Body Language Seldom LiesOver half of the information you provide others about the connection you have with them comes from your body language. Some body language provides positive information and some provides negative information. Positive body language says things like, "I am really interested in what you are saying." Negative body language says things like, "I don't believe anything you are saying - and I am bored besides!"
Although body language originates in the old brain limbic system and is done unconsciously, with training you can learn to minimize negative body language. Here are some negative body language cues to watch for and avoid.
- DON'T avoid eye contact. DO force yourself to look others in the eye when greeting, talking, and especially when listening. It takes some skill, so learn from others who do it well.
- DON'T mumble. That is an unconscious need to avoid being heard. DO speak up loudly and with confidence in what you have to say.
- DON'T use poor pronunciation. DO speak a bit slower and get it right. You will attract more people who you like being around.
- DON'T use extraneous body movements that do not positively support what you are saying. Finger drumming, scratching, twitching, and darting eyes around room all discredit what you are saying and your image as a person good to know.
- DON'T have poor posture. DO stand tall and proud to be you and believe in what you are saying. Losers look like losers a block away. You want to look like a winner!
- DON'T hide your hands and palms. Evasive people with secrets don't show their hands. They generally keep them under the table or in pockets. (Women show their soft wrist underside to flirt, and that is nice!)
- DON'T have closed body postures, like arms folded across chest. DO keep your posture open, except your legs. Legs crossed at the knee or ankle is normally O.K. (Depends a lot on the culture. For example, in Thailand don't cross your legs and point your toes at anyone!)
- DON'T touch your face when speaking. Rubbing nose, eyes, ears, head, or neck shows doubt in what you are saying or hearing.
- DON'T stare unblinkingly with the same facial expression. DO blink normally and nod your head to show agreement. Show that you are still alive and not bored to death. If you are bored, don't suffer. Go find someone interesting. Life is relatively short. Make the most of it.
Telling the Truth Is Much Easier Than LyingThese images were taken from a video made during two theater rehearsals for an upcoming play. The top row two images are the same scene as the bottom row two images. The actress is saying the same words in the top and bottom rows. The actress is playing a character who is describing how much she loves a male character in the play.
In the first two pictures in the top row, the script words she is speaking are very close to how she really feels about the male actor in real life. During the first rehearsal (top row images) the two actors were truly in love in real life off-stage. Her words are the truth about her feelings. She is not lying.
However, before the scene was re-shot in a second rehearsal, (bottom two pictures) the two actors had a big fight and ended their relationship. Therefore this time when she speaks her script words about the play's character (the same words as in the first pictures, top row), these words are not true. She is lying and her body language exposes her real feelings toward the actor now -- although the 'loving' words are the same in both scenes. The dramatic difference in body language, especially her eyes and hands, reveals that she is stressed about saying those words and is lying.
Compare the pictures taken before the break-up (top row) and those after the break-up (bottom row). In all pictures she is saying the same words in the play's script but she is unaware of the differences in her body language.
A liar is stressed during and shortly after a lie so watch for body language changes. Sudden changes in body language indicates stress. Often the stressful body language is self-comforting gestures with the hands, such as rubbing the nose or scratching the face and body. Also frequently the palms of the hands are suddenly hidden from view.
Additional signs that someone is becoming uncomfortable:
- upper body rocking
- leg swinging
- finger or foot tapping
Theses above movements are the first signals of tension and indicate that the person feels intruded upon or nervous. If the stress escalate, these signals are often followed by:
- intermittent closing of the eyes
- slight tucking of the chin into the chest
- shoulder hunching and trying to appear smaller
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