I had a conversation with peers about how virtually we work, and this led to me an interest in body language in business. So, I went to the library and got a book.

Thinking about the conversation led me to reading the book, The Secret Language of Business by Kevin Hogan. The subtitle of the book is How to Read Anyone in 3 Seconds or Less. The first half of the book discusses what certain non-verbal communications mean. The second half of the book discusses how to use that information to your benefit, both by better interpreting others and presenting yourself better. There's a chapter on dating, a chapter on gender differences, and a fair amount of cool tidbits like how to use nonverbal communication in a conversation to get someone to like you. While I have mixed opinions about the book and its author, it's worth a trip to the library to read.

Why do I have mixed opinions about the book and author?

My mixed feelings are about Hogan's presentation. Let me explain where I'm coming from. I studied Physical Science and Computer Science in college. I've worked in biotech and chemical laboratories, and I've worked as an engineer. As a consequence of this science background, I think like a scientist-and Hogan's presentation irks my scientific sentimentalities.

The first issue I came across was in the introduction. He assures his readers that the book is based on research and not opinions, but proceeds to say he did not footnote and list references to increase the book's readability. While part of me appreciates this, more of me wants references. References give me a sense of credibility because I can look at those sources, judge the quality of the sources, and see if I think the author interpreted them correctly. Without references, I have to do more research to find out if the preponderance of the scientific community agrees or not. Put simply, I use bibliographies and citations to decide if the author is on target or full of it. If you're just casually reading the book, the lack of citations shouldn't bother you.

My second negative opinion with Hogan is derived from his website. Firstly, the website comes across as negatively to me. It has a home page that's about 20 screens long with too many fonts colors, especially red, and there's too much bold text. Basically, the sales-funnel approach of the site turns me off.

The other problem with his website is more important. Throughout the book, he mentions various articles you can read on his website and various worksheets. He generally gives the URL for the articles, but not for the worksheets. I couldn't find a link to the worksheets, and since his website doesn't have a search button, I had Google search on "site:kevinhogan.com worksheets." This yielded a couple of worksheets, but not the ones I wanted. As a result, the website disappointed me.

"Mixed" implies good and bad, and there is plenty of good in this book.

At the end of each chapter, Hogan lists a summary of key points. He suggests re-reading the chapter if you don't understand one of the points listed in the "takeaways." He also gives homework assignments at the end of each chapter. Doing these homework assignments greatly increases what you take away from this book, since this is one of those things where what you get out of it is proportional to what you put into it. The homework assignments are appropriate and constructive.

Complementing the homework and chapter summaries is an easy-to-read style of writing and the use of concrete examples. His concrete examples are often highlighted in a box and give exact steps. For instance:

"Want to send a "liking message" with your eyes? Use everything I've talked about in this section and mix this in the recipe as well: When breaking eye contact, don't look from side to side, at other people or things, or up. Only look down, defocused, and then bring your eyes back up to meet the other person. The strength of this message can be disarming as a tornado. Why? No one uses it and it's filled with respect, appreciation, and liking."

I totally approve of how he follows up a statements with something like "usually, people do vary." For instance, in talking about eye movement, he creates a "Rule of thumb: Increased rate of blinking is correlated to increased anxiety and/or deception...unless their contact lens is bothering them." Hogan manages to say there's a correlation, not a certainty, and there can be extenuating circumstances, while maintaining a sense of humor. Hogan notes when gender and culture cause a significant difference in body language, and when something is universal. This went a long way in helping me get over the lack of references and citations.

As I stated earlier, the book is worth a trip to the library for a read. Is it worth purchasing? Probably. I haven't made up my mind yet. It takes a lot for me to buy a book and keep it on my bookshelf, since I'm big believer in and user of libraries. I do know that I'll be reading this book a second time, and this time I'll have a pen and paper available and I'll be in a coffee shop where there's strangers to use for the homework.

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