Communication is one of the most powerful skills a human can master. Exceptional people speak in a cadence, have a pleasant aura, listen to and validate others, and use broad, straightforward gestures to communicate. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it?” In this episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show, Joe Navarro explains how to use nonverbals to communicate more effectively.
With 25 years in the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence and behavioral assessment, Joe has authored 14 books in 29 languages dealing with human behavior and body language. After more than a decade, What Every BODY is Saying, remains the #1 selling body-language book in the world. Louder Than Words, based on his annual lectures at the Harvard Business School over the last twelve years, was hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “One of the six best business books to read for your career.”
Joe’s newest book, Be Exceptional, highlights five distinguishable traits that most exceptional humans possess.
How do you spot someone who’s a skilled communicator? For one, people simply want to be around them. They put others at ease and demonstrate empathy through body language. Joe used these communication methods (and more) to get closer to spies and build a degree of trust. He explains, “Exceptional people have this ability to observe the needs, the wants, the failings, the fears, the concerns of others, and what really makes them stand out” [7:44] They make you feel good because they are focused on you. They’re hyper-attentive, always in tune with you, and are empathetic.
The problem is that most people spend their lives looking but not truly seeing, or, as Sherlock Holmes declared to his partner, Dr. Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.”
At first, putting together the pieces to understand what makes a great communicator seems daunting. But rest assured that these skills are learnable.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the conversation:
“Exceptional people have created for themselves the necessary architecture and scaffolding to allow them to do whatever they chose to do, or whatever they were.” Focusing inward, developing a positive mindset and daily practices are all part of self-mastery. In an intense moment or instance where you’re caught off balance, awareness and detachment (key elements of self-mastery) are absolutely critical.
“Who Needs A Hug?” [27:09]
The human mind doesn’t crave perfection. What it instead seeks is psychological comfort. When you create psychological comfort for others, they gravitate towards you. It’s a skill that exceptional people possess; they make people feel good.
The Reward Lies In The Uncomfortable [34:45]
Our brains have their own chemical reward systems, which grow through doing something extraneous. These are starkly different from the things that cause us to remain in a state of homeostasis.
The brain recognizes happy and sad faces, not neutral faces. [51:14]
To avoid that, when you’re talking to people, nod with them, use your nonverbals to communicate to show interest and establish a rapport with them.
Tactics you can apply to demonstrate empathy through body language:
- Sitting next to someone vs. facing them directly. This subtly says, “We’re on the same team.”
- Tilt your head to the side while listening- the first face you ever see is your mothers, tilted to the side looking down at you.
- Nod and give clear facial response
Where to start? Start at home. Practice demonstrating empathy through body language, be aware of how you’re making others feel. In the workplace, a few simple techniques will transform how you communicate (especially virtually), allowing for better communication and deeper relationships.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase: Hey everybody. What's up. It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. This is a show where I sit down with amazing humans. I unpack their brain with the goal of helping you live your dreams and career hobby and life. Today's guest is former FBI Special Agent Joe Navarro. For 25 years, Joe worked for the FBI and specifically studied the things that set exceptional people apart, verbal, nonverbal cues, and all of the other things that go into that personal je ne sais quoi.
Chase: In this particular episode, we talk about his previous book, one that I found very valuable called What Every Body is Saying, and specifically his new book called How to be Exceptional and Master the Five Traits That Set Extraordinary People Apart. Now, things like self mastery, things like how to apply the same human observation techniques that the FBI uses, things like how to harness power of verbal and nonverbal communication, these are useful in every area of your life. I love this episode. I've been paying attention to Joe for gosh, probably 12 years now. You're going to love this episode and tell you what, he also, he analyzes my own ability to interview people and my interpersonal skills. If you want to learn anything that we just talked about and you want to see him judge me, this episode is for you. I'm going to get out of the way. Yours truly with Joe Navarro.
Chase: Joe, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here.
Joe Navarro: Chase, great to be with you. It's been long time coming, I think.
Chase: Well, it has and I'll confess, I've been attuned to your work for a long time. I know you've written something, some 14 odd books, but I really became familiar with your work with a book that you put out. I think it was 2008 or something around that time. It's called What Every Body is Saying. The subhead was an ex-FBI agent's guide to speed reading people. If I use that little nugget to orient people in time and space a little bit about who you are and what you work on, what you think about, but most importantly what your new book is about. I'm interested in, if you could for people who may not be familiar with your work-
Joe Navarro: Sure.
Chase: ... give a little background, orient us around your time in the FBI and what you've transitioned to your primary focus now and why you're on the show.
Joe Navarro: Yeah, happy to, and really thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to this for a long time.
Joe Navarro: I served 25 years in the FBI. I came on board at a very young age. I can't believe they gave me a gun and a badge at the age of 23. I still shake my head at that. I spent most of my career as a spy catcher in the intelligence division. I developed an expertise, which I talk about in the new book, about reading people, understanding people. Realizing that as an FBI agent, mostly what I did was observe human behavior and catalog it. That's really what an FBI agent does, whether you call it criminal behavior or espionage trade craft. It's just behavior. That was my specialty. Then when I retired, or shortly before I retired, some of the people in the bureau said, "Hey, you're leaving, you're taking a lot of knowledge with you. How about leaving some behind for the younger agents?"
Joe Navarro: I began to write and never intending to be an author or a writer. As you said, my What Every Body is Saying came out in 2008 and remains the number one body language book in the world. Incredibly, it's in 29 languages. Then just last year, I came out with the book, Be Exceptional, which I wanted to write about something that was a little different and that was to take advantage of all those observations that I had made over 50 years really, of writing down observations and sharing that with the readers. I really appreciate you being a big fan, so I thank you.
Chase: Well, this show is about how helping people be exceptional, be the best versions of themselves. I, not dissimilar to you, I know you've conducted more than 10,000 field interviews with suspects and just all of your research and time in the FBI. One of the common threads that I recognize about exceptional people, people who are the best in the world at what they do, is they often, one of the through threads is they have an incredible knack for connecting with other people. When I became aware of your work, especially in some of those earlier books, this idea of connecting with people through the use of words and connection. But as you said, in a couple different places in your work, it's way less about the face and way more about so many other cues that we are subtly either accepting, or rejecting, or making an effort to connect with people.
Chase: Maybe we can start there. Let's talk a little bit about this. I think it may be fair to say we're going back in your body of work a little bit, to the body. What are some of the things, some of the consistent things that you saw in your field research about people who maybe were exceptional at their craft and whether they used that for a good or evil? You can comment accordingly. But what are some of the traits that you saw of interesting, powerful, successful, or maybe people who use their skills for evil? What are some of the traits that maybe set aside those folks?
Joe Navarro: Yeah. Well, you nailed it on the head when you started. The question and that is that fundamentally the people that are exceptional have this one trait that sets them apart. I tell people that who make queries of me and I say, this is something we can all work on. Exceptional people have this ability to observe the needs, the wants, the failings, the fears, the concerns of others. What really makes them stand out, and this has nothing to do with how much you earn, what kind of car you drive. But it has to do with how they make you feel. In the social sciences, we call that valance. That you come away and you know these folks, because you interview them. You walk away from them and you feel so much better. There's just something about it.
Joe Navarro: What you don't realize is that it all began because these individuals are so focused on you, they're hyper attentive. They are in tune with you because they are observing you. We cannot, think for a minute, we talk about empathy and the power of empathy. But you really can't be empathetic unless you are able to observe the condition of another person and see how they're doing today. How are they feeling? Did they just experience something that was unplanned? That's one of the characteristics that I talk about in the book that these exceptional people have. We're not just talking about skill, because of the 13,000 or so interviews that I did, most of them fortunately were with people that were innocent. But they had to be interviewed regardless, because they had witnessed crimes, were present but didn't actually witness it and so forth. But you still have to spend the time, establish rapport, do the interview.
Joe Navarro: Some of these interview were relatively short in FBI terms, which would've been maybe a 40 minute interview, because a good effective interview takes awhile. It's about establishing rapport. The same thing that you do, the welcoming of someone, the creating of psychological comfort to get them to open up. You were talking earlier about the body language. You don't realize yourself, Chase, the body language that you use. Your eyes light up, you smile, you use your hands to be expressive. These things register positively, and thus your guests feel like talking and relaxing around you.
Joe Navarro: Yes, I think it makes sense to go back to that very first book on body language, because body language still is the primary means by which we communicate. I talk to people all the time and they say, "Well, that can't be right. I'm texting. I'm emailing." And I said, "When somebody knocks on your door, what do you just listen to what they say?"
Joe Navarro: "Hi, I'm the mailman. Can I come in?" No, we look at them, right? When you're at an ATM machine and you're making a withdrawal at 10 o'clock at night, and you're looking over your shoulder, you don't say to the people coming up behind, "Are you up to no good?" We're assessing the world nonverbally. Babies are born incapable of talking. When it comes to courtship and dating and mate selection, we do that nonverbally. I mean, we don't date someone because, "Wow, you scored what on your college exam?" I mean, that might be interesting, but that's not why we decide to date them. We begin to realize that we demonstrate care, we demonstrate empathy. We demonstrate the emphasis of how important something is by our body language. It's not just words.
Chase: Let's put this into our context here in time and space. What do you think has transformed the most in this world where you made the comparison of the mailman at the front door. That is a real life interaction. And here we are, as an example, recording this. We used to do all the shows in person. Now we do a lot of them virtually. And so many of our interactions are, isn't the same via video, as it is in real life and how much of that is translated? How much of that is contributing to us, either feeling psychologically comfortable, or is that contributing to our disconnection and the struggles that so many are having with mental health and just in this weird time that we're in right now? How do you look at that through your lens of experience?
Joe Navarro: You ask a profound question, and it's a question that needs to be examined, because there is more depth here. There's more gravitas here than meets the eye. We had to go from being in the same room, to all of a sudden now we're looking at a little spot, which represents a camera. That now, if we're doing it right, we're looking at the camera and we're actually avoiding looking at each other the way we normally do and that causes the brain a lot of stress. We're not used to that. We're not used to being able to see ourselves as we speak. A lot of people started looking at themselves and saying, "Wow, I didn't know I had that habit, or boy, I scratch a lot. I need to trim my facial hairs," and different things.
Joe Navarro: We laugh at these things, and yet this is a significant change in behavior from the last 200,000 years, where we communicated principally very quietly, very close to each other. Work with me here. For the last 200,000 years, we now think that our species, homo sapiens have been around somewhere between 350 to 200,000 years. We were certainly not only alive, but we were also surrounded by other archaic humans; Neanderthals, Denisovans, and so forth. But, for most of that time period, we had to communicate quietly and in small groups, because we were surrounded by predators at all times. We moved around quietly. We rejoiced quietly. Most of our communication was non-verbal. We learned to use fire to protect ourselves and so forth. We used caves and so forth. But everything was at arms length, at arms length. This was how we established harmony within these small groups.
Joe Navarro: We know this because when we look at those people that still remain in very small encampments that are pre-industrial, that's how they are. They communicate like this. Now in the space of two years and overnight, literally in March, I remember March of 2020, all of a sudden we had to now talk to each other by looking at a little dot on a little piece of plastic. Everything that we were used to, the color of the skin, the smell of the other person, the subtle facial movement, that we can just now begin to appreciate if we have a 4k camera. But if you have a 1080 camera or a 750, or whatever those numbers are, you're missing the nuance. If you don't have enough light, you're missing the nuance.
Joe Navarro: We'd been using microphones. For instance, the microphones that come with our phones make our voices actually go higher. All of these things change the perceptions that our brain was accustomed to. When we talk about fatigue, Zoom fatigue, when we talk about the meetings and our eyes are dry and we don't get to see the hands. I've had corporate chiefs tell me, "Joe, we do eight, nine interviews of people before we bring them on board and we used to do it live. Now we do it virtually, and I don't get the same feel." No, we don't get the same feel. Our species evolved to, in a way, communicate very intimately. That's been the biggest change, that this is very novel, but also very challenging to a brain that has been accustomed to communicate much differently.
Chase: That we are in exceptional times, I think translates nicely over to the title of your book. Again, Be Exceptional Master The Five Traits That Set Extraordinary People Apart. That is a mission of this show is to study extraordinary people, have them on the show, deconstruct their thoughts and habits, the way that they make their way in the world and learn things. Across these now 13,000, sorry, I had the number wrong at 10,000. I read that somewhere, but now at 13,000.
Joe Navarro: 10,000 is a good enough, rounded up number. It's more than one.
Chase: Let's just use an abundance of research and data, that you have witnessed a lot of extraordinary people and extraordinary in the true sense of the word, and maybe a broader sense than just high achievers, for example. You have extrapolated, if I'm using that word the way I think it fits here, five traits that set people apart. What is your ... If you were to name the most important, because I would love for people, first of all, highly recommend the book. I don't want to trot out every one of them here, although it's well documented online. But what are some of the, let's just say, let's take on the top two most important traits that you believe of the five? What are those and how can people come to know them?
Joe Navarro: Yeah. Well, I mean there's five traits and we don't need to explore them all either, because we've already talked about being a good observer. I think one of the important traits that exceptional people have, is no matter what life has presented them, they have mastered themselves. They have created for themselves the necessary architecture and scaffolding to allow them to do whatever they chose to do, or whatever they were, maybe it wasn't what they chose to do, but it was something that at least they could do and do well for themselves. That's the one thing that stands out. That it doesn't matter where you were born, what condition or whatever.
Joe Navarro: I remember, as you know, I travel all over the world. We were setting up the legal [inaudible] program in Brazil. I speak Portuguese, so I was down there attached to the embassy when we were opening it up. I remember being out there in Brazil and these kids who are so poor, that they are making soccer balls out of garbage bags by tightly binding them together and then putting a rubber band around them. I'm thinking to myself, "There. There's an example of not weeping and crying because they don't have the perfect ball to play football," as they call it. They go out and they create it. They do what they can.
Joe Navarro: The farmer that I met in Yuma, Arizona who understands through this perfect mastery that they have created, he didn't get to go to college because his father was killed in Vietnam. But, he learned from talking to others and from studying animal husbandry, he learned about agriculture. He learned as good as any vet, how to assess what the cattle needs, the animals and so forth. You realize that the scaffolding that they have created, nobody can take that from them. It's self-organized. They put energy into it and it has given them, in the case of the boys, pleasure in that they can play, or an occupation in the case of this gentleman that I interviewed. It's like, "Well, why did you do that?" It's what needed to be done.
Joe Navarro: I think that's what sets exceptional people apart. It's get out of my way. I will find a way to do it. I will master myself. I'm not going to wait until some entity, or someone else comes along and creates that mastery for me. I'm going to do it myself. I think everybody that's been on your show, obviously I haven't listened to all of them. I think this is one of the things that really stands out.
Chase: Well, sure. This goes back to Socrates, right? Know thyself as a foundational principle for success, achievement and also, I would say not just using that measurement, the cultural measurement, but also fulfillment, personal connection. You have to be aware of yourself. So much of your work is used for leadership. It seems obvious that in order to lead others or master the art of leadership, you can't really get ... you have to go through yourself in order to get there. If you aren't able to lead others, if you're unable to lead yourself, how can you lead other people?
Chase: I think that's part of, you spoke about observation. That's one of the things that I believe we observe in people that inspire us, that we observe in the leaders that we either choose, or elect, or decide to work with inside a company. Our ability to observe that they have mastered themselves. Then I'll just trot out the other three here. Communication is one of the five, action is another and then the last one, which is really where I want to spend some time, is this idea of psychological comfort. You mentioned it early on in our conversation that, that was something that I was doing. Again, unknowingly or maybe it's a habit.
Joe Navarro: I think it's innate in you. Well, I think it's, and I don't know if it's a habit with you Chase. I think it's innate in you. I think you've been like this for a very long time. I would say that psychological comfort is singularly the most important trait for us to master. Because if that becomes your priority, then you know that to achieve psychological comfort for yourself and to others, that you have to have mastery. That you have to observe the needs of others, that you have to communicate effectively. And by the way, most of that communication is nonverbal. Who needs a hug? Who needs more space? Who needs a kind word? Who needs that word right now, but not a minute ago? When do we take action? How do we action? What action do we take? We take action that creates psychological comfort.
Joe Navarro: Any organization that sets this as a priority is going to be, to borrow from Shakespeare, the soonest winner. Why? Because in all my studies, in my 50 years of looking at human behavior, and people think that I only look at nonverbals. That would be a mistake, because I've spent 50 years looking at what anthropology teaches us. I've looked at neurobiology. I've looked at how the brain, all the components of the brain interact to make us humans. And in the end, what's interesting is humans don't seek perfection. A baby, a toddler doesn't care if they have a $90 teddy bear, or a rag to hang onto. All they seek is psychological comfort. We don't seek perfection. What we seek is psychological comfort.
Joe Navarro: Everyone that understands that will soon be the winner, because if you can orchestrate events, you can create situations where you can create psychological comfort for others, they will gravitate towards you. I'll give you an example. You have two gas stations across from each other. You raise the price of gas in one, but increase the lights. What we call security, "Oh, there's more lights," creates psychological comfort. People will go there, even though they pay more.
Joe Navarro: When stores began to allow us to actually handle products ... We forget that when we used to go to a store, there would be somebody there and you'd say, "Could I see that sweater, or could you hand me that?" And we'd look at it. Those days are gone. But when we began to be able to handle things and say wow, that created psychological comfort. I remember when Volvo came out and put airbags in cars, and, oh my gosh an airbag, $750, who would want that? My car has six of them. Why? Well we say, "Well, it's for safety." It's not for safety. It's for psychological comfort, right? If you want safety, put me in a tank. Put me in a tank surrounded by rubber. But psychological comfort, that's one of the great motivators and that's what exceptional people have, is that they make us feel good.
Chase: You can think of the idea of it's not about what someone says, it's how they make you feel. We are in a world where brands dominate the landscape and we associate positively brands that make us feel good, that make us feel like we're connected with ourselves or our parents. What's the latest Apple commercial where you're FaceTiming? The grandparent is FaceTiming with the grandchild. These are all emotional, psychological comfort that you're talking about.
Joe Navarro: Exactly.
Chase: How do we reconcile this idea? I'll just give you a personal example. I, two hours ago, was up to my neck in 43 degree water because I choose to in the mornings for a number of reasons, health benefits to psychological strength, I choose to get uncomfortable. I choose to put myself in discomfort in icy, cold water every morning, because I have experienced the euphoria that it fills and most importantly, my willingness to be uncomfortable. It's said often that that's where growth happens. All the growth that you seek in the world is on the other side of comfort. How do you reconcile this idea that muscles need tension and pain in order to grow and my cold water? How do you reconcile that with this idea of psychological comfort that successful people cultivate in others? Is there a relationship at all there or are they totally disconnected?
Joe Navarro: Well, I don't think they're disconnected. I mean, one you're talking about, as they say, not all analogies are analogous. Because for instance, the fact that you're going into cold water causes vasoconstriction. If you dive in, it'll probably cause you to, your vagus nerves kick in and now you have the dive reflex kicks in. These physiological changes wake up, in essence, your anatomy. That's in essence what you're doing, you're waking up the anatomy. You're saying to the brain, "Hey gang." There's severe temperature change, all sorts of things happen. That powerful change causes all these chemicals; serotonin, endorphins, all these things to be released, right? When it's over, do you feel better?
Chase: Yeah. I feel a sense of wellbeing. I feel like I have attempted to strengthen a muscle that is overcoming discomfort, my mental willingness too. Yeah, I do. I feel like I did something positive for myself. So, maybe this is leans more into self mastery here. Just tell me where you're going here.
Joe Navarro: Well, no, I think you asked a very good question. Why do we ... I used to run 14 miles on the weekends. I still swim. I can't run anymore. I swim 1,600 meters a day and while I'm dealing with it, it's not always pleasant. But somehow I always feel better afterwards. The body has its own chemical reward system for when we do something extraneous, then there are benefits from it. Physiological benefits I would argue, are different than the things that maintain us in a state of homeostasis. We avoid the loud sounds. For instance, for business people, we hate slides that are too complicated. What did Steve Jobs say? "Put one word in it or one picture, but please no more than that." We gravitate towards anything which keeps us in this position that is referred to as equipoise, perfectly balanced. Too much of this and we get away from that.
Joe Navarro: We seek psychological comfort because our brain performs best when there is. If I asked you, as I often ask when I give speeches around the world, and I've asked this question in Taiwan. I've asked it in Switzerland. Have you ever been in a argument and then an hour later when it's over, you remember all the clever lines you should have said? And everybody says, "Yeah, why didn't I think of them in there?" Because you are in a state of psychological discomfort, and in a state of psychological discomfort we don't think as well and our physiology is off because we're releasing cortisol. We're getting ready for the freeze, flight, fight situation and we're not in a thinking mode. And yet when we achieve psychological comfort, then we have higher cognition. Then we are in a healthier state.
Joe Navarro: I don't think there's a disconnect. I think we're looking at two disparate things that make for us make, make us human, that we intentionally seek to do these things. I was watching a TV show the other day, this young man who climbed up this solid stone mountain without any ropes. I was the repel master for the FBI on the SWAT team and I just cannot imagine being off rope. I'm thinking, "He's doing this voluntarily."
Joe Navarro: You talk about a state, what we think is psychological discomfort. Yet I heard him say, "When I'm climbing, I'm in a zone. I'm in that zone." I can never experience that because I'm not that kind of a climber. I don't know what the reward system is for him, but it keeps bringing him back. I think because we're humans, because the brain is I honestly believe, the most complex thing in the universe. I don't think there's anything more complex than our brains. I think because of that, then the variety of experiences that can create psychological comfort are actually quite broad.
Chase: Then it ends up coming back to what is it for you? know thyself. What are the things for yourself and for others? It seems like a very simple following question, but this has been 50 years of your work. If we're all seeking psychological comfort, what are the most common things that people omit in their own lives? What's the distance between most people? What are some of the things that we omit, between where we are and psychological comfort?
Joe Navarro: When we look at mental health issues, when we look at why this generation now ... I get emails from all over the world and I'm asked, "Why is there so much anxiety? Why is there so much tension? Why so much?" I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we don't take time to do nothing. Nothing, but just-
Joe Navarro: ... be appreciative of ourselves. Some people enjoy yoga. Some people meditate, maybe sitting in cold water. I've heard of about this practice, both from Russians and Ukrainians and East Europeans, that they really enjoy this. I have no doubt that it has benefits. But, we don't take enough time to just establish a state where nothing's going on. Where we're not thinking about, "Oh, I got to go pick her up because school's out at 2:15. Oh, shoot, that light bulb burnt out." There's so much activity, our devices are constantly going on.
Joe Navarro: We have the ability now to look at a brain as it exists today and brains that have been pickled since the Civil War. What's interesting is those little parts of the brain, the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, all those things that help us to regulate our bodies and deal with our environment, Chase, they haven't changed in size. We're trying to deal with the most complex society that has ever existed on this planet with the same structures that we have had for the last 200,000 years. This infusion of activity is overwhelming our systems. Probably more than ever, we really need to take a step back and create these small moments. The Dutch have a word for it, it's called Nixon, which is doing nothing. Doing nothing so you can heal. Doing nothing so you can think. Doing nothing so that you can recuperate. Doing nothing to then allow thoughts to come in.
Joe Navarro: I think that's the importance of creating these moments where we can do that. You can certainly ... Some of the best ideas I've ever had, have taken place when I'm swimming and I'm in that zone, or times when I've taken time out. I think we need it and I think especially for busy executives, busy parents, I think that needs to be programmed to your daily life. It's not optional, I think it's necessary.
Chase: There's a lot of wisdom in there that matches up with my experience here on the show over 12 years, hundreds and hundreds of interviews here. That is one of the common, the most common threads in all the guests is that there's some awareness of, and, or practice where calming the mind, that's meditation, mindfulness, awareness practice, prayer, some spiritual timeout. That allows us to reconnect with ourselves, the environment around us. Simplify what you just described is the most complex society that the world has ever known by and it's accelerating.
Joe Navarro: Yeah. We've never had so much going on. I knew a lady who was born in the 1890s and she died in the year '97, I believe. I'm thinking of everything that she had seen. Horses on the street, pulling people, to a 747. Think about that for a minute.
Joe Navarro: That's a lot. That's a lot. But I think the other thing, I mean, the big thing that exceptional people do think about is not just their own psychological comfort, but more importantly, the psychological comfort of others. I think when I talk to leaders and they ask me, "Joe, how do I differentiate myself? I mean, my counterpart also went to Harvard, or went to Yale, or went to Princeton. How do I differentiate myself?" There's only very few ways to differentiate yourself, because we all have Excel. We all have the same access to information. That is when we set as a priority, the creation of psychological comfort, what do they need? When do they need it? What could make things better for them? What can we anticipate to get things out of the way? I think that's what differentiates great leaders. I think that's what really makes for someone who people want to be around.
Chase: I love the idea. Yeah, I love the ... Sorry to interrupt you there for a sec, Joe.
Joe Navarro: No.
Chase: I love the idea of awareness. In your work, this comes about largely after you've mastered yourself through the observation. What are some of the specific techniques that you learned in your time with the FBI and that you've written about at length, that help us? These are skills, this is what people don't understand. Right now they're like, "Oh man, I have trouble holding attention if I'm speaking to a small group of people." Right now the listeners of the show are, whether on the treadmill or commuting or on the subway, they're thinking, "I want to of get better at this." Let's give them some tools because observation, the ability to observe the needs, what someone needs in a moment, the ability to attune to them. That is a skill, a skill, for example, that you mastered through decades with the FBI. Give folks a place to start. They need to get the book to do all the work, to get the details. But, give us a place to start.
Joe Navarro: A great to place to start is start at home. Be sensitive to the people around you. Begin to read their body language. When a child comes home from school and their chin is down, their shoulders are slumped, don't dismiss that. This is nonverbally they're saying I had a tough day. Now, it may not be the smartest thing to confront them immediately. But, one of the things that you may want to do is then later on in the day, just say, "Hey, how was school today?" And not even mention the body language, but let's see if they communicate.
Joe Navarro: Something else that I've learned is that when you stand in front of children with your hands on your hips, arms at kimbo, elbows out, and you say, "So what happened today?" That is one of the worst ways to talk to people. Sit down next to them, look in the same direction. Don't make it into an inquisition. You're on the same side as they are. Use your voice to create warmth. The second thing is, has to do with verbals. That is that humans want to be validated. If I tell you, "Man, getting to your office, traffic was terrible. Parking was horrible and getting through your security people, yuck." Validate that. These are things that create negative emotions. For humans, we need to deal with emotions first.
Joe Navarro: We always put transactions first and that's wrong. Because again, why is it that we forget where we left the keys when we're stressed? Emotional hijacking, we deal with emotions first. That's why we validate. When we look at the Olympic athletes, the women's gymnastics, it was the failure to validate that these girls were being abused. They will tell you that it was bad enough to be abused, but to not be validated, was even a worse offense. That's one of the things that leaders can do, is validate. It doesn't mean that you agree with them totally. It doesn't mean that you buy everything. It just means that you validate by listening to them and understanding what they're saying.
Joe Navarro: As leaders and communicators, and we're all communicators. Remember that simple things, even over the internet, how we greet each other by arching our eyebrows by saying, "Hey, how are you?" My writing partner, Abby [Morono] in England, reminds me that when we have a neutral face, the brain doesn't recognize it as neutral. The brain recognizes happiness and sadness, but not neutral. A neutral face is perceived as negative. When we're talking to people, nod with them, use your nonverbals to communicate that, "Oh, that's interesting." Go along with them. That when we tilt our face, sorry, tilt our heads, that the mere tilting of a head that we do with little children or while we're dating, helps to establish rapport and it increases face time. This is powerful.
Joe Navarro: People ask me, "How did you get these spies to talk to you for eight, nine, 10," ... one time I talked to one for 12 hours. I finally had to send him home, enough. Then I said, "Because I never sat across from them." I would sit on the couch and when they were talking, I would tilt my head and I would nod. They said, "And that's it?" No, that's not all of it, but it certainly contributed to it. What do you think I was going to sit there with a stiff neck? "Hi, I am Mr. FBI, and you must tell me everything you know." They're not going to tell you that. They're going to defend against it.
Joe Navarro: But if you're sitting with them, it's pretty tough to fight somebody off. We're on the same side. And if they're tilting their heads, well, who used to do that? Your mother. As soon as she grabbed you, she tilted her head. These are the things. We study nonverbals, not to detect deception. There is, by the way, there is no single behavior indicative of deception. We've known that since 1986. There's just no truth to that. Now, humans do reflect our sentiments, stress, anxiety, but not deception. But we use nonverbals so we can communicate more effectively. That's why we study this. But knowing that is not enough, is how do we implement it and for what purpose? So, that we can create psychological comfort.
Chase: There's undoubtedly referring to a piece of the book, again, we are with Joe Navarro talking about his book Be Exceptional. There's a page that I'm looking at I had dog-eared here, page 161, 10 ways to speak with more than words. Small gestures, being prompt, letting people vent, consider the seating, as an example, sitting on the same side on a couch, rather than across from them. Mining your head, mirroring behaviors, mirroring language. This is part of what I found so fascinating about your most recent book and your work in general, is that these are skills. These are things that you can practice in day to day life and get better at. And clearly with 25 years of practice, we are ... one of the reasons you're on the show is because you're a world class at this. But, can you remind us that these are skills that we can learn and we can improve on and that we can apply in our lives to create the results and the outcomes that we seek?
Joe Navarro: Yeah, absolutely. Let's take, for instance, the use of our hands. For years, I've worked with leaders. I've taught people who later became prime ministers and heads of state. And I said, "A leader when they speak, they use broad gestures, but they're smooth." The difference, if you look at a corporal and a general from the back and they have a battle dress uniform, you can't tell the difference, except for their gestures, except for their gestures. You can tell the difference, because one will have jittery gestures and the other one will be broad and smooth. Now, let's come to the virtual environment. That's all great and the great General Colin Powell, he was just so very smooth. Cary Grant, very smooth with his gestures. But here's the problem. Now in a virtual environment, smooth and broad is out here. Where are my hands?
Chase: Outside the screen, I can't see them.
Joe Navarro: So you're talking about a skillset we now have to ... Last year I worked with six, seven executives on getting their skillsets, so that their hand gestures were now here, but smooth. Because as every actor knows and learns, even if you're fighting on camera, you have to slow it down because the camera can't pick it up, or it's too fast. Your gestures have to be up here, but they have to be really small and tiny, not the broad gestures we used to do. This is a skill. You say, "Well, is that like acting?" In many ways life is acting. The first time I put on, before I came into the FBI, I was a police officer. The first time you put on a police uniform and you go to a call and you're scared, scared. Yeah, you're acting. I'm pretending not to be scared.
Joe Navarro: There's a lot of things that we have to develop. For instance, how to assess for each other, for how much space do you need? Because if you're in a big city, you probably will be okay with somebody standing next to you, at less than three or four feet. But, not if they're from the Midwest, because if you violate that spatial zone and everybody's is different. How do we assess for that, so that we don't violate space? Because when you create psychological comfort by honoring your spatial needs, you increase the amount of time you're together. How about how we talk? Did you ever stop to think that when people machine gun information, that the brain starts to shut him down? Why? Because that's not how we evolved to communicate.
Joe Navarro: Why did Martin Luther King speak in cadence? "I have a dream, that one day," why is he mesmerizing? Because your best speakers, Churchill, pick a person. You'll notice that they speak in cadence. You yourself, Chase, speak in cadence, and why? It gives us, the listener, the amplitude to listen and process and appreciate before we go onto the next thing. What do you hear all the time? I was listening to a show last night and we use fillers. We say, "Well, yeah and it was like, you know, I went there and like, there were a bunch of people there and like," and it's terrible. You're machine gunning this stuff and interjecting this word that you don't need. What if you had said, "Yeah and I went there." And when I got there, I found there were a lot of people." Now you've changed. I deal with of the lot of young executives who, quite frankly, especially the ones that are in Silicon Valley that I deal with, they're very successful, but their skillset at communications is probably at the seventh grade level.
Joe Navarro: You have to say, "Guys, ladies, we need to stop that. You need to stop using like, you have to use cadence because people will take you serious. People will listen to you when you use cadence." Now, obviously some descriptive things need to be together. This is what I try to do in the book, Be Exceptional. What are the skills that will set you apart? But you have to practice them.
Joe Navarro: You have to devote time. Now, the thing is, it won't cost, other than purchasing the book, it's not going to cost you any money to increase your skillset and your likability and your influence. That doesn't cost a thing, but you have to do the right behaviors.
Chase: Well, that is, again, what this show is all about is learning from folks like yourself. The paths that we can put ourselves on to make ourselves the highest version of ourself and to get better. I was absolutely struck with this. Again, I just listed that page that I had dog-eared, 161. Just very simple things like agree and add yes and, for example, whether that's in an improvisational setting or in order to build rapport. The concept of taking notes, listening for phrases that people use and repeating them. It ought not be thought that this is some sort of a manipulation, but it ought to be thought that this is the very basis, whether it's neurochemical or otherwise, the basis for human connection, which again is a characterization, or is a characteristic rather, of the most successful, happy and fulfilled people that have certainly been on this show.
Chase: I have a debt of gratitude to express to you. Thank you for doing the work that you've done, bringing these. There's also some really good stories, some spy twister stuff in your work that I really appreciate, but thank you so much. Again, the book that I recommend is Be Exceptional Master The Five Traits That Set Extraordinary People Apart. I also have to give a nod, again to your earlier work, What Every Body is Saying, An Ex-FBI's Agent Guide to Speed Reading People. Thank you so much for being such a generous guest and sharing with us your work. It's really, really appreciated. Is there anywhere else that you would like to steer folks? You mentioned that you're coaching executives and you've got 14 books. Is there anywhere else you would steer our listeners, other than what we've already suggested they check out the books?
Joe Navarro: Yeah, well, please visit my website, Joenavarro.net. All my books, eventually your podcast will be there. All my books, the numerous videos that are out there. But, I want to also thank you because you do a great service. I've followed you for a long time and the fact that you want to educate others, that you want them to share the things that you know, the things that you're interested in, we're not all as fortunate. To be able to have a place where you can experience these things and listen to great speakers at length is a tribute to you and your producers and your directors and everybody that works with you. I'm very grateful. And as soon as this COVID thing is over, we're going to meet sometime.
Chase: We are going to meet in person. We will make it happen. Again, Joe Navarro, thank you so much for your time. And to all you all out there in the world, highly recommend his books. These are skills that are not only valuable, but transferable to other areas of your life. They transcend just executive leadership at work. They come into the relationship with your spouses, your parents, your friends, your children, your parents. Thank you, Joe. Appreciate having you. We will buy the book and until next time, to Joe and everybody else out there in the world, I bid you all adieu.
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