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The Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work by Carol Kinsey Goman

The Nonverbal Advantage: The Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work

By Carol Kinsey Goman
Berrett-Koehlers, 2008

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3 stars: Valuable information and a good readThe Nonverbal Advantage takes the reader through nonverbal communication as it relates to every part of the body. The book is an enjoyable read with significant value for businesspeople and professors alike. It will transform how you analyze the body language you project as well as that of others.

Author Carol Kinsey Goman begins The Non-Verbal Advantage by emphasizing the five C’s necessary to decipher the “real meaning” behind nonverbal signals: Put them in context; look for signal clusters; assess congruence between verbal and nonverbal signals; analyze consistency relative to baseline behavior; and account for cultural influences. She then ventures into “reading” every part of the body and concludes by describing important cultural and other considerations with respect to your own nonverbal signals and the message you wish to convey.

Goman cleverly uses images to illustrate the described scenarios and postures mentioned, and provides guidance on how to apply her concepts in the form of “Try This” exercises. While the sheer number of concepts, exercises, and pictures can be overwhelming upon first read, they can be both interesting and fun if studied patiently, a few at a time. Along that line, perhaps my favorite aspect of the book is that one can immediately begin to apply what has been learned in real-world situation, then evaluate the results and form one’s own conclusions about the material.

Many of the concepts in this book are not new to the body language literature. In fact, many are the same as you will find in other body language books geared towards subjects such as spotting liars, politics, or poker. However, Goman’s focus is on the body language of business interactions, and she offers a thorough treatment in that regard.

The book is a quick read at 182 pages. That being said, its real value is realized upon a slower, more methodical re-reading of individual chapters. The organization of the book into different chapters for different parts of the body, allows the reader to easily refer to specific parts of the body or reference specific subjects or concerns.

I would not go as far as to call the book a “must read” however I do sincerely recommend it to anyone seeking an enhanced competitive advantage, whether in a conference room or a classroom. It will, at a minimum, start you thinking about ways in which you can improve upon your own nonverbal projections.

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