How to Read Minds Through Body Language

As I got lost down the rabbit hole of “I’m only going to watch this one Ted Talk” a few months ago (which, naturally, turns into an hour and several videos later), I stumbled upon an excellent presentation by Lynne Franklin, Principal of Lynne Franklin Wordsmith: ‘Reading Minds Through Body Language’.

As usual when I’m reading or watching something, I’m always considering how key elements and lessons can be applied to the principles of communication in the agricultural world. I also nerd out about the processes that go on in our brains as we go about our day: how it gathers, processes, stores, and retrieves the gagillion bits of information and the subtle outside and mostly unnoticed forces that influence those processes and ultimately, our final decisions.

This particular presentation struck me because it’s something most of us don’t actively think about when we talk to someone. Our brain picks up on certain facial cues and body language and makes split second decisions about how to react, but we typically don’t consciously analyze each eyebrow twitch or flick of the hand. However, if we want to build rapport with someone, create a foundation of trust and credibility, and build relationships, we need to understand how to present information for optimum retention levels. We can do that by understanding how our bodies communicate what our mouths might not be saying.

I’ve captured some of Lynne’s thoughts and suggestions from her Ted Talk below.

(Note that the following is 100% Lynne Franklin. You can watch the original video here.)

  • […] understanding how their brains work and then presenting your information in a way that people can see it, hear it, feel it, and increase the chances that they’ll say ‘yes’ to whatever you’re proposing – and also decrease the chances that you’ll do something stupid.


  • Seventy-five percent of people are Lookers. Lookers think in pictures and images – they stand tall, dress well; holds a bit in his shoulders; wrinkles his forehead because he looks up when he remembers something he’s seen; [has] thin lips, [makes] lots of eye contact. To build rapport with a Looker: give them lots of eye contact; give words with a visual component e.g. ‘I see what you mean’ or ‘look at this’, ‘can you picture that’.


  • Twenty percent of people are listeners. Listeners think in words and sounds. They’re not as well dressed; looks down and to the left often because this is where we look when we remember something we’ve heard. They put their head in their hand, mumbles to herself; [they are] the pen clicker. To appeal to listeners, don’t give a lot of eye contact – it freaks them out. Use words that are auditory like ‘that sounds good to me’ or ‘let’s talk this over’.


  • Five percent of people are Touchers. They think in feelings and tactilely. Their body language: always ready to hug – even if you’ve never met before. They’re dressed for comfort rather than style; they have full lips; a tendency to lean in because they’re trying to decrease the amount of physical space; they reach out and touch your arm during conversations; and they look down when remembering something because that’s where you look when you’re remembering something you’ve felt. To build rapport with a Toucher, if you’re comfortable with it, let them touch you. If not, stick your hand out; they’re looking for a point of physical contact. Use language with ‘feeling’ or that is tactile, for example, ‘I want to hear how you’re feeling about this’ or ‘Let’s get in touch’ or ‘Reach out and tell me what you think.’


  • By noticing other people’s body language and figuring out how they think, they will say ‘yes’ more often as you present in a way that they identify with.


  • Accommodate your language – both body and verbal – to the people you’re with (trying to influence) to build rapport. You’ll become the most persuasive person in the room.


As a farmer and advocate for your business and industry, it’s important to understand how people are receiving your information so you can deliver it in the most retainable and meaningful way for that individual. Being attuned to what category they fall into allows you to custom fit your information to get the best bang for your buck.

Sure, it might make our lives easier to actually be able to read someone’s mind (hmmm…on second thought, maybe we don’t really want to know what’s up there!), but since we can’t do that, we can do the next best thing: be conscious of how people act physically and be aware of how mental shortcuts lead them down different thought paths. Armed with that knowledge, your farm to consumer conversations will be off to a great start.


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