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Learn How to Read Body Language from a Former FBI Expert

The best poker players in the world can pick up on their opponents’ slightest tells, small physical clues that inadvertently give away the strength or weakness of their hand. Another group of highly skilled professionals also rely on reading body language to help them learn hidden truths, only they’re not playing a game. The FBI isn’t tasked with spotting bluffers on the felt; their job is to locate spies. And in a new video, a former body language expert explains what to look for, and what to avoid, when trying to decipher what someone is accidentally telling you.

Joe Navarro, a former special agent of the FBI who spent much of his 25-year-long career in the National Security Division working to find spies, sat down with Wired to share the techniques the Bureau uses to pick up on nonverbal clues and what they say without meaning to. He also went over why a lot of the common wisdom of what certain physical tics means isn’t actually true. There are a lot of misconceptions about why we fold our arms or touch our face. As Navarro says, “We humans are lousy at detecting deception.”

Note to self: never hold flowers like a weirdo. Also, wear a turtleneck while playing cards… and don’t purse your lips… and always try to stay relaxed… and you know what? Maybe just stick to low limits and avoid any tables where FBI body language experts are sitting.

As for the rest of time, there’s probably not a lot we can do to avoid revealing the truth with our inadvertent physical actions, especially in one-on-one encounters. But we can certainly be aware of what others are conveying with their every movement. Even if we’re not trying to find spies, no one wants to be bluffed on the poker table. Or in life.

Featured Image: Wired

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