Tag Archive for Baseline

Setting Someone Up To Be Read

The following is a sequence by which lying can be more effectively read as outlined by Joe Navarro in his book What everybody is saying. Navarro follows a more interrogative style which will work in some circumstances, but it limited in others.

When trying to read someone for truth-telling, have an open view of their body to be able to see any signs of comfort and discomfort as they may arise.

When trying to read someone for truth-telling, have an open view of their body to be able to see any signs of comfort and discomfort as they may arise.

1. Get a clear unobstructed view of the person you wish to read so you don’t miss any pacifying behaviours. If possible put people in an open space.
2. Expect some nervous and stressful body language especially pacifying behaviours. People are expected to calm themselves at all times even when no lying is being done.
3. Expect initial nervousness. When someone is questioned they will feel tension regardless of their level of guilt.
4. If possible have the person you wish to read to first relax. With time everyone relaxes, even guilty people so if you can put off asking important questions or build rapport, do so.
5. Look to establish a baseline. This is especially important if you don’t know the person you are questioning all that well. Look for cues they use normally especially mannerisms and pacifiers.
6. As you begin questioning, watch for an increased use of pacifiers. This will be especially telling when they seem to increase dramatically during specific questions or when certain topics arise. When they arise, it will provide clues as to which information requires further investigation.
7. Pause frequently after asking questions. It is important to avoid putting out too many questions all at once because it will only serve to create stress. Give the person you are trying to read enough time to think and answer questions so as to avoid false positives.
8. Stay on task and maintain focus. When people feel stress they often want to change the subject matter or avoid questions. If a person gets the opportunity to change the subject their will emit fewer nonverbal tells of deception because when people speak they get to choose and control the topic.
9. Chatter is not truth. Listening to one side of the story often produces a bias and on the surface, the more we listen to people, the more we tend to trust and believe what they tell us. Advertising campaigns work through a similar mechanism as the more we hear the message, the more we think it to be true. Eventually, if we hear messages enough time, they work into our subconsciousness to become “ours”, they re-write our reality. When people present a huge amount of information about a topic, they appear to be telling the truth, however this is not always the case as even creative liars can go at lengths to produce elaborate and believable lies. It is not the amount of information provided that matters, but rather the accuracy of the information which can only come through verification of the facts.
10. Stress in and stress out. There are two times when stressful nonverbals are emitted, once when the question is asked which can appear like distancing behaviours such as arms and foot withdrawl and then again when pacifying is needed to calm. These come out as neck touching, stroking the hair and so forth.
11. Isolate the cause of stress. Is stress due to being asked stressful questions, or because someone is being interrogated. Not all stressful nonverbal language is due to lying and often people that are honest, show nervous language.
12. Pacifiers tell us a lot. Pacifying body language tells us when someone is stressed which tells us which scenarios, questions or information has created it. It therefore follows that pacifying cues tell us which areas require more thorough investigation.

Comfort and Discomfort In Detecting Deception

By keeping a "subject" relaxed, we can measure lying more accurately.  Instead of creating lying-language through suspicion, we can uncover lying.

By keeping a “subject” relaxed, we can measure lying more accurately. Instead of creating lying-language through suspicion, we can find out which facts create discomfort – it is discomfort body language that helps uncover the truth.

Ex-FBI agent Joe Navarro explain in his book What everybody is saying that nonverbal cues put out by the limbic mind are paramount to detecting deception. He says that it is the displays of comfort versus discomfort that tells body language readers when someone is telling the truth or lying. When people lie they experience discomfort and “guilt knowledge” which leaks through the body through a person’s fear response, but when they tell the truth they “have no worries.” This approach says that a person uses more emphatic gestures with their hands and arms when they tell the truth, but when they lie they tend to freeze up and lock themselves down. If you see half-hazard attempts to describe events using lack of emphasis and gesturing, or in other words, remain uncommitted, than you can be pretty sure their story is fabricated. Truth tellers try their best to set facts straight and will go on at lengths to accomplish this.

The theory says that someone that is guilty carries negative thoughts with them because by nature, people are honest and think that they are good people. When they harbour bad thoughts though, they find it difficult to achieve comfort. The technique to reading lying as outlined states that a person must be read in low stress environments so that it is possible to measure changes from their baseline to catch stress related discomfort. Grilling someone for the truth has been show to produce “false positives”, meaning people who are actually innocent will actually plead guilty. Innocent suspects have been shown to confess to very serious crimes such as murder simply because they were put under very intense pressure. This is why it is important to establish comfort during all interactions, yet use appropriate questions to uncover the truth.

Overlooking someone suspiciously or presenting leading or accusatory questions will create discomfort, however it won’t show you which information presented leads to changes in nonverbal body language. It is by using relaxed and rapport building body language that allows someone to relax leaving only the information or question to be the variable by which all body language is measured. When scientists conduct research they do their best to keep all factors the same except for one. They call this the dependent variable, and it is by definition what is measured, or in other words what is affected during the experiment. The independent variable is what is manipulated in an experiment. When conducting a “lying experiment”, like all experiments, you want to keep all other variables constant so you can measure one variable against another variable.

Therefore, when we want to uncover lies, we should keep our body language neutral and remain calm while working to present information, details, asking for clarification, and so forth to uncover discomfort. This is why torture techniques don’t work to uncover the truth, they just pull information that the suspect believes the interviewer desires so they will stop badgering them. Just by using suspicious body language or leading questions can put someone on edge and influence their nonverbal communication. Saying things like “I don’t believe you” or “I think you are lying” will create anxious body language which can be misconstrued to be the result of actually being dishonest, when in actual fact is likely due to stress from being mislabeled. To body language reader will gain no useful information from creating anxiety. The rule of thumb therefore is to create and maintain comfort at all times, remain neutral in expression and measure signals of discomfort to uncover information that creates stress.

Nose Language


When people are stressed, blood flushes into the skin.  Our hands are then drawn to the areas most affected due to increased sensitivity and heat so we tend to point out our stress.  Enlarged capillaries in the nose can induce our hands in it’s direction to sooth it.  As blood flows to the nose, it enlarges, giving credence to the ‘Pinocchio effect.’

Nose touching might also stem from lying. It can happen as a quick but purposeful touch, the finger might graze the side of the nose, or it can be a persistent rubbing. Sometimes the touch is quick and dirty in an up and down motion, other times it is a brief almost unnoticeable touch to the base of the nose or its side. Face touching can come in two forms, one that serves a real function to alleviate an itch, and one that is the result of negative feelings such as being uncomfortable and stressed. Face touching that is due to an emotion is meant as a fix behind the sensation, the emotion, and not due to any physical need.

In order to appear more honest in front of others, either reduce or eliminate all face touching, make them appear more natural, or make them consistent in affect across all situations. Itching is usually a repetitive isolated gesture, which happens regardless of what is said, and happens at times when it would be impossible to assume a connection to what is being said. For example, saying something of questionable truthfulness, then brushing the side of the nose with an index finger is likely to raise suspicion, whereas bumping the nose when not speaking or when describing insignificant details would go unnoticed. Always try to make gestures appear natural and functional instead and also be particularly conscious of nose and face touching when you think someone is trying to peg you a liar. Over time it is your baseline that will give you away, so if you remain consistent across all situations, you’re less likely to give up tells. Most will find that their minds are more active and busy during lying, so it’s easier to avoid gestures altogether instead of adding honest gestures. This makes eliminating face touching one of the easiest ways to appear honest with minimal effort.

Remaining Uncommitted

When people tell the truth they will usually show extra enthusiasm and commit to their story.  Liars often start off the same way, but quickly trail off.

When people tell the truth they will usually show extra enthusiasm and commit to their story. Liars often start off the same way, but quickly trail off.

Liars have been noted to be uncommitted to lies. That is, because they have nothing vested in the lie, they remain less than exuberant in their convictions. In other words, the subconscious mind of liars doesn’t allow them to carry forward with enthusiasm. Instead of smashing a fist against a table and raising a voice saying “I didn’t do it!”, liars will instead make much duller motions and use less commitment to them. It is not as if they want to lie, it is the limbic mind that won’t allow them to.

Liars will motion without emphasis, or describe events by trailing off or use weak statements. They might limit arm and hand movement by clasping them together or locking them down on an armrest with such force they turn their knuckles white. The hands might be put out of sight in pockets or under a table where they can’t be read. Reduced movement can be seen throughout the body, not just in the hands. The entire body including the head, arms, feet, and torso can seem to lock in place. People that are telling the truth spend a lot of time and energy in efforts to make the facts known which comes across in their body language and gesturing. Truth tellers are happy to spend as much time as necessary to get everything right. They will often add more detail than required and go over it again and again if necessary. Not emphasizing is linked to the freeze response where the mind clams the body shut and reduces movement so as to draw less attention to it. What is important in lie detection is to compare cues from a baseline. That is, if someone suddenly drops emphasis then you know they’ve lost interest in the topic or are lying. In either case, it will have provided useful information to the body language reader.

In writing this passage, I had just reviewed a video (see bottom posted on the web of a baseball game in which a player leaped head-over-feet clear over the catcher as he came to homeplate to score a run. The catcher, stuck in a fear response, failed to tag the runner. Baseball has an interesting tradition where it is customary for the runner to body-check the catcher at homeplate as he tries to tag for an out. While the catcher braced and ducked with his elbow up to make the tag, the runner jumped over the catcher landing on home plate. The catcher stuck with his elbow up in defense could only convince his mind to bring his arm just close enough to miss the tag! Because his mind feared the body check, he wasn’t able to follow through with what he intended. While this is an interesting fear based response what follows is even more interesting since it helps us read liars. The catcher, realizing he failed to get the out, quickly turns to pursue the runner. One must ask why he would track the runner down if he made the tag? Obviously he hadn’t! But more important that this, is that we know that he knows that he didn’t make the tag! This means that any nonverbal language following the lack of tag, should he dispute it, is read as lying language. To state his case, the catcher chats with the umpire by raising his arms showing how he made the tag. What is revealing, however, is that the catcher only slightly raises his arms instead of doing it with emphasis. Instead of showing the gesture over and over again, the catcher just raises his arms once as if to make a casual rainbow motion with his arms. When his coach shows up with arms flaying and talking with enthusiasm, the catcher quietly exits! The catcher knows that he can’t make a case and so doesn’t put any effort into trying. The difference between the coach and the catcher, is that the catcher knows he’s lying, while the coach isn’t sure. Once more, the coach isn’t actually lying anyway, since he wasn’t there to feel the contact or lack thereof of the catchers mitt and the runner, he’s just acting out an inherent bias – he’s playing the role he was hired to do. Lack of commitment is an important cue to watch for when detecting lies so be careful to watch for it.

Deception Causes Arousal, Generally

While he COULD be lying, it's much more likely that he's actually anxious.  We instinctively (and wrongfully) link anxiety with lying, when in fact good liars often feel no anxiety whatsoever when they lie, and honest people feel anxiety when they think they will be disbelieved.

While he COULD be lying, it’s much more likely that he’s actually anxious. We instinctively (and wrongfully) link anxiety with lying, when in fact good liars often feel no anxiety whatsoever when they lie, and honest people feel anxiety when they think they will be disbelieved.

It is a widely held belief that emotional arousal and stress, is strongly tied with lying. It is also at the heart of the polygraph or lie detector. Here, autonomic responses which happen in our bodies without our conscious control such as sweating or ‘skin conductivity’ is measured as well as increases in heart rate and breathing. It is assumed that when lies occur, stress related behaviours increase. Lie detector machines measure a baseline, that is, they take readings when lying is known to occur and compare it to readings when lying is thought to occur. By reading the differences, lying should become obvious.

We can use similar methods to read arousal without the help of the polygraph. Watching for an increase in adaptors, shifting, subtle movements, touching or scratching the face, neck or nose can show us that someone is uncomfortable. What it won’t show us is the reason for the discomfort. By grilling someone for the truth, this is often enough to cause someone to feel stress thereby creating the behaviour instead of uncovering it. Other clues to an increase in stress includes an increase in eye blinking, changes in posture, avoiding eye contact and foot and leg movement. It is important to always put fear of lying and arousal into context. Someone with little fear, little to gain or loose, or in other words, ‘when the stakes are low’ wont show any of these signals. Aside from this lack of tell, it is important to realize that body language cues, especially lying language is not a result directly of lying, but rather an indication of the stress, fear and anxiety that may or may not be present when lying.

Loving Tight Jeans, Short Skirts And Ornamentation Means You’re Shopping

Dressing sexy is not a sexual invitation by itself, but it does give us clues to the intensions and attitudes present. In most cases, overt cleavage, short skirts and heavy make-up tells us that women are available and shopping. Women who dress sexily all the time appear as non-cues though, because it is just what they do. Their baseline says that nothing new is happening, although it does tell us something about their general baseline, doesn’t it. These women appear “dressy” and always put together, but if we notice extra dressiness, or as we shall see extra frills or “ornamentation” we know she’s probably feeling receptive. Conversely if we see a lack of dressiness, we know that maybe she’s particularly down and unreceptive. The research supports this. Women, at around the time of ovulation, will display more sexually, they will break out their high heels, tend to dance more, talk more suggestively, and even walk differently near ovulation.

In one such study by Martie Haselton and her colleagues of the University of California in 2006 it was found that women chose more revealing outfits, and outfits containing more ornamentation when they were close to their peak fertility. In other words, as women near ovulation, the most fertile phase, they tended to dress “to impress.” This particular study had a panel of judges rate a pair of couples throughout the women’s fertility cycle. This allowed the researchers to create a baseline by which subjects could be compared to themselves. If they noted any differences in dress, they could then correlate it back to their fertility. They found noticeable differences in terms of overt self-grooming and ornamentation especially in terms of choice of dress as women approached their most fertile. They chose tops laced with trim and wore skirts rather than pants. The overall trend was to show more skin. The study also found that men rated women as more attractive when they were in their ovulation cycle.

Other studies show that women are more apt to find dominant men with square jaws and facial hair more attractive during ovulation and even find male body odor less pungent and more tolerable. During their high fertility days, women tend to flirt more often and solicit male attention, or in other words, tend to be more in tune with overall ‘maleness.’ Women are also found to go out more to parties or clubs, and other target rich environments, where they might meet men. No doubt there are many factors that play into how a woman dresses, but when it comes to being seductive, she turns it on when she’s ready to procreate despite what thoughts come into consciousness. While dress alone isn’t a full on invitation to pursue, it does tell us a little bit about what frame of mind a woman is in.

Advertising fertility with overt dress makes sense because women, unlike most animals, fail to advertise their ovulation. This is what scientists call “hidden ovulation” or “concealed ovulation” of which dozens of competing theories try to explain, but of which all fail to do conclusively. One of them says that women hide ovulation to keep men around so they will continue to provide her with resources while she offers sex in exchange. Hidden ovulation is a fascinating topic for discussion, because it is very complex and will likely never be solved. In other animals ovulation or “heat” is prominently advertised. Two such examples include swelling and redness of the genitalia in baboons and the release of pheromones in many animals including cats. However, in humans, even women themselves fail to consciously realize when they are fertile. To be accurate this last point has been disputed by various studies, even by this very section, but the point remains that aside from really trying to tune in, it would go unnoticed by many. The point is that women are rare in the animal kingdom by not prominently signaling fertility as do many other animals. However, this study and this chapter at large, shows us that they have other ways to convey this to men, even if in a more discrete manner.

While women might not be aware of the reason for dressing provocatively, most women are aware of the signals they give off to men, and therefore shouldn’t be surprise to receive additional attention when they show more skin. From a prowling male perspective therefore, it would pay back in dividends to make note of which women dress provocatively and deviate from their baseline and which women wear more frills and glitz. Tight jeans, elaborate decoration and short skirts, not only signal sexuality, but also interest in sex.

Eye Blocking

A childlike response to fearful stimuli is to block the eyes from seeing.  Adults will use more subtle forms of eye blocking such as squinting.

A childlike response to fearful stimuli is to block the eyes from seeing. Adults will use more subtle forms of eye blocking such as squinting.

A second related nonverbal behavior to the extended blinker is “eye-blocking” which is a term given to eyes that squint, shield or are covered by the hands or other objects. People cover their eyes when they feel threatened or don’t like what they see. My wife has a habit of covering her eyes (and blocking her ears) when horror movie previews suddenly appear on the television screen! Pupil size also related back to arousal and aggression. When we see things we like, our pupils dilate to allow the maximum amount of light in, but when we see something we don’t like, they immediately constrict. The same effect occurs when eyelids are constricted or squinted as they serve to reduce light hitting the eye. This brings objects into tighter focus allowing us to more clearly defend ourselves against an attack. Eye squinting related to tight focus is why we see people with less than perfect vision squinting to read when they are without their glasses. Incidentally, the same effect can be done by making a small hole in a piece of paper and reading through it, the effect will be to bring it back into focus by assisting the eye. Eye blocking can manifest itself in other ways too, sometimes just by accident. Restaurants that see it fit to place large center pieces in the middle of tables can present an interesting experiment. Does your company remove the item to get a better look at you so they can “take you all in” or to they keep it there to stifle the flow of conversations? I have a habit of discarding the center island especially if it’s useless and tall (or an ad to sell me expensive drinks!). I’ll even place it on a neighbouring table if convenient or on the seat next to me. I want to see my company, but do they want to see you?

Eye squinting or covering can be related back to a baseline to produce predictive powers. For example, while questioning someone about theft or vandalism, or any other event that brings back images that someone wishes not to recall, note when eyes become constricted. This will tell you which aspects of your recount makes them most uncomfortable. When vital information is struck, eye blocking in one form or another will surface. From there, it will be up to you to deduce the exact reason for eye blocking. Squinting can also flash as a microexpression in accompaniment of inconsistent body language to reveal true feelings. For example, smiling and waving to an acquaintance at a distance while squinting, shows that there is a poor connection and perhaps a subsurface distaste for them. Squinting can also be done while reading material that is disagreeable and will arise instantaneously without awareness. This is obviously a very useful ‘tell’ when negotiating contracts or devising plans. Other times eyebrows will lower instead of eye squinting, but the meaning is the same. Conversely, raised or arched eyebrows show positive feelings and high confidence.

Baselining Versus Innate Actions

A 'true smile,' where the corners of they eyes crease, is difficult to fake

A ‘true smile,’ where the corners of they eyes crease, is difficult to fake

There are some key body language gestures which are mentioned throughout the book that don’t need to be compare to a baseline as they tend to be innate and not learned. These gestures will give us clues as to whether actions are currently on their natural baseline or are as a result of some other underlying stress. Some things to consider when formulating a baseline includes a catalog of how often a person gestures and which direction their eyes stare when they are thinking and analyzing (can be an indicator of creative thought or recalling as we shall cover in a later chapter), how do they act when they are successful and what do they do when they are stressed? It is difficult and probably unnecessary for me to offer help in establishing baseline techniques since it’s a natural process that we all do daily. However, the take home message has more to do with protecting ourselves from thinking that all gestures in body language are universal and ubiquitous across all people. This book will help determine cues that fall in and around the baselines of the people around you and provided educated guesses as to their meaning, but this is not to say that each cue means the same thing for everyone.

A final word on proper establishment of baselines is to place most emphasis of a person when they are relaxed or when they are in a normal mood and state. Don’t baseline someone when they are getting ready to go on stage to speak in public or if they are going through a divorce, or have had a recent death in the family. Their body language will be misleading and uncharacteristic. Definitely take culture and intuition into your baseline, but avoid things like projecting and making assumptions. Assumptions clog our ability to see what is really happening because we are putting our thoughts and feelings which we have inside ourselves on someone else. Our life history and experiences do play some purpose when we read people, but they can’t be the dominant force, so don’t let your biases control how you read people. Keep in mind too that almost every other person will look at body language naively. They will think that “A” means “B”, when in fact it might mean “C”, “D” or nothing at all. As an aside, you might want to be careful about using body language to influence others, since your signals might be misread or simply go unnoticed altogether.

So the message here is, just because so and so does this or that, it doesn’t mean one hundred percent this or that! Compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges and him or her to his or her baseline! This will produce a much more accurate read.

A Caution About Biases During The Baselining Process

Self hugging can mean that he's shy or just a place to put his hands.

Self hugging can mean that he’s shy or just a place to put his hands.

We also have inherent biases which we must be careful of when try to read other people. Our dislike of certain people could influence us to read their language in a less then favourable light. Knowing that this bias is an inherent possibility, can at least protect us in terms of accuracy, and set up conditions that avoid possibly destructive fallout. This is only one factor to be careful of while reading people as it relates to baselining. Reading lying body language, by example, is very difficult and not having anything to compare it to essentially makes it impossible.

Poker is an excellent game that hones our nonverbal analysis of people, and the best modern day poker players will, with the advent and popularity of televised poker, review thousands of hours of video on their opponents. While some of the time they are watching to pick up on specific “tells” they are also developing their baseline. By doing so, even prior to meeting them they can have some players pegged. They can then use their baseline to determine actions, especially novel ones, that are out of the ordinary. If you’ve ever walked into a new poker group, you understand exactly what I mean. You might know some of the people, but usually there are others that you haven’t yet met add to this a novel context and you’ve got your work cut out for you. Since you don’t know the other player’s baselines you naturally end up being cautious and if you know poker cautious being “tight” can be just as bad as being “loose”. Over time you build their character and they start to “make sense”. In everyday life we call this process “getting to know someone” but in the body language world, we are formulating their baseline. Baselining is really about having the ability to compare someone to themselves.

Nose crinkle can mean a negative thought as in a game of poker.  I've, however, see this gesture feigned (and yes I lost the hand over this bluff).

The ‘nose crinkle’ can mean a negative thought as in getting a bad card in a game of poker. I’ve, however, seen this gesture feigned (and yes I lost the hand over this well executed bluff).

Let’s look at arm crossing or even touching the nose. Everyone thinks that arm crossing means that someone is closed and unreceptive. This might be true for some people some of the time, but to others, it means that they are comfortable. If I were to cross my arms, just now, would it mean I was closed? No, it wouldn’t, it simply means that my arms are crossed. The same goes for nose touching as an indication of lying or deception. Some people touch their nose at the end of every sentence – it’s their idiosyncrasy. Does this mean that every word that comes from their mouth is a lie? It could be, but it is not likely. Once we’ve caught someone in a lie we can backtrack and look at the clues that preceded the lie and those that followed the lie to pick up on cues that might have given him away. Poker players do just this, although for them it’s simpler since there really are only two possible scenarios, he is bluffing, or he really has a strong hand. Video even provides professional poker players with one hundred percent of the information at hand, there are no secrets and so baselining can happen very quickly. In real life, things are not as obvious and there is a lot of gray in between the truth and a lie so it takes a lot more effort do develop baselines, however with practice even novel situations with unknown people will begin to appear similar to other past experiences and people. So baselining provides us with information that we can use in the future when lying or any other emotional behaviour is suspected, where we can draw from our database of “tells” and make educated guesses about the truthfulness, or emotional state of our subject or subjects.


Does he always sit on his hands or is he hiding something?

Does he always sit on his hands or is he hiding something?

Baselining is probably one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of reading body language. It refers to the “normal” motions that populate the repertoire of each and every person on the planet. Normal here is the operative word. We can’t even begin to read someone until we first have their baseline pegged. For example, to read someone that is normally flighty and constantly moving, as agitated is wrong since they are merely acting out their particular “idiosyncratic nonverbal behaviour.” That is, the body language that is particular to specific people and that makes up their repertoire, or basket of cues considered normal for them. This person might be flighty or high strung by nature but they certainly can’t be constantly agitated by nature as our nervous systems can’t tolerate perpetual stress. A person high strung by nature who seemingly freezes instantly is telling us based on their baseline that something is up. Baselining tells us that a condition in their environment has changed and it has affected them. It now becomes our job to detect the cause for the change.

Baselining involves learning about how a person usually sits, how they use their hands to gesture, where they place their hands while at rest and relaxed or when nervous, how they place their feet when standing, their overall posture, how they prefer to cross their legs such as whether they cross them equally left over right as right over left, and so on. The list to baselining is utterly endless as are the myriad of cues that can be emitted from the human body, fraught with or, absent of, meaning.

By establishing a baseline it will be possible to catch sudden changes in body language. This is the ultimate purpose to establishing a person’s baseline. Without catching the changes, body language loses its ability to indicate exactly what is going on. For example, a younger brother that is acting exuberant and ecstatic who is jumping around with joy and happiness, who, at a moments notice, finds himself in the presence of an older brother only to suddenly cease his joyful movements, turtles his head into his shoulders, and becomes quiet, says a lot about what kind of relationship they have been having lately. Body language is directly linked to emotions, and so when it changes, we know that something has cause the change, and more often than not, it will be precisely the event that preceded it.

These changes aren’t just limited to events either, they can also be tied to words spoken, or even topics. A married couple might be carrying on amicably, but when there is mention of an ex-girlfriend, even casually, the wife might begin to display dominant and closed body language such as crossing arms, wagging fingers, or scolding eyes. She is indicating that this women or topic is a particular sore spot between them and the sudden change in mood, from good to bad, tells us that it is the topic that is the issue. Criminal investigators will frequently steer suspects off-topic (and seemingly off the record) by talking about favourite pass-times or hobbies by example. This serves the investigator by producing relaxed body language. Once a baseline is established interrogators begin to introduce facts surrounding the investigation to measure their effects. They might begin with items not even connected to the trial and then suddenly introduce a murder weapon, for example, to see if nervous body language appears. During criminal investigations the murder weapon can be kept a secret from the public especially early on, so only the real criminal would exhibit a visceral response to viewing it. While these sorts of interrogations won’t directly lead to a conviction, it does provide clues for further exploration. Like all body language, clues tell us if we are on the right track or if we’ve eliminated leads, at least for the time being.

Those who don’t know about baselining will find it difficult to read other people who lack similar affect to themselves since their only reference of normal is what they do or what the average person they associate with do (which more often then not is very similar to themselves anyway since we tend to hang out with those of like mind). People that don’t baseline won’t see people for their individual characteristics, idiosyncrasies, culture and habits. As we work through life we should have our family, friends, coworkers, bosses, instructors, or anyone else we interact with regularly pegged for their baseline. This will not only make reading them easier, it will also give us “archetypes” that can be cross referenced as comparisons. This in turn, gives us a better chance at evaluating others, even strangers, on the spot, and in real time.