What you see is more truthful than what you hear.

People send out nonverbal signals all the time; it’s called body language. When someone leans towards you while they are talking they are saying they are interested and want to hear what you say. If someone instead keeps looking at their watch, they are preoccupied and ready to leave. I was surprised by my own body language I saw recently in a picture. Often, we have no idea what we are saying with a lean, a look, or a pause.

Criminals send out nonverbal signals as well. A book I read which really hit on this topic was Crime Signals by David Givens. His book covered a large gamut of situations, and he included several lists of behaviors we should keep an eye open for. One such list was:
  • Finger pointing
  • Lip snarl
  • Eye glare
  • Angling away
  • Vocal tension
  • Clenched jaws
  • Acute stammering, hemming, and hawing
Now as with anything, these are individual to the person and need to be taken into context. Someone angling away could also be fearful and trying to leave a situation. Or someone stammering his words could simply be nervous. You need to take things in as a whole. And someone with ill intent may have worked hard to control his angling away; just because they don't display all behaviors doesn't mean you shouldn't be wary. But they can't control it all.

It's not easy to pay attention to though, people's body language. Often we are wrapped up in our own thoughts and ideas so our focus isn't on the person we are dealing with. Not as it should be. And it's not just criminals whose body language we should pay attention to. Recently I knocked on a neighbor's door, and in the process of trying to communicate I believe I may have missed something she was saying. Later in the day I thought back to the encounter and found her behavior slightly confusing. I can't go back and figure it out, for the moment is done and past, but I wonder what would have happened had I paid closer attention to all she was saying rather than simply trying to get my own words out.

When you interact with people their body language speaks louder than the words they are saying, so pay attention to the nonverbal signals. Whether it is within a relationship, or from a stranger, their words can lie, but very rarely will their body.


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