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The darker arts of body language

May 31st, 2011 by dimpledbrain

The other day I was observing a girl playing the piano. A guy approached her and was towering over her. After exchanging a few words, he literally shrank and was squatting by the piano stool. It may seem like a normal scene but it speaks volume.

My interpretation: the guy was trying to impress the girl (by towering over her – just like how any animals would do. For lack of a better example, peacocks spread their feathers to impress and attract potential peahens) but later was ‘intimidated’ by the girl. Because his confidence is somehow shaken, he crossed his left leg over his right leg and then shrank himself. The girl won in whatever discussion they had.

Such is the power of body language. We can do away with the verbal portion and still paradoxically make better sense of things.

  1. Crossing arms and crossing legs – many know that crossed arms are associated with negativity, defensiveness, nervousness and insecurity. Well, so are crossed legs. Depending on what you want to achieve, we may like to find ways to unfold them – indirectly of course.
  2. Mirroring – this technique is a quickie to building rapport. It creates the right vibes and makes people in sync with each other. Maya Angelou says “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will not forget how you made them feel.”
  3. The neck scratch. In the book The Definitive Guide to Body Language, Allan & Barbara Pease say this is usually done using the index finger of the writing hand scratching for about 5 times. This signals uncertainty and doubt, and especially so if someone says “I totally get you” while scratching his/her neck!

Initially I thought understanding body language is more beneficial from the perspective of understanding others. But the truth of the matter is there are just a few groups of people that we really want to understand, so to speak. Crudely put, there are very few people, if any, that we really want to care about, let alone to understand.

So I conclude that understanding body language is more beneficial from the perspective of understanding ourselves since they come from our subconscious mind. If we reflect upon those moments when we cross our arms or legs or  scratch our neck because you-know-who is a pain in the ass, it may shed some light on how we really think and feel.

Now we may at times amuse ourselves with what others really mean, but over the long run I believe the real benefit will come from unearthing the deep secretive reservoir of our soul. I stand vindicated.

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