Newcastle Herald Weekender Interview Nov 2011

I was interviewed by the Newcastle Herald for the second time in 6 months

(Lisa Rockman, Newcastle Herald)  “When did you become interested in body language and human behaviour?” 

(Alan)  Most of my life I’ve been in positions where interactions with other people have been a major focus. I’d say though, that I became more interested in the 1980’s as a Surf Lifesaver looking to understand why people put themselves in obvious danger and how some reacted after they were rescued, and in the role as an Examiner, the way students saw the surf differently. Then about 10 years ago I was commissioned by a Currency trading company to find out why very few of their students over the years had any success trading in the FOREX Market. The reason in every case had everything to do with human behaviour. I found the psychology of trading fascinating which drove me to look for the most advanced methods of reading people. I needed something far better than psychometric analysis programmes. I found the world’s leaders in a number of fields and then brought the skills together into one programme I’ve called Human Pattern Recognition, a process that is unique, at least in the southern hemisphere.

(Lisa)  What exactly is human pattern recognition?

(Alan) HPR is the combination of a number of different skills that allow you to recognise a person’s conscious preferred behaviour patterns and their unconsciously “leaked” indicators that give away what they really feel and what they are concealing in any situation.  Reading what they are not telling you, what they are concealing and how they are lively to act in future situations. It consists of visually reading Body Language, Micro Expressions, Facial Features and Personality Traits. Looking for combinations of indicators, recognising the discrepancies between a person’s words and their behaviour and steering it all towards an outcome using a questioning technique call Neuro Linguistic Programming.

(Lisa) How can you tell if someone is lying?

(Alan) Remember a time when someone was telling you something but your intuition was telling you that something just wasn’t right; that you couldn’t trust what they were saying.  That would have been because you were unconsciously picking up discrepancies between what they were saying and how they were saying it; you were picking up different indicators.  It’s not necessarily that they were lying, just that something was amiss. By building a picture of the different signs you’ve collected and steering the conversation with questions you can move from just recognising something is amiss to knowing the truth.

When someone is lying, and the more they talk, the more they have to remember the lie they’ve just told. When that happens their concentration goes completely to covering the lie and that’s when their body language and facial expressions (right down to tiny micro and subtle expression) start leaking like a burst water pipe. Ask them the right questions and they will dig a hole they can’t climb out of.  Watching that happen can be a lot of fun.

(Lisa)  What else can you read from people through their body language?

(Alan) You can quickly build and test if you have rapport with them, monitor the flow of meetings, and test how any conversation is going. You can sit anywhere and observe people even (and especially) when you can’t hear the conversation and you can read the whole situation like a book.. You can read who’s who; who’s enjoying the conversation and who’s not interested, the feelings and attitudes of the people and how each person relates to the other in their social hierarchy.  With body language and Micro Expressions you can read everything in that moment of time; in what is going on right then and there.

It’s probably easier to list what you cannot read than what you can.  The things you can’t read is how they are likely behave and respond in future and separate situation.  That’s where reading a person’s personality traits then comes in.  Reading traits is about reading a person’s personality without needing to ask any question. You can read how to approach them, what is likely to motivate them, how they like to process information and how they like to be spoken too. You can map their whole personality by pure observation and in a matter of minutes without speaking.

Put all of these skills together and you’ve just about covered everything.

(Lisa)  You have spoken publicly about dating and how to avoid a psychopath. How can you tell if someone is a psychopath?

(Alan)  The talks we’ve done here have been light hearted. It’s not so much that the person is a psychopath but we can quickly pick up that a situation is not quite right; something doesn’t stack up or there is malicious intent being contemplated.  Body language tells us if there is or isn’t congruency between what they are saying and how they feel. Micro expressions give us more tools and confirmation to read the other person; to see what’s going on way over on the other side of a room.  They help us to detect dangerous demeanour in other people.  Quite often people will say that their last partner was a psychopath. Quite often that’s because of the differences in the two personalities.  Being able to reading personalities and recognise the differences can change that dramatically.

In the case of someone who is contemplating bad intent there are a number of variations on the micro expressions that ring warning bells, and these you can detect at a glance.

(Lisa)  What are the warning signs people should look out for when on a date?

(Alan)  I don’t want to give too much away to those less desirable characters. A number of people have asked me to teach them to lie without detection, which I won’t do.  I do explain the warning signs when my audience is in front of me, and where I can read their intent at the same time, like the event I’m doing for the group Busy and Single at Lizotte’s Newcastle on Saturday, November 19th.

What I will say though, and especially to women is respect yourself because the blokes won’t if you don’t. Don’t make or leave yourself open as a target.  Personal responsibility first and look out for your friends too. Outside of that everything you need to know is right there in their body language and facial expressions. The skills need to be learnt correctly though.  The TV series Lie To Me  has been great for raising awareness but much of the information, especially in the later series, contains too much stuff placed there for dramatic effect.

(Lisa)   Is dating in the 21st century different to that of previous centuries?

(Alan)   Expectations are totally different today.  Things are freer and the pace is much faster. Before dating services, internet and social media, connections were made just as much through friends, associates and organised events.  There was far less chance of drink spiking and we didn’t meet people sight unseen on line. Today 1 in 5 people meet on-line where it’s estimated that 35% of those registered on dating sights are already married.  It can be a predator’s play ground, just like dimly lit pubs and night clubs.

Facebook has also affected the way we interact and handle relationships. Facebook is now blamed for 20 percent of divorces, so how you present yourself there is extremely important. It’s why I’ve been looking into that with one social media group here in Newcastle.

(Lisa)  Who else, other than single people seeking a partner, might find human pattern recognition useful?

(Alan)  The short answer is in every situation where two or more people interact.  In every level of management and leadership, especially now that statistics show 80% of people leave their jobs because of their immediate manager or supervisor. So the skills of reading people are essential for training managers and those leading teams; which leads to greater staff loyalty and retention and increased profitability. They are also sales skills.  In your staff, you can pick up emotional issues long before they become a resignation, an accident or a work cover issue. Other areas are recruiting and job allocation; putting the right person to the right job and task.

Investigators, Solicitors and all types of Interviewers would benefit from having these skills.  I was explaining today to a solicitor how he could use it to select a jury who would be more sympathetic to his client’s court cases.

Medical practitioners would benefit from the skills. Patients often lie to their doctors for many reasons, but they are less likely to get away with it when the doctor can read what’s really going on.  In the case of Doctors and Solicitors it could result in major savings on their professional indemnity insurance premiums, just because they have the skill to circumvent a problem that otherwise would have escaped them..

Absolutely essential to helping high school students find a career that suits their personality.  With Australian Universities losing $1.4 billion each year with first year drop outs and TAFE losing 2 out of every three students, guiding school leavers into the careers that fit their personalities can go a long way to reduce those losses.

Once you can read the indicators and traits you can recognise whatever is really going on and help a lot of people in the process

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Alan Stevens