spirituality - lesson 19: how to read a person like a book

it's funny, we see faces around us everyday, we deal with expressions and body movements more than we speak, and yet few of us could say that we have a finely tuned awareness of this non-verbal communication. miscommunication most of the time we listen to someone with the intent to reply or impress rather than to understand. our minds do not have the capacity to do both, therefore the best thing to do is forget about concocting clever remarks and instead just listening properly. you will learn much more this way, and retain that knowledge for longer. there is also an unfortunate natural ability for the brain to override subtle signals for meanings that suit preconceived judgements. a desired outcome will mask a real indicator distorting the perception of someone we are trying to communicate with. the face easily the least controversial of all the areas of nonverbal communication is facial expression, as it is the most readily observed group of gestures. we focus our eyes on the face more often than on other bodyparts and the expressions we see there have widely accepted meanings. the face provides us with the opportunity to identify individuals before words have been spoken and a canvas to express different emotions every second. when in conversation with someone we are continually decoding the messages that are being transmitted subconsciously to us. there are five basic smiles the ‘how-do-you-do smile’; the ‘nonsense smile’ usually occurs when somebody is by himself and happy; the ‘broad smile’... smiles should not always be associated with happy moments, there is the ‘lip-in smile’ (where the lower lip is drawn in between the teeth.) it implies that the person feels in some way subordinate to the person she is meeting. and beware of the ‘oblong smile’! a smile that we use when we have to be polite. we girls use it also when we get too much attention from a drunk... no smile at all - any poker player clearly understands what you mean when you say that he has ‘a poker face’.

the audience nobody wants. the speaker is leaning forward, actively trying to get his message across. crossed arms, clasped hands, crossed legs, only the listener on the right shows a little interest, indicated by his slightly tilted head. the speaker, aware of their indifference or hostility, clasps his hands apprehensively.

the bore and his victim. with hands clasped behind his head and legs crossedin an competitive position, the persn on the left is telling his unhappy companion what great things he has done or is about to do. on the other hand the person on the right is feeling that he has heard all of this before and would rather be somewhere else.

sitting around a conference table... these people are unhappy, angry and defensive. in what is this communicated to you? the cross-arm-gripping position, ...

these people are contented, confident, smug

both men are placed with their bodies silhouetted to each other. a peering glance over the rims of the eyeglasses and the hand thrust in the pocket suggest suspicion. the men on the left signals nervousness. he might be upset by what he has said and by the other man’s reaction - he is putting a hand over his mouth and the other hand is feeling the material of his jacket in a reassurance gesture. remember linus and his blanket? in this kind of situation, woman usually want to feel if their necklace is still there...

defensiveness is here signaled by crossed arms and legs. the speaker has sensed this withdrawal and is attempting to open up their lines of communication by his gestures of open palms and whidespread arms. he must be saying: ‘did I say something wrong?’

openess / readyness. they both have their coats unbuttoned, one has his thumb tucked under his belt the other has his hands resting at his side with fingers relaxed. their legs are spread confidentially apart.

sideways glance, giving the cold shoulder - ‘just what do you mean?’ try to help an old lady who would rather cross the street by herself and you will discover exactly what the expression means. a fourty-five-degree turn of the body away from you. all the gestures that communicate suspicion, uncertainty, rejection, and doubt essentially have a common message: negative!

the body between 60-80% of our message is communicated through our bodies. the most well known signals in body language are those of confidence. most people can tell if some one is confident - they are spontaneous in their speech and movement, they do so enthusiastically and without hesitation. we also are very aware of actions such as crossing one's arms (putting up barriers) or things like shaking someones hand in a firm way. from sales technique courses to women's magazine article on flirting, the use of basic body language is, to a certain extent, shallow and is based on the presumption that if used correctly we can get what whatever we what. but these auxiliary communication devices should be used in a more productive way than filtering liers and lovers. being sensitive to to the ethereal movements of people can only help in the true understanding of relationships between people and their environment; how we interact and what these interactions mean socially. a few body language meanings • walking with hands in pockets = dejection. • locked ankles = apprehension. • pinching the bridge of the nose = negative evaluation. • playing with hair = insecurity. • open palm = openness and innocence. a quick note on gestures which are not the same as subconscious body language. gestures tend to be culturally defined and will be different across the world. whether giving the finger or the thumbs up, these hand movements have succinct messages that are locally set. their meanings are to accentuate and enhance spoken words or as

silent sign language. gestures can range from slang to religious configurations, such as the christian sign of the cross or the buddhist mudras. TV seeing yourself the first time in television can be traumatic. as it adds about ten pounds, makes a generous amount of hair look like a toupee, and ages those who wear glasses. in seminars and political debates most people are their own worst critics, they tend to be dissatisfied with their appearance and performance and therefore most of them have experienced various courses on body consciousness. usually these people are recorded and let them see it before they are taped at the negotiating session. next time, when you watch TV try to gain further insight into the significance of unconscious gestures. body language in the virtual world when speaking to someone on the telephone we are able to pick up, to a certain extent, what meanings might be place behind the spoken words. in emails and text messages we are devoid of any real human to human exchange. how often have you questioned the meaning of a digital message you have received because the written word (cold, black and probably in helvetica) lacks any tonal qualities? we have tried to over come this in idiosyncratic kinds of ways, namely the 'smilie' or emoticons: :) :( ;) which seems to help add a human factor to what is otherwise binary formatted communications. homepages like-wise are the faces of our virtual presence and as with body language it can use it to one's benefits when it comes to attracting (and deceiving) visitors. good or flashy design makes the viewer believe that the creator is perhaps bigger or better than they actually are. the fortunes of single dot-com businessmen is reliant on this fact. of course there are always opposites to this, a bad website and credibility is lost quickly. currently the internet is seeing a flood of social network services and, as the media proclaims, we are more 'connected' than ever before. but in the virtual worlds of second life, world of warcraft or even facebook how does body language translate? social cues that are usually subconscious and natural become calculated and contrived. who is going to make their virtual self shy and awkward?! avatars are controlled by text; they are essentially actors with a script and the meanings are not always conveyed correctly, at the creator wished. in human to human contact there is always a subtext to what is physically spoken, in avatar to avatar scenes this becomes heavily distorted. subtle indicators of feeling can only be transmitted as extremes, there is not the technology yet to communicate all the different types of laughs in something like second life for example or the ability to express mood in facebook, therefore natural reactions to a conversation become over animated and clumsy. we are losing 80% of communication!

exercise
--photograph a few walking gestures on the street. analize the distinctive walks, as pace, length of stride, and posture seem to change with the emotions. if a child is happy, he moves very quickly and is very light on his feet.if not, his shoulders drop… generally, adults who walk rapidly and swing their arms freely tend to be goal oriented, while the person who habitually walks with his hands in his pockets, even in warm weather, tends to be critical and secretive. people who

are preoccupied with a problem will often assume a meditative pose while walking. head down, hands clasped behind their back. the self-satisfied, somewhat pompous person may signal his state of mind with his chin raised, the arms have an exaggerated swing, the legs are somewhat stiff and the pace is deliberate, calculated to impress.