Louder than Words by Joe Navarro

This was a book I scooped up during the slim pickins sale at Borders. I pretty much cleared out the entire business section. I was just about to start a new job, and I thought if I had a bunch of business books at my desk, it would make me appear smarter than I actually am.

Navarro is a former FBI agent who is an expert in nonverbal communication. He can tell when a person is lying, or being deceptive, or is not pleased with the conversation. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.

He applies this knowledge to a business setting, and gives tips on how to a) read others’ nonverbal communication in order to better handle certain situations, and b) make sure you are not projecting a negative nonverbal, such as poor personal hygiene. It’s the small details like fingernails that are too long, too much jewelry, hair that’s a mess, that can ruin your professional reputation.

As I read each chapter, the next day I’d go to work, be sitting in a meeting, and start looking around the room to see what I could pick up from my co-workers. This sounds kind of creepy now that I read that back. Anyway, today for instance, I was in a meeting where there was a bunch of people in the room, and one person on speaker phone. The guy on speaker was being a complete dick. And so I started looking around the room. Sure enough, some of the nonverbals that Mr. Navarro described were being displayed by my colleagues. One person had crossed her arms over her chest and pulled her sweater over her mid section. Maybe she was cold, but Mr. Navarro had described this as a self-comforting technique. It’s something so subtle, she probably didn’t even realize she was doing it.

This is a book that I’ll probably keep on reference, and go back to it when I’ve got a big meeting, or employee review or whatever. Kind of cool to have a way to gauge people’s frame of mind without them even knowing they’re putting anything out there to be gauged.

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