As someone who’s spent a lot of his working life in strategic communications and business development, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the old myth trotted out about 70% of communication being non-verbal.
Of course, as a specific stat, it’s total tosh (see here for an excellent explanation as to why). As a general eye-opener, however, it’s a handy reminder of the importance non-verbal cues (particularly when communicating across different cultures) and reason enough to be fascinated by the whole idea.
It’s probably why I found myself totally and utterly hooked on Lie to Me within about five minutes of watching the pilot episode a few weeks ago, and why, ever since, it’s become the one truly unmissable programme on the box for me.
Quite apart from some great plots and a brilliant cast (headed by Mr Orange himself, Tim Roth), what makes it so compelling is its study of lying, through reading involuntary micro-expressions (all of which, incidentally, is based on the real-life scientific research of Dr Paul Ekman).
Even cooler is the occasional insertion of photos and clips of public figures as real-life illustrations of these telltale signs. For a jaw-dropping example, check out the clip of Obama here.
Particularly where politicians are concerned, I think micro-expression spotting has the makings of a great new game!