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Center of Nonverbal Communication Founder Carl Maccario on PBS

Security expert Carl Maccario (Founder, Center of Nonverbal Communication) talks about the expression of messages through facial expressions, gestures and body language as an important tool for analyzing politicians, terrorists, and even job seekers. For White House Chronicle on PBS.

Reflections on Istanbul Airport Attacks

With the latest attack in Turkey, I feel even stronger that the security perimeters at airports needs to be reexamined . I have always been a proponent of pushing security layers to parking  garages and vehicle checks before actually entering the airport proper. This attack is the second airport attack where the terrorists came by taxi. Where is the vehicle checks on taxis? I remember when I was in Israel back in 2010, heading to Ben Gurion airport and my taxi was stopped by Israeli security at least a half mile out from the airport where I was asked a few brief questions. Unfortunately,  this is the world we live in. There also needs to be more trained observers in these areas to look for suspicious behavior. More trained eyes and more scrutiny will certainly harden targets as much as they can be. You can’t protect against everything but you certainly can take steps to make it more difficult to kill innocent people .

– Carl Maccario

2016 Presidential Debates: Reading the Candidates

Many people are closely watching the presidential debates; but not as closely as those of us who are in the field of reading nonverbal communication. It appears to me that the candidates could use someone (like me) to advise them on the dos and don’ts of their non verbal messaging. I have been a student , a researcher and practitioner of reading nonverbal communication in many environments for over 15 years. The candidates nonverbal cues  so far, in my opinion , leave a lot to be desired in these debates.
For instance, in both party debates, almost all the candidates will turn and face their opponents when the others are speaking. That signals to the audience that they feel what the other candidate is saying has some kind of merit. What they should do is to continue to face the audience  while looking down at their notes and then continue to make eye contact with the audience/camera. It shows confidence and does not  show some kind of possible “buy in” to what the other candidates are saying….
Now lets get to the smiles.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton needs to get a real smile fast. I have studied whats called  micro expressions for years . They are cross cultural  expressions of emotion that come across the face really fast. They signal the emotion that the person is feeling at that time.
So a real smile for example involves all the muscles in the face. The cheeks go up and the smile even includes the muscles right up to the corner of the eyes. Almost all Hillary’s smiles are in the lower part of the face…indicating a contrived disingenuous smile…in other words not real! Sometimes her smile even rivals what we commonly call a “smirk”. Not Good…..
Bernie Sanders has a great smile , involving every muscle in the face that is used when the smile is genuine. The next time you look at Hillary and Bernie smile, you will see what I mean.
On the Republican side there are issues too!
Donald Trump’s  smile occasionally borders on the smirk side but for the most part is a genuine smile when he smiles . The same with Ben Carson. Ted Cruz has a problem. His smile rivals Hillary’s for a low level of smirk or sometimes even contempt which can look like a half smile but again happening in the lower part of the face only..
Research shows that 65-90% of all human interaction is nonverbal, therefore, the Presidential candidates need to be aware of what messages they are sending their audiences. Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said ” You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”….
Carl Maccario, Founder of the Center of Nonverbal Communication

Look Beyond the Clichés

” Be vigilant.” “If you see something , say something.” We hear this from all the experts , police and homeland security experts, on all the media outlets. But what are we really telling people to do? Are we giving them the right information to do what we ask. We need to expound on these cliches. We need to tell the public and everyone for that matter, to look for things that are out of the norm for your work place, your neighborhood and places you frequent. Chances are those “anomalies” are nothing. Nonetheless, in this day and age, we can’t afford to dismiss anything. The public needs to take notice of anomalous/ suspicious activity. Note vehicle types, plate numbers, clothing, the actual behavior that caught you eye , number of people involved, what they were doing, how they interacted and anything else you noticed that was out of the norm. Adding this to our “see something , say something, be vigilant” announcements can yield valuable information to law enforcement personnel and hopefully interrupt  any terrorist or criminal  planning or operation. It  will give a little more meaning to the cliches that are currently missing….

Pay Attention and listen with your eyes

The most recent  attacks in Paris and the innocent people who were killed , prompted warnings from around  the world for the public to be more vigilant. In our world of  texting, Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, I pods etc. its a daunting task just to get people to actually have a conversation and / or look at someone, never mind being aware of their surroundings .We are so absorbed in out techno world that we barely are present in the here and now!

It’s a new world we live in and  that world requires each and everyone of us to be more aware than ever.  Paying attention to what is going on at work , at school, at public places, even our neighborhoods, could help detect and deter the next attack. In the world of SEE SOMETHING ,SAY SOMETHING, folks need to  look for behavior and activities that may be out of the ordinary, anomalous and potentially suspicious. We can no longer dismiss something as “nothing’ “weird’ or “odd”. Educating the public and getting people to “pay attention” is unfortunately going to be the order of the day for the foreseeable future. Which may bring many of us to actually have to pull their ear buds out, put their phone down, and be “present” in the  here and now. Who knows , that could actually produce some live encounters where people actually look at each other and have a conversation. Imagine that!

Teams turn to a Face Reader, Looking for That Winning Smile

The New York Times , on December 26, 2014 published an article about the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks using micro expressions, a form of nonverbal communication, to help find players and recruits that may be a better fit for the Bucs and their organizational goals. Micro expressions are sub conscious, cross cultural, expressions  of emotion that come across the face very quickly. The existence of micro expressions were first brought to light by the research of Paul Ekman and Wally Freisen. There have been well over 100 studies that show the existence of micro expressions. This form of nonverbal communication can be extremely valuable in gaining insight into a persons true feelings. Does one’s facial expressions contradict their words? Is there more to be told than the person is revealing?  The applications are endless. However, keep in mind that micro expressions are  only a piece of the nonverbal picture . Nonverbal communication is like putting a picture puzzle together; the more pieces of the puzzle you can put together, the clearer the picture becomes. Just one more example of the value of understanding nonverbal communication! and oh yes…….. , we can teach you how to recognize these micro expressions!

Security Conversations : Recent study published by the APA

Well folks, yet another research project that reinforces the value of talking to people as part of effective security. According to new research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), conversation based screening caught mock airline passengers with deceptive cover stories more than 20 times as often as agents who used the traditional method of examining body language for suspicious signs. I have long said that the formula for an effective behavior detection program, is behavior observation AND engagement; the engagement piece being the focal point. Having said that, asking the right questions and the unanticipated questions is where the value and skill set really plays a role. Engaging complete strangers is not a skill or ability that everyone possesses. Therefore, selecting and training the right people for this process is paramount. As we see the threats of terrorism increasing around the world, I believe teaching security officials this skill will enhance our ability to better detect possible threats.