Aug 2, 2012

Your Key to Truth and Success: Insights on the Art of Nonverbal Communication from Mentalist Marc Salem

In preparation for Marc Salem's upcoming performance Mind Over Colorado, I had a privilege of interviewing the world-renowned mentalist one on one. It only occurred to me as the phone began to ring what exactly I was getting myself into – I was striking up conversation with a man that reads minds, more specifically a man that could read my mind. As we chatted about truth, lies, and the nuances of nonverbal communication I could not help but wonder just how deep into my thoughts this man had dug and what he may have uncovered in there. Lucky for me, Salem swears his “sixth sense” is used only for pure entertainment. Expect harmless fun, mind-blowing mental feats, and “mind games” that will leave you in pure awe.

Read on for Salem's take on the show and personal insights on finding the truth and achieving success. 

FAC: You will be performing  “Mind over Colorado” Aug 10 and 11. I have read only rave reviews of your performances from critics – how would you describe your work to our curious Colorado audiences?

Marc: This show is a family show - there is nothing inappropriate, nothing embarrassing, and I am not here to reveal your deep dark secrets. I am here to explore the possibilities and the fun aspects of the mind, all within the context of what I call “mind games”.  I will be looking into people’s thoughts, picking up nonverbal queues, revealing harmless things. This is the only true reality programming out there - I can assure you I have a 6th sense.

FAC: You are quick to assert that you are not a magician, a psychic, or even a mind reader – but that you have an entirely human talent. How is it then that you can seemingly read minds while the rest of us can not?

Marc: People do not know how to pay attention. There are so many things competing for our attention that we have become weaker and weaker at this. I pay very close attention to people. I have studied the inner workings of the mind extensively and know what to look for. I know how to interact with a person to restructure their thoughts and influence them to arrive at certain ideas.

FAC: You have a very impressive academic background in studies surrounds psychology and the powers of the mind – do you think what you do can be learned?

Marc: To an extent. What I do is a talent, just as playing basketball in the NBA or being a master physicist is a talent – undoubtedly you must train and study to hone your skills, however without a natural affinity you will never be great. I did my undergraduate and graduate work constantly studying the mind, psychology, and communication but I also have a natural talent for reading people. I would say what I do it is about 50 percent learned, 50 percent innate.

FAC: Teach us that 50 percent!

Marc: The first thing we have to learn to do is observe. We have to train ourselves to hear the way things sound, the way words are said, what people are wearing, even their handwriting. Unless you are trained in reading these nonverbal cues it is impossible to pick up on them. I do not think that we are talking about special training here; anyone can vastly improve their understanding of nonverbal communication when they know what to look for. Once it is pointed out to you, you know it.

FAC: Would you share a specific example of a non-verbal cue to start us off on our path to reading minds?

Marc: It is relatively easy to distinguish a real smile from a fake smile. A real smile comes to one slowly and disappears slowly; those muscles are very hard to control. A fake smile comes quickly and disappears quickly.

Other things you really have to look at as a combination of symbols. Like language the letter “A” means nothing unless it comes in the context of something called the alphabet. The same thing goes for body language, it only makes sense in the relationship to other nonverbal symbols. For example, if someone has their hand across their chest some people believe this means that they are stubborn. It could also mean that they are cold or they do not like their chest size - so it could mean many things. Context is the most important thing. If somebody speaks slowly and then they speak quickly that is a red flag. If somebody speaks quickly and then they speak slowly that is a red flag. What you are really looking for is differences in behavior, no one thing that can tell you the whole story.

FAC: This is valuable information. It seems people are more obsessed than ever with finding the truth – or more accurately, sniffing out lies. The other day I was looking through a “SkyMall” catalogue on the plane and it was chockfull of advertisements for spouse stalking devices. People are turning to vehicle trackers and email hackers in desperation when perhaps all we really need is our own deductive reasoning.

Marc: Definitely. I believe that a human being is better than any machine out there.

FAC: Where do you see this field going? Will people be able to keep up with all these machines?

Marc: Absolutely.  People have an interest in learning these skills for themselves. When people see the potential that comes with observing behaviors they want to learn more.
Anyone who understands other people has an advantage that is enormous. The point is it is the nature of humans to communicate. For lovers, for friends – whoever - I believe any communication situation can be improved if we pay more attention to one another. If a parent anticipates the needs of a child, that is good.  If an employee understands their boss, that is also good. Words are insufficient. And we already have some of the nonverbal skills we need. For example, a parent always knows when their child is lying - the thing is many parents don't want to believe it therefore they become blind to it, they choose to ignore signs. We have to pay attention to things around us. We need to try to understand mood; understand the mood of your boss and then ask yourself “is it a good time to ask for a raise, is it not a good time to ask for a raise?” I promise you will be more successful.  
"Hide your thoughts! Marc Salem is in town! Quick-witted family fun with a WOW finish!"  -  New York Times
"It's far and away the best mentalist show I've ever seen." -  Village Voice 
Marc Salem: Mind Over Colorado
Fri.-Sat., Aug. 10 - 11 | 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $18 FAC Members | $20 for non-members
all the Box Office at 710.634.5583.

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