WATCH: Former FBI Agent Shares His Secrets About Reading Body Language

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Body Language, also known as Non-Verbal Communication, encompasses a wide range of our conscious and unconscious habits and actions, and it’s a form of communication that we can’t stop even if we tried.

Former FBI Agent and body language expert Joe Navarro breaks down some of the various ways in which we communicate non-verbally and also debunks some common body language myths.

{Scroll down if you’d prefer to get straight to the video}

Here are his thoughts on 3 common body language myths that you have most likely heard before.

1. Crossing your arms is a “blocking” behavior

Not true. We do this not to block people out but to self soothe. It’s essentially a self hug to calm or comfort ourselves when we feel uncomfortable, unhappy or distressed. Interestingly, we tend to do this more in public than in private.

2. When you’re talking someone and they look one away in one direction they are listening, or if they look away in the other direction they are thinking about something else.

There is no evidence to support this. All we can be sure if is when they look away in any direction, it’s a sign that they are processing information in some way.

3. When someone is talking and they cough, touch their nose, or cover their mouth, it’s a sign that they are lying.

Again, these are self soothing, pacifying behaviors, and not signs of deception. In fact, Navarro goes on to state that “scientifically, and empirically, there is no Pinocchio Effect“, meaning that there is no single behavior that is indicative of deception.

From his many years working with the FBI he has learned to pick up all kinds of information from the smallest of details when speaking with someone and questioning them.

For example if someone has a tilt in their neck to one side or another it means they are relaxed and if the neck suddenly straightens it tends to suggest there is something to look into there at that point of the conversation.

When we are asked a question that we genuinely don’t know the answer to our shoulders tend to shoot up very quickly.

When something is troubling us we tend to stiffen our fingers, interlace them, and move our hands back and forth very slowly.

Our ventilation actions are also a giveaway. Men tend to ventilate (i.e to waft air inside clothing) at the neck area if something is bothering them.

The goal of watching this non-verbal communication is not to make judgement, but to watch and assess what it is that they are communicating in the moment.

For more interesting insights, and to see Navarro in action, watch the full video below: