Quick Definition: The real underlying message that is not directly communicated with the words chosen or the immediately visible context of the situation.

Full Definition:

In literature, subtext is defined as “content of a book, play, musical work, film, video game, or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfold.”

In pick up, it is what is not being said. Reading in between the lines. Understanding the person’s MO and issues. For example, a woman may be playing hard to get and throwing back many IODs to each sentence that the artist is conveying to her and her group. This could be due to her not liking the artist. If you read her body language and get to know her a little more, you may find the real meaning. In an interaction not too long ago, I remember saying, “I understand how you think now! I used to be like that. I bet you have many good friends who are very loyal to you, but getting into that good friend zone, takes a lot.”

Many times, girls that give you this hard of a time for no apparent reason are actually mad about something else, or have a negative feedback loop in relating to others. In her mind, “guys always give me shit when I’m nice, and I get more positive responses when I act this way.” Therefore, they being to act negatively.

On the other end of the spectrum, a girl who is overly nice may be communicating that she’s not comfortable telling the truth to you in the relationship.

An exercise we run in bootcamp is this:

  1. Read a passage from a random book
  2. Try to give it different tonalities, and see how the subtext changes
  3. Now, say something, anything, and I want you to listen to the other person. REALLY listen. I don’t want to you pay attention to his or her words, only her tonality and the energy of her voice.
  4. Now, reverse this process. What is the overall feeling and her voice tonality telling you? Do NOT refer to the words she used, only her voice, expressions and body language. Is it telling a different story?

By forcing the student to not pay attention to the words, they begin to develop a skill in reading the other person’s feelings and intent, instead of the logic of their words. Often times, the combination of body language, eye contact, facial muscles, and voice tonality gives away our true desires and intent.

Skip to 6:00 on how to pick up the 5 communication channels:

Because of the difficulty of spotting ALL 5 channels, videotaping is often used by lie detector agents to rescan and re-analyze the cues for truth and lies. The show Lie To Me focuses on Professor Lightman’s research in this area.


Read the subtext – what’s the real issue here?

Related Terms: AFOG, AMOG, Alpha Male, Subcommunication, Verbal Communication, Non Verbal Communication, Body Language, Body Language Clusters, Social Cues, Modus Operandi (MO)