At the Dec. 5 Massachusetts Conference for Women (#MassWomen), the first session I attended was “How to Use Body Language to Influence Human Behavior and Enhance Your Presence,” given by Janine Driver , lie detector expert and New York Times best-selling author of You Can’t Lie to Me. She is like the real life version of Cal Lightman, a lie detection expert in one of my favorite TV shows, Lie to Me. The session was entertaining and informative, and there are 4 facts about body language that I want to share with you from Janine.

1. Your belly button faces where your comfort lies.

Janine told the packed room of women that you can tell how comfortable someone is by where their belly button is facing. She calls this “Naval Intelligence.” If you are talking to someone and their belly button is facing you, then they are interested in being there with you. However, if they are facing you, but their naval is facing the door, they are looking to make an exit.

2. Avoid getting your Ph.D. or graduate degree. Just grab your chin.

Okay, this got a good laugh, but Janine’s point was that grabbing your chin suggests you have confidence and people are more likely to trust what you are saying. She said, “When you grab your chin, you’re about to win.”

3. Be the short, fat candle.

This was a funny analogy. Think of a tall skinny candle. If you bump a table with one on it, the candle will likely tip over. However, if you have a shorter candle with a wide base, it is more stable and less likely to fall over. People of importance (or who think they are important) tend to take up space by standing with a wider, more powerful stance.

4. Crossed arms help you process information.

Janine told us when someone crosses their arms, it can mean they are processing information. There is a 30 percent increase in focus when arms are crossed. In an article written by Driver, she says “Crossing our arms, Friedman and Elliot argued, sends our a brains a ‘proprioceptive cue.’ ‘Proprioception’ is the scientific term for our perception of the relative position of our body parts. When our arms are crossed it tells the brain to buckle down and get ready to work through a difficult problem.”

The important thing to know about all of this is that you can never make presumptions about what body language means. You need to get to the underlying information to understand the true meaning of a shoulder shrug, chin grab or crossed arms.

Chat with you soon,


22 thoughts on “4 Facts about Body Language from Janine Driver

  1. This is fascinating info! I didn’t know about standing with legs apart, but I can see how it would make you more authoritative. Love the bit about the belly button and grabbing your chin! I’ll have to try these out and see how effectively the work. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Very funny, I think you convinced me to get the book. Love the analogies and I’ve been saying for years that crossing your arms does not mean I’m closed off. Oh and by the way, I wish some people would take the hint that my belly button is facing the door. I have a difficult time shaking them:) That was a fun article:)

  3. What’s up Gabbi!

    A social life is bit of a game of survival some times.

    Cross arms helps us focus, eh? I always thought it made someone look a bit too important but I’m going to try this.

    Ya know when I landed here I thought, uhoh, not another social media guru but your honest approach and story telling changed me mind.

    Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    — Greg (from Bloggers Helping Bloggers)

    • Hi Greg!
      Thanks for stopping by. I strongly dislike the term “social media guru/ninja/maven.” I love social media and I know what I’m doing, but in a constantly evolving field where nothing seems to be finite, I’d prefer to be a social media student who teaches others based on experience and research. Plus, effective communication is about so much more than social media. I like to look at a variety of media.

      I hope to see you back here soon!

  4. I bet that conference was great to attend and that seminar – fascinating! I love watching people – body language speaks volumes and it’s one of my favorite things to do wherever I am. My husband and I are known to choose seats somewhere specifically for their people-watching perspective. Interesting about the belly button. That will certainly make me pay more attention to that in not just others but me as well. I can sure hold my chin because I’m not going back to school and I’ve got the candle thing under control. I must be constantly processing info as I cross my arms a lot! Interesting facts and I’ll be looking up Jeanine online to learn more!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Pamela! The conference was amazing–10,000 women on one place. Janine is certainly an interesting individual and there are a ton of YouTube videos floating around the internet where she discusses the topic at length.

  5. I love this. I hadn’t heard of the belly button one but I was aware of the others. When I’m paying attention to a conversation, those cues can offer up some serious information about how the conversation is going. Thank you for the reminder. Bookmarking this.:-)

  6. Hmmm. I tend to cross my arms when I’m speaking with someone, but I always thought that meant that I was “hiding and/or defensive. I’m glad to learn it actually means that I’m paying attention—because seriously, I am!

  7. I always thought that when someone crosses their arms, it means they feel defensive. I also thought grabbing your chin meant that you are deeply contemplating something or trying to solve a problem. It’s all very interesting with regard to face to face interactions. Communication via phone or email unfortunately excludes the use of body language.

  8. I always find the subject of body language interesting. But I thought crossed arms were supposed to signal a closing off of a person. And the navel direction is one I’ve never heard before. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow at work!

    • I thought the same thing, Pat! As for grabbing chin, I do try to consciencely do that to see if it has any effects. I’m still experimenting, but there is sure to be a blog post if it works!

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