The woman wanted to keep her identity secret to avoid being targeted.
So while body language statistics vary according to situation, it is generally accepted that non-verbal communications are very important in how we understand each other or fail to , especially in face-to-face and one-to-one communications, and most definitely when the communications involve an emotional or attitudinal element. We form our opinions of someone we meet for the first time in just a few seconds, and this initial instinctual assessment is based far more on what we see and feel about the other person than on the words they speak.
On many occasions we form a strong view about a new person before they speak a single word. And this two-way effect of body language continues throughout communications and relationships between people. Body language is constantly being exchanged and interpreted between people, even though much of the time this is happening on an unconscious level.
Remember - while you are interpreting consciously or unconsciously the body language of other people, so other people are constantly interpreting yours. The people with the most conscious awareness of, and capabilities to read, body language tend to have an advantage over those whose appreciation is limited largely to the unconscious.
You will shift your own awareness of body language from the unconscious into the conscious by learning about the subject, and then by practising your reading of non-verbal communications in your dealings with others.
Body language potentially although not always, depending on the definition you choose to apply encompasses:. Arguably this last point should be encompassed by body language, because a lot happens here which can easily be missed if we consider merely the spoken word and the traditional narrow definition of body language or non-verbal communications.
Voice type and other audible signals are typically not included in body language because they are audible 'verbal' signals rather than physical visual ones, nevertheless the way the voice is used is a very significant usually unconscious aspect of communication, aside from the bare words themselves.
Consequently, voice type is always important to consider alongside the usual body language factors. Similarly breathing and heartbeat, etc. Our reactions to other people's eyes - movement, focus, expression, etc - and their reactions to our eyes - contribute greatly to mutual assessment and understanding, consciously and unconsciously. With no words at all, massive feeling can be conveyed in a single glance. The metaphor which describes the eyes of two lovers meeting across a crowded room is not only found in old romantic movies.
It's based on scientific fact - the strong powers of non-verbal communications. These effects - and similar powerful examples - have existed in real human experience and behaviour for thousands of years.
The human body and our instinctive reactions have evolved to an amazingly clever degree, which many of us ignore or take for granted, and which we can all learn how to recognize more clearly if we try. Our interpretation of body language, notably eyes and facial expressions, is instinctive, and with a little thought and knowledge we can significantly increase our conscious awareness of these signals: Doing so gives us a significant advantage in life - professionally and personally - in our dealings with others.
Importantly, understanding body language enables better self-awareness and self-control too. We understand more about other people's feelings and meanings, and we also understand more about these things in ourselves. When we understand body language we become better able to refine and improve what our body says about us, which generates a positive improvement in the way we feel, the way we perform, and what we achieve.
So what is body language? And more usefully, what might we regard it to be, if we are to make the most of studying and using it? The Oxford Business English Dictionary offers a slightly different definition.
Appropriately and interestingly the Oxford Business English Dictionary emphasizes the sense that body language can be used as a tool, rather than it being an involuntary effect with no particular purpose:. The course trains sales people in reading the customer's body language. In this respect, standard dictionary definitions don't always describe body language fully and properly.
Words alone - especially emotional words or words used in emotional situations - rarely reflect full or true meaning and motive. Philosophers and scientists have connected human physical behaviour with meaning, mood and personality for thousands of years, but only in living memory has the study of body language become as sophisticated and detailed as it is today.
The first known experts to consider aspects of body language were probably the ancient Greeks, notably Hippocrates and Aristotle, through their interest in human personality and behaviour, and the Romans, notably Cicero, relating gestures to feelings and communications.
Much of this early interest was in refining ideas about oration - speech-making - given its significance to leadership and government. Isolated studies of body language appeared in more recent times, for example Francis Bacon in Advancement of Learning, , explored gestures as reflection or extension of spoken communications. John Bulwer's Natural History of the Hand published in , considered hand gestures. Gilbert Austin's Chironomia in looked at using gestures to improve speech-making.
Charles Darwin in the late s could be regarded as the earliest expert to have made serious scientific observation about body language, but there seems little substantial development of ideas for at least the next years. Darwin's work pioneered much ethological thinking.
Ethology began as the science of animal behaviour. It became properly established during the early s and increasingly extends to human behaviour and social organization. Where ethology considers animal evolution and communications, it relates strongly to human body language. Ethologists have progressively applied their findings to human behaviour, including body language, reflecting the evolutionary origins of much human non-verbal communication - and society's growing acceptance of evolutionary rather than creationist theory.
Austrian zoologist and Nobel Prizewinner Konrad Lorenz was a founding figure in ethology. Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape, discussed below, is an ethologist, as is the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins b. Ethology, like psychology, is an over-arching science which continues to clarify the understanding of body language.
In his popular book 'Body Language', Julius Fast wrote: Julius Fast was an American award winning writer of fiction and non-fiction work dealing especially with human physiology and behaviour. His book Body Language was among the first to bring the subject to a mainstream audience.
All except one of Julius Fast's cited works are from the s and s. The exception among Fast's contemporary influences was Charles Darwin, and specifically his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, written in , which is commonly regarded as the beginnings of the body language science, albeit not recognised as such then. Sigmund Freud and others in the field of psychoanalysis - in the late s and early s - would have had good awareness of many aspects of body language, including personal space, but they did not focus on non-verbal communications concepts or develop body language theories in their own right.
Freud and similar psychoanalysts and psychologists of that time were focused on behaviour and therapeutic analysis rather than the study of non-verbal communications per se.
A different view of human behaviour related to and overlapping body language, surfaced strongly in Desmond Morris's book The Naked Ape, and in follow-up books such as Intimate Behaviour, Morris, a British zoologist and ethologist, linked human behaviour - much of it concerned with communications - to human 'animalistic' evolution. His work remains a popular and controversial perspective for understanding people's behaviours, and while his theories did not focus strongly on body language, Morris's popularity in the late s and s contributed significantly to the increasing interest among people beyond the scientific community - for a better understanding of how and why we feel and act and communicate.
An important aspect of body language is facial expression, which is arguably one part of body language for which quite early 'scientific' thinking can be traced:. The ancient roots of this concept demonstrate that while body language itself is a recently defined system of analysis, the notion of inferring human nature or character from facial expression is extremely old.
The word kinesics was first used in English in this sense in the s, deriving from the Greek word kinesis, meaning motion, and seems to have first been used by Dr Ray Birdwhistell, an American s researcher and writer on body language.
The introduction of a new technical word - in this case, kinesics - generally comes after the establishment of the subject it describes, which supports the assertion that the modern concept of body language - encompassing facial expressions and personal space - did not exist until the s. The word was devised in the late s or early s by Edward Twitchell Hall, an American anthropologist. The word is Hall's adaptation of the word proximity, meaning closeness or nearness. This is not to be confused with the ancient and same word kine, meaning a group of cows.
Neither word seems to have caught on in a big way, which in one way is a pity, but in another way probably makes matters simpler for anyone interested in the body language of cows.
Kinaesthetics also known as kinesthetics , the study of learning styles, is related to some of the principles of body language, in terms of conveying meaning and information via physical movement and experience. Body language is among many branches of science and education which seek to interpret and exploit messages and meaning from the 'touchy-feely' side of life. These and similar methodologies do not necessarily reference body language directly, but there are very strong inter-connections.
Body language is part of human evolution, but as with many other aspects of human behaviour, the precise mixture of genetic inherited and environmental learned or conditioned influences is not known, and opinions vary. Julius Fast noted this, especially regarding facial expressions. To emphasise the shifting debate he cited for example:.
The discussion has continued in a similar vein to the modern day - studies 'proving' genetic or environmental cause - 'nature' or 'nurture' - for one aspect of body language or another. The situation is made more complex when one considers the genetic inherited capability or inclination to learn body language. Is this nature or nurture? Some body language is certainly genetically inherited and consistent among all humans.
Other body language is certainly not. Certain vocal intonation speech variations if body language is extended to cover everything but the spoken words also fall within this environmentally determined category. In summary, we can be certain that body language namely the conscious and unconscious sending and receiving of non-verbal signals is partly inborn, and partly learned or conditioned. The evolutionary perspectives of body language are fascinating, in terms of its purpose and how it is exploited, which in turn feeds back into the purpose of body language at conscious and unconscious levels.
Human beings tend to lie, deceive, manipulate, and pretend. It's in our nature to do this, if only to a small degree in some folk. For various reasons people intentionally and frequently mask their true feelings. In expectation of these 'masking' tendencies in others, humans try to imagine what another person has in their mind. The need to understand what lies behind the mask obviously increases according to the importance of the relationship.
Body language has evolved in spite of human awareness and conscious intelligence: While the importance of body language in communications and management, etc. Early natural exponents of interpreting body language were for example the poker players of the American Wild West.
The winners had not only to be handy with a six-shooter, but also skilled in reading other people's non-verbal signals, and controlling their own signals. Before these times, explorers and tribal leaders had to be able to read the body language of potential foes - to know whether to trust or defend or attack.
Earlier than this, our cavemen ancestors certainly needed to read body language, if only because no other language existed. Humans have also learned to read the body language of animals and vice-versa , although humans almost certainly had greater skills in this area a long time ago.
Shepherds, horse-riders and animal trainers throughout time and still today have good capabilities in reading animal body language, which for many extends to the human variety. Monty Roberts , the real life 'Horse Whisperer' is a good example. Body language, and the reading of non-verbal communications and feelings, are in our genes. Were these factors not in our genes, we would not be here today. Women tend to have better perception and interpretation of body language than men.
This is perhaps a feature of evolutionary survival, since females needed good body language skills to reduce their physical vulnerability to males and the consequential threat to life, limb and offspring.
Females might not be so physically vulnerable in modern times, but their body language capabilities generally continue typically to be stronger than the male of the species. Thus, women tend to be able to employ body language for sending and interpreting signals more effectively than men.
Women tend to have more empathic sensitivity than men, which naturally aids body language awareness and capabilities. Aside from gender differences, men and women with strong empathic sensitivity typically right-basal or rear brain bias tend to be better at picking up body language signals.
It is now generally accepted that certain basic facial expressions of human emotion are recognized around the world - and that the use and recognition of these expressions is genetically inherited rather than socially conditioned or learned. While there have been found to be minor variations and differences among obscurely isolated tribes-people, the following basic human emotions are generally used, recognized, and part of humankind's genetic character:.
Charles Darwin was first to make these claims in his book The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in This book incidentally initially far outsold The Origin of Species, such was its wide and controversial appeal at the time. Darwin's assertions about genetically inherited facial expressions remained the subject of much debate for many years.
Ekman's work notably included isolated tribes-people who could not have been influenced by Western media and images, and essentially proved that Darwin was right - i. Body language is instinctively interpreted by us all to a limited degree, but the subject is potentially immensely complex. As with other behavioural sciences, the study of body language benefited from the development of brain-imaging technology in the last part of the 20th century.
This dramatically accelerated the research and understanding into connections between the brain, feelings and thoughts, and body movement.
We should expect to see this effect continuing and providing more solid science for body language theory, much of which remains empirical, i. Body language also depends on context: As with any system of evidence, 'clusters' of body language signals provide much more reliable indication of meaning than one or two signals in isolation.
Avoid interpreting only single signals. Look for combinations of signals which support an overall conclusion, especially for signals which can mean two or more quite different things. Awareness of possible cultural body language differences is especially important in today's increasingly mixed societies. Management and customer service staff are particularly prone to misreading or reacting inappropriately to body language signals from people of different ethnic backgrounds, a situation made worse because this sort of misunderstanding tends to peak when emotions are high.
Personal space preferences distances inside which a person is uncomfortable when someone encroaches can vary between people of different ethnicity. A gesture by one person in a certain situation can carry far more, or very little meaning, compared to the same gesture used by a different person in a different situation. Young men for example often display a lot of pronounced gestures because they are naturally energetic, uninhibited and supple. Older women, relatively, are less energetic, adopt more modest postures, and are prevented by clothing and upbringing from exhibiting very pronounced gestures.
So when assessing body language - especially the strength of signals and meanings - it's important to do so in relative terms, considering the type of person and situation involved. Some people artificially control their outward body language to give the impression they seek to create at the time. A confident firm handshake, or direct eye contact, are examples of signals which can be quite easily be 'faked' - usually temporarily, but sometimes more consistently.
However while a degree of faking is possible, it is not possible for someone to control or suppress all outgoing signals. This is an additional reason to avoid superficial analysis based on isolated signals, and to seek as many indicators as possible, especially subtle clues when suspecting things might not be what they seem.
Politicians and manipulative salespeople come to mind for some reason. Looking for 'micro gestures' pupils contract, an eyebrow lifts, corner of the mouth twitch can help identify the true meaning and motive behind one or two strong and potentially false signals. These micro gestures are very small, difficult to spot and are subconscious, but we cannot control them, hence their usefulness.
Many body language signals indicate negative feelings such as boredom, disinterest, anxiousness, insecurity, etc. The temptation on seeing such signals is to imagine a weakness on the part of the person exhibiting them. This can be so, however proper interpretation of body language should look beyond the person and the signal - and consider the situation, especially if you are using body language within personal development or management. It is often the situation, not the person - for example, here are examples of circumstances which can produce negative feelings and signals in people, often even if they are strong and confident:.
When translating body language signals into feelings and meanings remember that one signal does not reliably indicate a meaning. This is a general guide. Body language should not be used alone for making serious decisions about people. This is a guide, not an absolutely reliable indicator, and this applies especially until you've developed good capabilities of reading body language signs.
Even 'obvious' signs can be missed - especially if displayed as subtle movements in a group of people and if your mind is on other things - so I make no apology for including 'obvious' body language in this guide.
Also remember that cultural differences influence body language signals and their interpretation. This guide is based on 'Western World' and North European behaviours. What may be 'obvious' in one culture can mean something different in another culture. To a lesser or greater extent we all 'read' people's eyes without knowing how or why, and this ability seems to be inborn. Eyes - and especially our highly developed awareness of what we see in other people's eyes - are incredible.
For example we know if we have eye contact with someone at an almost unbelievable distance. Far too far away to be able to see the detail of a person's eyes - metres away or more sometimes - we know when there is eye contact. This is an absolutely awesome capability when you think about it.
Incredibly also, we can see whether another person's eyes are focused on us or not, and we can detect easily the differences between a 'glazed over' blank stare, a piercing look, a moistening eye long before tears come, and an awkward or secret glance.
We probably cannot describe these and many other eye signals, but we recognise them when we see them and we know what they mean. When we additionally consider the eyelids, and the flexibility of the eyes to widen and close, and for the pupils to enlarge or contract, it becomes easier to understand how the eyes have developed such potency in human communications. Eyes tend to look right when the brain is imagining or creating, and left when the brain is recalling or remembering.
Under certain circumstances 'creating' can mean fabrication or lying, especially but not always - beware , when the person is supposed to be recalling facts. Looking right when stating facts does not necessarily mean lying - it could for example mean that the person does not know the answer, and is talking hypothetically or speculating or guessing. The mouth is associated with very many body language signals, which is not surprising given its functions - obviously speech, but also those connected with infant feeding, which connects psychologically through later life with feelings of security, love and sex.
The mouth can be touched or obscured by a person's own hands or fingers, and is a tremendously flexible and expressive part of the body too, performing a central role in facial expressions.
The mouth also has more visible moving parts than other sensory organs, so there's a lot more potential for variety of signalling. Unlike the nose and ears, which are generally only brought into body language action by the hands or fingers, the mouth acts quite independently, another reason for it deserving separate detailed consideration.
Smiling is a big part of facial body language. As a general rule real smiles are symmetrical and produce creases around the eyes and mouth, whereas fake smiles, for whatever reason, tend to be mouth-only gestures.
The head tends to lead and determine general body direction, but it is also vital and vulnerable being where our brain is, so the head is used a lot in directional likes and dislikes body language, and in defensive self-protection body language too.
A person's head, due to a very flexible neck structure, can turn, jut forward, withdraw, tilt sideways, forwards, backwards. All of these movements have meanings, which given some thought about other signals can be understood. The head usually has hair, ears, eyes, nose, and a face, which has more complex and visible muscular effects than any other area of the body.
The face, our eyes and our hands, are the most powerful parts of our body in sending body language signals. The head - when our hands interact with it - is therefore dynamic and busy in communicating all sorts of messages - consciously and unconsciously.
Arms act as defensive barriers when across the body, and conversely indicate feelings of openness and security when in open positions, especially combined with open palms. Arms are quite reliable indicators of mood and feeling, especially when interpreted with other body language.
While this might seem obvious written in simple language, it's not always so clear if your attention is on other matters. Body language is more than just knowing the theory - it's being aware constantly of the signals people are giving. This is because hands are such expressive parts of the body, and because hands interact with other parts of the body. Hands contain many more nerve connections to the brain than most if not all other body parts.
They are extremely expressive and flexible tools, so it is natural for hands to be used a lot in signalling consciously - as with emphasizing gestures - or unconsciously - as in a wide range of unintentional movements which indicate otherwise hidden feelings and thoughts.
A nose or an ear by itself can do little to signal a feeling, but when a hand or finger is also involved then there is probably a signal of some sort. Body language experts generally agree that hands send more signals than any part of the body except for the face. Studying hand body language therefore yields a lot of information; hence the hands section below is large. The section below focuses on Western behaviour. Much applies elsewhere, but avoid assuming that it all does.
Firmness of handshake is not the reliable indicator of firmness of character that many believe it to be.
Firm handshakes tend to be those of confident people, especially those who have spent some time in business, and who realise that most people in business consider a firm handshake to be a good thing. Handshakes that are uncomfortably firm show a lack of respect or awareness, especially if used in cultures Eastern especially where firm handshaking is not normal. Handshaking evolved from ancient times as an initial gesture of trust, to show that no weapon was being held.
Naturally also the handshake offers the most obvious way to connect physically as a way to signal trust or friendship. In more recent times, especially from the s onwards, a handshake became the way to confirm a commercial transaction. Handshaking by women became common practice much later, reflecting the change of social attitudes and the increasing equality of women, for whom a hundred years back such physical contact was considered improper.
Women have throughout time generally been subservient to men, hence the very subservient female curtsey gesture also spelled curtsy , which survives now only in traditional situations such as meeting royalty, or ending a stage performance. Legs and feet body language is more difficult to control consciously or fake than some body language of arms and hands and face. Legs and feet can therefore provide good clues to feelings and moods, if you know the signs.
Men and women sit differently, which needs to be considered when reading leg body language. Partly due to clothing and partly due to sexual differences, men naturally exhibit more open leg positions than women, which should be allowed for when interpreting signals.
Certain open-leg male positions are not especially significant in men, but would be notable in women, especially combined with a short skirt. Older women tend to adopt more modest closed leg positions than younger women, due to upbringing, social trends, equality and clothing.
Again take account of these influences when evaluating signals. Also consider that when people sit for half-an-hour or more they tend to change their leg positions, which can include leg crossing purely for comfort reasons. Again allow for this when interpreting signals. Leg signals tend to be supported by corresponding arms signals, for example crossed arms and crossed legs, which aside from comfort reasons generally indicate detachment, disinterest, rejection or insecurity, etc.
Where the terms 'leg crossing' and 'crossed legs' are used alone, this refers to the legs being crossed at both knees. The 'American' or 'Figure-4' leg cross entails the supporting leg being crossed just above the knee by the ankle or lower calf of the crossing leg. This makes a figure-4 shape, hence the name. The posture is also called the American leg cross because of its supposed popularity in the US compared to the UK, notably among males.
The word was devised by Edward Twitchell Hall b. Robert Ardrey is cited by Julius Fast as another significant expert and writer in personal space. Personal space dimensions depend notably on the individual, cultural and living background, the situation, and relationships, however some general parameters apply to most people, which for Western societies, are shown below.
There are five distinct space zones, which were originally identified by Edward T Hall, and which remain the basis of personal space analysis today.
The first zone is sometimes shown as a single zone comprising two sub-zones. When body language and speech characteristics are mirrored or synchronized between people this tends to assist the process of creating and keeping rapport a mutual feeling of empathy, understanding, trust. The term synchronized is arguably a more accurate technical term because mirroring implies visual signals only, when the principles of matching body language extend to audible signals also - notably speech pace, pitch, tone, etc.
When another person displays similar body language to our own, this makes us react unconsciously to feel, "This person is like me and agrees with the way I am. The converse effect applies. When two people's body language signals are different - i. Each person senses a conflict arising from the mismatching of signals - the two people are not affirming each other; instead the mismatched signals translate into unconscious feelings of discord, discomfort or even rejection.
Advocates and users of NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming use mirroring consciously, as a method of 'getting in tune' with another person, and with a little practice are able to first match and then actually and gently to alter the signals - and supposedly thereby the feelings and attitudes - of other people, using mirroring techniques.
Speech pace or speed is an example. When you are speaking with someone, first match their pace of speaking, then gently change your pace - slower or faster - and see if the other person follows you. Often they will do. People, mostly being peaceful cooperative souls, commonly quite naturally match each other's body language.
To do otherwise can sometimes feel uncomfortable, even though we rarely think consciously about it. When another person leans forward towards us at a table, we often mirror and do likewise.
When they lean back and relax, we do the same. Sales people and other professional communicators are widely taught to mirror all sorts of more subtle signals, as a means of creating trust and rapport with the other person, and to influence attitudes. Mirroring in this conscious sense is not simply copying or mimicking.
Mirroring is effective when movements and gestures are reflected in a similar way so that the effect remains unconscious and subtle. Obvious copying would be regarded as strange or insulting. Lots of unnecessary friction is created in work and communications situations due to ignorance and lack of thought about seating positions. The 'science' of where people sit in relation to each other, and on what and around what, is fascinating and offers opportunities for improving relationships, communications, cooperation and understanding.
These points are generally for the purpose of a leader or someone aspiring to lead, or coach, counsel, etc. They also relate to one-to-one situations like appraisals, interviews, etc. Sitting opposite someone creates a feeling of confrontation.
For one-to-one meetings, especially with emotional potential appraisals for example take care to arrange seating before the meeting to avoid opposite-facing positions. Do not place chairs so close together that personal space will be invaded. Sitting opposite someone across a table or desk adds a barrier to the confrontational set-up and can create a tension even when the relationship is good and strong.
It's easy to forget this and to find yourself sitting opposite someone when there are only two of you at the table. Sitting opposite across a table is okay for lovers gazing into each other's eyes, but not good for work, counselling, coaching, etc. This seating arrangement will increase the defensiveness of anyone already feeling insecure or inferior. This positioning is favoured by certain bosses seeking to reinforce their power, but it is not helpful in most modern work situations, and is not a good way to increase respectful natural authority anyway.
Incidentally the expression 'on the carpet' - meaning being told off or 'bollocked' - derives from the extreme form of this positional strategy, when the victim, called into the office would stand to receive their bollocking on the carpet in front of the boss who sat high and mighty behind his desk. Sitting at a diagonal angle of about 45 degrees to another person is a comfortable and cooperative arrangement. This is achieved naturally by both sitting around the same corner of a square table, which also enables papers to be seen together without too much twisting.
The same angle is appropriate for and easy-chairs around a coffee-table. A table ceases to become a barrier when people are sitting at a diagonal angle, instead it becomes a common work surface for studying papers, or exploring issues together.
Sitting side by side on a settee is not a good arrangement for working relationships. It threatens personal space, and obstructs communications. Low settees and easy-chairs and low coffee tables cause people to sink and relax back are usually unhelpful for work meetings. For this reason much seating in hotel lounges is entirely unsuitable for work meetings.
People naturally are more alert and focused using higher formal table and chairs. Interviews and appraisals can benefit from relaxed or more formal seating depending on the situation. Importantly - make a conscious choice about furniture depending on the tone of the meeting, and how relaxed you want the meeting to be. The degree rule is approximate, and anyway under most circumstances seating angles are influenced by furniture and available space. Importantly, simply try to avoid opposite or side-by-side positions.
An angle between these two extremes is best - somewhere in the range of degrees if you want to be technical about it. Round tables are better than square or oblong tables for group and team meetings. Obviously this works well because no-one is at the head of the table, which promotes a feeling of equality and teamwork. King Arthur - or the creator of the legend King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - opted for a round table for this reason. The term 'round table' has come to symbolise teamwork and fairness, etc.
Unfortunately round tables aren't common in offices, which means thinking carefully about best seating arrangements for square or oblong tables. A confident leader will be happy to avoid taking the 'head of the table' position, instead to sit among the team, especially if there are particular reasons for creating a cooperative atmosphere. Conversely it is perfectly normal for a leader to take the 'head of the table' if firmness is required in chairing or mediating, etc.
It is usually easier to chair a meeting from the head of the table position. Theory suggests that when a group sits around a table the person sitting on the leader's right will generally be the most loyal and aligned to the leader's thinking and wishes.
A likely mythical origin is said to be that in Roman times a leader would place their most loyal supporter to their right because this was the most advantageous position from which to attempt an assassination by stabbing given that most people then as now were right-handed.
Assassination by stabbing is rare in modern work meetings, so positioning an opponent on your right side instead of allowing the normal opposite positioning to happen can be a useful tactic since this indicates confidence and strength.
In large gatherings of people or more, a 'top table' is often appropriate for the leader and guest speakers. While this seems like a throwback to more autocratic times, it is perfectly workable.
Therefore seating arrangements for large groups should provide a clear position of control for the chairperson or event leaders. I welcome refinements and additions to this section. It is also seen as respectful practice. Incidentally on this point, sideways head-shaking of this sort is not a vigorous twisting movement; it is usually more of a sideways tilting of the head from one side to the other.
This point thanks R Fox concerns eye contact. Eye contact other than unwanted staring is generally regarded as a positive aspect of body language in Western cultures, which in this context typically refers to white European people and descendents. A specific difference regarding eye contact can be found in some black Caribbean cultures however, whereby young people tend to be instructed not look at someone eye to eye when being told off or disciplined.
When cultures meet obviously this provides potential for friction, given the 'Western' expectation in such situations, for example, "Look at me when I'm talking to you". In some Australian Aboriginal cultures, it is disrespectful to look an elder, or person of a rank above you, in the eyes. It is a sign of respect to drop your eyes, whereas in Western culture not meeting somebody's gaze is commonly considered to be a negative sign, indicating deceit, lying, lack of attention, lack of confidence, etc.
In Arab countries the thumbs-up gesture is rude. Feet are considered 'inferior' parts of the body compared with the dignity of the face. In Arab culture the left hand and right hands have religious connotations which generally dictate that the left hand is not used for touching for example shaking hands or eating.
Arab handshaking tends to be more frequent and less firm - on meeting and departing, even several times in the same day. The eyebrow flash may be considered rude or to carry sexual connotations in Japanese culture. Informal male-female touching is less common and can be considered improper in Japan. The American-style 'OK' sign - a circle made with thumb and index-finger with other fingers fanned or outstretched - is a rude gesture in some cultures, notably Latin America, Germany and the Middle East.
Beckoning gestures in Eastern cultures are commonly made with the palm down, whereas Western beckoning is generally palm up. In Japan the male bow is still commonly used, when the depth of the bow increases with the amount of respect shown, and is therefore a signal of relative status between two people.
In The Netherlands people touch the temple with the index finger in order to indicate someone or an action is smart or intelligent. Touching the forehead with the index finger means someone or an action is stupid or crazy. In Russia these meanings are reversed. I welcome refinements and additions for body language in other cultures. Of course lots of flirting, and more, goes on at work, but for the purposes of this article it's easier to keep the two situations separate.
There are some differences which can completely change the nature of a signal given in a sexual context. Sitting opposite someone is an example, which is confrontational at work, but is often intimate and enabling for sexual and romantic relationships: Personal space must also be considered in a different way in social-sexual situations compared to work and non-sexual situations: At work, the primary consideration is given to respecting the personal zones and not invading closer than the situation warrants.
In a sexual flirting context however, personal space becomes the arena for ritual and play, and within reason is more of a game than a set of fixed limits. Dancing is further example of how body language operates at a different level in sexual-social situations.
Different tolerances and tacit implied permissions apply. It's a ritual and a game which humans have played for thousands of years.
This is also known as the Hierarchy of Effects, since steps must be successfully completed in order to achieve the sale at the end. For example, nothing happens without first attracting attention, a point commonly ignored by people looking for a mate. The attention stage is even more critical in crowded and highly competitive environments such as nightclubs and dating websites. And while not technically part of body language, environment is a vital aspect of dating and mating. People seeking a mate are effectively marketing themselves.
Commonly people head to where everyone else goes - to nightclubs and dating websites - but crucially these environments are highly unsuitable markets for many people, for instance those not good at dancing, and those not good at writing and communicating online. Just as a business needs to find the best markets and ways of reaching its target audience, so in dating people can seek environments where they can best display their strengths and where relevant 'buyers' will be.
Females have very many more ways of attracting attention to themselves than males, and so are able to express interest and availability in far more ways than males tend to do. Female interest in males is relatively selective. Male interest in females is by comparison constant and indiscriminate. This is due fundamentally to human mating behaviour, evolved over many thousands of years, in which essentially women control the chase and the choice, and men respond primarily to female availability and permissions.
These differences in behaviour perhaps mainly exist because females produce one viable egg per month, about in a lifetime, whereas males make several hundred sperm every day. Do the math, as they say. As with interpreting body language generally, beware of concluding anything based on a single signal. Clusters of signals are more reliable. Foot pointing, knee pointing, and leg-crossing signals can all be due simply to comfort, rather than expressions of interest or sexual appeal.
Aside from the specific flirting and sexual attraction signs below, females also express interest using the general signalling explained in the earlier sections, e.
Here are the most common female flirting body language signals and meanings, according to experts on the subject:. Crowded environments distort the personal space rules, where implied permissions e. When employed flirtatiously, female leg crossing and uncrossing also has obvious sexual connotations and stimulates basic urges in males. Pouting displays various emotions, not always a sexual one, for example projection of the lower lip indicates upset.
An attraction pout looks more like the initial forming of a kiss. When considering body language in such detail, remember that males and females rely greatly on conversation and verbal communication to determine mutual attraction as soon as the situation allows. Body language in flirting can be significant in indicating a strong match, but just as easily can merely be an initial filtering stage which progresses no further because other infinitely variable personal or situational criteria on either or both sides are not met.
Also bear in mind that a lot of flirting happens for fun with no intention of proceeding to sexual or romantic attachment. The purpose of this page is chiefly to explain body language signals, not to explain human relationships. As stated earlier there are reasons for the relative sparseness of male signals compared to female flirting signals. Most men are interested perpetually in most women, and therefore male signals are generally designed to attract the attention of any females, rather than directed at one female in particular.
Male interest is basically always switched on and ready to respond to opportunity when female availability and interest are signalled and noticed. The most prevalent signals males use to announce their availability and attract female attention are summarised below.
Under many circumstances these might be categorised under the headings 'pathetic' or 'amusing'. The male of the species, despite a couple of million years of evolution, has yet to develop much subtle body language in this area. Answers on a postcard please. Tattoos have dramatically altered in society's perceptions in the past generation. Previously considered indicative of lower class, lower intellect, sailors, soldiers, builders, etc. Tattoos have been a significant part of human customs for thousands of years.
They are decorative, and also in evolutionary terms suggested strength and machismo, since the process of obtaining them was painful and even life-threatening. Certain females are attracted by tattoos on men, especially extensive markings. It's a drastic step to improve one's love life, but worthy of note, because the subject is not as simple and negative as traditionally regarded. Tattoos are significant attention-grabbers, and given the variety of subjects featured, also provide interesting talking points.
With the exception perhaps of pogo-ing and head-banging most dance styles replicate sexual movements - lots of rhythmic hip and leg work, contorted facial expressions, sweating and occasional grunting, etc.
For those blessed with a level of coordination dancing offers an effective way of attracting attention, especially in crowded competitive situations.
For the less rhythmic, the lesson is to find a different environment. The initial stages of a usually male-female sexual relationship are commonly represented as quite a structured process, summarised below. Flirting is a common modern term for the early stages of courtship, or the beginnings of extra-marital affairs, which is misleading since most flirting happens for fun and rarely progresses beyond non-sexual touching.
Significantly, women are said generally make the first move - by signalling interest through establishing eye contact, and then confusingly for men, looking away. The process can disintegrate at any moment, often before it begins, because most men are too interested in themselves or the bloody football on the pub telly to notice the eye contact. Where the process reaches past the first stage, here broadly is how it is said by body language experts to unfold:. A generation ago this process took a little longer than it does today.
Alcohol accelerates things even more. You'll see variations of the above sequence in body language books, and no doubt in real life too. Males tend to react to obvious signs of availability shown by females but miss many subtle signals. Females give lots of subtle signals, tend not to repeat them too often, and infer lack of interest in a male failing to respond. Although now rare in Western society bowing and curtseying are interesting because they illustrate the status and relationship aspects of body language, which are so significant in one-to-one situations.
Bending the upper body downwards towards another person or group is a signal of appreciation or subservience. The bow was in olden times a standard way for men to greet or acknowledge another person of perceived or officially higher status.
The bow is also a gesture of appreciation and thanks which survives in entertainment and performance. Male bowing traditionally varied from a modest nod of the head, to a very much more pronounced bend of the body from the hips. Depth of bend reflects depth of respect or appreciation. For added dramatic effect the feet may be moved tightly together. A very traditional Western bow involves a deeper bend combined with the normally right-leg pushing backwards or 'scraping' on the ground, hence the expression 'bowing and scraping'.
The effect can be augmented by the bower's hand pressing horizontally on the stomach, and the other arm extended, or sweeping extravagantly in a circular motion, made all the more dramatic if combined with removing a hat. Such behaviour is rare outside of Christmas pantomimes these days, however interestingly even in modern times you will see men slightly nodding their heads in an involuntary 'semi-bow' when meeting a person and wishing to show respect or admiration.
As such, the small nod or bow of a head can be a clue to perceived seniority in relationships. Bowing has long been more significant and complex in Eastern cultures, where the gesture carries a similar deferential meaning, albeit it within more formal protocols and traditions. The fundamental body language of bowing is rooted in showing subservience by lowering one's gaze and body, literally putting the bower at a lower level than the other person.
Bowing remains significant in Japanese culture. A curtsey is a bend of the knees, combined with a slight bow of the head, and sometimes a lifting of the skirt or dress at each side, at knee-height, by both hands. This skirt-lift dates from olden times when this prevented a long skirt from touching wet or muddy ground. The female curtsey gesture survives in traditional situations such as meeting royalty, or ending a stage or dance performance, in which you might see an older more flamboyant and deeper curtsey entailing one knee bending sideways and the other leg bending behind.
Curtseying has effectively now been replaced by handshaking, although as with male bowing it is possible sometimes to see small head bows by women when meeting and shaking hands with someone regarded as superior or important. Bowing and curtseying as conscious intentional gestures have effectively disappeared from Western behaviour, but importantly people's body language continues to give much smaller unconscious signals which can be linked to these old formal gestures and their meanings.
This is not an exhaustive collection of body language terminology - just a summary of the main and most interesting definitions. The posture is called the American leg cross because of its supposed popularity in the US compared to the UK, notably among males.
The word anthropology is from Greek anthropos meaning human being. Anthropology, like psychology and ethnology and ethology, is a science which over-arches the study of body language, and provides useful and for serious students, essential context for understanding the reasons and purposes of body language.
Anthropology has been studied one way or another for thousands of years and became established under that name in the s. The Human Genome project, which basically mapped the human genetic code started , completed in , and ongoing is probably the largest anthropological study ever performed.
Involuntary in the sense that it is virtually impossible to control these signals because they are controlled by the very basic part of the brain responsible for our most basic bodily functions.
Breathing rate is perhaps the exception, which while in many cases will speed as a physiological response to stress, can often be controlled and slowed or deepened given suitable conscious effort. Regarded as a signal of reluctance or readiness to depart. This is a widely used term in psychology and the effect arises very commonly in relationships and communications.
Conflicting body language signals can sometimes indicate this attitude or reaction in a person. Courtship in olden times broadly since the middle ages up until the mid-late s referred to quite formal steps of increasing familiarity between male and female, through to intimacy, perhaps with a little touching of hands or kissing, and lots of going out for walks and visits to the cinema or theatre, etc. Sex might not rear its scary head for weeks, months or years; and sometimes, especially if the female was from an elite or religiously obsessed family, not until the wedding night.
Nowadays 'courtship' is a much speedier affair and among modern young people can be started, fully consummated and effectively forgotten in a matter of minutes. The word erogenous derives from Eros, the Greek god of love Cupid is Roman , from which the word erotic also derives. Erogenous zones contain high concentration of nerve endings and are significant in flirting and sex. Aside from the obvious genital areas and bottoms and breasts, erogenous zones include necks, inner side of arms and wrists, armpits and lips.
Incidentally the G in G-spot is named after Ernst Grafenberg a German-born gynaecological doctor and scientist who as well as being an expert on the female orgasm, was first to invent and commercially market a IUD intrauterine device or coil for female birth control. Ethnology is a branch of anthropology, concerned with ethnic effects, and where this involves behaviour it certainly relates to body language. The word ethnology is derived from Greek ethnos meaning nation.
The modern study and awareness of ethnology is arguably hampered by sensitivities around racism. Ethnic differences between people obviously exist, and ironically where over-sensitivity to racism and equality obstructs debate, society's understanding of these issues remains clouded and confused. The word ethology first appeared in English in the late s, derived from the Greek word ethos meaning character or disposition.
Ethology became properly established during the early s. Austrian zoologist and Nobel Prizewinner Konrad Lorenz was a founding figure. Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape, is an ethologist. So is the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Charles Darwin's work pioneered much ethological thinking. An eyebrow flash can therefore also be a signal of positive interest.
The word haptics in this sense entered the English language in the s, which indicates when human touch began to be a serious area of study. Hybrid expressions provide further emphasis of the need to avoid reading single signals. Combinations of signals and context are necessary, especially to make sense of hybrid expressions which contain different meanings. The word kinesics was first used in English in this sense in the s, from the Greek word kinesis, meaning motion.
The word labial in phonetics means closure or part closure of the mouth, and additionally refers to the resulting vowel sounds produced, like w, oo, etc. When a person's signals are mirrored the unconscious mind thinks, "This person is like me and agrees with the way I am. Join an casual interest group. You can meet casual swingers. Find a hot gay date. Meet sexy single lesbians.