Body Language and The Book of Tells Reviewed

Things Salespeople should know about interpersonal communication, body language, and nonverbal signals.

In this review I have compared Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease with 'The Book of Tells' by Peter Collett.

Reading people's minds takes a bit more than a rudimentary knowledge of body language however; it's true - what people think on the inside, shows on the outside.

If you manage to hide your thoughts now and then, what message does your absence of body language communicate?

At worst, people think you have something to hide. At best, they think you are cold, distant, aloof person who is likely to rebuff friendly gestures.

Have people lost the art of reading body language? Just a few tens of thousands of years ago, it was all we had. Maybe you can benefit from brushing up on the subtleties of non verbal communication.

These two books address the same topic. Both are worth having a look through. I reviewed an earlier version of Allan and Barbara's book in 2003. This version is an expanded rewrite of the original slim book. It retains it's best feature, loads of pictures. You don't have to labour your imagination too much to see what the words are describing.

A fascinating addition is the chapter on cultural differences. It includes a quiz to test your international culture awareness.

Body Language is a comprehensive and well ordered study that does much more than provide a clinical explanation of all the subtle 'tells' that give away your thoughts and feelings. It is easy to dip into and come out with a plum so you won't need to set aside time for it.

As comprehensive as Body Language is, I found several things mutually exclusive to each book.

The Book of Tells widens the topic of the handshake into a chapter on greetings that includes hugs and kisses. While these aspects of non verbal communication are seldom part of business relationships, they certainly provide additional insight.

The term, 'body language' tends to exclude messages hidden 'between the lines' of spoken words and conveyed through expression of voice. Peter Collett's Book of Tells includes broad discussion of 'tells' that come from speech and the sounds we make as well as from our movements, gestures, stance, and facial expressions.

Both books have dedicated a chapter to courting and the signals associated with sexual attraction. Amongst the range of topics addressed are the signals that giveaway lying and anxiety.

You will pay more attention to the way people position body parts after reading either book.

If you decide to buy only one book, my preference is for 'Body Language' simply because it contains more illustrations. I am pleased to have both books to hand and expect to refer to them often, while delivering sales training or engaged in coaching.

Body Language ISBN 0-75285-878-5

The Book of Tells ISBN 0-553-81459-1

Review by Clive Miller


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