The human body is fascinating, isn’t it? An 8 pound head (3 of those pounds come from our brain), opposable thumbs, 206 bones (with around half of them in just the hands and feet), and around 27 feet of intestines … just to name a few of the interesting things we’re equipped with. What is even more fascinating is how important a role our body plays in our communication with others. You may be surprised that there is a part of our body that can give us away and provide a window into what we are thinking or feeling. Can you guess which part of the body that is?

I found the answer to that question in a good book I read on body language, which I recommend to anyone interested in better understanding or interpreting nonverbal communication. The book is titled What Every BODY is Saying (Navarro, Joe. What Every BODY is Saying. New York: HarperCollins, 2008). Mr. Navarro is a retired FBI special agent who specialized in nonverbal communications. Here is what he had to say about the most truthful part of our body:

“When reading body language, most individuals start their observation at the top of a person (the face) and work their way down, despite the fact that the face is the one part of the body that most often is used to bluff and conceal true sentiments … When it comes to honesty, truthfulness decreases as we move from the feet to the head” (Navarro 55-56).

He goes on further to state that:

“Because they have been so directly critical to our survival throughout human evolution, our feet and legs are the most honest parts of the body. Our lower limbs provide the most accurate, uncensored information to the alert observer” (Navarro 83-84).

This makes me think of the animated movie “Happy Feet”, which won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. And just yesterday I had been spending some time with friends, and there had been a couple of kids running around the house. It made me smile to see both of them jumping up and down, bouncing on their feet. It was a great example of someone expressing their happiness in a nonverbal way.

It’s all really fascinating when you stop to think about it. How often have you given a fake smile to someone in order to be polite? Have you noticed how others can sometimes lean towards you in interest while you’re talking, or how some subtly lean away from you and cross their arms? Maybe on a date you’ve noticed a man fiddling with the knot of his tie or a woman playing with her necklace? We communicate so much with others around us without even saying a word! As Mr. Navarro states in his book:

“Nonverbal behaviors comprise approximately 60 to 65 percent of all interpersonal communication” (Navarro 4).

So I encourage all of us to pay closer attention to the nonverbal signals we observe from the people around us, and the nonverbal cues we send out to others. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more successful you’ll be at interpreting what others around you are thinking or feeling!