Published February 9, 2021

Faculty Spotlight: Vanessa Van Edwards on Communication Problems

Understanding people is one of the most important life skills a person can have. Yet growing up, we aren’t necessarily taught these people skills.

…people skills can make or break your ability to have thriving relationships and accomplish your goals.

But here’s the problem: If you lead anyone—whether that is your family, team, business or church, people skills can make or break your ability to have thriving relationships and accomplish your goals. If you want to influence others, it’s important to understand the science of people.

This is why the Global Leadership Network is excited to welcome best-selling author and lead behavioral investigator at Science of People, Vanessa Van Edwards, to our faculty lineup at The Global Leadership Summit: Special Edition taking place LIVE online February 25th from 10:30am-1:45pm CT.

Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa is best known for developing a science-based framework for understanding different personalities to improve our EQ and help us communicate with family, friends, colleagues, clients and customers more effectively. If you attended the Summit back in August 2020, you’ll remember Vanessa for her magnetic personality and high-impact insights on the science of leadership and connection.

Her GLS20 talk merely scratched the surface of her vast expertise on human behavior, so we just had to have her back!



Meet Vanessa in this short video!

During her session on February 25th, Vanessa Van Edwards will explore the science of personality, diving into how you can better predict behavior, fix communication problems and build stronger, deeper relationships. Get your tickets today >>

Until then, enjoy a taste of Vanessa’s insights with this excerpt from her article on 16 essential body language examples and their meanings and take this fun body language quiz!

Did you know that we can only spot lies with 54% accuracy?

Did you know there are over 20 muscles in the face that make up over 10,000 facial expressions?

Learning to decode body language is powerful and one of the most important nonverbal communication skills.


Body language is the science of nonverbal signals such as gestures, facial expressions and eye gaze that communicate a person’s emotions and intentions. In total, there are 11 types of body language that we use to communicate. Unlike words, body language is often done subconsciously and constitutes a large part of our communication.

Why is Body Language So Important?

What if I told you there’s a way to get almost anything you want? Things like…

  • secretly knowing what someone is thinking
  • getting a raise without working any harder
  • having your date never forget you

People who are good at reading body language typically excel in their careers, have great relationships and get “freebies” in life.

But if you’re not good at body language, don’t fret!

Body language is a skill ANYONE can learn.


What are the 11 types of body language?

Besides open and closed, body language can be further broken down into 11 different channels, including facial expressions, body proxemics and ornaments.

Facial Expressions

Researcher Dr. Paul Ekman discovered 7 universal micro expressions—or short facial gestures every human makes when they feel an intense emotion. We are very drawn to looking at and observing the face to understand someone’s hidden emotions.

Body Proxemics

Proxemics is a term for how our body moves in space. We are constantly looking at how someone is moving—are they gesturing? Leaning? Moving toward or away from us? Body movements tell us a lot about preferences and nervousness.

Did you know that we can only spot lies with 54% accuracy?


The most common gestures are hand gestures. We often use our hands to express our emotions, tell a story or comfort ourselves. My team even did an experiment on TED talks and found the most popular speakers also used the most hand gestures.


Clothes, jewelry, sunglasses and hairstyles are all extensions of our body language. Not only do certain colors and styles send signals to others, how we interact with our ornaments is also telling. Is someone a fidgeter with their watch or ring?


Interest cues can be signs of attraction or general interest that usually don’t involve touch. From obvious cues like winking and smiling, to more subtle ones like a flick of the hair or displaying the wrist, knowing which cues to give and recognizing them is key to building rapport.

Eye Gaze

Eye movements and changes tell us a lot about others’ intentions. During an interaction, we can often see changes such as longer eye gaze, sideways glances and blocked eyes. These cues can indicate emotions like attraction, skepticism or stress.


Pacifying behaviors consist of a wide range of self-soothing behaviors that serve to calm us down after experiencing something unpleasant. This can be seen with fidgeting, bouncing feet and arm rubbing. As a general rule of thumb, any repetitive behavior is likely pacifying.


Haptics refers to body language cues that involve touch. These include handshakes, touching another’s arm, hugs, a pat on the shoulder and kissing. Since we interact with the world through touch, we can observe how others touch us to get an insight on their preferences.


Blocking cues are performed to magically “vanish” the cause of people’s stress or anxiety. Like the three wise monkeys—“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”—these cues consist of barriers like touching the mouth or crossing the arms to block out the environment.


Paralanguage is the nonverbal communications of your voice, such as pitch, tone and cadence. Often, we can hear how confident or anxious one feels by simply listening to their voice. By learning paralanguage, we can even master our own voices and give power to our words.


Emblems, or symbolic cues, represent messages that are consciously understood by others, and are often used in place of words. There are over 800 emblems, from your “OK” sign and “thumbs up,” and they are heavily dependent on a person’s culture and geographic location.


Read Vanessa Van Edwards’ full article at Science of People.


When you join us on the 25th at The Global Leadership Summit: Special Edition, not only will you have a chance to hear from Vanessa Van Edwards on how to master your people skills, but she will also be joined by Patrick Lencioni, Jerry Lorenzo, Craig Groeschel and others for 3+ hours of high-impact talks to help you get equipped with clarity of vision and new energy to start off your year.

We hope to see you there!  Get your tickets today >>
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