Thursday, January 27, 2005

Body Language

How much does your body say about you? The way you walk, sit, fold your arms and even smile carries 87% of your message across. After reading Allan Pease’s book on body language, I decided that it was time for an intense investigation, the kind that lets no gesture go by unnoticed!

Simon Says:
In a recent Sales and Negotiations course, I was taught that if you copy one of your client’s gestures, you are most likely to create a link or bond of understanding. For example, if client crosses his/her legs and you do the same they may read it as a sign of empathy and this portrays a message of understanding or a sense that both are on the same kind of level as the other. Being the eager student that I am, I decided to put my knowledge to practice!
My first victim was a gentleman in his late forties who owns a store well known for their bargains on kitchen appliances. I noticed that whilst speaking to me, his fingers touched slightly, creating a triangular form with his hands. Being a gesture that I myself use often, I had no problems copying this and I was surprised to see that this client suddenly broadened his attention span, listening more closely to everything I had to say.
Marveled with my discovery, I decided to keep at it. My following client was a sheepish teenager who showed me her whole dental history due to the gum she kept chewing with her mouth open. Rather than get annoyed, I repeated her gesture of insecurity by pulling my hair behind my ear at even intervals. The next thing I knew, she was asking me if I knew anyone from her college and if I’d like to join her and her friends for coffee sometime.
The experiment however, didn’t go well with all my clients. Certain gestures just shouldn’t be copied! Such as the constant touching of one’s nose, the nervous foot against the table tick or biting one’s nails. Habits such as these only display insecurity, a message you don’t want to give your client… plus it’s not hygienic!

Tell Tale Eyes:
My mother always told me never to trust a guy who doesn’t look your in the eyes when he talks to you. If you don’t have more than one third of his eye contact, it’s probably because he’s lying or talking crap. Ever since then, I make sure the important stuff is said when looked straight in the eyes. Honesty and Trust are things kept true through eye contact and I realized that it’s one of my biggest tools to convey my sincerity to my clients and friends. No matter what Cher tells you… it’s not in his kiss!!!... That’s just his lips! True feeling is found in the soul and the eyes are its windows.

Tell Me Without Words.
By the end of the day, I was swollen with pride at my conscious investigation. I realized that I could tell a great deal about a person from the way they carried themselves and behaved during certain moments. We often get a silent feeling of when people are happy, sad or insecure but how often can we point out the exact body gesture that conveyed that message? The drooping of shoulders, weak smile and lowered gaze is a direct image of heartbreak. A stiff body, crossed arms, tapping foot and contracted pupils portrays anger and fury. Good signs to watch out for are open hands, a wide smile and dilated pupils.

Did I say that?
I must have a comic angel looking over my shoulder who decides to teach me lesson whenever I get overconfident with the things I learn. Just when I thought I got the hang of physical communication, a fresh new challenge walks through the door in the form of a hunk in a suit. Referred to as Mr. Top 3, he is voted as the sexiest man of the three most gorgeous clients to put foot in our office. Not only does he melt icebergs with his clear blue eyes, he has a smile that oozes charm and a stance that omits total confidence. Although he seems to have the intelligence to accompany his good looks, I can confidently say that I was never particularly attracted to his charms… until I communicated with his body! Sitting in front of me with his posture slightly inclined backwards in the chair, his body told me that he was relaxed and at ease with the environment. He then put his one leg over his knee and placed his hands on my table in an open position portraying his attention and receptiveness. Keeping my eye contact, I realized that he purposely concentrated on my lips, creating a more intimate atmosphere which could be used to play on my senses as a woman. Using a soft tone and a constant smile, he managed to get me to stumble through some words causing a deep shade of pink to settle on my cheeks. Once I realized his tactic, I decided to repay him with the same coin. I managed to negotiate in my favor by smiling and not breaking the eye contact. The key is to keep eye contact direct into his eye in the forehead area, showing him that you’re serious about what you’re saying and that it’ll take more than charm to manipulate me. Protecting my deal and earning his respect, the only sign of weakness was the one brightly painted on both sides of my face, this to which did not go unnoticed by my expert client who wisely made good use of all his physical assets and most probably owed most of his successes to business deals with women. I wasn’t sure whether or not to blame his intoxicating cologne for my facial betrayal, instead I thanked him and told him that I inherited my roses from my mother (who is in actual fact well known for buying tons of blush to hi-light her pale complexion). He further impressed men by letting me know that he perceived me as a woman with strong character, however I wondered if that too wasn’t merely trying another tactic.

Mixed Signals:
I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of learning this language that we speak every day but rarely identify. It’s amazing how much people tell you with their bodies and how often they can mix the signals. Make sure that the fact that when your partner folds his arms he is really being unreceptive as oppose to the fact that he could just be cold! A winking eye might just due to dust as it could be an attempt to flirt with you as so can dilated pupils represent shock instead of interest. We can only take to a more conscious practice in order to read them correctly and should you have doubts, you safest bet is to simply ask what is on the other person’s mind. Analyzing my own body language, I realized I needed to go on an expression diet if I want to portray a more professional image. However, I believe that if my body is going expose my moods and reveal my thoughts, then honesty is truly the best policy after all.

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