It’s time to clean out your body language junk drawer. You been gathering information and tips, old wive’s tales, stuff from movies, and things you hear in TV shows, and even “secrets” from so called experts.
And guess what… Most of that information is incorrect and/or incomplete. Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy. But I promise, it’s true…
When I was a little kid I watched a TV show about a spy. He knew when someone lied to him because they broke eye contact when they answered a question. And that went for everybody he talked to; men, women, children, other spies, you name it.
All through junior high and high school I thought that was true. And I told other kids about it too. Had I known that wasn’t the case at all, that it wasn’t true and had no basis in reality other than “that’s what everybody always says” then Kevin Hojenackie, to this day, wouldn’t hate me.
The Case Of The Stolen Jacket
In the 7th grade my jacket was stolen and Katrina Brooks assured me Kevin was the perp. So I asked Kevin “Hey man, did you take my jacket?” And he looked at me and said “No. I didn’t. I don’t want your jacket”. Then he looked away as he said “I’ve got a jacket cooler than that one.”
That’s when I KNEW he stole it. I threatened him and told him he had an hour to give it back and if he didn’t I was telling on him. The hour went by and he didn’t give it to me so I told on him.
Not long after that John Shannon brought me my jacket and told me he and my brother, Mitch took it because they thought it would be funny. To make a long story short, it really embarrassed Kevin and he had never been in trouble before. Even though I apologized, he never spoke to me again. I think it embarrassed me worse than it did Kevin.
But wait a minute… What about the infallible body language cue that told old what’s his face, the spy, when somebody was lying to him? That was my introduction to the truth and reality about people handing out bad, un-researched information concerning nonverbal communication to anybody and everybody and not caring or thinking twice about doing it.
I swore that would never happen to me again. And it hasn’t. And it won’t. Because now I know better than to think there are specific body language cues every human on the planet executes each and every time they lie. When I grew up I even did a TEDx Talk about it.
After “The Jacket Incident” I began to realize that there were a whole lot more people doing the same thing I did. They were using bad information about body language as fact. That meant innocent people were getting in trouble and guilty people were getting away with whatever they were lying about.
Starting All Over Again
Just before I graduated from junior high to high school I decided I would clean out my “Body Language Junk drawer”.
I would get rid of everything I had heard from people who weren’t educated about human behavior. I would empty my brain of everything I had seen and heard in movies and on TV. Everything I thought I knew, but had no research to back up, I emptied out. I just threw it all away and started over. From the beginning.
That’s when I began devouring every book on human behavior and body language I could find. I went through everything I could find at the library. This was 1979-ish. There was no internet yet. Just encyclopedias and medical books and a woman librarian who looked like Steve Buscemi’s ugly uncle that always asked me “Do you think your parents would want you to be reading this?”
As a side note, I was doing a 2 day training session a couple of weeks ago and former TBI Director, Lee Wallace was one of the trainees. He said “Scott, I’ll bet you remember a book from the early 1970’s called ‘Body Language’ by Julius Fast”. I about fell over.
It was one of the very first books on body language and human behavior I ever read. (When you see the cover you’ll understand why we both laughed at that point. The old basic black and white cover, not one of the later, full color versions.)
This week I want to challenge you. I want to to challenge you to stop using that information you’ve been using for years. I want you to stop using information that you can’t find research on. I want you to start from the very beginning and learn about body language and nonverbal communication the right way. With the correct and researched information.
Step #1 is cleaning out your body language junk drawer. Just forget everything you’ve learned up to this point that you can’t back up with a valid source. Everything from movies, TV shows, and gossipy, grocery store magazines.
Next week, we’ll begin with the basics. That way you’ll understand why people do what they do, when they do it, and the psychological and neurological reasons as well.
So right now, go ahead and clean out your body language junk drawer. This will be great for you, I promise.