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Friday, April 17, 2009

Body Language – Posture, Gestures and Stance

When reading body language you need to look at the whole person and the complete picture. Just because someone has his arms crossed it does not necessarily mean he is hostile. If his arms and legs are crossed and he is perhaps scowling or keeping his distance by sitting back in his seat then the complete picture tells you this person is aggressive or hostile and is not going to cooperate.

I recall a course I was running. A woman was sitting at the table with her head in her hands. Did she have a headache, or a hangover perhaps? Or was she hostile? From her body language and the situation I deemed that she was on the course under sufferance and that by withdrawing her eye contact, and her complete facial expressions, she was saying ‘I don’t want any part in this’; ‘I am not going to cooperate’.

So I started by asking her a question, which meant that she had to look up and give me eye contact. I could then begin to engage with her. After several more exchanges, and as the course progressed, she confessed that she hadn’t wanted to come on the course but that she was now enjoying it. A victory indeed!