Lies and the Limbic Brain

Think about a time when you pretended to continue an uncomfortable conversation as you moved into another room. Sure, you could still talk back and forth, but it was more difficult. Another item soon occupied your focus, which ended the exchange.

Discomfort rules your limbic brain. That limbic lizard brain inside is what moves your body to a safer room when you’re uncomfortable.

I found myself doing exactly this earlier last week. Fleeing the scene of an accidental argument.

I didn’t recognize that it happened until just this very moment.

And while I had nothing to hide, I displayed some of the same behaviors of a liar.

Body Language can help uncover deception. Image "distant distance" by Rennett Stowe, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Body Language can help uncover deception. Image “distant distance” by Rennett Stowe, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

We have spent the last few months learning to read body language. Looking for signs of comfort and discomfort, we can better understand the actions and motivations of the people around us.

These same tools can help us identify deception and lies. Continue reading “Lies and the Limbic Brain”

Reading the Confidence Tells of the Face

We’ve trained our faces to lie.

Social order depends on the cooperation of people to accomplish tasks, people that may not otherwise get along. From the Great Wall of China to your office this week, we’ve all put on a happy face to make a situation less confrontational. If you’re looking for truth, the face is one of the least likely places to find it.

Is this smile real or fake? How do you know? Image "t smile" by halbag, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Is this smile real or fake? How do you know? Image “t smile” by halbag, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

It makes life easier for everyone.

The face is controlled by 43 muscles, adding up to a wide variety of expressions! Even if we can control our facial muscles to an extent, our limbic system still reacts. It’s difficult for most people to maintain a mask covering their true emotions, Continue reading “Reading the Confidence Tells of the Face”

Confidence Tells of the Hands

Our hands help tell our stories.

Old scars. Class rings. Emphatic speeches to the masses! Insert rude gesture here!

Image "/approve" by hobvias sudoneighm, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Thumbs Up is a display of confidence. Image “/approve” by hobvias sudoneighm, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Before spoken language, our hands described the large monsters in the forest. Hands are used to protect the tribe, signalling for silence. They’re used to show gratitude and love.

As a result, we’ve learned to pay special attention to hands. They’re humanity’s primary form of communication. They’re extremely useful in persuasion.

Because our brain naturally is drawn to watching hands, Continue reading “Confidence Tells of the Hands”

Keep ’em at Arm’s Length

Imagine the last argument you had. You were convinced of your position. There’s no way the other person was right.

They thought the same about your argument, of course.

I’d be willing to bet at least one of you crossed your arms in front of yourself to block the very ideas being spoken.

Arms are one of our most expressive forms of communication. They’re used to build trust and rapport, as we’ll see. They’re used for defense. They’re used to communicate effectively at work.

Imagine the college professor, using her arms to focus our attention to different parts of her presentation. Lawyers use their arms to emphasize their points. Traffic cops use their arms to direct the flow around them.

We are naturally inclined to watch people’s arms — so much that illusionists and pickpockets take advantage of this to misdirect our attention.

In addition to emphasizing our speech, sudden changes in our arms also communicate our limbic reactions to our surroundings.

Image "Put your hands up in the air" by Thomas Leuthard, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Image “Put your hands up in the air” by Thomas Leuthard, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Continue reading “Keep ’em at Arm’s Length”

Never Let Your Guard Down:
Confidence Tells of the Torso

“And that’s when I walked in.”

You put down your spoon, absentmindedly. You’re absorbed into the conversation. You lean in, waiting for more details.

Our body language says so much. We’ve all seen someone’s shoulders drop at discouraging news. We’ve all leaned away from someone’s unpleasant tone of voice. Continue reading “Never Let Your Guard Down: Confidence Tells of the Torso”

Happy Feet and More:
20+ Secrets to Decoding Leg Movements

We’ve trained our faces to lie, but not our feet. Our feet telegraph our intentions.

I see it every week. My kid says she likes dinner but her body is literally climbing out of her seat, feet pointed towards her toys. Her priorities are evident, regardless of her words.

Through most of human history, we’ve relied on our feet to keep us safe without conscious thought. They just react.

Legs crossed towards someone indicates comfort with that person. Image "our bench days" by phlubdr, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Legs crossed towards someone indicates comfort with that person. Image “our bench days” by phlubdr, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Surprisingly, the feet are the most honest part of our body. They can exhibit both positive and negative emotions… if you know what to look for. Continue reading “Happy Feet and More: 20+ Secrets to Decoding Leg Movements”

How Your Lizard Brain Gives Away Your Secrets

Your head contains three brains. They’re all tasked with their own jobs to keep you alive. These brains have evolved over millions of years along with humanity.

"Brained" by Jose, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
“Brained” by Jose, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

The oldest of the three brains is the reptilian stem. It controls our primitive drives for survival, like our desire for food and sex.

To witness the reptilian drive to stay alive, check out this exciting video from the BBC: Continue reading “How Your Lizard Brain Gives Away Your Secrets”

I can’t hear a word they say:
Decoding Non-Verbal Communication

Hello #PRL reader! Today we’re starting our next PRL book, Joe Navarro’s What Every BODY is Saying.

Joe Navarro's book teaches you to decode body language.
Joe Navarro’s book teaches you to decode body language.

Awesome book. After understanding the concepts in What Every BODY is Saying, your eyes will be opened to these non-verbal behaviors around you, all the time. Continue reading “I can’t hear a word they say: Decoding Non-Verbal Communication”