From my perspective, being able to read and understand body language is a form of art and a powerful skill to have. At the same time, it seems dangerously similar to Russian roulette because people are so unique and you need to be able to adapt accordingly keeping in mind the different cultures and patterns people have around the globe.

Trying to learn about body language and facial expressions has become an obsession for me since the TV show „Lie to me” came on. To this day, I still remember what all the micro-expressions mean, why and when people use them or how to detect fake emotions. Full disclosure, for a moment there I was truly committed to discover if/when people were lying to me.

I wanted to see if I can apply what I’ve learnt into the real world. The short answer? Yes and No. The science behind it is quite complex and a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration. Also I didn’t shy away from making the analysis on myself and see if the universal bogy language applies to me as well. Surprise, surprise, a few of them did.

In the words of Galadriel from Lord of the rings: „The world is changed”. And let’s be honest, more often than not, we can’t even tell if this is a good thing. The way we now approach topics like body language, personal data, digital footprint and even espionage has revolutionized our thinking, behavior and our day to day activities.

You know me. Being nosy is my second nature. And knowing that, this is not me being curious in this interview with David Stephens, who’s the program Manager and senior mentor at the Body Language Academy by Joe Navarro. What they do is help people to become better observers of their surroundings and use their skills in understanding body language in a wide range of applications. 

David worked in national security and international relations for the Australian Government. He was responsible for managing defense relationships with different countries from the entire world. Currently he uses his skills to train individuals and organizations in emotional intelligence, detecting truth and lies and better understanding non-verbal communication and decision making.

I was lucky enough to do a quick interview with David about some interesting topics like espionage and body language.

Have a read.

When we are talking about effective methods of espionage, what do you believe would work in our society today: the old or new ways?

While there are many new ways countries commit espionage today, everything still involves understanding and reading people, whether that is in person or looking for an individual’s digital footprint. As such, an understanding of nonverbal communication, which applies as much to the digital world as it does to the non-digital world will remain a central requirement for any agency involved in counter espionage activities. In fact, understanding how people correspond and relate in the digital world is often referred to as „digital body language”.

Being a body language expert has its perks, but has this job changed the way you interact with people on a daily basis? Do you look for „clues” to see if someone is lying?

When you understand how to read others, as well as how you come across you begin to see these signs everywhere. Ultimately it is all about being a better observer of the world around you. How you use these skills is then up to you and this is where emotional intelligence plays a part. Having the judgment about when to speak up when you see something or when to remain silent is important.

People will not always thank you for seeing their true emotions or when they may not be telling the truth. Like every skill, using it wisely is the key to making good decisions and maintaining good relationships. Ultimately, such skills can help you to understand people better and therefore build better relationships.

Retiring from a job that multiple people dream of having (including me at some point) can bring out mixed feelings. Do you ever miss it?

Having worked in national security jobs for many years, I now enjoy teaching others in these fields the skills that I have developed and found so useful over the years. Of course we all miss the excitement of working in these fields, but ultimately I now enjoy teaching these important skills to others who work in the field, as I feel I can continue contributing in this way.

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