When did you first use body language? Approximately fifteen minutes after you were born, that's when The human animal is the only animal that is truly helpless straight after it's born. While other animals can fight or forage for food, the human baby just lies back looking cute Your cuteness was good In fact, it was vital for your survival as it made older humans want to look after you You also began to mirror the facial expressions of the adults around you to strengthen the bonding process As you got older this became what's called learned behavior, as you happily mimicked anyone and everyone around you to get your messages across
Most of the body language you use is learned behavior, but some is more instinctive and part of your evolutionary processing While the input from your parents, siblings, and peers influences much of your behavior, quite a lot of what you do goes much further back. A quick trip to the zoo could explain a lot about your current body language behavior, especially in the workplace
Your entire life is a constant struggle between your animal, instinctive side and your logical, strategic, social human side Although we consider ourselves light years away from the behavior of apes, it's impossible to suppress the instinct to fight for power, status, space, food, and sex In many ways your inner ape is still a very potent voice in your mind, but how does that affect your daily behavior and body language?
Apes and other animals are primarily concerned with survival As humans we still face daily risks, but we've become immune to constant concerns about getting enough food or not getting beaten up by stronger humans Although we have evolved a greater capacity for worry, fear, and stress, it's mainly focused around trivial things, like trash collections, crashing computers, and office politics The things that make us "go ape" tend to be things like road rage, subway rage, or even phone rage
Like apes, our lives evolve around status, power, and pecking orders, but unlike apes we place less emphasis on physical strength and power and more on career, class, or financial-based status
Like it or not, though, your animal instincts still play a major role in most of your body language signals When stronger emotions occur, your inner ape starts to creep out We've already seen the effect he has on your greeting rituals Pulling back the lips is a signal of submission or acceptance for most apes, and we've refined it into the smile of greeting, which is why we feel so angry when a colleague forgets to return the smile first thing in the morning You've signaled you come in peace but he's given a noncommittal response In animal terms it's as though he's chosen to leave his "fight" options open. No wonder one of the biggest complaints I hear in corporate feedback is: "I said good morning and smiled, but he ignored me " Although this might sound trivial in business, in animal terms it is heavy stuff!
Alpha male apes display their authority by their physical stillness and their use of space, which is why Donald Trump stands out as the boss in The Apprentice. His huge desk and large chair create an ape-like signal of authority, as does his physical stillness while he allows the apprentices to squabble and chatter between themselves .
The British royal family employ these ape-like signals of status to useful effect Diana was the only leading royal to use mirroring techniques, altering her own body language style to fit the patterns of others around her For most of the royals this dropping of status would be unthinkable The Queen is far more alpha male in mirroring terms, projecting a very constant sense of stillness and lack of physical empathy no matter who she's with
Whereas alpha males project power through strength, stillness, and space, alpha females are more likely to use grooming, food, and nurturing to create their power base Grooming is like gossip to apes: It creates empathy and rapport Alpha females will groom other apes to pacify them and bond with them They also use nurturing acts, which they then use as a very potent bargaining tool If another ape misbehaves, the affection will be switched off until the naughty ape is back under control again Sound familiar?
Continue reading here: Ape aggro
Was this article helpful?