a result of something heard, seen, or thought) is a pacifying behavior. These stroking behaviors don’t help us to solve problems; rather, they help us to remain calm while we do. In other words, they soothe us. Men prefer to touch their faces. Women prefer to touch their necks, clothing, jewelry, arms, and hair.”

Navarro explains that people often comfort themselves when under stress by rubbing or massaging their necks, faces, or limbs. He explains that the neck and the face have many nerve endings that, when rubbed, release calming chemicals inside the brain and lower heart rate and blood pressure. These pacifying behaviors can manifest in different ways for men and women—women tend to cover the dimples between their collarbones, while men prefer touching their faces.

What Every Body Is Saying: Quotes by Joe Navarro

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Here's what you'll find in our full What Every Body Is Saying summary:

  • A guide from a former FBI agent on how to decipher body language
  • How to master the language of nonverbal communication
  • How to detect when someone is lying to you and access their true thoughts

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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