The Body Language Rules

BOOK: The Body Language Rules
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Jud i James

Copyright � 2009 by Judi James Cover and internal design � 2009 by Sourcebooks, Inc. Cover design by Christopher Tobias Cover images � Junophoto/Getty Images Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Source- books, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems--except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews--without permission in writ- ing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative infor- mation in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the under- standing that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.--From a Declaration of Principles Jointly Adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. Sour- cebooks, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor in this book.

Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410 (630) 961-3900 Fax: (630) 961-2168

Originally published as The Body Language Bible in England in 2008.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data James, Judi.

[Body language Bible]

Body language rules : a savvy guide to understanding who's flirting, who's faking, and who's really interested / Judi James.

p. cm.

Originally published under title: The body language Bible, by Ver- million in 2008.

1. Body language. 2. Body image. I. Title.

BF637.N66J35 2009



Printed and bound in the United States of America.

CHG 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 To my mother, Renee Sale

Con TenTs

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii

Part One: Body Language Basics

Chapter 1: How Body Language Works . . . . . . . . . . 3

Chapter 2: From Monkey to Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Part Two: Practical Body Language

Chapter 3: How to Make Your Body Language

Work for You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Chapter 4: A Beginner's Guide to Posture . . . . . . 59

Chapter 5: Gestures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Chapter 6: A Beginner's Guide to

Your Hand Gestures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Chapter 7: Facial Expressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

Chapter 8: Touch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Part Three: Using Body Language in the Real World

Chapter 9: Dating and Mating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

Chapter 10: Dealing with Friends and Relatives . . 203

Part Four: Body Language and Business

Chapter 11: Getting on Board: The Skills of

Recruitment and Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

Chapter 12: Bodytalk in the Workplace . . . . . . . 255

Chapter 13: Killer Occasions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309

Chapter 14: Reading Other People

in the Workplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373

Body Language Dictionary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375

About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 395

TRodu CTion



ody language is the most fluent, lyrical, revealing, and

significant form of communication . As an off-shoot of the psychology of human behavior, it is intriguing, exciting, fascinating, and fun--and yet ultimately frustrating . As a communication skill your body language accounts for over 50 percent of the perceived impact of all your face-to-face messages and so you underestimate its power and influence at your peril . By creating and defining your own body language, and therefore your own image, you will avoid allowing others to perceive you in a way that will have more to do with assumption and misunderstanding than real skills and abilities . However, body language is also a much misunderstood subject and a lot of the current advice on the subject is drivel . By using terms like body language "tells" and analyzing gestures in a simplistic, comic-book style along the lines of "scratching your nose means you're lying," many viii T he B O Dy LA ng U A ge R U Le S

psychologists, TV magicians, and experts have done a lot to mislead the public, therefore damaging what should be primarily an instinctive, sometimes random, but never- theless revealing process .

Do you believe that crossing your arms means you're defensive? Or that someone stroking their hair must be flirting with you? Then you've been reading the wrong books, because the fact is that body language is not a precise science . Tempting though it is to claim otherwise, any one gesture can be interpreted in several different ways, just as words can have several meanings . Crossing your arms could mean you feel anxious or angry--or simply that the room's too cold . Arm folding can be performed to signal displeasure or cut-off but it is also what's called a discovered action, something we do just because it feels comfortable . Nose touching could show you're covering your mouth to conceal a lie, but it could just as easily mean you've got an itchy nose . Some gestures are inborn, meaning you do them out of instinct and have very little control over them .

To understand words we have to place them into the context of a sentence, and it's just the same with body language gestures, except the sentence is formed by all your other movements and signals . This is why I wrote this book . When I'm training or speaking at conferences one of the most frequently asked questions is what one gesture or another means, as though my studies and experience I n T R O D UcT I O n ix

have endowed me with an almost mystical ability to read people's minds by a single movement or roll of the eyes . Easy and tempting though it would be to go along with this misconception, I have to admit that it's just not that simple . So here are the facts:

I your own body language signals release thousands of subtle

and subconscious signals about you as you speak .

I your signals can be responsible for success or failure at any

stage of your career, social life, or sex life .

I you are probably unaware of most of your signals .

I your body language messages are seen by others as a more honest

and reliable expression of your thoughts and feelings than your words .

When your words are at odds with your gestures it's

your gestures that will be seen as the truth .

I By learning about your own signals and then working to improve

them you will enhance your effect and image .

I By studying others' body language signals and increasing your

visual perceptions you will find it easier to understand the

emotions and thoughts behind their words .

I Look for "clues" or what are called cues, not "tells ." This

means taking each movement and gesture and then

evaluating it in the context of other movements,

not isolating them in a "one size fits all" way .

I By reading other people you will enhance your understanding

of them, getting 100 percent more value out of all your

face-to-face communications . x T he B O Dy LA ng U A ge R U Le S

I The good news is that we're all experts on body language . You

read it all the time, and you have since you were

fifteen minutes old . By spending some time studying

or even rediscovering this very basic of human skills

you'll be tapping into what was always intended to

be an essential part of our social evolution .

I spend a vast part of my career making body language more accessible and even fun, and I love applying it to politicians, royals, celebrities, and--of course--Big Brother housemates . All these characters place huge emphasis on selling the "right" image to the public and it's educa- tional--and fun--to probe and analyze to discover what might really be going on behind the scenes .

However, making a subject accessible shouldn't mean it gets diluted into a few misleading "facts" and "truisms" that risk damaging, rather than enhancing, a super- effective communication process .

By seeing body language in a one-dimensional way we risk placing it in the same category as pseudo-scientific and ultimately unsubstantiated theories such as astrology . Unlike astrology, though, I can prove to you that body language works . How? Look at any other animal . Humans are the only animals to communicate through the medium of words . The rest of the animal kingdom manages very well on what are primarily nonverbal signals . I recently I n T R O D UcT I O n xi

spent several hours watching apes communicating with one another; I saw how the efficiency of their communi- cation linked directly to their survival . Watching a female ape bonding with an abandoned baby ape via submission signals, stage-by-stage touch, and some periods of complete back-off reminded me just how much we lost when we learned to talk . Words might have made human commu- nication easier but they have also made it much harder for us to understand one another, especially where emotions are concerned . And yet many of the ape gestures still have their counterparts in your "human ape" communications .

yOUR ImAge AnD PeRSOnAL mARkeTIng PROceSSeS Your image is important--probably even more important than you realize--and your body language is a vital component in creating that image and therefore selling yourself . We exist in an image-conscious and image- compliant society where looking the best wins hands down over being the best . Is this fair? Probably not, but it's still a fact of life . As the Internet, texts, and emails have created a vast, unmanageable silo of dead commu- nication so we've come to realize that we're increasingly reliant on visual signals and cues to deliver the real story behind all the spin and hype . This rabid distrust and need for endorsement or proof of honesty is a syndrome I've identified as "show, don't tell ." In any key situation, from xii T he B O Dy LA ng U A ge R U Le S

recruitment selection to picking a prime minister, we're increasingly drawn toward using the evidence of our eyes over that of our ears . Ideally the "show" should come from deeds rather than body image, but another symptom of modern life is that we live in what's called the cult of competitive busyness . Put bluntly, we don't have enough hours in the day to make measured decisions about people or their talents based on what they do or what they've done in the past .

BIg BUSIneSS The image you project is especially vital to your job . Do you ever feel invisible or see your voice, ideas, and potential getting lost because your communications fail to meet their target audience? Communication frustration is a common business disease, which is why using your body language as a tool to get ahead is more important than ever before . When no one is listening to your words, why not let your body do the talking for you?

We always hear that size isn't important, yet when it comes to modern business it's nevertheless king . Companies rate size as a measure of success and are therefore expanding like never before . When I train managers I'm often asked how they can spot signs of stress or conflict in their teams . The problem they have is that their teams are so large they rarely get to see them, except I n T R O D UcT I O n xiii

when they have time to walk the job or when they have a crisis meeting .

To get on in big business then, you have to first get the attention of the people who count and then present yourself positively and as quickly as possible, often in short sharp bites . For many workers this has led to an ongoing sales-pitch culture with the articles on sale being the workers themselves . Self-marketing is currently a popular corporate subject while "keeping your head down and doing your job well" is not .

gUT ReAcTIOnS How often do you hear people relying on "gut reaction" to make important decisions about other people? Sounds random? Many psychologists argue that your "gut reactions" are really decisions based on the assimilations of a whole raft of complex visual information that you have read subconsciously . Even people pitching for the top jobs have to be aware of it .

Gordon Brown's first keynote pitch for the role of prime minister came a few days after Tony Blair announced the date he'd be stepping down . Brown was at great pains to emphasize that he wouldn't be a celebrity politician concerned with spin and image . Yet as he spoke it was obvious to anyone that he was sporting a new hairdo, a whiter-looking smile, and a suspiciously well-cut suit . xiv T he B O Dy LA ng U A ge R U Le S

The core story in the press the next day centered on the fact that his autocue was positioned in a way to obscure his face . He still moved into Number 10 Downing Street, where the British prime minister lives, but I bet those are errors he won't be making again!

Your image counts, then, probably more than ever before . Get it wrong and your hidden talents could go unrecognized and unrewarded . Get your image right, though, and you'll increase your status, pulling power and promotion prospects .

But The Body Language Rules isn't just about your image alone . Much of the book is devoted to the skill of under- standing others . By studying the psychology of your own communication you'll also obtain a clearer understanding of the ways that people around you transmit and receive nonverbal messages, learning to read between the lines of everyday communication, giving you a clear psycho- logical advantage in any situation .

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