Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Your Body Talk; We Dance to the Tune of Our Thoughts, and Our Body Language Gives Us Away, Says Tina Bexson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Let Your Body Talk; We Dance to the Tune of Our Thoughts, and Our Body Language Gives Us Away, Says Tina Bexson

Article excerpt


WHAT does it mean when Emily uses an open palm gesture every time she gives you advice, when Sarah never smiles with her mouth open, or when Rufus can't conduct an interview without spreading his legs 10 miles apart? And what about you?

Why do you always end your excellent presentations with a shrug of the shoulders?

Body language. It's been around since Adam and Eve, but it's complicated stuff, and invariably lets us down by revealing our true selves, often at the most crucial of times.

"The mind's terror of the body has probably driven more men mad than ever could be counted," lamented DH Lawrence. How right he was.

However, once mastered, we can all use body language to get the message across in exactly the way we want to. What's more, it can satisfy our voracious appetites of wanting to understand other people, specifically their hidden agendas, especially at work. It's all getting horribly fashionable.

Problem is, it's far from being an exact science and can quite easily go horribly wrong. Still, there's a plethora of self-help books offering tips and advice. Just tread carefully.

According to Geoff Ribbens and Richard Thompson in Understanding Body Language in a Week, our gestures, postures and tone of voice account for a staggering 90 per cent of the real messages we communicate. "We dance to the tune of our thoughts," Thompson perceives.

"But it's often unconscious, so we need to become aware of why we do what we do before we can perform better, accurately spot the behaviour in others, and respond to it more appropriately.

"And women", he adds, "are far more superior in interpreting and learning body language than men, who think in a linear, logical way.

Women are more intuitive. They are much more likely to spot if their boss is suffering from stress or if someone is trying to deceive them."

OK, so we are better at reading our bosses, but what if our boss is a right bastard? Top Australian body language expert Allan Pease says it's important not to show you feel uncertain when being addressed or addressing your boss.

"You need to look confident so don't stand there wringing your hands.

Instead, place your hands in a steeple position, but not by your chin as that can look too aggressive. Hold them down on your lap."

But what can you do with male bosses who try to use their bodies to intimidate? "Well one thing that bugs the hell out of women is crotch display," says Pease, "when their bosses recline in their seats, hands behind their head, and legs spread wide apart. Don't bother mirroring him, and don't look as though you are buttoning yourself up by crossing your legs and arms.

Instead, when he puts it all on display, don't talk to his face, talk to his crotch. …

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