Humans are capable of communicating over four channels - voice
quality, voice content, micro signals and body language. Each of
the four broadcasts cognitive and emotional information in varying
strengths and forms. Because communication skills, talents and
habits for each person vary, the overall contributing percentages
of each can be different. Of the four channels, body language
provides the most output making up anywhere from 50 to 85
percent depending on the person or even which expert you may
ask. The question is what's all the body language about and what
does it mean to the interviewer?

First of all body language can obviously contribute to a verbal
message that is being broadcast. Often we judge a person's level
of communication skills based not only on their verbal talents but
also on the artistic flair of the person's body language. This
subclass of nonverbal behavior includes what are called
illustrators. These are motions, gestures, movements and in some
cases facial expressions that support or supplement the verbal

Second, body language cues are also often directly connected
with extreme emotional and sometimes cognitive stress changes
a person may be experiencing. It's important to note these
behaviors are not a part of the stress reactions but are the after
shocks of developing or increasing stress. Think of these cues as
being similar to a tsunami. The tsunami occurs because of
dramatic unseen seismic events that occur under the ocean.
Body language stress cues occur because of unseen seismic
stress events occurring internal in your interview subject.

Finally, the interviewer may observe body language symptoms that
have a higher correlation with deception. There are two very
prominent categories of these cues most frequently seen during
deception - aversion and negation. These cues are not part of the
lie but occur because an emotional or cognitive lie has been told.
In this case the person is attempting to deceive the observer by
hiding a strong emotion they are experiencing or faking an
emotion they do not genuinely feel. These symptoms can also be
associated with stress subject may experience when attempting to
withhold information they do not want to expose or pronouncing to
have knowledge they do not possess. In either case your subject
has a great deal at stake in sustaining the deception that can
create varying degrees of stress.

It's important for the interviewer to remember that not all changes
in body language indicate deception but can be nothing more than
a sign of changing emotion. In addition, body language is the one
channel that is often subject to misinterpretation. One body
language cue can have multiple meanings and are therefore
subject to misinterpretation. We should also note that diagnosing
every single body language a person may generate in an interview
is very labor intensive and concentrating all our efforts of nonverbal
cues can result in the observer missing a significant verbal

© 2007 by Stan B. Walters "The Lie Guy®"

Author's Bio: 

Stan B. Walters runs the company Truth & Deception, Inc.
He works with agencies and organizations that want to train their
people how to conduct successful interviews and interrogations
and uncover the real story.