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I Can Read You Like A Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People Are Really Sending With Their Body Language by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch

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As the title suggests a book about body language – one of the key things this outlines is to know and understand social norms for that individual. Understand cultural norms as well, these vary dramatically, take these all into account to help assess the current situation.

Outlines there isn’t one rule for everyone you very much need to understand an individual’s baseline behaviour. Then you can try to determine meaning of their behaviour by assessing deviations from this.

An example from book is to ask somebody where they want to be going on holiday, you may see you there eyes going in a certain direction. If then you ask them where they spent last Saturday night and the eyes then move in the same direction be cautious, it is as if they’re thinking of a fantasy to make something up rather than what actually happened!

In terms of anger people react differently depending on their gender (or the gender they mostly associate with). Men tend to become externally focused whereas women tend to become more inward and make very deliberate concise movements. In other words in “men, the direction manifests itself in physical displays of aggression, whether overt or masked. In women, this demonstration can simply be a sharpening of the wit or more feminine behaviour. The commonality is hyper-demonstrative gender behaviour. Women rarely fistfight—they “catfight” instead. Similar to cats, they pose and growl a lot, often with little contact other than the swipe of a claw.” States the reason is a relates to the size of the amygdala being larger in men than in women (note have not checked this, just outlining what book says).

Focus is either internal or external, it can be sharp or scattered. Focus may relate to something apparent to the outside world or something going on inside that individual’s head.

Anger: Energy high, direction sharp, focus external.

Confusion: Energy low, direction scattered, focus internal.

Distraction: Energy high, direction scattered, focus internal.

Excitement: Energy high, direction scattered, focus stimulus dependent.

Interest: Energy high, direction sharp, focus external.

Fear: Energy high, direction sharp, focus external.

Secretiveness: Energy low, direction sharp, focus external.

Embarrassment: Energy low; direction sharp, focus internal.

In terms of posture men generally have a higher point of balance than women who have a lower point of balance. Activities that you undertake can change this, so for example you do lots of exercise your posture may improve. Age also impacts on posture and tends to make men stoop more with lower point of gravity, making them appear more womanly. The book mentions this mainly so you can readily spot somebody who is doing an activity that they usually don’t undertake. Fro example congruent to the athlete’s physique you would expect exercises such as running to appear normal. Whereas if somebody is running who does minimal exercise their muscle memory has not developed and it can look rather bizarre.

Suggests a good place to spot people’s sense of energy is in an airport; you can tell those with a spring in the step are going on holiday where as those who are doing this more methodical are likely going on business. Only exception is perhaps an individual who has just started to travel for business who may have the spring in their step.

Book mentions a lot about culture and the relative differences between American culture and others, clearly it is important to take into account when reading people’s body language. Simply keep your eyes open and observe the culture of the place you are in. Book covers aspects of human behaviour and suggests, for example when trying to get your children to do household chores separate these tasks from their allowance. Otherwise you can encourage the completing household chores solely as a response to getting paid. Give them their allowance anyway, so they can learn to manage money.

There are different types of people each with different ways to interact with them:

The instigator; tries to influence things secretly behind the scenes can cause others mayhem but the instigator themselves tends to be free from harm. The best way to overcome an instigator is to get them to praise you ideally in a public open forum. Therefore they are change tactic and undermine you as they may appear foolish.

The Coalition builder; these people are often able to establish the best outcome and resolve arguments. Siding with this individual is the best way to manage them and try to get them to identify with your cause, which may not be easy. This means that then when they try to settle a discussion it would harm themselves if the outcome harmed your cause.

The influence peddler; person oversees many things and influences people. The way to to overcome them is to give body language of helplessness so they help you. Whilst doing so make them realise that you are the most important cog in the wheel so they need to keep attempting to influence you.

The advisor; people tend to go around giving advice to the alpha, for example a presidential adviser. In public you can’t really win in an argument with them, unless you can provoke the alpha enough to call them and the person they’re advising intervenes to help you win this argument. Best way is to divide and conquer, get them on their own without the people around that they are advising.

In meetings the importance of being quiet is stressed. If you are then able to listen to everybody’s points of views and summarise these succinctly, often dumbing down the technical language so all can understand it makes you appear as if you have a great knowledge on the subject.

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