Cultural Factors Affecting Zone Distances

A young couple who recently migrated from Denmark to live in Sydney were invited to join the local branch of the Jaycees. Some weeks after their admission to the club, several female members complained that the Danish man was making advances towards them, so that they felt uncomfortable in his presence and the male members of the club felt that the Danish woman had been indicating non-verbally that she would be sexually available to them. This situation illustrates the fact that many Europeans...

Gripping Hands Arms And Wrists

Several prominent male members of the British Royal Family are noted for their habit of walking with their head up, chin out and one palm gripping the other hand behind the back. Not only does British Royalty use this gesture it is common among Royalty of many countries. On the local scene, the gesture is used by the policeman patrolling his beat, the headmaster of the local school when he is walking through the school yard, senior military personnel and others in a position of authority. This...

The Competitive Defensive Position B3

Competitive Defensive Position

Sitting across the table from a person can create a defensive, competitive atmosphere and can lead to each party taking a firm stand on his point of view because the table becomes a solid barrier between both parties. This position is taken by people who are either competing with each other or if one is reprimanding the other. It can also establish that a superior subordinate role exists when it is used in A's office. Argyle noted that an experiment conducted in a doctor's office showed that...

Who Reaches First

Although it is a generally accepted custom to shake hands when meeting a person for the first time, there are some circumstances in which it may be unwise for you to initiate the handshake. Considering that a hand shake is a sign of welcome, it is important to ask yourself several questions before you initiate one Am I welcome Is this person glad to meet me Sales trainees are taught that, if they initiate the handshake with a buyer on whom they call unannounced and uninvited, it can produce a...

Body Lowering and Status

Historically, lowering the height of one's body in front of another person has been used as a means of establishing superior subordinate relationships. We refer to a member of Royalty as 'Your Highness', whereas individuals who commit unsavoury acts are called 'low'. The protest rally speaker stands on a soapbox to be higher than everyone else, the judge sits higher than the rest of the court, those who live in a penthouse command more authority than those who live at ground level and some...

The Standard Leg Cross Position

One leg is crossed neatly over the other, usually the right over the left. This is the normal crossed-leg position used by European, British, Australian and New Zealand cultures and may be used to show a nervous, reserved or defensive attitude. However, this is usually a supportive gesture that occurs with other negative gestures and should not be interpreted in isolation or out of context. For example, people often sit like this during lectures or if they are on uncomfortable chairs for long...

Carbon Copies and Mirror Images

The next time you attend a social function or go to a place where people meet and interact, take note of the number of people who have adopted the identical gestures and posture of the person with whom they are talking. This 'carbon copying' is a means by which one person tells the other that he is in agreement with his ideas and attitudes. By this method, one is non-verbally saying to the other, 'As you can see, I think the same as you, so I will copy your posture and gestures.' This...

Aggressive And Readiness Gestures

Which gesture is used in the following situations the young child arguing with his parent, the athlete waiting for his event to begin and the boxer in the dressing-room waiting for the bout to start In each instance, the individual is seen standing with the hands-on-hips pose, for this is one of the most common gestures used by man to communicate an aggressive attitude. Some observers have labelled this gesture 'readiness' which in the right context is correct, but the basic meaning is...

Faking Body Language

A commonly asked question is, 'Is it possible to fake your own body language ' The general answer to this question is 'no' because of the lack of congruence that is likely to occur in the use of the main gestures, the body's microsignals and the spoken words. For example, open palms are associated with honesty but when the faker holds his palms out and smiles at you as he tells a lie, his microgestures give him away. His pupils may contract, one eyebrow may lift or the comer of his mouth may...

Seated Body Formations

Take the following situation you are in a supervisory capacity and are about to counsel a subordinate whose work performance has been unsatisfactory and erratic. To achieve this objective, you feel that you will need to use direct questions that require direct answers and may put the subordinate under pressure. At times you will also need to show the subordinate that you understand his feelings and, from time to time, that you agree with his thoughts or actions. How can you non-verbally convey...

Ownership Gestures

Management personnel are particularly guilty of continually using the following gestures. It has been noted that employees who have been newly appointed to management positions suddenly begin to use them, despite the fact that they seldom used them prior to their promotion. It would be normal to assume that the position of the man in Figure 132 reflects an easygoing, relaxed and carefree attitude, because that is in fact what it is. The leg-overchair gesture not only signifies the man's...

Stalling

Like pipe smoking, the glasses-in-mouth gesture can be used to stall or delay a decision. In negotiating, it has been found that this gesture appears most frequently at the close of the discussion when the person has been asked for a decision. The act of continually taking the glasses off and cleaning the lenses is another method used by glasses wearers to gain time for a decision. When this gesture is seen immediately after a decision has been asked for, silence is the best tactic. The...

Deceit Doubt Lying

How can you tell when someone is lying Recognition of the non-verbal deceit gestures can be one of the most important observation skills one can acquire. So what deceit signals can give people away One of the most commonly used symbols of deceit is that of the three wise monkeys who hear, speak and see no evil. The hand-to-face actions depicted form the basis of the human deceit gestures (Figure 53). In other words, when we see, speak and hear untruths or deceit, we often attempt to cover our...

Folded Arms Gestures

Hiding behind a barrier is a normal human response that we learn at an early age to protect ourselves. As children, we hid behind solid objects such as tables, chairs, furniture and mother's skirts whenever we found ourselves in a threatening situation. As we grew older, this hiding behaviour became more sophisticated and by the age of about six, when it was unacceptable behaviour to hide behind solid objects, we learned to fold our arms tightly across our chests whenever a threatening...

Territorial Gestures

People lean against other people or objects to show a territorial claim to that object or person. Leaning can also be used as a method, of dominance or intimidation when the object being leaned on belongs to someone else. For example, if you are going to take a photograph of a friend and his new car, boat, home or other personal belonging, you will inevitably find that he leans against his newly acquired property, putting his foot on it or his arm around it (Figure 130). When he touches the...

Seated Body Pointing

Body Language Feet Pointing

Crossing the knees towards another person is a sign of acceptance or interest in that person. If the other person also becomes interested, he or she will cross knees towards the first person, as shown in Figure 144. As the two people become more involved with each other they will begin to copy each other's movements and gestures, as is the case in Figure 144, and a closed formation results that excludes all others, such as the man on the right. The only way in which the man on the right could...

The American Figure 4 Leg Lock Position

This leg cross indicates that an argumentative or competitive attitude exists. It is the sitting position used by many American males who have a competitive nature. This being the case, it is difficult to interpret the attitude of an American during a conversation, but it is quite obvious when this gesture is used by a British citizen. I recently addressed a series of meetings in New Zealand where the audience comprised about 100 managers and 500 sales people. A highly controversial issue was...

Female Courtship Gestures And Signals

Women use most of the same basic preening gestures as men, including touching the hair, smoothing the clothing, one or both hands on hips, foot and body pointing towards the male, extended intimate gaze and increasing eye contact. They also adopt the thumbs-in-belt gesture which, although it is a male aggression gesture, is used with feminine subtlety only one thumb tucked into a belt or protruding from a handbag or pocket is displayed. Excited interest also causes pupil dilation and a flushed...

The Ring or OK Gesture

Gay Sublimnal Self Help

This gesture was popularised in the USA during the early nineteenth century, apparently by the newspapers that, at the time, were starting a craze of using initials to shorten common phrases. There' are many different views about what the initials 'OK' stand for, some believing it stood for 'all correct' which may have been misspelled as 'oll korrect', while others say that it means the opposite of 'knock-out' that is, K.O. Another popular theory is that it is an abbreviation of 'Old...

Steepling Hands

I stated at the beginning of this book that gestures come in clusters, like words in a sentence, and that they must be interpreted in the context in which they are observed. 'Steepling', as Birdwhistell called it, can be an exception to these rules, as it is often used in isolation of other gestures. In fact, people who are confident, superior types or who use minimal or restricted body gestures often use this gesture, and, by doing so, they signal their confident attitude. My observation and...

Picking Imaginary Lint

When a person disapproves of the opinions or attitudes of others but feels constrained in giving his point of view, the non-verbal gestures that occur are known as displacement gestures, that is, they result from a withheld opinion. Picking imaginary pieces of lint from the clothing is one such gesture. The lintpicker usually looks away from the other people towards the floor while performing this minor, irrelevant action. This is one of the most common signals of disapproval and when the...

Seated Readiness

One of the most valuable gestures that a negotiator can learn to recognise is seated readiness. In the selling situation, for example, if the potential buyer were to take this gesture at the end of the sales presentation and the interview had progressed successfully up to that point, the sales person could ask for the order and expect to get it. Video replays of insurance sales people interviewing potential buyers revealed that, whenever the seated readiness gesture followed the chinstroking...

Thumb Displays

Women Gestures And Movements

In palmistry, the thumbs denote strength of character and ego and the non-verbal use of thumbs agrees with this. They are used to display dominance, superiority or even aggression thumb gestures are secondary gestures, a supportive part of a gesture cluster. Thumb displays are positive signals, often used in the typical pose of the 'cool' manager who uses them in the presence of subordinates. A courting man uses them in the presence of a potential female partner and they are common among people...

Hands Clenched Together

At first this seems to be a confidence gesture as some people who use it are often smiling and sound happy. However, on one particular occasion, we saw a sales person describing the sale he had just lost. As he went further and further into his story, we noticed that not only had he taken the hands-clenched position, but his fingers were beginning to turn white and they looked as though they were welding together. This was therefore a gesture showing a frustrated or hostile attitude. Research...

Gestures With Glasses

Almost every artificial aid used by man gives its user an opportunity to perform many revealing gestures and this is certainly the case with those who wear glasses. One of the most common gestures is placing one arm of the frame in the mouth (Figure 127). Desmond Morris says that the act of putting objects against the lips or in the mouth is a momentary attempt by the person to relive the security he experienced as a baby at his mother's breast, which means that glasses-in-mouth is essentially...

Peering Over Glasses

Actors in the motion pictures made during the 1920sand 1930s used this peering gesture to portray a critical or judgmental person such as the master of an English public school. Often the person may be wearing reading glasses and finds it more convenient to look over the tops, rather than removing them to look at the other person. Whoever is on the receiving end of this look may feel as though he is being judged or scrutinised. Looking over the glasses can be a very costly mistake, as the...

Straddling a Chair

Centuries ago, men used shields to protect themselves from the spears and clubs of the enemy, and today, civilised man uses whatever he has at his disposal to symbolise this same protective behaviour when he is under physical or verbal attack. This includes standing behind a gate, doorway, fence, desk, the open door of his motor vehicle and straddling a chair (Figure 91). The back of the chair provides a shield to protect his body and can transform him into an aggressive, dominant warrior. Most...

Partial Armcross Barriers

Lasting Longer The Bedroom

The full arm-cross gesture is sometimes too obvious to use around others because it tells them that we are fearful. Occasionally we substitute a subtler version - the partial arm cross, in which one arm swings across the body to hold or touch the other arm to form the barrier, as shown in Figure 75. The partial arm barrier is often seen at meetings where a person may be a stranger to the group or is lacking in self-confidence. Another popular version of a partial arm barrier is holding hands...

Some Basics And Their Origins

Cultural Gestures

Most of the basic communication gestures are the same all over the world. When people are happy they smile when they are sad or angry they frown or scowl. Nodding the head is almost universally used to indicate 'yes' or affirmation. It appears to be a form of head lowering and is probably an inborn gesture, as it is also used by deaf and blind people. Shaking the head from side to side to indicate 'no' or negation is also universal and may well be a gesture that is learned in infancy. When a...

Territory And Ownership

Property owned by a person or a place regularly used by him constitutes a private territory and, like personal air space, he will fight to protect it. Such things as a person's home, office and motor car represent a territory, each having clearly marked boundaries in the form of walls, gates, fences and doors. Each territory may have several sub-territories. For example, in a home a woman's private territory may be her kitchen and laundry and she objects to anyone invading that space when she...

The Ankle Lock Gesture

Locked Ankles

Crossing or folding the arms or legs suggests that a negative or defensive attitude exists, and this is also the case with the ankle lock gesture. The male version of the ankle lock is often combined with clenched fists resting on the knees or with the hands tightly gripping the arms of the chair (Figure 87). The female version varies slightly the knees are held together, the feet may be to one side and the hands rest side by side or one on top of the other resting on the upper legs (Figure...

Inborn Genetic Learned And Cultural Signals

Much research and debate has been done to discover whether non-verbal signals are inborn, learned, genetically transferred or acquired in some other way. Evidence was collected from observation of blind and or deaf people who could not have learned nonverbal signals through the auditory or visual channels, from observing the gestural behaviour of many different cultures around the world and from studying the behaviour of our nearest anthropological relatives, the apes and monkeys. The...

Dominant and Submissive Handshakes

Submissive Dominant Relationships

Considering what has already been said about the impact of a command given in both the palm-up and palm-down positions, let us explore the relevance of these two palm positions in hand shaking. Assume that you have just met someone for the first time and you greet each other with a customary handshake. One of three basic attitudes is transmitted through the handshake. These are dominance 'This person is trying to dominate me. I'd better be cautious', submission 'I can dominate this person. He...

Gesture Clusters

Ademanes Orador

One of the most serious mistakes a novice in body language can make is to interpret a solitary gesture in isolation of other gestures or other circumstances. For example, scratching the head can mean a number of things -dandruff, fleas, sweating, uncertainty, forgetfulness or lying, depending on the other gestures that occur at the same time, so we must always look at gesture clusters for a correct reading. Like any other language, body language consists of words, sentences and punctuation....

The Mouth Guard

The mouth guard is one of the few adult gestures that is as obvious as a child's. The hand covers the mouth and the thumb is pressed against the cheek as the brain subconsciously instructs it to try and suppress the deceitful words that are being said. Sometimes this gesture may only be several fingers over the mouth or even a closed fist, but its meaning remains the same. The mouth guard is not to be confused with evaluation gestures, which will be covered later in this chapter. Many people...

Congruence

Nonverbal Gestures

If you, as the speaker, were to ask the listener shown in Figure 5 to give his opinion of what you have just said and he said that he disagreed with you, his non-verbal signals would be congruent with his verbal sentences, that is, they would match or be consistent. If, however, he said he was enjoying what you had to say, he would be lying because his words and gestures would be incongruent. Research shows that non-verbal signals carry about five times as much impact as the verbal channel and...

Arm Gripping Gesture

Arm Gripping Gesture

You will notice that this arm-cross gesture is characterised by the hands tightly gripping the upper arms to reinforce the position and to stop any attempt to unfold the arms and expose the body. The arms can often be gripped so tight that the fingers and knuckles turn white as the blood circulation is cut off. This arm-fold style is common to people sitting in doctors' and dentists' waiting-rooms, or first-time air travellers who are waiting for the plane to lift off. It shows a negative...

The Foot Lock

Crossed Leg Man

This gesture is almost exclusively used by women. The top of one foot locks around the other leg to reinforce a defensive attitude and, when this gesture appears, you can be sure that the woman has become a mental recluse or has retreated like a tortoise into her shell. Viswr H-9 Siancfinp toot-lock pottttor KfW 90 Seated fool-lnck fKitfilofl Viswr H-9 Siancfinp toot-lock pottttor KfW 90 Seated fool-lnck fKitfilofl A warm, friendly, low-key approach is needed if you eventually hope to open this...

Cigarette Smokers

Gangster Gestures

Like pipe smoking, cigarette smoking is a displacement of inner tension and allows time to stall, but the cigarette smoker generally reaches his decision faster than the pipe smoker. The pipe smoker is, in effect, a cigarette smoker who needs more time to stall in making decisions than his cigarettes allow. The cigarette ritual involves tapping, twisting, flicking, waving and other mini-gestures indicating that the person is experiencing more tension than may be normal. One particular signal...

Smoking Gestures

Smoking is an outward manifestation of an inner turmoil or conflict and has little to do with nicotine addiction. It is one of the displacement activities that people in today's high-pressure society use to release the tensions that build up from social and business encounters. For example, most people experience inner tension while waiting outside the dentist's surgery to have a tooth removed. While a smoker will cover up his anxiety by smoking, non-smokers perform other rituals such as...

Disguised Armcross Gestures

Disguised arm-cross gestures are highly sophisticated gestures used by people who are continually exposed to others. This group includes politicians, sales people, television personalities and the like who do not want their audience to detect that they are unsure of themselves or nervous. Like all arm-cross gestures, one arm swings across in front of the body to grasp the other arm but instead of the arms folding, one hand touches a handbag, bracelet, watch, shirt cuff or other object on or...

Male Courtship Gestures

Listening Gestures

Like most animal species, the human male displays preening behaviour as the female approaches. In addition to the automatic physiological reactions already mentioned, he will reach for his throat and straighten his tie. If he is not wearing a tie, he may smooth his collar or brush imaginary dust from his shoulder and rearrange cufflinks, shirt, coat and other clothing. He may also preen himself by smoothing his hair. The most aggressive sexual display he can make towards the female is the...

Female Leg Cross Gestures

Woman Sexual Desire Body Language

Men often sit with their legs apart in an aggressive crotch display, whereas women use leg crossing as protection for their delicate genital area. Women use three basic positions to communicate a courting attitude. With the knee point Figure 121 , one leg is tucked under the other and points to the person whom she finds interesting. This is a very relaxed position which takes the formality out of a conversation and gives the opportunity for a fleeting exposure of the thighs. The shoe fondle...

Reinforced Arm Cross

If as well as the full arm-cross gesture the person has clenched fists, it indicates a hostile and defensive attitude. This cluster is often combined with clenched teeth and red face, in which case a verbal or physical attack may be imminent. A submissive palms-up approach is needed to discover what caused the hostile gestures if the reason is not already apparent. The person using this gesture cluster has an attacking attitude, as opposed to the person in Figure 70, who has taken a defending...

Nose Touching

In essence, the nose touch gesture is a sophisticated, disguised version of the mouth guard gesture. It may consist of several light rubs below the nose or it may be one quick, almost imperceptible touch. Some women perform this gesture with small discreet strokes to avoid smudging their make-up. One explanation of the origin of the nose touch gesture is that, as the negative thought enters the mind, the subconscious instructs the hand to cover the mouth, but, at the last moment, in an attempt...

Evaluation

Evaluation is shown by a closed hand resting on the cheek, often with the index finger pointing upwards Figure 62 . Should the person begin to lose interest but wish to appear interested, for courtesy's sake, the position will alter slightly so that the heel of the palm supports the head, as shown in Figure 61. I have attended numerous management meetings where the young up-andcoming managers have used this interest gesture to show respect to the company president who is giving a boxing speech....

Hand Shake Styles

Handshake Communication Meaning

The palm-down thrust is certainly the most aggressive handshake style as it gives the receiver little chance of establishing an equal relationship. This handshake is typical of the aggressive, dominant male who always initiates it, and the stiff arm with palm facing directly downwards forces the receiver into the submissive position because he has to respond with his palm facing up. Several ways to counter the palm-down thrust have been developed. You can use the step-to-the-right technique...

Headrubbing And Headslapping Gestures

An exaggerated version of the collar pull gesture is the palm rubbing the back of the neck in what Calero called the 'pain-in-the-neck' gesture. A person who uses this when lying usually avoids your gaze and looks down. This gesture is also used as a signal of frustration or anger and, when this is the case, the hand slaps the back of the neck first and then begins to rub the neck. Let us assume, for example, that you asked a subordinate to complete a certain task for you and that the...

Chin Stroking

The next time you have the opportunity to present an idea to a group of people, watch them carefully as you give your idea and you will notice something fascinating. Most, if not all the members of your audience will bring one hand up to their faces and begin to use evaluation gestures. As you come to the conclusion of your presentation and ask for the group to give opinions or suggestions about the idea, the evaluation gestures will cease. One hand will move to the chin and begin a...

Shaking Hands

Shaking hands is a relic of the caveman era. Whenever cavemen met, they would hold their arms in the air with their palms exposed to show that no weapons were being held or concealed. This palms-in-air gesture became modified over the centuries and such gestures as the palm raised in the air, the palm over the heart and numerous other variations developed. The modern form of this ancient greeting ritual is the interlocking and shaking of the palms which, in most English-speaking countries, is...

The Eye

'See no evil' says the wise monkey, and this gesture is the brain's attempt to block out the deceit, doubt or lie that it sees or to avoid having to look at the face of the person to whom he is telling the lie. Men usually rub their eyes vigorously and if the lie is a big one they will often look away, normally towards the floor. Women use a small, gentle rubbing motion just below the eye, either because they have been brought up to avoid making robust gestures, or to avoid smudging make-up....

Boredom

When the listener begins to use his hand to support his head, it is a signal that boredom has set in and his supporting hand is an attempt to hold his head up to stop himself from falling asleep. The degree of the listener's boredom is related to the extent to which his arm and hand are supporting his head. Extreme boredom and lack of interest are shown when the head is fully supported by the hand Figure 61 and the ultimate boredom signal occurs when the head is on the desk or table and the...

Ear Fnger Drill Gesture

Seduction Tips For Women

This is, in effect, an attempt by the listener to 'hear no evil' in trying to block the words by putting the hand around or over the ear. This is the sophisticated adult version of the handsover-both-ears gesture used by the young child who wants to block out his parent's reprimands. Other variations of the ear rub gesture include rubbing the back of the ear, the finger drill where the fingertip is screwed back and forth inside the ear , pulling at the earlobe or bending the entire ear forward...

Hand Gestures Rubbing the palms together

Recently a personal friend of ours visited my wife and me at our home to discuss the details of a forthcoming skiing holiday. In the course of the conversation our friend suddenly sat back in her chair, smiled broadly, rubbed her palms together and exclaimed, 'I can hardly wait to go ' Non-verbally she had told us that she expected the Rubbing the palms together is a way in which people non-verbally communicate positive expectation. The dice thrower rubs the dice between his palms as a sign of...

Head Gestures

This book would not be complete without a discussion of the basic head movements, the two most widely used being the head nod and the head shake. The head nod is a positive gesture used in most cultures to signify, 'Yes', or affirmation. Research conducted with people who have been deaf, dumb and blind from birth shows that they also use this gesture to signify the affirmative, which has given rise to the theory that this may be an inborn gesture. The headshake, usually meaning 'No', is also...

Foot Pointing

Foot Pointing

Not only do the feet serve as pointers, indicating the direction in which a person would like to go, but they are also used to point at people who are interesting or attractive. Imagine that you are at a social function and you notice a group of three men and one very attractive woman Figure 146 . The conversation seems to be dominated by the men and the woman is just listening. Then you notice something interesting - the men all have one foot pointing towards the woman. With this simple...

Interpreting And Misinterpreting

The ability to accurately interpret hand-to-face gestures in a given set of circumstances takes considerable time and observation to acquire. We can confidently assume that, when a person uses one of the hand-to-face gestures just mentioned, a negative thought has entered his mind. The question is, what is the negative It could be doubt, deceit, uncertainty, exaggeration, apprehension or outright lying. The real skill of interpretation is the ability to pick which of the negatives mentioned is...

Courtship Gestures and Signals

Female Courtship Signals

I have a friend named Graham who has developed an art that most males would love to acquire. Whenever he attends a social function he can quickly 'psych out' the available women, make his choice and, in almost record-breaking time sometimes as little as ten minutes , he may be seen heading towards the exit with the woman, escorting her to his car and drilling back to his apartment. I have even seen him return to the party within an hour and repeat this amazing process two or three times in the...

Clusters Circumstances and Gestures in Daily Encounters

Intimidating Body Language

Figure 165 A good example of an openness cluster. The palms are fully exposed in the submissive position and the fingers are spread wide to give more impact to the gesture. The head is in the neutral position and the arms and legs are apart. This man is communicating a submissive, non-threatening attitude. Figure 166 This is a classic deceit cluster. As he rubs his eye he looks away towards the floor and both eyebrows are raised to the disbelief position. His head is turned away and down,...