3 books on self-awareness and body language

Written on: October 23, 2017

In: Motivation by Elisa Coleclough

culturally competent

Hello! This time, I would like to make some book recommendations, that I believe you are going to find useful because they will make you more self-aware, socially effective and culturally competent in general.


These are 3 books: What every Body is saying? By Joe Navarro, Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman and The Definite Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease.


First things first, these books are a guidance to identifying body language and creating more awareness, it is not that you are going to become a policeman and know who is lying or not. Which by the way, many times in the books it is mentioned that some gestures and body postures which might indicate that a person is lying might not be actually the case that the individual is lying, maybe she/he is just nervous. So, no policeman attitude please.


Having said that, what I do find useful in the books are:


Self-awareness of you and  your environment. The more we know about the people that surround us the more we will be able to interact, help, fit or lead. Also, it might be the case that we have always acted in a certain way and that is the precise fact that refrains us to get the impact we want.


Counter act for positive reaction. There are some pretty good exercises that you can use in your daily presentation that will shift negative postures into positive ones. There is one that I am using now quite often, for example, when I know there is a presentation about a topic that is not that interesting or may be the case that it is a topic that requires participation, I bring handouts. The fact that people have a piece of paper in their hands and have to write on it will make them break their typical closed position, with arms folded or legs crossed.


Shift a current situation. By understanding what some positions mean, you may also soften dominant positions from people who take control over the situation not allowing others to participate.  Recognizing power plays is important as sometimes you need to disarm them if you want everyone to feel at ease and participate.


Be a competent observer of your environment – Joe Navarro


Be more effective in your communication. Not only will you be more likeable, and approachable, use your body language to reinforce positive statements and to influence your environment.  But the more your body language and nonverbal reinforce your verbal communication the more trust you will build in your relationships.


The handshake evolved as a way men could cement a commercial deal with each other – Allan Pease


Bring the best in others. When aware of certain non-verbals, you will establish trust to help others feel at ease with you. You can always resort to some useful techniques to beat the defensive body postures and you will see immediately a mood changes and they will be more relaxed and positive.


Culturally competent. If you have to work or interact with people from different cultures, you need to be well aware of some gestures and nonverbal which are strong a compelling.  They differ from culture to culture, even the way we say the numbers, the fingers we use let us know where we were born, were you aware of that? In the book The Definite Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease you will find a section that refers to cultural differences, it is a must if your travel by pleasure or business and definitely want to make a nice cultural fit.


If you are not sure how to be polite in someone else’s culture, ask the locals to show you how things are done –  Barbara Pease


The books come with some nice drawings, photos and cartoons which make them absolutely easy to understand and remember. These books are really something that I read once but more than often come re-checking them to see what I can apply for meetings or daily uses.


As I said before when you change your actual body position will make you feel immediately more positive and approachable and people will notice it.


I like the fact that these books are written by experts in their fields and so they really explain step by steps what happens in your brain as well as the micro gestures, gestures, hands, feet, legs, etc. I find them intriguing, the more I read them the more convinced I am that proper body posture can lead you to great results and positive influence of your environment. Now, sometimes, I watch TV and see the politicians or public figures and the way the handle themselves, their body is so powerful, that no doubt they use it to increase and reinforce their leadership and likeability. So imagine what we “mortals” can learn about it, right?


Share with me, have you read them? Do you have any other books on the topic you can recommend? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions. Have a great day/week, Eli.