Hold Thy Tongue! (If Thou Can)

By David M. Schneer, Ph.D./CEO

3-Minute Read

Practical Applications for Nonverbal Intelligence and the Emotional Indicators of The Tongue Jut

When does the tongue speak without saying a word?

To set the context, let’s consider the tongue-lashing this human organ of speech has taken historically.

Depending on the translation (e.g., NIV, NASB, NRSV, NKJ, etc.), the words tongue or tongues appear between 140 and 200 times in both the Old and New Testaments. If there’s one organ that tends to get us humans in trouble the most, it’s the tongue.

We all know that sticking your tongue out (see cat above), is a form of contempt. But a quick survey of major worldviews shows that the tongue has also been busy elsewhere. Consider this:

  1. The tongue has been accused of telling crushing lies and hollow flattery (Prov. 26:28).
  2. Metaphorically speaking, those who speak lies are referred to as having “poisonous” tongues (Job 20:16). The righteous are described as having tongues of “pure silver” (Prov. 10:20) and those with “wise” tongues are said to bring good health (Prov. 12:18-19).[1]
  3. The Qur’an describes the tongue as a “sharp” stinging instrument. [2]
  4. The Orthodox Christian perspective posits that Glossolalia (i.e., speaking in tongues) is a gift from the Holy Spirt.[3]
  5. Even Moses was said to be “slow of tongue.” (Ex. 4:10)

Whatever the worldview, getting a hold of your tongue is one of the fundamentals of a successful life.

But there is one tongue movement that we cannot control. That is, when we humans stick our tongues out and we don’t even know it. What is this?

To answer the question above: it’s the Tongue Jut.

This is when the tongue instantly sticks out between the teeth, and sometimes without touching the lips. What does this mean?

Says body language expert and former FBI profiler, Joe Navarro, tongue jutting is often a sign that someone pulled a fast one over you, or they got caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Writes Navarro, “The tongue jut is universal and is remarkable in its consistency, whether it is indicating that you got away with a great bargain or an extra cookie, a higher grade, or a whopper of a lie.”[4]

A Telltale Sign of Getting Away With It (Or not).

Do not ignore signs of tongue jutting as it is a very reliable sign that some sort of windfall or transgression has occurred.

At Merrill Research, we see indications of tongue juts in qualitative studies when someone has tried to fool a researcher (i.e., tried to guess at an answer they did not know). And when we see this behavior, it is always an opportunity to probe and learn more. For example, if you see this behavior, then you might follow up with a question asking the participant to clarify further the answer they just gave.

Mostly, however, it is best to keep your tongue in your mouth!

Contact us today to see how we can help you or your organization become proficient at finding out what people are really thinking when they communicate with you. 

Most Communication is Nonverbal. Are You Fluent?

[1] Holman Bible Dictionary.© 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.

[2] Qur’an (Droge) Q33 19

[3] The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (https://suscopts.org)

[4] “Excerpt From: The Dictionary of Body Language, Joe Navarro https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-dictionary-of-body-language/id1281489160.