How a Body Language Technique Revealed Fear and Loathing in the Channel—Just BLINK!

David M. Schneer, Ph.D

BLINKing is Not What you might be thinking.

We emote faster than we think. Which is exactly why the BLINK technique is so powerful.

BLINK stands for Body Language Intuition Numinology Know-How—pioneered by the Center for Body Language. The basic premise of this technique is that instead of asking someone a question and waiting for their reply, you posit a supposition and watch the reaction on their face. That is, did they show signs of disgust, contempt, happiness, fear, sadness, surprise—or no emotion at all? This technique takes advantage of the fact that we think slower than we emote. Our emotions are controlled by the part of the brain typically referred to as the “frog brain” or “reptile brain”. Ask a person a question and they have time to formulate an answer. Use the BLINK technique and watch the answer flash across their face without them even knowing it.


At The Merrill Institute, we used the BLINK technique in a qualitative channel study among Value Added Resellers (VAR), and the technique yielded jaw-dropping results. Back to that in a minute. First, let’s understand the target audience in this study.  These VARs resold computer software, hardware, and networking products to small and medium-size companies, providing value beyond order fulfillment.

I used the BLINK Technique among VARs in the New York area during a series of hour-long in-person interviews. The objective of the study was to understand the needs of VARs selling their particular devices. What kind of support would they require? Better pricing and margins? Lead generation support? Market Development Funds? What would be the ideal channel plan? After asking a variety of questions regarding channel needs, we turned our attention to the major brands in the space.


“So,” I asked one of the VARs, “would it matter to you who the manufacturer is behind this channel plan?”

“Yes,” he replied, and before he could say anything else, I interjected the following presupposition—“Suppose I told you that the manufacturer behind this plan is Brand X”. In an instant, the VAR flashed a half smile of contempt, a quick sign of fear, and then a sure sign of disgust… but then he said, “Brand X would be fine.” I could sense something was amiss.  My spidey senses were tingling.

“You know”, I said to him, “I’m sensing that there’s more to the story about Brand X.”

He looked at me and said, “Brand X is fine from the perspective of customer awareness. Everyone knows brand X. But I’ll never do business with them again after they went around my back directly to my clients.” We later learned that this VAR had registered a sizeable deal (over 50 devices) with Brand X—only to find out later that Brand X tried to cut him out of the deal. The lesson? Deal registration and no channel conflict are sacred!

We might have missed that had we not employed the BLINK technique. This is just one of the many instances the BLINK technique can be used. For example, an HR executive could quickly assess whether a job candidate is less than forthcoming about their previous work experiences.

Tune in for more of our articles on how to incorporate body language knowledge into your business or relationships and if you need a deeper dive into the science behind body language, please contact us

The Merrill Institute can train you or your corporation to use the BLINK Technique to better understand body language and micro-expressions.