I’ve always had a bit of trouble reading social cues and I’ve always been interested in how a great deal of our communication happens non-verbally. How to Read and Use Body Language is an introduction into non-verbal communication.
The author has a background in acting and she uses her experience in this field as well as other examples to illustrate different facets of our behavior. Some parts are fascinating and highlight things that I didn’t know previously, while others do tread into territory that is widely known. However, the book is split into nicely-sized chapters and the writing style flows well, meaning that it is a book you can either pick up and dip into occasionally as you see fit or read through fairly quickly.
I found the examples used helped, and photos are included too. A great deal of the examples are from movies or common situations so they’re things that should be useful to the reader. It pretty much goes without saying, but this book is mainly for the Western world. The author does mention how body language differs from culture to culture but doesn’t go into any great detail, so don’t expect this to give you a window into every single person in the world. Also, don’t expect this book to be a secret code to allow you to manipulate people and read what they are thinking. This is mostly an introductory book and the author repeats the importance of context. Any number of factors can influence our body language and it is wise to take these into account when you are observing people.
She offers tips for how to present yourself and offers exercise to test the importance of body language and how the way you carry yourself can affect your interactions with other people. I’m not going to try many of these out but a few of them seem fun. The main areas the book focuses on are romance, confidence, and lying. It gives a good overview of how body language can be interpreted and I look forward to trying out some of the techniques she suggests. I would stress that this is very much an introduction to body language, but if you’d like to know more about non-verbal communication this is a good place to start. It’s easy to read, provides good, clear examples, and offers exercises for you to hone your observational techniques and present yourself in a different way.