Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Body Language in a nutshell

Body language has been a topic of interest for may years now. BUT body language has been around since time immemorial-- even monkeys use it! Nowadays, people are becoming more aware of it's importance and is taking time to study/learn about it.

The Big Question is: Can we fake it?

The answer is a big NO. But we can definitely use it to our advantage.With a right assessment of what the other is feeling and the right responses (gestures) you can turn a NO to a YES in business, you can build rapport faster, you can break defenses, etc etc. :)

Understanding body language is no easy task. There are lots of considerations but once you get used to it--like in any other task/skill-- it will be easier and almost automatic!

Let's start with a definition of body language. It is the expression of our real feelings/emotions using our body-- it may be conscious but is mostly unconscious. The body reveals what the mind is thinking even if the conscious mind is trying to conceal it.

Three Rules for Accurate Reading (by A & B Pease)

Rule 1 Read gestures in clusters

Never ever interpret a gesture in isolation. One gesture can mean a lot! For example, crossed arms can mean defensive, insecure, hostile, or is just hiding a stain in her dress or a big belly and a hundred more possibilities.

Gestures should only be read in clusters/groups. For example, relaxed arms/legs, leaning forward, while stroking the chin may mean "I am thinking about it but I'm positive."

Rule 2 Look for congruence

Is what he/she is saying consistent with what their body is revealing?

Once, i caught myself saying "Sige, okay lang." (Sure, it's okay.) while shaking my head (as if saying no).
There is incongruence between my words and action. Action really speaks louder than words! I'll admit, I was just shy to say no at that time. We really can't fake it!

Rule 3 Read gestures in context

Look around. Consider the environment and what is happening.

A person might cross his arms and legs because it is cold-- not defensive. Or when talking with a woman in a crowded place, a woman might cross her arms to protect her bosom-- not because she is negative about what you are talking about.

Always remember these three. It will help you a lot. At first, the task of understanding body language might be difficult but with regular practice, you'll be a pro! :)

Source: Pease, Allan & Barbara (2004), The Definitive Book of Body Language, 20-24.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beware: Women are better in spotting lies!

…so men, beware! Ever heard of “Women’s intuition”(that women are more intuitive than men)? Yes? Well, it’s not true. Researches have proven that women are no more intuitive than men. But don’t rejoice just yet! Women are more specific to details which make them seem to have this “sixth sense”.

Everyone can read body language—at least, in a subconscious level. Ever wonder why sometimes when you meet someone, even for the first time, you have this hunch that this person is snobbish or friendly, can’t be trusted, or is interested in you? It may be because you have read their body language. They might be using gestures/ postures that are telling you what they really feel.

When we talk, it is not just what we say—it is how we say it. Below is a chart that illustrates how important body language is in communicating. A whopping 60% accounts for body language. Some research would even say 80% (55-80%). The voice (intonation, pitch, etc) stands for 30% (20-30%) and only 10% (7-10%) is about the words we say. With these information, we should really do pay much attention on body language.

In general, women are better on spotting lies or sense if something is wrong. Not because we have a sixth sense but because we have a keener eye for detail. But of course, there are some men who are also good at this or even better—I am not discounting that fact, I know one person who is.

It will be helpful if we would be knowledgeable about body language. It can help us in building relationships and establishing trust in business. How about knowing how to spot a “NO” and turning it into a “YES”? Well, we’ll talk about this on another time. Meanwhile, here are some negative and positive signals/ gestures to watch out for (from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Clear Communication):

Negative Signals

for Boredom

· doodling

· drumming fingers

· crossed legs with foot swinging or kicking

· head in hands

· blank stare

· taking deep breath

· tapping floor with foot

· clicking pen in and out

for Frustration

· short breaths

· “tssk”sounds

· Hands tightly clenched

· Wringing hands

· Fist-like gestures

· Pointing index fingers

· Running hand through hair

· Rubbing back of neck

· Kicking the ground or imaginary object

Positive Signals

for Cooperation

· Sprinter’s position

· Open hands

· Sitting on edge of chair

· Unbuttoning coat

· Tilted head

· Leaning toward you

· Moving closer to you

These are just some signals that we usually see. But again, do not read gestures in isolation. It should be in clusters. They can have different meanings in different situations and across cultures. Do not over analyze.

Sources: He Says She Says by Glass, Lillian (1992). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Clear Communication by Cole, Kim (2002). Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps by Pease, Allan & Barbara (2001).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Who's your crush? Don't let your body language give you away

You've read it right! Your body language can tell who your crush is. Think your careful enough? I thought i am but not until i caught myself following him--- with my thumb!

When i was in college, I attended a conference with my friends, fortunately, my crush attended, too. I'm a bit bored and sleepy but is still trying to absorb the lesson. My legs are crossed, upper body slightly leaning forward, chin resting on the palm of my left hand (elbow of this hand was resting on my other forearm [right]). Suddenly, my crush appeared on the side door in front of the room. Of course, i don't want to be obvious so i didn't look at him directly (good thing girls have wider peripheral vision than guys!). But guess what I did? Nope, neither did I uncross my legs nor flip my hair. i didn't change my position. but my thumb gave me away! i noticed that my thumb is pointing to my crush-- but not just that-- it followed him as he walked to the back of the room! Hahahaha.

No matter how hard we try to keep it to ourselves, our body will really try to tell what our mind is thinking. If people who interests us comes into the same room, we automatically (unconsciously) do something.

There are a lot of body language that shows interest but i will discuss only a few without getting too scientific.

1 Preening gestures. I am pretty sure that we are all guilty of this one! Have you ever flipped/fixed your hair, gathered your hair away from the face to the back of your ears, straighten your clothes/ tie, or removed an imaginary lint on your shoulders when an object of interest is somewhere in sight? The why is clear. We want to look good around them. We want them to notice us.

2 Pointing. Yup, we usually point to our object of interest. The usual pointers are the feet, legs, knees, arms and in my case, thumb.

3 Personal space. Personal space is a space we alot for ourselves. The distance varies with culture. But, regardless, we only allow people we trust/like within our intimate zone (6-18 inches from our body). Sometimes, we unconsciously invade our crush's personal space to try to build rapport/closeness. But no one throws him/herself for a hug! That is way threatening. Some would subtly do this by putting their bags or coffee or other stuff within the person's personal space.

4 Studies show that women laugh at men they're attracted to, and men are attracted to women who laugh at them.--Allan & Barbara Pease Laughing is not really nonverbal or is it? i don't know. but we usually do this unconsciously. We don't force ourselves to laugh we just do. I remember, my crush cracked a joke-- no one laughed except me. I laughed pretty loud and I'm the only one who did. ooops. ;)

There are a lot more-- tons more! Read further. I would recommend "The Definitive Book of Body Language" by Allan and Barbara Pease. It's the best I've read on this subject. Their book includes illustrations which is very helpful for not so imaginative people. Another thing i liked is that they are scientific and behavioral. Its a must read!

i did not post this for us to avoid these gestures but to inform. We don't need to eliminate these because most of the time it works to our advantage-- unless you don't wanna get caught! It's just nice to be aware of the signals we are sending.

Thinking of these signals, i am fascinated by how God created us. He gave us a way to express ourselves-- even if we can't say it verbally!

Sources: The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan and Barbara Pease.(main)
How to Read a person Like a Book, Gerard Nierenberg, Henry Calero. (I've read this years ago but has actually influenced me)

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to know if your partner is lying?

oh, i guess we've all been victims of lies in one way or another. It may be a harmless little white lie or a heart breaking, earth shattering big fat lie. How we wish we could tell if someone is lying or not. How much pain would we and our loved ones be spared of?

There is no one sure way to know if someone is lying (even lie detector tests are not 100% correct) but we can somehow have an idea if someone is lying.

I usually get a "hunch" when someone is lying to me, if someone is sincere or not. and i think it served me a lot of good. The "hunch" is not purely intuitive rather it was acquired through studying and observing real life circumstances-- movies, friends, and of course my greatest guinea pig, myself. :)

Well, here are some guidelines that might be useful for beginners...

BUT, please note that gestures should not be interpreted in isolation but in gesture clusters and of course, look if it is congruent with the overall context.

1 Hand-to-face (usually around the mouth) its like-- "say no evil". When we are kids, we cover our mouth when we lie but now that we are grown-ups we have become more sophisticated and less obvious.

Variations are: mouth slightly covered as if thinking, few fingers touching the mouth, close fist on mouth, fake cough while speaking, etc. Again these must be in context and clusters. This might also mean that the listener is holding back information.

2 Microgestures
- there are some quick gestures that might help us detect lies. You should be fast though because these microgestures lasts only for a split sec! whoa! It can be a facial muscular twitch or sneer. I have noticed myself do this when i think of lying but a bit prolonged than during the crime of lying itself. :)

3 Increased number of gulps and eye blinks. oh well. for some reason they are increased. But men's gulp are more noticeable because of their Adam's apple.

4 Nose Touch/ Scratch According to research (Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Chicago), when we lie, something in our nose expands/swells causing some "itch" (just like pinocchio!). So our tendency is to touch or to scratch it. It may also indicate anxiety, anger or upset.

5 Eye Rub It may be a deliberate/vigorous eye rub or a slight touch somewhere below the eyes or LOOKING AWAY. It is a way to avoid looking to the person being lied to. It is also a "see no evil" gesture.

6 Ear Grab ""hear no evil": trying to block the words he is hearing... adult version of the Hands-Over-Both-Ears gestures used by the child who wants to block out his parent's reprimands" Allan & Barbara Pease. Sometimes, we just don't want to hear our own lies! Well, maybe we don't believe it ourselves or we cant believe we are telling such a lame excuse. :)

7 Neck Scratch We usually use the index finger of our stronger hand to scratch somewhere below the ear. It may mean, "I'm not sure" or "i will think further". If a man asked a girl "Is it alright if i drop by your house sometime this week?" If the girl says "Yeah, it'd be great!" while scratching the neck-- it's probably a "uh, no! i don't want you to visit." ;))

8 Other things to watch out for! -- Look out for these, too: Stuttering, uneasy legs, flushed cheeks, voice intonations, pupil dilation and contraction, and of course, inconsistencies in their lies! :)

The list of signs may go on and on... but i recommend that you evaluate others (movies, friends) and yourself (after lying). Practice may not make you perfect but it will surely improve your ability to detect lies. :)

Again, don't isolate gestures. It should be in clusters. A nose touch may mean that the person has colds. Eye rub may be caused by dust or something. Or a thousand more reasons so be very careful! Know the basics of body language. Read. Enrich your knowledge. :)

Hope this helps. Questions, comments and corrections are most welcome. :)

Sources: The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan and Barbara Pease. And lessons that i can recollect from college. and some other books/articles I've read but can't remember (oops, sorry). :)