Book Review: What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People

Regardless of what kind of small company you manage in, you cannot escape the fact that effectively dealing with PEOPLE  is key to your success.  Even the most office-bound managers among us still have to perform employee evaluations, lead company meetings, attend business dinners, deal with councils and commissions, inverview potential new hires, perform face-to-face customer service, resolve conflicts among employees, or attempt to sell something every once in awhile.  But people are inherently complicated, and rarely tell you how they truly feel or what they’re really thinking . . . or do they?  Enter the art—and the science–of non-verbal communication as taught by former FBI Agent Joe Navarro.

Joe’s book, What Every BODY is Saying ended up in my recommendations list a few months ago, and I ordered it because I had some upcoming air travel and thought it looked like an interesting read.  Little did I know how wrong I was . . . because this book turned out to be a GREAT read.  In the three or so hours I spent going through this book the first time, I learned more new things about communication than Dr. Phil pretends to know—things I literally started using at work the very next day.  And for the visual learners out there, Joe includes 90 extremely well-done photos and nearly 60 short, real-life case studies to illustrate his points.  I also loved the fact that Joe spends a great deal of time explaining WHY the brain makes our various body parts react the way they do. For example, Joe not only teaches us that massaging the neck is a sign of stress, but explains why the brain tells the hand to rub the neck when people are experiencing stress.

The only knock on this book, if I was forced to give one, is that it does a great job of prepping people to interpret body language, but provides little information in the way of using your own body language to influence others.  I am a habitual body language ‘thrower,’ and often use (or try to use) non-verbal communication to my advantage.  For example, if I’m sitting in a meeting and believe the organizer is purposely not involving me in the discussion, I will sometimes ‘force’ the speaker to acknowledge me by using my body language to disrupt the conversation.  But in fairness to the author, this is a completely different topic and easily justifies a second book.

In summary, in addition to the obvious value of its content, I recommend this book for the following reasons:

  1. It Has Lots of Pictures and Case Studies – 90 photos and nearly 60 real-life stories.
  2. It’s a Quick Read – four hours for most people.
  3. It’s Cheap – List price of $18.95, typically sells for less than $14 online.
  4. Other People Like it Too –  as of the date of this post, the book was in the Top 200 in “All Books” on

The ability to pick up on, interpret, and react to non-verbal communication (in my opinion) is one of those invaluable soft-skills that separates people who have sustained and long-term success in business from those who can never seem to get it right.  If you want to learn some real secrets of non-verbal communication from someone who would definitely know, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

If you take my recommendation and end up buying the book, feel free to tell others what you think by replying to this post.

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