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The Dictionary of Body Language: A Field Guide to Human Behavior

Written by former FBI agent Joe Navarro, The Dictionary of Body Language is a comprehensive guidebook to nonverbal communication. It’s a practical tool that combines Joe’s knowledge of psychological research and his experience in the bureau for more than 25 years. For anyone keen to improve their interpersonal communication and understand the meaning behind movements and gestures, this is a must-have reference manual with over 400 behaviors. It may sound odd but even nonverbal languages require dictionaries.

Identifying nonverbals

Starting from the head, this book shows you how to scan the body and identify nonverbals like a body language expert. It’s broken down into small sections on each body part for selective reading, but it can also be read from front to back. Increasing your awareness of certain behaviors is the first step to becoming fluent in nonverbal communication. During body language training people often report that once they become aware of key nonverbals they start to see them everywhere. Suddenly you notice the way your friend raises one shoulder or bites their lip when answering a question. This gives you extra information to assess their intentions, motivations, wants, or discomfort.

Look up behaviors you observe but don’t understand

The Dictionary of Body Language is a reference book that can be used to look up behaviors you observe but don’t understand. Why did your colleague repeatedly touch the suprasternal notch at the base of their neck, or twist and rub their hands together during a difficult meeting? Were they stressed or comfortable? When your child bounced their feet under the table as you spoke about tomorrow’s outing to the local swimming pool, were they excited or bored? Next time you see that behavior you’ll be better placed to interpret it without missing a beat.

Another way to get the most out of this book is to make it about you. Use the book to identify what nonverbal behaviors you’re showing that you’d like to change. Perhaps Joe Navarro’s descriptions of foot behavior makes you think twice about the way you tend to sit in an interview. Instead of tucking your feet behind the chair you decide to choose a more relaxed foot posture next time.

What particular behaviors mean

Joe Navarro has developed The Dictionary of Body Language to help answer questions about what particular behaviors mean. It was created from the observations made by him and his colleagues during their long careers in the FBI. This book will help those training to become a body language expert as well as those who just want to improve their interpersonal communication. It’s something we use in our expert body language training program and it’s a great starting point for anyone looking for an easy introduction to the world of nonverbals.