Can You Identify The Host From The Guests?

I propose the following exercise to show you how we internalize these non-verbal signs and use it in everyday life.

Apply your body language skills, and try to identify the host from the guests in the male group of friends in this funny and popular Heineken Commercial.

Were you able to? Leave me your comments!

What does he do different than the rest that even when he does not say anything, you know he is the owner of that closet?


Shoulder & Body Language

Shoulders Is Where Sensitivity Lies

Our shoulders are a good spot to look for non verbal cues. They are very flexible and visible and they are moved by an emotionally sensitive muscle (the upper trapezius) which makes them highly sensitive.

Whether we dress them or leave them naked, or even the way we dress them will convey different meanings.

Because they are different from feminine shoulders, the display of shoulders in men, robust and thicker, may be motivated by male competition or the desire to appear masculine especially in courtship.

Women may display their shoulder’s slenderness with the same courtship intentions, as a sign of their feminine attributes.

Both men and women unconsciously square our shoulders conveying dominance when we stand tall in an aggressive and dominant attitude. We are preparing for an “attack” and we want to appear stronger and bigger.

As we often carry tension in our shoulders, if we want to make sure if a person is relaxed or tense, we should pay attention to his shoulders: someone who is truly relaxed will have their shoulders held low.

Another important interpretation of the shoulder position is during conversation. In order to tell is someone is really interested or involved in the dialogue taking place, look at his shoulders. If they are facing the interlocutor, then he is focused in the conversation. If, instead, the shoulders are turning away in a different direction, that probably means he wants to leave and his attention is on something else.

Finally there is the typical shoulder-shrug position. It commonly shows helplessness, resignation and or uncertainty. However, in a courtship context it may be used to suggest harmless intent, submission and friendliness in order to build rapport and invite physical approach.


Love After Lunch?

Why do we like to have lunch together?

If you are at work and in the early stages of courtship, lunch is a good way to go.

Scientists support the idea that in courtship scenarios getting together over a meal is a very good idea as it reduces our anxiety: our parasympathetic nervous system switches to rest-and-digest.

On the other hand, sharing lunch offers a great excuse for couples to sit together and have a light conversation while they are allowed to get a bit distracted by what they are eating. Eating together is less stressful than conversing without the shared focus of utensils, food, and drink.

Because lunch takes place during the day this provides a good venue for the early exchange of love signals providing a relaxed and calm environment.

Sharing lunch also makes us feel alike because we are “doing the same thing." When we share an activity with somebody our bond gets stronger and it contributes to building rapport. This is specially powerful in courtship. “Mimicking the postures and movements of others facilitates interaction and increases liking.” (Chartrand and Bargh 1999)

Office rituals inevitably involve eating and drinking together. Food consumption non verbally brings co-workers and staff closer together. It is a good team building activity.

Reference: The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, signs & Body Language Cues, By David B. Givens, © 2002 (Spokane, Washington: Center for Nonverbal Studies Press)


How We Express Dominance Through our Tone

People Unconsciously Adapt To Each Other's Voice Tones

It is widely known that when two people are conversing it is likely that they will copy each other´s body posture. This is the mirror effect. We mirror the other person in order to build rapport. We do this uncounsiously and it may denote that we like them (this not only applies to romantic love). This habit to mirror our interlocutor, also influences our tone of voice.

According to Kent State University researchers Stanford W. Gregory, Jr. and Stephen Webster, people unconsciously adapt to each other's voice tones (a phenomenon studied by students of "communication accommodation theory").

The manner in which we talk, rhythm, breathiness, hoarseness, or loudness may be affected by our speaking partner.

Out tone of voice reflects psychological arousal, emotion, and mood. It may also carry social information, as in a sarcastic, superior, or submissive manner of speaking.

In order to express dominance, we lower our tone: "The more threatened or aggressive an animal becomes, the lower and harsher its voice turns--thus, the bigger it seems" (Hopson 1980:83).


Touchy Situations

Touching Can Be Powerful

Many studies have been conducted to establish different patterns and their meanings when it comes to touching.

Touching is highly powerful to human beings. Touch can express different emotions such as comfort, courtship, anger or can be used to establish personal rapport.

In fact, it is through touching that we first communicate with the world. Before we are even born, we can hear the heartbeat of our mother pounding agains us rhythmicly.

Touching Helps Us Develop Emotionally and Mentally

It is believed that our first tactile experiences are important in helping our mental and emotional developing. Children that have received less afection through touching have taken longer to learn to talk and walk.

Self-touching, on the other hand is often seen in anxious or tense settings. It may be a way of self conoslation by means of self-stimulation.

It is common to see an anxious kid sucking his thumb or playing with his hair. As adults, we learn to refreain ourseleves from openly touching us but still do it unconsciously in situations where we find ourselves tense or restless. We may also play with our hair or pretend we are rearraging our clothes. We may even be caressing a part of our body such as arms, legs or tammy. Instead of a caress, we may disguise it as “scratching”.

Reference: Mark L. Knapp, Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Body Language

He speaketh not; and yet there lies. A conversation in his eyes.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Hanging of the Crane


Body Language at a Job Interview - How to use your body language to give a good impression

How to use your body language to give a good impression

Good qualities that you should try to communicate through your body language at a job interview are: confidence, humor, interest, professionalism and friendliness. How do you do this?

Confidence: you should give a good and assertive handshake. Extend your arm confidently to your interview. Hold his/her hand firmly. Remember to smile and make eye contact at the same time. Walk confidently into and out of the room. Use your hands (do not overact this) while you are talking. This will communicate confidence and active demeanor.

Use a natural tone of voice. Speak clearly and slowly. This will also contribute to your overall confidence appearance.

Humor: you should smile from time to time. It is ok to make an appropriate joke if the opportunity arises. One that has worked for me in the past is, when asked “would your colleagues consider you an open minded person?” I replied “mmm I think we should ask them” and then I continue to respond seriously.

Interest: avoid yawning or looking away while you are being interviewed. Sit upright or lean forward a little. It is important that you feel comfortable in your posture. This will help you look relaxed and will make more your interviewer feel more at ease. Nod your head to show that you are paying attention and that you understand.

Bearing in mind all these tips, will help you perform better. Remember, you interviewee will be paying special attention to these details. Be prepared!


Shakespeare - Body Language

"Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters."

- William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.5


Cantonese Proverb - Body Language

"Watch out for the man whose stomach doesn't move when he laughs."


Ralph Waldo Emerson - Body Language

"The eyes of men converse as much as their tongues, with the advantage that the ocular dialect needs no dictionary, but is understood the world over."


Skills Determined by the Color of Your Eyes

Self-pacing versus Reactive Skills

In his book "Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction", the internationally known Professor Mark L. Knapp, quotes an interesting study performed by Morgan Worthy regarding how the color of your eyes may determine some of your motor skills.

His main thesis was that both animals and humans with dark eyes specialized in the ability to make quick reactions to visual or auditory stimuli. The dark eyed are described as more "spontaneous and emotionally reactive". On the other hand, light eyed animals had more visual sensitivity (as opposed to acutivity) and showed a hunting/escape strategy of "wait - freeze - stalk".

Dark eyes are not superior to light eyes, as the author cautions, nor is the converse of that true. Neither can reactivity or nonreactivity be considered as superior in any absolute sense.

Reference: Morgan Worthy, Eye Colour, Sex, and Race: Keys To Human Behavior & Mark L. Knapp, Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction.


Normal Blinking vs Blinking when we are Anxious

We normally blink between 6 or 7 times per mintue. Blinking can increase up to 100 times per minute when we are anxious.


Why do we blink when we are anxious?

Several studies confirm that blinking increases when we are feeling anxious. But why do we do that?

According to psichiatrists this may be some way in which we try to isolate from reality. Blinking can increase from 6 or 7 blinks per minute (which is consider normal) up to 100 times per minute.


Edward Sapir - Body Language

Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.


Sherlock Holmes - Body Language

"By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs -- by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable."

From "The Book of Life", an article by Holmes quoted in "A Study in Scarlet"


Dominance, Body Language and Thumbs

Expressing Dominance through Body Language

People in groups use their bodies to express their knowledge and agreement on who has the higher and lower hierarchical status.

The Display of Thumbs

The display of Thumbs is characteristic of domineering body language.
The thumbs convey ego and strengh of character. They are used to express supremacy, dominance or agression.

We can see them standing out of their pockets while the rest of the hand remains in the pockets. They may also stand up in a position where both arms are folded on the chest.

Typical situations where men may display thumbs and other domineering body language are in the presence of women (courtship) or in groups where they need to express their higher status: at work (a manager in the presence of subordinates) or with friends or family.

Other signs of dominance that may appear are: controlling the conversation by interrupting others and/or taking long pauses to answer making others wait, taking a lot of personal space with the body posture (e.g. with the hands on the hips and the elbows open to the sides), freely touching others and staring at others demanding attention.

These gestures are not exclusive of men. Dominant women also use them.

Reference: Allan Pease, Body Language, How to Read Other’s Thoughts by Their Gestures, Sheldon Press, 1981.


Hands Clenched Together

Hands clenched together is a typical frustration gesture. People with their hands in this position evidence a frustrated and hostiel attitude.

This gesture normally appears in four main postions: hands clenched in front of the face, hands resting on the desk, (if seated) hands resting on the lap and (if standing up) hands resting in front of the crotch.

Remember that signs come in clusters and therefore you should look for other signs of discomfort in order to make sure you are making a correct interpretation. These signs might be: nervous movements, blinking, looking away, crossed arms, stiff spine.

Reference: Allan Pease, Body Language, How to Read Other’s Thoughts by Their Gestures, Sheldon Press, 1981.


The Truth About Lying - The Pinocchio Response and other Myths Unveiled

• When we lie, our nose becomes enlarged as in the popular fictional tale.

TRUE: when we lie, our body releases a particular hormone in response to stress and this triggers our nasal tissues to swell. This is known as the Pinocchio Response as the nose becomes slightly enlarged due to the increased blood pressure.

• As in a dictionary, each and every gesture has a meaning associated. If you learn the meanings individually, you will be able to read a person like a book.

FALSE: gestures come and must be interpreted in clusters. An isolated gesture does not reveal a unique message and it may be misinterpreted.

• When people lie, they do not look you in the eye.

FALSE: Though this may be true for some cases, some liars will look you straight in the eye when trying to deceive you. It is important to focus on the intensity of the action and to compare this to their usual behavior.

• Deceivers tend to cover their mouths with their hand or touch their faces as a subconscious instruction from the brain to prevent them from lying.

TRUE: Our brain has a natural tendency to tell the truth. Lying involves a decision where we inhibit a truthful response and produce a deceitful one. Our frontal lobe puts out a lot more effort to disguise a lie than to tell the truth.

• A fake smile is held longer than a genuine smile.

TRUE: real smiles may last from one to five seconds. Fake smiles may last up to 20 seconds. They also disappear abruptly whereas the real ones do this gradually. Fake smiles are also less likely to be symmetrical.

• It is easier to spot signs of deceptive behavior in our lower part of the body than in the upper part.

TRUE: Movements of the feet, toes and legs are more likely to escape the mental control of the brain. The further from the head, the harder for the brain to act the lie.

Any other myth that you would like unveiled? Please leave your question or comment below. Thank you.


Kuhnke, Elizabeth (2007). Body Language For Dummies
Givens, David B. (2002). Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues


Non verbal language represents 90% of what we communicate

This statistic was confirmed by the reknown psichologist Albert Mehrabian.

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