“When the lips disappear, troubles are near” summarizes a dynamic presentation on nonverbal communication by Joe Navarro at Loring Ward’s 2017 National Education Conference. Navarro has studied non-verbal behavior for 45 years, with 25 of those years in the FBI catching criminals and spies. Today he is an internationally recognized expert in the interpretation of non-verbal behavior.

Body language can communicate more than we realize: danger, emotions, thoughts, desires, insecurities, intentions, manners, competence, trust, personality, respect, empathy and more.

Here are some of the clues to watch for in ourselves and in others.

Behaviors that indicate discomfort or dislike:

  • Covering or rubbing the eyes
  • Wrinkling the nose
  • Pursing the lips or shifting the jaw
  • Interlacing the fingers and rubbing them together

Behaviors that indicate insecurities or worries:

  • Touching the neck, covering the neck
  • Men touching their tie
  • Pulling at the neck of a shirt or jacket
  • Women adjusting their hair

On the other hand, so to speak, “steepling” the hands is one of the only nonverbal behaviors that displays confidence.

5 Ways to Improve Communication:

  1. Give personal space: Come in and shake hands and then step back and position yourself at a slight angle to the other person
  2. Hand shake: Never do the “probe” or the politician (cover with other hand)
  3. Point with the open palm of your hand, not with one finger
  4. Tilting your head is more important than smiling — it demonstrates you are listening
  5. When you speak, make sure others can always see your hands. Don’t hide behind things

5  Traits of Exceptional People:

  1. They have mastery over themselves. You cannot achieve great things if you do not master yourself. If you cannot focus and plow through whatever life throws at you, you do not have mastery over yourself. As financial advisors, take responsibility for your education, data, cybersecurity, etc., but do not expect perfection.
  2. They are good observers. We are taught to look but we are not taught to observe. Most of us don’t know what to look for. Good observers see the wants, needs, and desires of others so they can act on them.
  3. They act quickly and effectively, but pro-socially. Humans gravitate toward anyone who acts in their behalf. For example, when clients come to your office for an appointment, don’t wait for them to come in to your office, come out to your waiting area to greet them and make them feel welcome. Don’t expect different results if you do the same things everyone else is doing.
  4. They communicate non-verbally and verbally. Communicate effectively and with a purpose. How we present ourselves to others and how we converse with others matters.
  5. They provide comfort – specifically, psychological comfort. Humans don’t want perfection. Humans want comfort. Stop telling people what to do. They want to be listened to. If I am your client and you know I like coffee, don’t offer me tea.

Always ask yourself: How can I be more empathetic and put myself in my clients’ shoes?