If you’re looking to binge-watch some interesting videos on YouTube, the WIRED channel is a good place to start. We’ve especially enjoyed the Technique Critique series, in which subject matter experts — such as a dialect coach, lawyer, surgeon, and crime scene analyst — discuss scenes from movies and TV and explain their accuracy (or inaccuracy). But one video that was published this week struck us as especially insightful and applicable to preparedness.

In this video, former FBI agent Joe Navarro explains how law enforcement organizations use body language — or non-verbals, as he calls it — to detect unspoken information. You’ve probably heard examples of this idea in pop culture, such as the claim that crossing your arms is a tell that you’re lying or withholding something. However, Navarro says this is “nonsense,” and explains that it’s actually a common “self-soothing” behavior. He also goes into other widespread body language myths, as well as some of the real cues that investigators look for.

Watch the full 15-minute video below:

There are many helpful takeaways from Joe Navarro’s insights. First, it’s that analyzing non-verbal communication is more art than science — as he explains, “it’s not about making judgements, it’s about assessing ‘what is this person transmitting?'” If you’re suspicious of someone’s behavior, examining their body language will rarely provide a clearly-defined a-ha moment. Instead, it’s more akin to gathering clues that can point you in the right direction, especially when it’s combined with a verbal interrogation.

Second, as usual, you can’t believe everything you see in movies and TV. There are many misleading or flat-out wrong claims perpetuated by Hollywood.

Finally, the ability to recognize non-verbals is extremely valuable, whether you’re playing poker, haggling the price of a product, or trying to identify a foreign spy.

For more from Joe Navarro and his books on behavioral analysis, go to jnforensics.com.

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