+
upworthy
Education

Former FBI agent and spy catcher shares the body language myths we erroneously believe

Joe Navarro's insights are fascinating—but you probably don't want to play poker with him.

body language
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
man standing on concrete pavement

As an Amazon Associate, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

If there's one guy you don't want to play poker with, it's Joe Navarro.

As a former FBI agent, Navarro's job was to catch spies—people whose entire job entails tricking people into thinking they are something they're not. In his 25-year career with the FBI, Navarro became an expert in body language and non-verbal communication. In fact, he's written multiple books on the subject, including "What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People" and "The Dictionary of Body Language: A Field Guide to Human Behavior."

Navarro shared with WIRED some of the myths surrounding body language—or "non-verbals"—and some of them are so common, we probably don't even question whether they're true.


For instance, crossing your arms is commonly seen as a "blocking" behavior, to place a barrier between you and whoever you're talking to. In reality, says Navarro, it's a self-soothing behavior. Other common myths are that looking in one direction or the other is a sign of deception or that people who cover their mouth or nose are lying. It's natural for people to look in various directions as they're processing information and touching the nose or covering the mouth are soothing behaviors.

"We humans are lousy at detecting deception," Navarro says. Sometimes there are clues in specific non-verbals. He shares how someone's hair, forehead, eyes, nose, mouth and neck can offer information about a person. How a person carries themselves can tell us something as well. But there's not one single indicator that a person is lying.

"When we study non-verbals, it's not about making judgments," he says. "It's about assessing 'What is this person transmitting in that moment?'"

Watch:

Navarro explained that reading people's body language is often about noticing how their non-verbals change rather than just what they are in any given moment. Sometimes it's about someone trying to hide a certain instinctual behavior, which means the person is trying to manage people's perception of them. And sometimes it comes down to knowing cultural differences, like how people in Eastern Europe carry flowers vs. how Americans do.

And as for poker? His analysis of what each player was doing at the table at different times was quite fascinating.

"The similitudes of sitting across from a spy or sitting across from players—it's their reactions to a stimulus. We have behaviors indicative of psychological discomfort that we use at home, at work, or at the poker table," he says. From head movements to chair shifting to where people place their hands, the players are saying something. Navarro's advice to watch someone's body language on double speed to see what movements really stand out was particularly interesting.

As Navarro says, most of our communication is actually non-verbal, so it's good to know what people are "saying" with their bodies. But as it turns out, it's not always as simple to figure out people's body language as we've been led to believe.

You can find Joe Navarro's books on body language here.


Health

Motivation expert explains how two simple words can free you from taking things personally

You don't need to take responsibility for everything and everyone.

Mel Robinson making a TED Talk.

Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.

The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.

“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo (left) by Joana Godinho on Unsplash, Photo (right) by Robert Larsson on Unsplash

From food truck food to pet care, people are feeling priced out of things that used to be affordable.

Despite record unemployment, a booming stock market and easing inflation, Americans are still feeling squeezed at the cash register. We knew the pandemic was going to cause economic woes, and to be fair, things could be a lot worse, but that doesn't ease the shock of seeing the total on a receipt that's far more than we used to pay.

A user on Reddit asked, "What’s gotten so expensive that you no longer purchase it?" and it opened floodgate of financial experiences and feelings. Life in general seems like it's becoming unaffordable for many of us.

"I feel like I can’t walk out of my front door without automatically spending $20," shared one person.

"For me, that was over ten years ago. These days leaving the house is a minimum $50," quipped another.

Certain purchases and activities are putting a much bigger dent in our pocketbook than they used to, so if you've been feeling it, take solace in the fact that you're not alone. Here are the things people said they simply can't afford anymore because the prices have gotten too high, along with some savings tips for making some of your favorite things more affordable:

Keep ReadingShow less
Representative Image from Canva

There's probably no wrong time to shower, as long as you're doing it consistently.

Dr. Jason Singh, who has all kinds of medical insights on TikTok, recently weighed in on the topic he joked was “more debatable than pineapple on pizza.

That debate would be whether it’s better to shower in the morning, or at night.

You would think the “right answer” would be largely up to personal preference, much like which way to face while showering and whether or not to snack in the shower…two previous hot button issues online.

But according to Singh, there are definitive pros and cons to each option, which could settle the debate once and for all.

Keep ReadingShow less

The Princess Bride (left) Everything, Everywhere all at Once (center) The Godfather (right)

The 96th Academy Awards, better known as The Oscars, will be taking place in less than a week. Meaning some films will be recognized forever as the best of the best for 2024.

…But how many of us have sat down to watch an award winning, cult classic, incredibly popular movie, only to think…is everyone else watching what I'm watching? I don't get the hype!

You're not alone. Art, as we know, is subjective, and just because a movie is liked by many, it doesn't mean it will be liked by everyone.

When Reddit user u/imnachos asked: "What is a film you didn't really enjoy that everyone seemed to like?" their question got thousands of comments from less-than-enthused moviegoers. Some choices were to be expected, such as classics that maybe don't hold up so well with a modern lens. But then a few films that seem completely harmless and universally loved made the list.

Check out the titles below:

Keep ReadingShow less

Mel Robbins at the TEDx San Francisco event.

There are a lot of reasons for people to get discouraged these days. The cost of living is through the roof. We’ve entered the early phases of an election year that Americans of all political stripes are dreading and an increasing number of people are dealing with mental health issues.

That’s why we’re sharing a simple piece of advice from Mel Robbins that can hopefully uplift those feeling down by providing them with a simple tool to help when they feel hopeless.

Mel Robbins is a popular podcast host, author, motivational speaker and former lawyer who caught the public’s attention with her 2011 Ted Talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Church singer with 'next-level' range covers Adele and wows audiences on 'The Voice'

Atlanta-based Asher HaVon hit rich lows and incredible highs with his rendition of "Set Fire To The Rain."

The Voice/Youtube

Asher HaVon singing "Set Fire To The Rain"

Back in December of 2023, Adele told The Hollywood Reporter that she wasn’t fond of other people covering her songs since they cannot relate to them on the same level.

“I don’t mind it when they do, but I’m just saying they’re never going to be able to emote it,” she said.

But had she heard Asher HaVon’s rendition of her power ballad “Set Fire To Rain,” she might be singing a different tune.
Keep ReadingShow less