Call: (646) 470-7885

December 7, 2012

Threats Inside The Wire – Finding The Truth

Behavioral analysis doesn’t make you a mind reader.  Observing someone who is showing cues from the Uncomfortable Cluster only means that they are uncomfortable.  That observation alone doesn’t mean they are about to commit a Green-on-Blue attack, we can begin putting together a plan, go into Condition Orange, but we still need more information. If you were to look at a TSA checkpoint as an example, an old woman who is nervous about going through security because it is her first time flying in a decade could give off the same exact cues as a smuggler trying to get a suitcase full of heroin onto the plane.  The only way we can narrow this field to the people who truly warrant our attention, stop insider attacks, and find the reason for their behavior is to contact them – to start a conversation.

The “contact” offers two benefits – the first is that it reduces the problem of false positives, the old woman going through the checkpoint.  The second benefit is that it provides the information needed so that you can determine why they were acting the way they were.  They have already gotten your attention, now you can figure out the cause.  This human intelligence (HUMINT) is key to stopping Threats Inside the Wire.

December 5, 2012

Threats Inside the Wire – The Cues and The Clusters

We’ve established that the context for insider attacks is the Proxemic Pull – the approaching attacker.  We covered that. But when we look at Green-on-Blue attacks, the observations we are going to make are going to be grounded in the nonverbal cues – the clusters.  This is what is going to make the attacker stand out from the baseline and let us identify him hiding in the crowd.

The four body language clusters

November 1, 2012

Closing The Deal In The Boardroom, On The Battlefield, Or In The Bar

We’ve all been there before.  We thought we had done enough to get the “yes,” whether it was for a new contract, an agreement with a village elder in a foreign country over the placement of a new well, or the number for the girl you’ve been talking to at the bar.  In fact, we were probably so confident in our presentation that a “no” was no longer even a real possibility in our mind.  Because of this, we probably stopped looking for the cues that could have alerted us to the impending and humiliating rejection that was around the next corner.  It might not always be an outright no either.  At first it could even be a “yes” just to get us to stop talking which also provides them the time for the “buyers remorse” to set in and have the deal breakdown later on.  Where did we go wrong?  It started by failing to

October 12, 2012

Nonverbal Observations From The Vice Presidential Debate

I decided to wait a day before commenting on last night’s Vice Presidential debate because I wanted to see how the press was going to report the exchange between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.  I wanted to compare the perception that viewers had of the candidates and then look at the body language that influenced those assessments.  Since a great deal of attention and reporting has been focused on Joe Biden’s performance, we can take a look at how he communicated non-verbally.

The response has been split down the middle, depending on the political affiliations the various news organizations have.  Depending on which website you may have read, the headlines either read that Joe Biden “showed his teeth” or that “he was arrogant and unbound.”  Let’s break down the nonverbal elements for each side of the coin.

October 2, 2012

Great TED Talk about Dominance vs. Submissiveness

A great talk from Amy Cuddy about the effect body language has on the person, definitely recommend taking the 20 minutes to view it.

After you are done, take a look at some posts that tie in similar concepts:

– She talks about what we refer to as Dominant and Submissive behavior: read what comprises those clusters.

– See how people respond to dominance here.

August 30, 2012

I’m Not An Expert And I Don’t Want To Be

Exactly one year before the workplace violence-related shooting last week outside of the Empire State building, I posted my second article on this site.  It was titled, “Am I an Expert Yet” and it was written with the goal of instilling confidence in students to use and apply the profiling skills they were learning in class.  My intent was for students to take proactive steps towards identifying and taking action on the anomalies they observed and not be passive bystanders.  But after watching the media call on countless self-proclaimed “experts” to comment on the events that took place before and after the shooting, I can’t help but be frustrated.

Experts Know Capabilities and Limitations.

I don’t think there are very many people who are body language experts. 

August 24, 2012

Empire State Building Shooting – Raising The Stakes In Workplace Violence

The shooting this morning near the Empire State Building reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with a former San Diego police officer about watching a fight unfold right in front of you.  Many people have had the experience at some point in their lives, and if you ask people about it, they can tell you all about what happened before the fight broke out.  They talk about the aggressive person getting into the face of the person they are about to fight.  They talk about the aggressive person taking off his shirt or hat before the fight begins.  They bring up the fact that they watched the aggressive person approaching or running at the person he was about to strike. And they bring up every other pre-fight action you could image.

Rarely do they ever stop the fight from happening.  Why not?  The common answer is usually because they weren’t the one about to get punched.  There was no risk to them, so why intervene?  Intervening could be dangerous.  Right?

This morning’s shooting was a Workplace Violence related attack

July 29, 2012

Reacting To Dominance – Finding Submissiveness and Discomfort

It is not uncommon for a group of people to have one person that fills a dominant role in the group. Whether this be a respected and acknowledged of elected leader or a person that wants to be seen as the leader and attempts to assert their authority over the other people through force of will.

Identifying this relationship can provide a great deal of insight into the group because we can observe how the other group members respond to the blatant attempts at dominance.  Do they recognize the threat and respond with dominance right back (fight the threat)?  Do they recognize the threat and become clearly uncomfortable (flight from the threat)?  Or do they recognize the threat and simply submit, letting the dominant person do whatever they want?  Identifying the pre-set patterns that the members of the group execute in the face of dominance can help Marines predict the future actions of people.

Watch this video clip taken from A&E’s Beyond Scared Straight series (NOTEnot every swear word is bleeped out, so this might not be appropriate for the office).  The Dominance that the two prison inmates are showing is pretty clear, so I’m not going to waste your time and discuss those, but the file folders that we do want to build on are those that show how people respond to that clear and obvious threat. 

July 28, 2012

Updates To The Clusters

In order to answer some questions posed by some readers, we have updated the “Dominant vs. Submissive” Cluster as well as the “Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable” Cluster in order to provide a little bit more explanation into the “why” behind the clusters.

By understanding that the characteristics of the “Dominant” Cluster are a result of a person’s fight response, and that “Submissive” cues are an absence of the fight response, observers can be more accurate in applying these observations in a variety of contexts.  By knowing that the driving force behind a classification of “Uncomfortable” is the body’s flight response and the unconscious ways we either create greater separation or protect ourselves from a threat, we will be able to make those classifications more quickly and accurately.  By seeing that “Comfortable” cues are the absence of the fight or flight response, that no threat has been perceived by the person, we will be able to establish individual baselines and notice changes at a higher level.

So check out those posts.  Understanding individuals is the foundation that we build from in behavioral analysis and without being able to quickly and accurately identify the people in those different mental or emotional states, our follow-on observations might be off as well.

July 3, 2012

Pamela Meyer – TED Talk About Finding The Truth


We don’t spend a great deal of time on the site focusing on Deception Detection, but it is a skill that should be considered for every interaction that you have, especially in your professional (security) related conversations. Bad information leads to bad decisions and learning to spot the cues that the person you are talking to might be hiding something can be the difference between succeeding or failing in your task.  Watch the video and see why Pamela Meyer is on our recommended reading list.

If you are interested in her great book, Lie Spotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, you can pick it up from Amazon here.

Want to see other books that we have read and recommend? Take a look at our complete reading list for our other suggestions.

June 12, 2012

The Clusters Have Been Updated

We have gone through the 6 different clusters that we use to define a person’s body language and expanded the possible behaviors that you can use classify the people you are observing.  The more you practice identifying these clusters will allow you to quickly establish baselines for individuals as well as notice the subtle changes in that can alert you to shifts in their moods and intentions.

To see the updated information, follow the links:

Dominant vs. Submissive Cluster

Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable Cluster

Interested vs. Uninterested Cluster

Some gestures bridge the gap across clusters and can fit into multiple clusters.  Continually look for three indicators that lead you to the same conclusion and determine if that gesture fits the baseline.  Finding creative ways to train yourself to identify these will allow you build the file folders you need to become an effective profiler.

April 6, 2012

Who Is Aware Of Their Surroundings – Uncovering Good Guys And Bad Guys

There are three types of people in the world: good guys, bad guys, and the clueless.  The working assumption is that most people in our society are clueless.  They are the people driving the speed limit in the left lane on the highway and unaware that there is a line of cars behind them wanting to pass.  They are the people walking down the middle of the sidewalk or through the mall with their face buried in their cell phone as they send text messages, unaware that they are walking slowly, swerving and making it difficult for people to get around them.  They are the people on the sidewalk who just stop walking to look at something without moving to the side and getting out of everyone else’s way.  This is most of the population.  Most people are comfortably condition white.  This is the baseline.

Good guys and bad guys are a little different.  Actually they are a lot different.