The Nature of Things decodes the fascinating world of body language

I know body language can give you away. The way someone sits, leans, turns their head or fidgets can betray what one really thinks despite what words are said. If a picture can say 1,000 words, what can body language tell you? A heck of a lot more than I first assumed.

That’s what I came away with after watching a screener for “Body Language Decoded.” Broadcast as part of this Thursday’s The Nature of Things, written and directed by Geoff D’Eon and created and produced by Edward Peill, “Body Language Decoded” is a fascinating peek into how our bodies communicate in the most subtle of ways.

The instalment begins with the face and 43 muscles capable of creating thousands of intricate expressions that are hardwired into the brain. Why? Facial expressions were the key component to communication between early humans. Those automatic reactions have served FBI agent Joe Navarro well; he spent 25 years reading body language for the Bureau, earning the nickname “The Spy Catcher.” And while Navarro did read faces in order to gauge what was really going on with someone, he found an unlikely source for reading body language: the feet. Part of the limbic system, our feet and bodies tell the true tale of how we’re reacting to the world and each other.

Knowledge of the limbic system comes into play for Dr. Jillian Glass, who heads to the Santa Monica Pier to do one of my favourite pastimes: people watching. It’s there she can see how a young woman’s body shows her devotion to a man, and how his posture betrays his aloofness. Toes turned towards your mate? There’s a good chance the relationship is solid.

One of the most interesting segments of “Body Language Decoded” spends time covering the art of deception and the physical signs we give off when trying to lie. Footage of former U.S. president Bill Clinton is shown denying relations with Monica Lewinsky, and Nova Scotia mother Penny Boudreau who pleaded for the return of her missing daughter, Karissa. In the former case, lies were effectively told; in the latter, Boudreau was found guilty of murdering Karissa, showcasing how the body can hide or reveal a lie.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of Tell Tale Productions.