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  • Writer's pictureLiz W.

Review for "What Every Body Is Saying" by Joe Navarro

*Workbook in Progress*

I am still catching up on creating workbooks for the previous books I posted questions for - including this one. All questions will remain available to you here in the meantime!

Intro to the Review

We have all had the experience of enthusiastically starting a new book only to realize that it is not what were expecting. The purpose of the following review is not to express my opinion on whether the book is "good" or "bad." I expect most of the books I read to be "good," Whether or not it is the right book for you is another question entirely. My goal for this and every review I write is to help you decide whether this book would be a good fit for you.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Does it seem like the content covered in this book aligns with what I was expecting to find?

  • Is the main problem addressed in this book similar to my own goal for what I would like to get from reading it?

  • Is the style and format written in a way that will not hinder my ability to get the most value from this book?

  • Am I the intended audience for this book?

If after reading the review, you can answer yes to all these questions, there's a pretty good chance this book is the right fit for you. If not, well, there are plenty more books out there just waiting for you to read them.

Book Title H2 (green)

An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People

Joe Navarro

Ⓒ 2009, William Morrow Paperbacks

273 pages

“Most people spend their lives looking but not truly seeing.”

Pick up where you left off:


Book Review

Author Background

Joe Navarro has 25 years of FBI experience using the techniques of nonverbal communication to succeed as an FBI agent. He lectures and is a consultant for those who wish to improve their ability to read nonverbal cues.

His website can be found here.

What Problem Does This Book Attempt To Address?

Most of us spend our days not paying more attention to our environment than we must. This leads us to miss much of what is going on in our environment, especially nonverbal communication from others. The book lays out a complete guide for learning how to read this nonverbal communication and how it applies in various situations.


· Concept explanation: Excellent

· Related stories: Many

· Data references and studies: Many

· Charts and graphics: Many

· Practical application: Very Strong

The concepts in this book are laid out in a direct and easy-to-understand way. Each chapter contains are numerous anecdotes that explored how the concept has been used in real-world situations. The graphics correlate with each nonverbal communication written explanation. He also backs up his claims with research and references. In the introduction, he says he worked with a research psychologist to verify all the data he uses. Overall, the combination of all these factors makes the book extremely effective at achieving the goal teaching how to asses non-verbal communication.

Writing Style & Presentation

· Tone: Conversational

· Organization: Excellent

· Flow: Adequate

While the conversational tone of the book makes it interesting to read and the stories intertwined in each section is engaging, there is a lot of material covered in this book. For someone who is truly attempting to learn and improve these skills reading this book straight through is probably not a good idea. The organization of each section is necessarily repetitive in order to lay out all the information effectively. The content is not repetitive but the format is, which can make it more challenging to not start skimming through the later sections.

Bringing It All Together

One thing done very well in this book is the exceptional explanation of each nonverbal behavior. New terms are both defined and shown through relatable examples that someone who is new to reading body language would recognize (such as a child slumping their shoulders when they feel guilty). Then Navarro demonstrates how it applies in high-stakes situations including criminals, board rooms, and relationships. The graphics are quite useful and listening in audio format without the graphics would take away from the learning process.

One main thing I took away from this book was that the body is more honest than words. Learning to recognize and understand the full scope of nonverbal cues benefits in all aspects of life.

Favorite Quote

“When it comes to seeing the silent language of nonverbal behavior, many viewers might as well be wearing blindfolds, as oblivious as they are to the body signals around them.”

Overall Recommendation

Who I would recommend this book for: Someone interested in practicing and developing the techniques of reading nonverbal communication.

Who I wouldn’t recommend this book for: Someone looking for a light, quick, feel-good read.


Discussion Questions

Chapter 1

What percentage of communication comes from body language?

Why is someone’s body language more honest than what they say?

What can observing body language help you interpret about someone?

List the 10 rules for learning how to read body language.

How can someone avoid being blindsided by negative events in their life?

Why is it important to take context into consideration when assessing body language?

What are baseline behaviors and why are they important?

What are some differences between comfort and discomfort behaviors?

Chapter 2

What is the name for the three “brains” and what are the three parts?

Why does it matter that the brain controls all behaviors?

Which part of the brain does the study of nonverbal communication revolve around? Why?

What are the 3 F’s?

Why did our brains develop the freeze response?

What does “isopraxism” mean?

What are some modern-day examples of the freeze response?

What is the modern-day adaptation to the flight response?

What is the primary way that humans exhibit the fight response in society today?

What happens to our brain function when we are emotionally aroused?

What is the purpose of pacifying behaviors?

What are some examples of pacifying behaviors?

What could yawning be indicative of?

What should you ask yourself when you see someone making a pacifying behavior?

Chapter 3

What is the most honest part of the body and why?

What is one reason people are best at controlling their facial expressions compared to other parts of their body?

What are 4 reasons for someone to have jittery feet (and legs)?

How do our feet react when we interact with something disagreeable?

What does a gravity-defying behavior indicate?

What is an example of territorial body language using the lower extremities?

What does the term “proxemics” mean and how does it differ from person to person?

What nonverbal behaviors display comfort with whomever we are interacting with?

How do you tell the difference between a comfort vs disagreeable leg-cross?

How many different kinds of walking styles have scientists classified?

What are three changes in movement of the lower body that indicate discomfort?

Chapter 4

Why do people subconsciously want to protect the torso?

What is the key indicator that someone is standing near a person or thing they don’t like?

What are the technical terms for turning the body away from and turning the body toward someone?

What is torso shielding? What are its two functions?

List some examples of how men and women display torso shielding.

What makes a person feel cold when they are under stress?

Why do we feel nauseous and sometimes even vomit when we feel very stressed?

What is the function of using the torso as a billboard?

What can grooming or lack of grooming say about someone?

What are 2 territorial displays using the torso?

What are some nonverbal cues suggesting a person may soon engage in physical altercation?

Differentiate between the 3 types of shoulder shrugs

Why is it important not to dismiss the nonverbal cues from the torso when assessing body language?

Chapter 5

In what ways can arms act like a first defense against threats to the body?

How do gravity-defying behaviors present in the arms?

What reaction do the arms have to fear?

What should be investigated when arm-freeze is seen in children?

What are some examples of common gestures communicated with the arms?

What arm cues suggest the desire for more space?

What is the arm-distancing phenomenon?

How are arms used to claim territory?

What is the significance in the difference between the two types of arms akimbo?

What nonverbal behaviors using the arms can demonstrate warmth?

Chapter 6

Why are hands able to reflect nuances of thought?

Why are we biased to focus on hand movements?

What impression does hiding the hands convey?

What is a universally offensive hand gesture?

What can preening convey during a conversation?

What causes hands to be sweaty?

Why is context important when observing shaky hands?

What is the emotional difference in hand-steepling and interlaced fingers?

How are thumbs used differently in comfort and discomfort scenarios?

What does research tell us about the hand movement of liars?

What is a microexpression?

How can the hands be a cue for the flight response?

Chapter 7

Approximately how many facial expressions can humans make?

What are some examples of universally recognized facial expressions?

Why can facial cues be harder to spot than other nonverbal cues?

How do eye muscles react to situations of discomfort?

How do pupils react to situations of comfort and discomfort?

What gravity-defying behavior involves the eyes?

What does eye-blocking indicate?

What can cause a loss of eye emphasis during a story?

What causes blink-rate to increase?

What is the difference between a real and fake smile?

What is the difference between limbic and cerebral lip compression?

Why should lip pursing be paid more attention to?

What are the two nonverbal behaviors involving the tongue?

What does nose flaring indicate?

What causes blushing and blanching to occur?

Which gravity-defying behavior involves the nose and chin? What is the opposite?

If someone presents with both comfort and discomfort facial cues, which is more likely to be accurate?

Chapter 8

What percentage of the time do people accurately guess if a person is lying?

Why are most people so good at lying?

How can using comfort and discomfort cues help expose deceit?

Why is it important to build rapport in order to determine if deceit is occurring?

Rather than being accusatory, what technique is more effective in sorting truth from lie?

If a facial expression lingers, what could this indicate?

What is the correlation between eye contact and lying?

List the 12 things to keep in mind when interpreting pacifying nonverbals

What are the three types of synchrony that should be present in truth-telling?

What are the three factors involved in vocal emphasis?

What is the relationship between lying and the touching of people or objects?

What is the difference in meaning behind someone making a palms-up or a palms-down gesture?

How does truthfulness or deception reflect in posture?

Observations of which three types of behaviors are most accurate when evaluating for deception?

Vocabulary List

These are words I noticed while reading that some people may be unfamiliar with. Use the worksheet to customize this list for yourself.

Accoutrements: (n.) An accessory item of clothing

Ameliorate: (v.) To make something bad better or more tolerable

Antipathy: (n.) Extreme dislike; aversion or repugnance

Ardent: (adj.) Characterized by strong enthusiasm or devotion; fervent.

Buttress: (v.) To give support or stability to

Conspicuous: (adj.) Very easy to notice

Corroborate: (v.) to support with evidence or authority

Disconcerting: (adj.) Cause one to feel unsettled

Dubious: (adj.) Giving rise to uncertainty

Evince: (v.) To show or demonstrate clearly

Idiosyncrasy: (n.) A unique behavior or odd habit of an individual

Impertinent: (adj.) Given to or characterized by insolent rudeness

Inordinate: (adj.) Exceeding reasonable limits

Judicious: (adj.) Exercising sound judgement

Mendacious: (adj.) Characterized by deception or divergence from absolute truth

Nouveau: (adj.) newly arrived or developed

Obfuscate: (v.) To make something more difficult to understand

Perennial: (adj.) Existing or continuing in the same way for a long time

Presage: (n.) An indication or warning of a future occurrence; an omen.

Ubiquitous: (adj.) Seen everywhere

Vaunted: (adj.) Highly or widely praised or boasted about

Discussion Question Workbook

The workbook that accompanies this post includes:

  • All discussion questions with space for writing answers

  • All vocabulary words with space to write definitions and add your own words

  • Chapter reflection questions

  • Final reflection questions

  • A condensed list of all discussion questions, for reference.

You can download this complimentary workbook for free:

What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro Discussion Questions Workbook - Oak Tree Reading
Download • 533KB

Download our worksheet to create a reference list of all the nonverbal behaviors taught in the book:

What Every Body Is Saying Nonverbal Cues Reference Worksheet
Download PDF • 418KB

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