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Limitations of Non Verbal Communication and Body Language in Security


There are many schools of thought regarding the effectiveness of body language in understanding irregular behavior and detecting unusual activity. However, all these schools of thought derive their techniques from the underlying factor that human beings communicate far more non verbally rather than verbally. In fact, only 20% of our message gets communicated verbally! while 80 % is communicated non verbally. The question is : is this fact good news or bad news for security professionals???? the fact that 80 % of our message is communicated non verbally is good only if we know what to look for and how to understand the hidden signs! Now let us look at the myths and limitations of body language and non verbal communication:

1- In order to use body language as an effective tool it must be used in addition to other means of security

2- To read potential signs and understand the meaning you will have to look for the verbal and non verbal message simultaneously without being distorted or affected by your subjective interpretation

3- You will need to be close to the person to be able to look for behavioral signs and indicators

4- It will be very difficult to apply such tactics within an installation where numerous people are present

5- The signs do not always pop up fast and in many security scenarios you will have no time for deep analysis

6- Sometimes trusting your gut feeling is great provided you have the experience. Body language is often a grey area where you will need take a decision with missing information that may have consequences

7- Different cultures behave differently and when looking for suspicious behavior within a mixed population, it will be very difficult to adapt to different ethnic backgrounds

The conclusion is that body language can be effective if used within a much larger security apparatus. Understanding its limitations will guide you in being more alert regarding what you look for, how quickly you find it and how you translate this into a proactive response

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