Archive for May 2012

Understanding Body Language Shouldn’t Be A Difficult Task!

May 30, 2012

Understanding body language shouldn’t be a difficult task. While it is like a spoken language, with vocabulary that you “listen for” and also “speak” to others, body language is definitely easier to learn! Begin with small sets of gestures and as they become familiar, move on to understanding other gestures. In time they will all come together as you become aware of the non-verbal communication constantly going on around you.

As with many of the things people learn, it is best to understand some general things about body language before learning the particular gestures. So presented here are the two basic groups of body language: the open/closed and forward/back groups.

The open/closed grouping of body language is the most obvious. In general, if an audience is open to a message it means that they’re receptive; if an audience is closed off to a message, it means that they’re rejecting something of the message. The open gestures include open hands, facing forward, and keeping their feet on the ground. Main arteries, the chest, and groin being open are also indicative of the open group. Instinctually humans cover these parts of the body if they need to be defensive, thus not covering them means they feel secure.  The closed gestures include folded arms, crossed legs, and not facing forward. Conversely, also, the covering of main arteries/chest/groin signals rejection to the message. Keep in mind that an “audience” may be a single person or an entire conference. In the latter case it is more difficult to adjust your message as you’re going along, but it is still helpful to understand their body language.

The forward/back grouping of body language indicates whether the audience is actively or passively reacting to your message. A forward posture consists of facing the other person directly, leaning their bodies forward, and essentially not leaning back. A backward posture consists of a few more things; leaning back, looking up at the ceiling, and cleaning glasses are all indicative things of a backward posture.

These two groups are merged together to create four basic modes: responsive, reflective, fugitive, and combative.

  • The open/forward position is the responsive mode: they are actively listening and accepting of the message.
  • The open/back position is the reflective mode: they are interested and receptive but not actively accepting. Perhaps present further facts and allow them more time to think.
  • The closed/back position is the fugitive mode: they are unreceptive, uninterested, or just bored. This would be the time to make the message more interesting, spark their curiosity!
  • And finally, the closed/forward position is the combative mode: they are actively resisting the message. They’re closed to your message but actively reacting to it; this tends to indicate that they’re disregarding your message. Usually in this mode a person is just repeating their own rebuttals mentally so that they can present them after.

Understanding these four basic modes of body language can broaden your receptiveness of body language as a whole. After learning how to use these two basic groups of body language, fitting in the particular gestures associated with certain non-verbal “vocabulary” will become an easier task. They provide the proper context for interpreting a person’s non-verbal communication.

Learn the secrets of body language and enhance communication, relationships and leadership skill.

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Sign To Look For On Your First Blind Date

May 19, 2012

Author: Andy Khazonovsky

A first date with somebody you don’t know involves, obviously, getting to know them!

Whether your date was introduced to you by a friend, or if they are a person you accidentally met at a bar, you cannot be truly sure of their words. We hopefully assume that your friends would arrange dates with good people, but let us continue with the latter example: a random person you met at a bar. They will need to impress you (particularly if you’re a lady) and in doing so may stretch the truth, exaggerate, or plainly just fabricate a story.

So what should you look out for when they’re telling you who they are, what they do, what they like, where they’re from, and so on? As far as verbal communication, we should see if they contradict themselves in their stories, if they stumble on certain answers, or leave out seemingly important details of a personal story. Most people will catch these things immediately; so what do we do if they’re a “smooth-talker?” If they’re a frequent predator at bars, they have most likely learned what to say to prospective (excuse the terminology) prey. Awkward changes in their tone of voice and speaking slowly during a story may indicate that they’re lying, but this is as far as detecting lies through verbal communication can take us.

We must therefore focus on non-verbal communication. Imagine that you are sitting across a table with them, or next to them on a bar stool. You ask your date, “So, what do you do for a living?” They have been maintaining eye contact with you, but now they break it and cover it up by grabbing their beverage. Even if their verbal message says “I’m a doctor” in the most clear and honest voice, their bodies still communicate closure, a lack of confidence, or defensiveness. The incongruence between their verbal and non-verbal messages should indicate that they aren’t fully comfortable with what they’re saying.

As with all body language gestures, these movements should be taken within context. These gestures do not necessarily indicate a lie, but by spending time with a person face-to-face (even if it has only been half an hour), one can tell that there is something else on their mind. The previous example would seem more like they are troubled at work, perhaps on the verge of being fired, or one of their patients recently died and so they’re unsure of their abilities at work. On the other hand, if they sit back, grab a beverage with one hand, cover their mouth with the other hand, cross their legs, and look away while saying “Oh…I’m a doctor.” This ‘context’ of body language generally indicates a fabricated story rather than just a lack of confidence; especially if they had been non-verbally communicating in an opposite manner the entire time.

Give a nervous date the benefit of a doubt, as generally they will be consistently nervous until a good amount of time has passed to allow them to be comfortable. People who are confidently and honestly expressing themselves aren’t trying to hide something. Their body language should communicate the same thing. An open body, good friendly eye contact, honest smiles, and attentiveness make for a good confident date. If they’re tapping their fingers, feet, looking at their phone often, looking at the door; they’re being impatient and want to go. Either they’re not interested in you, or they have alternative motives that you may not necessarily have.

As with all non-verbal communication, it is imperative to keep in mind that gestures should be taken into account within a context. Sometimes they just want a sip of their drink. Sometimes their face actually is itchy. Sometimes a person walks by who looks familiar and causes them to look away. Look for multiple gestures at once, keep the positioning of their body as a whole in mind.

Lastly, have fun on your next date!

www.bodylanguagecards.com

How the Body and Brain Discipline Each Other

May 16, 2012

It seems obvious at first, but the implications are profound. You hear a tragic story; your body reacts: a slower breathing, blinking, and heart rate come about. If it’s dramatically tragic, you may begin to tear and choke up. The “brain” aspect of you heard a story, and directed a set of reactions in your body. Alternatively, it is now commonly known that if someone is in a terrible mood, they may forcibly smile and slowly their mood will turn around. If you’re thinking quickly in a stressed state, forcing yourself to stop…and take a series of slow and deep breaths: your thinking will slow down and become more concentrated. So we may say that the body may discipline the brain, and conversely, the brain may discipline the body. The implications of these experiences run against long-held views of how the brain and body exist with each other.

Historically, the modern age has held a dualistic view of the whole human being. The distinction is drawn between the body and the mind, which stems from the division of matter and of thought. Thoughts do not have weight, they may not be measured, and they are “inside of our minds”; vis-à-vis we cannot point at them. Matter does have weight, can be pointed at, and be observed by many people at once. Thus in the 17th century, the philosopher Rene Descartes separated man into two realms; one of matter and one of thought, meaning, one of the body, and one of the mind. His metaphysical treatise on the human being reigned until recently, with philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Dewey, and Bergson, having shown so many problems with Descartes’ metaphysics, that it is no longer a seriously considered view. In the last century, neuroscience and other disciplines have renewed Descartes’ distinction to a division between the body and the brain; allowing for a mistaken reconsideration that the brain and body are two mutually exclusive and independent things that “are human.”

Thus the otherwise commonsensically apparent view that the body and brain may discipline each other actually runs contrary to how many people foundationally view the human being today. Scientific research affirms that thinking positive or negative thoughts physiologically affects the body. Contorting the body, as in Yoga, alternatively affects the thinking process. Concentrated meditation improves the meditator’s sense of focus, mental clarity, and impulse control.

The old view of the human mind, that it is a passive receptacle of perceptions or sensations, that it is a theatre with things flying by on the stage, that it is emanating from the brain and somehow magically apart from it; these are the abject views of the human being. This is not to say that thoughts are necessarily reducible to matter, as the tendency often is today. Nor is it to say that matter is thus reducible to thought, as ancient Hinduism contends. For now, what we can say is that the mind is not of a different process than the body, and the body is not a different process than the mind.

So what are the implications of this in the realm of body language?

We may speculate on a few implications of this thinking in non-verbal communication. It would provide the proper conception of the mind and body to explain why the incongruence of verbal and non-verbal messages do not provide a strong, clear, confident, and effective communication. If someone does this, their body and their mind are in conflict, of course a clear message becomes difficult to attain. Based on studies of smiling improving one’s mood and of slowing one’s breathing to calm stress, we may extrapolate that manipulating your body language may affect you overall. Meaning, if you consciously attempt to train yourself to have an open and confident body language consistently, you will be more inclined to feel more open and confident overall.

Here’s an explication: we unconsciously smile at good news, and so if we’re in a bad mood and consciously smile, we may improve our mood. We unconsciously keep our bodies open in comfortable situations, and so if we’re in an uncomfortable situation and consciously attempt to open up the body, we may improve how we feel. That is, we may become more comfortable.

Attempt to seek out how we have the old conception of the human being (stemming from Descartes’) stuck in our thinking. Most of us do, including this author! By correcting this conception, and allowing in a new one, we may find new ways to view the human being as a whole. These new ways allow for progress in how we understand ourselves; thus giving us tools to improve ourselves. One such tool, as we have seen, is properly correlating verbal and non-verbal communication.

www.bodylanguagecards.com

 

5 Tips on How to Effectively Lie

May 2, 2012

Author: Andy Khazanovsky

Lying is an unfortunate consequence of life. By itself, it means simply to not tell the truth. Though not telling the truth seems to be a poor decision, lying may save someone’s life in the end (E.g. A terrorist asking where the president is hiding). Lying, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus, one must learn how to detect lies for obvious reasons, but also one must learn how to effectively lie as well.

Techniques of detecting lies provide a clue as to how one may learn how to effectively lie. While many liars are detected by the content of what they’re saying, for example through contradicting themselves, one may feel like someone is lying based on something else. Usually that something else is their body language – the unconscious actions we do when we lie to someone else. By learning the body language and respective gestures which give away a liar, one may avoid these body language cues when attempting to lie. This would align the liar’s verbal message and non-verbal message; thereby effectively reinforcing their message overall – true or not.

The easiest and most effective way to learn what others really say, think and feel!

Here are five quick tips as to what gives away a liar, thus what one must avoid to effectively lie:

  • Closed hands: When you close your hands, you are being defensive by trying to protect your palms. Do not clasp nor rub your hands together, as this communicates that you have something to defend, protect, or hide!
  • Locking ankles: Locking ankles, wrapping your legs around one another, and keeping your feet off the ground, all indicate defensiveness and a non-confident answer. While these gestures by themselves do not give away a liar, when they are considered in context, they are considered to signal a lie.
  • Creating a barrier: Using a briefcase, a cup of water, or even a stack of papers to create a barrier between yourself and another person are gestures communicating defense. They close the body off and communicate that you’re not open, confident, and trustworthy. Alternatively, keeping an open body allows the other person to build trust in you.
  • Poor eye contact: Maintain eye contact! It is very common for people to look away when they’re lying or are in an uncomfortable situation. Looking upwards usually indicates that the person is coming up with what they are saying. Meaning, they’re not telling the truth – otherwise they wouldn’t have to come up with anything.
  • Covering your mouth: Suddenly covering your mouth is a sign of stress. We instinctively cover our mouths when we’re unsure of what we’re saying, being defensive about what others are saying, or when we know we’re lying. All of these are indicators of a liar.

By avoiding these common gestures associated with lying, we may learn to effectively lie. Keep in mind that these gestures, in and of themselves, do not indicate a liar. However, imagine a person who is rubbing their hands nervously, sitting back in a chair with locked ankles, maintaining very poor eye contact, and when you ask them a question, they lean further back and cover their mouth with their hand when they reply. This does not communicate an honest person. Sitting upright and slightly leaning forward with open hands resting on the table (fingers pointing out), shows a confident body and hand position. Paired with a good lie, this person becomes an effective liar.

The Hidden Power of the Smile

May 1, 2012

Smiling directly influences how others respond to you. The human brain prefers happy faces; it recognizes them faster than faces with negative expressions. In fact, research shows that if you smile at someone, it activates the “reward center” in that person’s brain.

It is also a natural response for the other person to smile back at you.

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It seems that smiling is one of the most basic universal biological factors within the human condition which has a measurable effect on our overall well-being. It is probably one we acquired through evolution in order to get along with others.

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Julia Roberts –  The Oscar winner is still one of the highest-paid actresses in the biz. All she has to do is keep her larger-than-life “accessory” with her and she is surely to stay on top of her game.

A natural smile (which involves muscles around the eyes, unlike a fake smile) produces physiological feedback that makes the person smiling feel happier. Someone watching another person smile will involuntarily mirror the smile.

Even on the phone, when you “hear” someone smiling back at you, it makes you feel happier. Thus a feedback loop kicks in as the body produces neurochemicals correlated with happy feelings.

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 For example, research published in the journal Political Psychology used automated face-recognition technology to create a “smile index” for politic candidates’ faces. The study found that a greater “smile index” correlated to a greater vote share for Australian candidates in the 2000 and 2004 elections, smiling increased vote share by 5.2 percentage points in Australia.

Body Language Cards - The easiest and most effective way to learn what others really say, think and feel!


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