Justin Patton

#2 Body Language Fundamental: Clusters

#2 Body Language Fundamental: Clusters

Former FBI counterintelligence agent Joe Navarro refers to clustering as putting all the parts of the jigsaw puzzle together. “The more pieces of the puzzle you possess, the better your chances of putting them all together and seeing the picture they portray.”

So how great of a puzzle solver are you?

This blog will highlight the #2 body language fundamental, clusters, and help you hone your ability to connect all the puzzle pieces and be more effective at decoding body language accurately. Enjoy Reading Fundamental #2 of 5.

Fundamental #2 – Clusters
Ability to notice multiple cues to form a more accurate depiction of someone’s emotional state

So first things first…one isolated gesture doesn’t mean a “cock-a-doodie” thing! Generating meaning from one gesture is like summarizing the meaning of a paragraph from just one word. It’s just not accurate! Trust me…I tried this technique on my ACT assessment in high school. However, these isolated cues should motivate you to step back and take a closer look into what the whole body is saying.

Deception & Interrogation expert Stan Walters reminds us that someone’s gestures are worthy of our attention if they occur within 3-5 seconds of the issue being discussed or asked; therefore, a minimum of 2-4 clusters should happen within that time frame for us to form an accurate picture.

So what should you look for? Below are four parts of the body that I observe during a conversation to help me identify clusters.


Face Eye contact, positioning of head, micro expressions
Shoulders Any noticeable shoulder shrug or lean in/away
Hands Open/closed/power positions, pacifying gestures
Legs/Feet Change of position/alignment


In summary, honing your ability to notice multiple cues across the body should give you confidence that what you are noticing is probably accurate. From there, simply paraphrase or ask a question related to your assumption to see if he/she divulges more information and confirms your suspicion (i.e. You seem a little uncomfortable talking about what happened yesterday. Or…You seem really passionate about this topic. What makes you so interested in it?). Remember: do not base an assumption off one isolated gesture!

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Justin Patton