Business Body Barometers

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Hopefully, your mouse is pointing to (and clicking on) the HIGH TIDE box on the right~~~>

BUT, where is your foot pointed?


YES, I have better things to do. NO, I am not a kinetics (body language) expert nor a walking lie detector. Like most business owners, I muddle through exchanges with others –using a combination of what I know and feel from experience– to decide on another person’s intents, genuineness, and ability to perform up to my belief system.

But I have written and taught considerably on the subject, and am frequently asked about practical business applications. So, remembering that you’re not licensed to practice psychotherapy, here’s enough body barometer stuff to shrink out some of those business head cases you deal with:

Let’s first distinguish between verbal and nonverbal communication, keeping in mind that: A) words themselves do not have meaning; only people have meaning, and that: B) Only 7% of communication is generally believed to be verbal. (38% is believed to be tone of voice, and 55%, nonverbal!)

Nonverbal communication, I recall, is accomplished in 9 different ways (there may be more, but who needs more?):

  1. AMBULATION — How someone walks. Big differences in the messages coming from someone who swishes vs, stomps or swaggers, bounces, strides, or drags.

  2. TOUCHING — The most powerful form of nonverbal communication. Consider the differences in touch for expressing anger, interest, trust, tenderness, warmth . . . and the differences in willingness to touch or be touched.

  3. EYE CONTACT — When do pupils dilate? What’s in your unconscious mind about eye colors? Trust? Sincerity? Forthrightness? Does someone stare, shoot daggers, avoid direct eye contact, glance slyly?

  4. POSTURING — Are arms and legs crossed defensively? Stand or sit slouched or erect. Severe threats promote fetal positions.

  5. TICS — Uncontrollable nervous twitches may indicate a sensing of possible threats.

  6. S UBVOCALS — Um, er, uh, whew! . . . and grunts and groans, whistles, loud swallowing, tongue clicking.

  7. DISTANCING — We each have our own Space. Comfort zones vary by person, geographical region, country, and by odors.

  8. GESTURING — A wave, thumbs up or down, an OK sign or angry fist, a V can all be acceptable in one place and not in another.

  9. VOCALISM — Say: I LOVE my children! vs. I love MY children! vs. I love my CHILDREN! vs. I love my children! Same words, but do you hear different meanings?

STROKING arms, legs, or hair often indicates a lack of affection (perhaps at the moment, perhaps in general). See if talking about how valuable that person is to your business stops that activity.  SMILES are great, but can often be a defense mechanism. THE FACE ALONE CAN PRODUCE 250,000 EXPRESSIONS! (Weird research, huh?)

Sports guys and politicians use THUMBS UP and THUMBS DOWN. Hitchhikers point THUMBS SIDEWAYS.

CONFIDENCE is often expressed by pyramiding fingers, by hands in pockets with thumbs out and by hands held behind a stiff back.

INSECURITY is frequently communicated by pinching, chewing (pens, pencils, pipe, fingernails, gums), by hands stuffed deep into pockets, as well as by smoking, fidgeting, jingling coins, tugging ears or mustache, or underclothing, by someone who frequently covers her or his mouth and /or “ahems” often.

HOW a person lights and holds a cigarette, pipe or cigar, how he or she writes (including pen pressure), how glasses and eating utensils are held and used, how food is picked up and eaten. These are barometers. So are the ways people greet and say goodbye to one another. Handshakes (firm, wimpy, bone-crushing?). Hugs and kisses. Who touches whom?

The boss’s hand on someone’s shoulder shows authority. People in power feel comfortable touching subordinates, but not the other way around! Is it acceptable to touch a pregnant woman? Holding one’s hand to show the palm is regarded as a sexual attraction signal, especially when pupils dilate.

Watch how people move toward and away from one another — Distances? Who moves first? When?  Is someone’s foot pointed toward you when she or he speaks with you, or toward the door? Effective communications requires effort!

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Hal@Businessworks.US 302.933.0911

Open Minds Open Doors

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