Friday, December 31, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 49: The Straight-Legged X

Celebrity Maria Lane is shown here in the "Straight-Legged X" position.  This is a signal that her intention is to stay where she's at - but that there is also a closed or stand-offish emotional state.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Romance Secret # 17 & 35:
Palm Contact & Affection and Smiling on Demand

Although it is largely a posed photograph, there are components of spontaneity here. Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton are shown in an embrace - and the detail to notice is the amount of contact. William's  arms and hands are in full contact, including palms - indicating significant and deep affection. When love wanes, there is less and less contact. Eventually the palms will rarely touch the other's body- just the finger tips will make contact. Not so here. Kate's palm on William's chest signifies "ownership" and passionate feelings as well. 

On a slightly different note however, William needs to work on his smile.  Remember - a true smile doesn't expose the lower teeth. The corners of his mouth of the Prince's mouth are pulled out to the sides instead of primarily upwards as Kate so nicely demonstrates. In his defense though, he has had to "smile on demand" his whole life and such exposure makes it tough to summon up a true, felt smile on command. His father, Prince Charles, also has this flaw to his "social smile".


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leadership Secret # 34: Avoiding Low Confidence Displays

LeAnn Rimes and Ty Pennington are shown here at the recent 44th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee presenting the Song of the Year Award.  Ms. Rimes demonstrates a "cluster" of low confidence signs in this photo. Of course, no lady should stand with her legs too far apart, but when they're too close together - regardless of your gender - it transmits strong signals of low confidence.

Ms. Rimes' hands are grasping the envelope with the winner's name enclosed inside - but when anyone holds an object or their clasped hands (or both) in front of their privates, it is a strong sign of low confidence.  Too many "leaders" - or those in leadership positions who fancy themselves leaders - adopt this low confidence stance.  The larger the object used in this subconscious blocking maneuver, the lower their comfort level. Holding ones hands or an object in such a fashion also pulls the shoulders forward in a hunched over fashion - and although Ms. Rimes is doing a pretty good job at minimizing this hunching - contrast this against Ty Pennington's posture with his arms and hands in back with his shoulders drawn back.

LeAnn also is tilting her head down - in this context it is another sign of low confidence, low comfort and vulnerability - as it protects the vulnerable neck.  Seek to have the bottom of your chin parallel with the floor - this is a neutral position. Lastly, Ms. Rimes is looking downwards with her eyes - which is often seen coupled with the downward tilted head and in times of sadness, vulnerability and low confidence.

As you become more accomplished in the Science and art of Body Language - you'll be able to see several gestures/signs at once - these are known as "gesture clusters" and when several congruent ones are seen together - your accuracy in interpretation will dramatically increase.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 33: Assessing their Derrière

Matt Cardle, who is the winner of the most recent TV singing competition on the X Factor, flirts with an unknown woman in the Lobby of a Hotel in London.  Whenever we walk away from another, out of a room, down a hall or across the street - they around us will check out our butts. This happens largely on an unconscious level and is more scrutinizing when it involves the opposite sex. Women are aware of this phenomenon more than men - although it's still occurs mostly subconsciously. Did you ever notice that before a woman gets out of her car, walks into a store/restaurant or stands up at a meeting - regardless of her size or shape, she straightens her clothes, particularly those covering her derrière? In both men and women, the size and shape of the buttocks are indicative of overall health and vitality - and thus the potential as a mate - and this biology is hardwired into our brains.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 12:
Subtle Anger with Disrespect/Mistrust/Dislike

Camilla Belle is shown here in what the photograph caption was originally labeled as "...relaxed as she has a business meeting..." at The Grove in West Los Angeles.  This may have indeed been a business meeting, but her emotional state is certainly not relaxed. In this photo she is angry and does not like and does not believe the man she is meeting with. 

The gorgeous actress does a pretty good impression - at least in her eyes - of Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western.  This is not the kind of "squinting" or eyelid closure seen with a sincere smile - rather this is consistent with anger.  In addition, while Ms. Belle's eyes are gazing (laterally) at the man with whom she's meeting - her head and body are pointed away from him. We don't look directly at those we don't like, trust or respect. Moreover, Camilla's mid-face is tightened and her mouth is down-turned at the corners. While anyone can spot anger and dislike in the extreme, we should all endeavor to detect these emotions in their subtlest forms. How much are you missing?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 16: Deception Detection DJ's Daughter

Amber Stevens, daughter of Shadoe Stevens, is shown here scratching her philtrum (the medial
cleft which runs from the center-bottom of the nose to the central-upper lip). This is an example
of an "Adaptor" which is highly correlative with hearing a lie. Her head is tilted down and her
body and face are oblique to whomever she is looking at. We don't face/look directly at those
who we don't trust or don't like. She is at a public gathering and since she enjoys some celebrity
status, Ms. Stevens sports a pretty good "social smile". Except for her social smile though,
Amber is displaying a gesture cluster consistent with  anxiety at the time of this photo - and there's
a pretty good chance that she believes she's just heard a lie.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leadership Secret # 17:
The Only Time for the Politicians' Double Hander

Politicians are well known for their "Double-Hander" handshakes, in which they will sandwich your right hand with both of their's.  The Double-hander is universally received as negative - interpreted as "inappropriately friendly" at best - and patronizing and condescending by most - yet many people, especially politicians continue to use it.  However there is one occasion to use the double-hander - it's one of two ways to counter an overly-dominant handshake.

Here, United States President, Barack Obama was briefly in the dominant handshake position in two ways - a moment before this photo was taken.  First, he is on the left side of the photo. This is considered dominant because his hand will be closer to the crowd (and cameras), much more visible and thus perceived to be "on top" even if it's in the neutral/vertical position.  Additionally, Mr. Obama has maneuvered his hand to be even more dominant by rotating his arm inwards (clockwise from Obama's point-of-view) & thus his hand is on top of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's hand. This is easy for a taller man to do - for his height affords greater leverage.  Mr. Singh is left with two ways to counter this double-dominant handshake - he has chosen the simplest - by "sandwiching" Mr. Obama's right hand between both of his.

Like a game on the playground though, Mr. Obama further counters Mr. Singh's sandwiching using the last counter-move remaining - to put his left hand on Prime Minister Singh's upper back/right shoulder region - which he does here. Although it would have been a bit more dominant if Obama's hand was on the top/front of Singh's shoulder - so that the audience could visualize his fingers/hands (and Singh would feel more patronized) - Obama nuances the narrow grey zone of not being "overly-alpha" and thus builds rapport.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relationship Secret # 26: Empathizing with Dexter

Michael C. Hall holds his upper abdomen/lower chest a day after he announced his breakup with wife and co-star Jennifer Carpenter.  When a person holds his abdomen or chest, particularly when the palm makes contact, not just the fingertips - this can be a sign of major emotional distress.  There is also subtle contracture of his central, lower forehead - which is also a significant sign of distress. We can all empathize with feeling similar emotions "in the pit of our stomachs".

It's interesting to note that usually there is a correlation between how recent and sudden the event is (not necessarily the severity) and how high a person touches - covering the chest is more significant than the abdomen - progressing to the neck, mouth and even eyes.  A notable exception to this is seen in pregnant women - they will instinctively protect their child and cover their lower belly. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 45: Faith Hill's Inward Lip Roll

Faith Hill gives us a beautiful demonstration of an Inward Lip Roll (ILR).  Here she is attending the
ceremony for Gwenyth Paltrow receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The inward
lip roll is a nonverbal sign of increased anxiety and stress. It often has a component of anger or sadness. 
This body language signals that the emotional brain is attempting to down-regulate the negative emotion.
The lips are an extremely sensitive tissue and touching one or both with the hand/fingers, tongue, teeth
or other lip is an example of a manipulator/adaptor/pacifier.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Negotiation and Dating Secret # 111:
The Great Phone Tell

There's no diplomatic way to say this, but those who hold their cell phones with their elbows high and straight out to their sides have big egos (exceptions - see below). This is especially true when it's done in public and in crowds. It is a dominance display and it's rarely seen in women. It's typically seen in  alpha-males with narcissistic tendencies, however it can also be seen in beta-males when there are women in close proximity to whom there is an attraction or if he feels the need to project confidence (e.g. constructive or nonconstructive criticism of a subordinate). But in these circumstances, this nonverbal signal is only temporary. If it's seen consistently, then it's a very reliable sign of an "excessive alpha", narcissistic personality. All the ladies out there take note - when the man in your life holds the phone this way - always approach with caution. In the business world - this is a sign that he will probably be very difficult to deal with. Despite what he may say, he will be thinking, "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine." Come prepared with a strong plan B in your back pocket.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 11: Hips, Thighs, and Feet

Actress Kseniya Rappoport, on the far right of this photograph does not feel a kinship to the rest of the group or an individual in the group.  Our feet, legs and hips are often the most telling and honest parts of our bodies. The further we keep our lower body from other people, the less comfortable we are with them - whether it be professionally, platonically or romantically. When it comes to romance, this is a particularly telling sign - we only let our hips close to those we find sexually attractive. Ms. Rappoport's pigeon-toed feet are an additional signal of her discomfort.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Flirting and Romance Secret # 25: Hair Preening

When a woman adjusts her hair with her arms raised and thus her armpits exposed, it is a form of preening - she is attracted to someone in the vicinity and she's putting herself on display. Here Actress Valeria Golino is shown at the International Rome Film Festival.  This is a sexually provocative gesture that occurs at the edge of consciousness or entirely subconsciously.  Like many body language signals, in this context this maneuver occurs with the other gestures that are congruent.  These groups of gestures are known as "Gesture Clusters".  Here, the raising of the arms also puts the breasts on display as well as releasing pheromones / vomodors from the armpit. These chemical messengers act on the olfactory system to powerfully and subliminally attract lovers. This signal is not to be confused with other seemingly similar signals - manipulators, adaptors & pacifiers - which may also involve hair adjustment, but have completely different meanings.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Body Language Secret # 53: Charlie Rangel & The Puffer Fish

Here Charlie Rangel is shown at a press briefing after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure him. His expression displayed here is the "Puffer Fish". It's seen almost exclusively seen just before or more commonly  following a stressful event. I've seen great examples of this in surgeons after difficult surgeries, in athletes just  prior to their games/events, in students just before big exams and in attorneys before trial. Always remember, a person's words will often be incongruent with their body language. It is much more reliable to trust the nonverbal message over the spoken word.

If you see the Puffer Fish - you can be sure that a major stressful event is immediately anticipated (of which the outcome and expectation is generally known) or just has taken place. If the display of stress seems out of place with the event, this should raise a big red flag in your mind.

The Puffer Fish nonverbal is associated with a decreased in respiration, heart rate and blood pressure and it occurs during exhalation (although it may occur over several cycles of respiration). The Puffer Fish's purpose is to have a calming effect.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Negotiation Secret # 7:
Classic (partial) Fear Expression

This Arizona Cardinals fan is showing a classic fear expression in her mouth and neck in the fourth quarter of the game against the 49ers. Notice how this lady's mouth is stretched wide and downward - often with this classic arch. The muscles beneath the lower lip become bunched-up - giving the appearance of a protruding chin. Her neck muscles (platysma) are also tightly contracted. This is not a full-on fear expression however, since her eyes show little involvement. With more pronounced fear, her eyes would be opened very wide - what I call "White and Wide". Notice also that her hands are in a praying position - this is a very common emblem seen at sporting events - almost always at the end of the game/match. 

We tend to think of fear arising from a life threatening event or an extreme situation - which is of course very true - but it is also very common that fear is expressed over a more everyday event - like a football game or a business-related issue as long as there is significant emotional attachment. As with any emotion, the expression of fear may be prolonged or very fleeting. Fear is an extremely common microexpression - appearing for less than 0.5 of a second and as little as 0.04 of a second!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Business Body Language Secret # 33:
Thumbs Forward Arms Akimbo

When accessing or using the "Arms Akimbo" stance, it is very important to note whether the thumbs are facing forward or the fingers are forward as these two variations have dramatically different meanings. Here, Actor Zelda Williams - daughter of Robin Williams is show outside Las Palmas nightclub in Hollywood. When someone's thumbs facing forward, this indicates a supportive, friendly and inquisitive emotional tone (Navarro, Pease).  It is more common in women and very common among mothers gathered at the playground.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Confidence Secret # 19: Don't Talk to Me

Jason Statham is a tough guy, an action hero actor, so I wouldn't want to tell this to his face, but walking with your hands in your pockets is like flashing a neon sign of low confidence and disengagement. A lot of men do this in public when they're not in familiar surroundings or they're not with familiar people.