The 1% Podcast

Martin Brooks


  • 01

    Martin Brooks

    The Art of Decoding Body Language


Our guest today is Martin Brooks. Martin is a top communications coach, author and speaker who specialises in how to use your body language more effectively when communicating.


Our nonverbal behaviour or body language affects how others see us. But it may also change how we see ourselves, and therefore how we use our bodies can have an impact on our minds. Learning to decode nonverbal communication can help us understand other people’s thoughts and feelings, and it can help us make ourselves better understood, too, whether it’s friends, family, colleagues, or strangers. There is a wealth of meaning in the body language of those around us, and most of us aren’t even aware it exists.


Martin discusses his approach to decoding body language, and how to open up a world of understanding and communication, by being able to gauge more easily what a partner, client or colleague is genuinely thinking or feeling.


Show Summary


2:47 Martin once said: “It is my mission in life that people should be rewarded in line with their potential, not just how well they can communicate.” Why is this a driver?

  • The quietest people in the room often have the most value to share
  • It’s about creating a level playing field, where everyone’s voice is heard


5:03 The most common instances where poor body language holds people back

  • Human beings are visually orientated
  • First impressions are particularly important
  • To recover from a bad first impression, it takes on average twenty-two good second impressions after that


8:45 How to recognise that your body language is sending off the wrong signals

  • Consider how you look and sound
  • Low level of self-awareness 
  • Record yourself and watch without sound to review how you come across
  • Define what effective communication looks like
  • Awareness, assessment and application


14:14 Is body language a cultural construction?

  • E.g. eye contact is positive in the West but negative in the East
  • Innate body language, e.g. a baby smiling
  • Learned body language comes from our environment, e.g. the tone your parent uses


18:44 Micro expressions

  • They are facial expressions that occur within a fraction of a second
  • They are a lot harder to spot and read
  • When we are reluctant to do something, it’s often because our brain has recognised that something is ‘off’
  • ‘Communication congruence’ is when what someone is saying and their body language are aligned
  • ‘Duping delight’ is when someone thinks they gotten away with lying


26:05 Is there a link between high emotional intelligence and reading body language?

  • It is often linked, as you use the cues given to you
  • Women are often better than men at reading body language


35:40 Learning to communicate with his daughter

  • She was born with cerebral palsy
  • Eye pointing helped aid her to express herself
  • We all have the desire to be understood


43:03 How can we communicate more confidently?

  • Martin’s background is in presenting
  • Confidence is not tied in with our identity 


48:50 Martin’s biggest influences

  • Paul Eckman on micro expressions
  • Dr Peter Collett who was the on-site psychologist on the TV series Big Brother


53:45 Which part of Barack Obama’s body language is innate versus learned?

  • He has learnt ‘the thumb of power’
  • Learning a skill eventually becomes auto-pilot so it looks natural
  • Every behaviour, apart from crying, is learned


56:10 The most effective forms of body language to use in the business world

  • Learn how to show up best virtually
  • The power of maintaining eye contact and smiling
  • Have the camera at eye level
  • Eyebrow flashes are a reconnection signal


59:04 The Body Language Decoder card deck

  • 50 cards to help you decode people’s thoughts and feelings
  • Body language is visual
  • Duping delight is Martin’s favourite card


1:02:49 How to interpret gestures

  • Four distinct types of gestures: confidence, suggested action, meaning, supporting
  • According to Martin, there are 46 different hand gestures


1:06:33 On deception

  • People generally avoid eye contact when they’re being deceptive
  • Observe what people do when discussing a sensitive topic, e.g. a change in their blink rate
  • Frequent liars often use too much eye contact


1:09:27 Is the virtual world having an impact on our body language?

  • Zoom fatigue comes from the lack of motion
  • “We respond to our environment”


Links mentioned: