First of all I would like to thank all of you for the feedback on my previous body language related entries.
It’s my intention to give you an A to Z overview of gestures and signs that might influence the public perception of your thoughts and actions. Here are the entries listed under A:
I’ll comment briefly on the arm cross feedback. Laurie says she crosses her arms when she is cold. Laurie is right: many people do cross their arms when they are cold.
So I have to underline: do not “read” gestures outside a context. Each particular gesture might be followed by other signals, which will help you evaluate the meaning of the body language correctly.
Erica crosses her arms to feel comfortable. She describes this as a “loose arm-cross”. There’s nothing wrong with that when you are alone, but…
Crossed arms (whether loose to make you feel comfortable, or tight in an aggressive posture) can be detrimental. In class, in a business meeting, in front of the media, at a job interview, and in any other similar circumstances, your credibility might be dramatic reduced if you cross your arms. The ones perceiving it, not the ones sending it, define the meaning of a gesture. What’s comfortable to you might be seen as unwillingness to communicate by others. As long as you’ll keep your arms crossed, you’ll send out negative signals.
We’ve reached B and I start with a very common body attitude with many different connotations, depending, as any other body language signal, on circumstances and body pose: bending away.
Why Do People Bend Away?
This is obviously a negative body posture. When people bend their bodies away from yours, you are dealing with a rejection signal. People bend away to increase the physical distance between you and them for many reasons (fear might be one of them).
Did you notice that sometimes when you go too close to other people, they lean back, trying to increase their personal space? This means that you do not respect the acceptable distance for these people and your proximity will make them nervous and defensive. Take discretely a step back and keep on smiling, to show your dialogue partner that “you come in peace”.
If you watch a talk show on television (preferably a politic show for the purpose of this “research”) you’ll notice that many politicians bend their bodies with a twisting movement to the side while sitting, turning away from their opponents in the middle of a dispute. This is how the body expresses the disagreement upon a certain topic. No one needs words in such a situation.
When people bend to the side but still face their opponents, this body posture might have different meanings: boredom, discomfort or a “waiting” pose (they are not convinced yet).
No matter how you look at it, the bending away position sends out negative messages and it would be really better if you didn’t use it.
“Our upper body unwittingly squares-up, addresses and aims at those we like, admire and agree with, but angles away (bends away) from disliked persons and people with whom we disagree.” – Albert Mehrabian.
Today I am not going to give you any other recommendations except… visit my Amazon store if you’d like to purchase body-language related books.