Tag Archive for Verbal Language

How Men Can Use Negative Body Language

"Pecking forward" is a negative body posture for men in courtship because it makes him seem needy and low value.

“Pecking forward” is a negative body posture for men in courtship because it makes him seem needy and low value.

Men should make all their movements more planned, deliberate, and purposeful. Leaning in too much, also referred to as “pecking” forward, is a big fault most men make. Leaning back will force others to engage you, instead of the other way around. Talking quietly also has the affect of forcing people to move closer to you, thereby increasing your status but if done too frequently appears submissive and unconfident.

Don’t be afraid to use negative body language when people do things you don’t like. If they “start on you”, don’t be afraid to turn your back or cross your arms. At the same time, men should display honest and genuine interest and try to build others around them up, but at the same time force them to work for their approval. Most everyone has a sore spot for validation and if you can become a root to their confidence, then they will seek you for approval which gives you the power. However, men shouldn’t be afraid to show interest either. Body language like verbal language is a negotiation.

Does he really want to leave?  In most cases, negative body language is truthful, but he's playing a game - hard-to-get!

Does he really want to leave? In most cases, negative body language is truthful, but he’s playing a game – hard-to-get!

One negative body language technique involves talking over a shoulder so as to show some but not total interest in someone. If done correctly it, the body language teases woman and forces them to display stronger signals of interest to keep the man’s attention. That is if she’s been given enough cues to feel compelled to compete for your attention. Using negative body language in this way is especially attractive to women who habitually have men fawning all over them. Far too often men use body language that is open an accepting in all cases and situations even though women don’t fully and sometimes not even partially deserve it. Negative body language shows rejection, which a lot of women are not accustomed to so it brings out their competitive spirit.

Above: Playing hard to get can sometimes put you back in the driver’s seat with women. For example, you could display a carefree attitude by slouching lower in a seat, opening up your posture, and taking up more space than necessary to demonstrate dominance. This may excite certain women since you are displaying as a typical alpha male, but if you go overboard, it will turn women off.

Aggressive Body Language

The amygdala is in here somewhere!

The amygdala is in here somewhere!

Researchers have defied seven major classes of aggression: predatory, inter-male, fear, irritable, maternal, instrumental (to obtain a goal) and territorial. The amygdala and the hypothalamus, two brain centers, have been centered out as important motivators in aggressive situations. Thankfully, with the potential for such conflict we are given tools in the form of body language that help us gauge aggression in others in order to prevent us from serious injury or death. Since modern humans are primarily vocal, we often ignore some of the cues signifying aggression, but these become very potent as conflict escalates and our verbal language deteriorates to uncontrolled screaming and cussing.

Culturally Our Bodies Are All Basically The Same!







A universal facial expression - Anger.

A universal facial expression – Anger.

Most researchers agree that the following six emotions are recognized by all cultures: happiness or enjoyment, distress or sadness, anger, disgust, surprise and fear. However, positions the body takes on to demonstrate these emotions vary across cultures. Since every person on the planet regardless of race or creed has the same underlying emotions and our body language is tied to our feelings, it follows that every person’s nonverbal language has similar roots, but like verbal language we don’t express ourselves exactly the same. Paul Ekman from the University of California has done extensive research into facial emotion recognition and has found just that, everyone across the planet is almost the same.

Happiness, sadness, and disgust had the best agreement between cultures, whereas fear and surprise tended to be confused, especially by the Japanese. Another rural population, the Dani people of West Iran, who are generally isolated from the rest of the world, showed a similar confusion between fear and surprise. Surprise is read as a straight upward lift of the forehead whereas fear engages the muscles between the brows folding them. The French call the area between the brows, the “grief muscle” and is active to express both pain, as well as when you wish to inflict it. The fearful face carries a momentary raise in the upper eyelids and a grimace comes across the mouth. Anger appears with a lowering of the eyebrows, flaring of the eyes and a tightening of the mouth or jaw. Fear, grief and surprise in addition to other facial expressions can quickly flash across the face in the form of micro expressions. Being aware of them can rouse opponents and in poker indicate ‘tells.’ As people check their hidden cards, be sure to watch for split second reactions.

Members of the Fore linguistic-cultural group of the South East Highlands of New Guinea whom had never seen movies, who did not speak English and had never worked with a Caucasians before were also able to read facial expressions accurately. Studies show that even blind children score similarly to sighted children in terms of facial expressions. Further research by Paul Ekman showed that a contempt expression was also none culturally specific and was recognized by Estonians, Germans, Greeks, Hongkongese, Italians, Japanese, Scotts, Turks, Americans and West Sumatrans. Ekman traveled to a remote population in the mountains of Papua New Guinea where there is no television, DVDs or movies yet found that facial expressions remain universally understood. Once there he filmed the expressions of the population and found that upon his return were also understood by Westerners.

With very little exception, facial expressions are universally recognized. What does differ from culture to culture is our surroundings; our habitat and traditions. Greater differences therefore lie in our territoriality, level of eye contact, and touching norms. These factors tie back into the density in which we reside, and also into our comfort tolerances and preferences due to our upbringing. Gestures are mostly learned and passed from one person to another and are thus not universal across cultures. Gestures are more similar to verbal language. Because language and gestures are transferred over time they also evolve.

Summary – Chapter 2

In this second chapter we have solidified our nonverbal foundation with the five cardinal rules of body language. First we covered the five basic rules of body language: the rule-of-four, congruence, context, baselining and intuition and perception. The ‘rule-of-four’ says that we need at least four independent, but related signals to reliably read someone whereas congruence says that we should pay particular attention when verbal language and nonverbal language do not match. Context on the other hand, says that we must be mindful of where and how cues develop since they could be confused with other variables and might mean something totally different or nothing at all. Baselining refers to the need to measure a person over time and in different situations before we can accurately predict their nonverbal meaning with any accuracy. The final rule says that we need to be conscious about intuition and perception so we don’t project meaning onto situations based on pre-conceived beliefs. We also covered how the feet are the most honest part of the body, and that coupled with putting presidency on negative body language over positive body language, we will have a greater success rate in reading people accurately.

Aside from these rules we looked at the flow of silent speech, how body language can be less confusing than verbal language, the differences between men and women, how women intuitively read body language and how age affects body language. We also discussed the importance that alpha’s, or leaders play in our lives and how we are either creating social norms (leading) or we are following them, how posture portrays confidence, the importance of ‘haptics’ or touch, in addition to body language as it relates to energy displacement and finally the meaning of fashion and preening.

Body Language Of Children

BodyLanguageProjectCom - NeotenyBabies are almost entirely dependant on nonverbal communication in their first few months, that is, if we discount crying! As children age, they still rely, as adults do, on nonverbal language such as pointing at a toy rather then asking for it, pushing other children aside when it suites them, or even hugs to show affection and exaggerated pouting to garner sympathy. Babies as young as nine month’s old, who lack verbal language, can even begin using sign language to convey desires showing just how rooted non-verbal communication is all of us.

When young children lie they often have troubles making eye contact or they might hang their head, appear tense or they might even quickly pull both hands up and cover their mouths as if to shove the lie back in from where it came from. Even some adults will perform these gestures if they let slip a secret or particularly juicy piece of gossip in the wrong circle. However, at other times, both children and adults are not as obvious. A 2002 study by Victor Talwar and Kang Lee out of the University of Queens, Canada, however, showed that children as young as three are naturally adept at controlling their nonverbal language as it applies to deception. In the study, children were able to fool most of the evaluators of their deception as a videotape showing the lie was replayed. Children are not particularly skilled at lying through verbal channels though, and they slip up easily revealing inconsistencies in their stories, so this is where you can really catch them. We will cover deceptive body language at lengths later on.

Other emotional body language emitted by children is much more prevalent. For example, children use slouching and pouting to show that they are upset and disappointed but as we age, we drop our nonverbal cues in favour of verbal expression. We naturally become more adept at repressing what our bodies do and tend to use more conscious thought and spoken words since it is more direct and less easily misinterpreted. What starts off as a quick mouth slap movement to the mouth when lying (or swearing) in children, slowly becomes a touch to the corner of the mouth. Later, restraint forces the finger to the side even further and then instead of touching the mouth it touches the side of the nose instead. As people age, they become much more difficult to read. By logical progression, the hardest to read of all are sixty-year-old politicians!

As an interesting aside, dedicated parents even claim to be able to sense when a baby is about to relieve themselves and so avoid messy diapers. This technique is referred to as elimination communication. By reading gestures such as frowning, squirming, fussing or tensing, mother’s (or fathers!) in combination with baby’s particular rhythms, can detect when potty time is immanent. Once the baby’s cues have been deciphered the mother can anticipate potty time by holding baby over the toilet and cuing with “hiss-hiss” or “wiss-wiss” sounds. To associate the hissing sounds with urination, this process must be repeated ten to twenty times each day!

Verbal Language Is Confusing, Body Language Sorts Things Out

Body language makes the intent of a message much more clear.  This 'spear thrower' isn't interested in listening to your viewpoint.

Body language makes the intent of a message much more clear. This ‘spear thrower’ isn’t interested in listening to your viewpoint.

What proportion of communication is affected by the actual words versus how the words are used and the body language that it accompanies it? I don’t know of any real metric by which to calculate this, so it’s really anyone’s guess. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of communication and meaning has nothing at all to do with words. Body language in this case gets lumped in together with other signals such as tone, pitch and word emphasis whilst we subtract the actual words and their meaning. Take the phrase “Would you prefer to lie?” as an example. If I were to emphasize the word “would” it puts the emphasis on “you”, but if I put the emphasis on “lie” it puts emphasis on the action. Confusing things further and not privy to the spelling of “lie”, one wouldn’t know if I was speaking about telling the truth or “lying”, or taking a nap or “laying”. Emphasis is used to add meaning and emotion to our speech by stressing specific words and can completely change the meaning of the sentence. This can also be done by using a higher tone, using longer stressed syllables, or increasing the volume as we speak certain words. Even in the cases above I have used a nonverbal method to emphasis words by using the italics function, a feature of this writing program that arose out of necessity.

Going back to our previous example, we also have homonym’s which are words that share the same spelling and same pronunciation but have different meanings. An example includes the word “bow” which can mean to bend forward, the front of a ship, a weapon which fires an arrow, a ribbon tied in a knot (a bow tie) or to bend outward to the sides (bow-legged). Polysemes are words or phrases with multiple related meanings. For example “bank” can describe a financial institution that handles money or it can be used to describe trust as in “We’re friends, you can bank on me.” Antagonym’s are forms of slang that actually mean their opposite. Examples of antagonyms include “bound” for a direction or heading, or tied up and unable to move, cleave can be to cut apart or seal together, buckle can mean to hold together or to collapse, clip means to attach or cut off, and so on. Other time we use words to mean the opposites. “That skateboard trick was sick” comes across in slang as meaning that it was actually a pretty good trick.

While the myriad of definitions stemming from word-use might confuse you, don’t let it bother you too much because this is the only time it actually matters. In fact, body language is the likely reason our vocabulary is permitted to be so confusing and most of us have at least a rudimentary understanding about how our bodies and verbal language coincide to produce meaning anyway. The point of raising the dysfunction that peppers verbal language is precisely because confusing word meaning plays such a minor role in our lives. When we just don’t get it, in comes body language to sort things out and bring everyone back on to the same page.

What we are looking to accomplish in this book is a higher order reading of nonverbal language to graduate from simple word meaning to get at the hidden ‘script’ that unfolds ‘between the lines’, so to speak!


Honest hands - palms up, but what happens next?

Honest hands – palms up, but what happens next?

Hands return to pockets indicate dishonesty and is incongruent with the intended meaning.

Hands return to pockets indicate dishonesty and is incongruent with the intended meaning.

The word congruence, as it relates to body language, refers to the degree to which body language cues in a person matches one another in terms of their meaning. If, for example, one is speaking honestly with the palms up (an honest gesture) we can say that the body language and verbal language are congruent. That is, honest words match up with honest body language. A child with their hands in their pockets (dishonest gesture) speaking about how they didn’t steal a cookie is incongruent since their body language does not match their verbal language.

We regularly place more importance on what words are used rather than how others gestures in their delivery, but this is a mistake. When we don’t have congruency and the verbal language doesn’t match the nonverbal gestures we should always place more importance on the nonverbal channel. Credence should almost always be given to nonverbal language over spoken words since the research tells us that it is often more accurate. When people plan lies they often rehearse the sentences and in what sequence they will deliver them, but they often ignore or disregard gestures that will accompany them. While we monitor our spoken words, our unconsciousness can leak unwanted information through our bodies. However, even if people were consciously aware that their body language gave them away, they would not know what to do since most people are completely unaware of the meaning their body conveys.

Politicians can leak information through congruency and this can give them away, although most politicians today are quite learned in body language. We should be suspicious of politicians, however, when they have their arms tightly folded against their chest while saying that they are open to change or to a door-to-door salesman that swears his life on a product but wipes downward with his hand as if to clear the lie. Another example is the cheating husband who tries to pass off a late meeting and then pulls at his neck tie, collar or scratch his neck indicating stress.

Sometimes however, knowledge about body language just comes off as less expressiveness. The body language thus tends to be much more controlled and subdued because it’s much easier to eliminate body language altogether then it is to add honest body language. However, even reduced expressiveness helps us read people because a relaxed and natural politician is more likely to be telling the truth. Therefore, even reserved body language can be a ‘tell’ to those who are in tune. Congruency therefore, is very important because it is a clear comparison between two communication channels, the verbal and nonverbal. When words are mismatched against the body language, we can be sure something dishonest is at play and these hints should instigate us, at minimum, to pay closer attention.