|The new tome by the UK’s Peter Collett, who has worked extensively with Naked Ape writer Desmond Morris, is called The Book of Tells, and is about the little mannerisms that we exhibit, usually unconsciously, with our bodies, our faces, our hands and our eyes, which reveal non-verbally more than our words. It’s a substantial work, but astonishingly contains very few pictures (and curiously, the pictures are almost all of Canadians) and contains no summarized ‘catalogue’ of tells as an Appendix. So you have to wade through long written descriptions about broad categories of tells to get the goods.
The most famous tell from earlier work on the subject is the arms crossed high across the chest while you’re talking to someone, which supposedly means you’re rejecting the other person’s company or message or advances. I’ve noticed this one a lot, most recently exhibited by an accomplished author who did it to everyone he spoke to. But in my experience it can also be sending a subtler message: I’ve seen shy men do it almost automatically with people they don’t know well, evidencing a much more defensive posture (“don’t hurt me” rather than “go away”). It’s the lower-chest/abdomen arm cross that’s supposed to signal anxiety. Maybe it depends on the length and flexibility of your arms?
As pop psychology goes, I think it’s interesting and perhaps even useful, and I’m going to blog about it when I’m done. Your homework before then is to ask people to point out, or ‘fess up yourself to, your own tells. Then when you read about their meaning in the book, or on this blog, you won’t be able to weasel out of them. Mine are (and I haven’t read far enough to get Collett’s explanation of them):
In a week or two I will tell all.