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December 01, 2010

Cognitive clues from eyeball movements

During face-to-face conversation, you’ll find other person glancing (i.e. rolling eye balls) in certain directions while answering to queries. Even you may find yourself doing the same unconsciously, only if keen attention is paid.

If you or the other person is right handed then following would the interpretation of each directional glance if asked query was “What’s your favorite food?” for example. Each mode of information processing has been verbally represented.

A) Visual Memory Recall: “What was that looking like? Was that colored red o green? Was that looking like noodles? Was that decorated? Where I ate it first time?” 

B) Auditory Memory Recall: “What was name of it? Who cooked it for me? With whom I ate it?” 

C) Self Dialogue: “What I really like? Why can’t I remember my favorite food item? Is the query going too personal?”  

D) Visual Construction: “How would he/she respond if I tell her my favorite food item as Burger? What will make him/her happy as an answer?”  

E) Auditory Construction: “What would he/she say if I don’t answer query right now? How would it sound if I say ‘I like donuts…but not so much’?” 

F) Kinesthetic: Glancing in this direction means person’s checking his/her feelings, emotions and sensations while being queried. You may find person glancing in same direction after asking him/her like “What if we walk to nearby restaurant and enjoy coffee?” or "Are you interested in continental cuisine?".

Let me be clear that these are general interpretations. Eye movements might differ ethnicity, culture and society wise across the globe. Only close observation and proper querying can help in disclosing true clues they give away.

For the left handed person, direction of glance might be reverse for same information processing.

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November 28, 2010

Why we copy each other's body language?

We walk in restaurant or cafe and spot a couple sitting in corner, intimately gazing towards each other and resonating facial expressions. In a bar, two friends stand next to of each other adapting same postures. In a local park, briskly walking senior citizens match their pace with each other along.

In office, two close colleagues defend each other with quite identical gesticulations in front of their superior. Unconsciously, one person adapts posture, gesticulates or expresses emotion on face and other follows or matches up with it.

Copying or matching with through body language of others is called as Mirroring or Movement Synchronization. Prof. Dr. David B. Givens (Director of Center of Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, United States of America) coined a scientific term called as ISOPREXIMCS for this unique behavior.

It’s quite interesting to know the secret behind it that is deeply rooted inside our brain. Mirror Neurons in premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, primary somatosensory cortex, and the inferior parietal cortex allows us to observe, empathize, and imitate other person. Even mirror neurons induce same emotions and feelings in our mind sighting other person or group if we have certain degree of attachment with.

Unconsciously, we like the persons who moves, behaves or expresses alike ourselves. We feel safe and nurtured when other person complements us, shares our distress and delights and makes us feel better about ourselves. After all, it’s about forming relationship and staying in it. Mirroring is evident to uniform feeling, understanding, thinking, planning and persuasion.

Mirroring run deep in society, from an early age. You may find children are quite quick and smart in mirroring their parents for venting their anger and win favor or attention. Dancing, singing, playing instruments, walking together in a large group and exercising in synchrony creates mesmerizing and dramatic effects.

Especially during courtship, most women are found or can be observed mirroring and copying body language of the men they want to form or have formed a relationship with. They unconsciously convey that they are in agreement and accord with the men of their interest.
Not only humans but animals and birds also do mirror each other to form strong bonding among themselves. In fact, secret behind mirroring in human has been discovered after doing research on monkeys since they share identical genetic profile with us.

Do watch an interesting presentation delivered by Prof. Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran (Professor of Behavioral Neurology and Psychoanalysis, University of California, United States of America) at TED on discovery and function of Mirror Neurons.

However, the conscious mirroring is good for convincing or sympathizing only in appropriate situations and at proper degree. It’s not useful if the initiating person becomes aware of it and express distress. Please read these interesting conclusions by a researcher at University of California, San Diego.

November 21, 2010

Elevator Etiquette

It’s human nature to feel intimidated or uneasy in proximity of strangers. Until we don’t know their intentions and motives, we tend to struggle for keep safer distance from them. Also, even if we know others, we respect their private spaces and let them feel more comfortable and express intimacy only when it's acceptable or allowed in the given situation.
Basically, there are only reasons to invade or intrude the personal and intimate zones i. e. either to attack and harm somebody or to get intimate with somebody. Hence, lesser the physical distance remains between any two individuals, more both of them expect non-offense, courtesy and carefulness. Otherwise, they try to fight or run away (flight) for their own safety.

Like commuting by public transport vehicle, we share a very limited amount of space inside elevators and more often we encounter strangers at a very close distance.

Following things would not lead us to any unwelcoming situation or embarrassment:

1) Don’t call anybody by their names, share jokes or touch them. Don’t use any sign language that other may not interpret.

2) Don’t talk until its emergency. Don’t gesticulate, laugh or make any kind of facial expressions or noise if possible.

3) Maintain straight posture and don’t lean at anybody. Don’t appreciate or show any intimacy towards person you know.

4) Don’t look at anybody and keep your gaze straight and upward. You may look at the floor counter or simply mimic reading magazine or newspaper only if it doesn’t touch with body of others.

5) Keep your voice low if you need to attend call on cell phone.

6) Don’t hurry to get out of elevator until you don’t stand close to exit door. You may simply request others to make way to it.

7) Keep baggage in your hands hanging and don’t juggle with it.

8) Kindly request others to push button if it's out of your reach.

9) To cut this icy situation, you may simply address everybody by line “It’s nice day today.” very decently. Seasonal and festival greetings are just great!

10) While existing elevator, saying “Good bye”, “Have a great day” with hand wave and decent smile would certainly help dwellers feel nice.

Perhaps, you may find yourself and many persons following these etiquette unconsciously.

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Basic Emotional Expressions

According to renowned American psychologist Prof. Dr. Paul Ekman, seven basic emotions are widely experienced in different human cultures across the planet. Expressing emotions is not required to be taught. It's an autonomous process and we all inherit it from our common ancestors.

Apart of seven basic emotions, all other emotions (and their expressions) can be classified under a particular emotion or as a combination of different emotions. For example, aggressiveness is closely related with anger whereas nervousness is combination of fear and sadness.

Do watch YouTube video of Dr. Paul Ekman talking about emotions - evolution, purpose and sensory stimulus.

1) Fear: It’s a state of preparing to run away from imagined or actual warning or danger. 

Eyebrows tensely get curled, shoulders fall down, neck gets stiff, gaze get focused or redirected, eyes get widely open to let more light pass to retina, mouth opens wide to let more air pass to lungs, vocal tone trembles, respiration soars, heartbeats goes up, face faints, throat dries and saliva’s swallowed, torso lowers, stomach gets pulled inside, whole body starts sweating and shivering, hands appear muffling mouth to suppress scream, body hides itself behind something and feet gets ready to flee.

2) Anger: It’s a state of preparing to threaten, retaliate or punish somebody. Whole body is provoked, tightened or bluffed to appear bigger and hostile.

Eyes get wide open signaling to target of being caught and to warn inhibiting its activities, body temperature starts rising, gaze gets more fixated and short darts move all over target, eyelids bat faster, neck gets stiff or tilts either side, face and eyes turn red, shoulders become broad, torso elevates, chest puffs, nostrils balloon, respiration soars, pulse jumps, lips get tightly closed or opened, teeth get exhibited, vocal tone gets fierce, arms get crossed over chest or rest on hips and feet get firmly grounded and separated apart to prepare for attack.

3) Disgust: It’s a state of exhibiting loathe or lack of interest about person, situation or object.

Torso and face gets disoriented, eyes faint, heartbeat drops, gaze becomes more fleeting than fixated, mouth gets opened on either side with displaying teeth, lips curl down, lower lips push out, tongue protrudes, nostrils pull upward, breath exhales briskly, throat clearing sound generates, sounds like “Yuck”, “Whack”, “Ooom” expel from mouth, vocal tone gets dull, hands push or hold disgusting thing away.

4) Sadness: It’s a state of disapproval or exhaustion to make person appear in  demand of others' attention and support.

Posture loosens, back hunches, responses dampen, neck hangs or tilts side way down, hands support neck or cover face, shoulders lower, respiration rate drops, gaze gets hovering around own body, eyes barely open, lower lips rides over upper, edges of mouth curl down, palms clamp together and rest on lap or hid in pocket, vocal tone get dull - heavy and sluggish, sounds like “Hmm”, “Whoosh” expel from mouth.

5) Surprise: It’s a state of curiosity and great attention being paid to object, person, situation or phenomenon that is unexpected, inexperienced or takes place suddenly.

Eyes get wide open to let more light pass to retina, eyebrows raise, neck remains straight or tilts backward, mouth gets wide open and lips get rounded, hair raise, jaw drops, vocal tone accentuates, sounds like “Wow”, “Ohh” expel from mouth, torso gets raised, hands are kept in ready position, whole body faces and points partially or fully towards the source of surprise.

6) Happiness: It’s a state of expressing and enjoying some kind of achievement, benefit, fulfillment or victory. Whole body starts sending messages of excitement, friendliness, open and outgoing - sharing temperament.

Posture elevates, footsteps appear flying, movements become energetic - wavy - swiveling, facial muscles get relaxed, mouth opens, edges of mouth curl upward, teeth get partially or fully exhibited, eyes glitter, gaze remains more upward or ahead and away from body, palms gets open and held upward, hands get separated and raised shoulder high or above, vocal tone gets crunchy - chirpy - sweet, sound like “Ha…Ha...Ha...”, “Hurray…” “Ho...Ho…”, “Hey...Hey...”, “Yeah”, “Yippee…”, “Yee Haw” expels from mouth.

7) Contempt: It's an expression of superiority or utter dislike. Unlike other six basic expressions, contempt is expressed consciously - thoughtfully and mostly on face. 

Narrowed eyes, lips tightly press together and either edge of mouth gets pulled upward appearing like an asymmetrical smile. Often, sound like "Hhhhh" rapidly expels from mouth. Both edges of mouth deeply pinched inside cheeks is also an expression of contempt.

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November 13, 2010

Why we wave hands at others?

We wave hand(s) to friends, fans, guests, neighbors, colleagues, & relatives with saying “Hi”, “See You”, “Bye”, “Good Bye”, “Meet you”, “Miss you” or “Take care” etc. Sometimes words can’t reach due to distance barrier but mere hand wave works.

We feel better when we watch others waving their hands with dear words and smile on faces while confronting or going away. Why we have become so habitual of it? Why waving hands to make us and others feel better?

Hand wave has very basic purpose that makes us social by exhibiting our disarmed and friendly state. By holding open palms with stretched fingers visible to others silently conveys "Feel safe from me! I'm not holding any arm or weapon".

Waving hand isn't as formal like hand shake. Ritual of hand shake's like treaty of ensuring mutual disarmament and willingness to connect whereas hand wave goes beyond formality.

It has become social and casual practice of showing off openness, friendliness and harmless intentions. More affectionate and intimate hand wave silently says "Don't forget me...", "I care for you..." or "Come again...".

It’s natural tendency to get attracted to thing that moves or flutters. In same context, hand wave becomes attention seeker while we say “Hey” or “Hello” aloud. It can convey “Do you see me?" or "I’m here.”. Other person may respond by waving hands reciprocating “Yes, I see you.” or "I'm coming to you."

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November 07, 2010

What hand shake conveys about person?

Hand shake has become an integral part of our social life. There are different kinds of hand shakes that are exercised consciously and unconsciously by us, across the globe. Let’s see what they convey unconsciously about person's nature.

1) CRUSHER hand shake: Palm is gripped too hard so it squeezes and starts paining. Ultimately, fingertips get faint due to low supply of blood. Person exercising it can be too dominating, egoistic, and careless of sentiments. Women receiving this hand shake would definitely hinder further exchange. Persons working as labor, porter or mechanic may exercise it.

2) ISOLATION hand shake: Person exercising this hands hake doesn’t lean towards other person and doesn’t bend his hand at elbow. Person exercising this hand shake may not be social and often stays isolated or safe. Such person might might have some reservations and deserves more favorable conditions or needs understanding to let him/her to interact socially.

3) DEAD FISH hand shake: When enough grip is not felt by fingers, palm doesn’t fully contact and wrist’s kept loose then it seems like someone has given dead fish in your hand. Person exercising it might be lacking enthusiasm, passion and confidence. Such person would be hardly trusted and needs a moral boost.

4) SKIPPING hand shake: When only fingers of other person touches to your palm then it seems that person wants to avoid full contact of palms and is in hurry. Person exercising it might be not paying enough attention to you or not serious about relationship or refraining it. In some cases, person might have genuine reason to skip handshake and rush for other tasks.

You would receive such hand shake from surgeons, craftsmen or performing artists because they protect their fingers from being hurt. Also, women or religious leaders may offer this hand shake as part of custom.

5) DOMED PALM hand shake: When palm of other person doesn’t exert enough pressure on yours and it appears to be curved inside then that person may want to not maintain rapport with you willfully. Striking positive communication from your side could alter person's perceptions about you.

6) SLAPPING hand shake: When other person exercises a hand shake in a way that his/her palm slaps or strikes to yours; it appears that person's making impression. Such person underrates himself/herself (compared to you) and wants fake domination. Such person need to have self-esteem and faith in himself/herself.
7) PALM UP/DOWN hand shake: When palm of other person faces downward (palm down) then it simply expresses desire of controlling the relationship whereas palm facing upwards (palm up) expresses desire of letting you control it. Such kind of handshakes is offered to maintain hierarchy or favoritism. This handshake should be avoided to motivate equality.

8) INVADER hand shake: When person pushes hand much inside (stab) or pulls your hand out (grab) of invisible interpersonal boundary then it’s quite obvious that person is unaware of comfortable social distance. Such person should undergo immediate consultation.

9) HANDCUFF hand shake: When hand of other person covers over union of palms then it becomes the handcuff. Person exercising it wants to gain or express sympathy and fulfill personal interest. Most politicians offer this kind of handshake during election campaigns or meeting thus it's less trustworthy. 

It can be exercised in exceptional case like at the time of condolence or while passing deep gratitude informally.

10) HYGIENIC hand shake: When person suddenly withdraws hand right after palms come into contact then it suggests that the person wants to avoid any kind of infection caused by physical contact or proximity. Such person may not want to communicate (at given time) with you spontaneously due to some personal differences or insecure feelings. Also, kids may exercise it with strangers.

11) CLOSE UP hand shake: When person exercises a hands hake by keeping keeping hand in front of chest, bringing torso and face much closer then it becomes very personal and intimate. This kind of handshake’s only acceptable among women, children, elders - children, close relatives and couples closely. Politicians and bureaucrats might exercise it to ensure trustworthiness looking into eyes.

October 30, 2010

Retaining positive impression of hand shake

We've seen how a good and positive hand shake is exercised. It's time to know that which things need to be avoided to retain positive impression that hand shake builds. Avoidable things mentioned below negatively affect the very basic purpose of this ritual - expression of openness, cooperativeness, enthusiasm, and harmless state. Charge yourself with faith and self-esteem before engaging in hand shake.

Do not touch, scratch, pinch or rub any parts of your own body; it could invite irritation from other side. If you engage in hand shake first time with other person, it's very important not to touch his/her body parts also. Don't put free hand in pockets or hold it behind your back because it communicates lack of enthusiasm or suspicion.

Don't exercise hand shake with gloves put on as much as possible. Don't put free hand on hips; it's sign of domination. Don't point at any direction by free hand; it communicates disorientation.

Don't point by fingers at person engaged in hand shaking, it's invading. Don't keep any objects between you and other person like chair, table, file, folder, cup, mug etc. Don't shake hand over the walls, roofs or partitions if possible. Don't look downward or upward after a hand shake.

Simply give brief glance at the eye level to either side and return gaze to other person with smile. Don't cross hands over chest after a hand shake. Exchange some good words with open and empty palm of other hand facing upwards.

Most important thing is not to exercise hand shake every now and then during interaction or while being introduced. It simply communicates that you're imposing yourself on the other person or want to get more out of the deal.

In few cultures, it's permissible to exercise a hand shake frequently. Almost globally, hand shake at the beginning and at the end of interaction is a normal practice. Generally, women don't offer a hand shake on their own in most societies and cultures.

After rapport between you and other person gets established, it's positive move to briefly touch his/her wrist, elbow or shoulder to express trust and to boost union.

This would help to reduce formality and to promote friendliness between individuals who are familiar with other. It should be exercised between equal ranking personals or should be offered seniors to sub-ordinates.

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Women are body language experts

Women are supposed to be better and faster than men in interpreting body language because of they have such extraordinary abilities and instinctive skills to do so in the first place. In short, women are the real body language experts and also they have accurate judgements about someone's character. They may not analyze each nonverbal clue separately like an analyst but they can sense or feel them together. While men try to interpret, women intuit or feel instinctively. They are good lie detectors. Why is it so in the first place?

Today's mechanized, industrialized and economically liberal environment existing world over is a recent achievement in the entire known human history. Before modernization and industrialization, most women remained dependent on their tribe's male members for safety, security and resource gathering throughout the millions of years of the human evolution. Most young males were protectors, hunters, fighters and foragers and most females were care-takers, socializers, farmers, cultivators, food preparers and preservers.
As it is an integral part of their physiology, women give birth to children. They face a great challenge of understanding every condition that babies are going through only by observing their facial expressions, gestures, postures, movements and voice (tone and pitch) since babies can't communicate verbally like an experienced, grown-up, learned or trained person. This very challenge has transformed them into the excellent care-takers. Higher level of Estrogen makes women emotionally intelligent and very sensitive to people's feelings.

Emotional interaction with babies is secret of social awareness.
Also, they resonate to baby's facial expressions and vocal tone to sympathize and create a  strong bond. They unconsciously use brain's both prefrontal hemispheres to process emotional and para-linguistic data. Understanding others and responding to them properly was crucial for survival and also to propagate (fitter) genes to next generations. Otherwise, what would have happened to the entire human race is just beyond our wildest imagination.

Tribal men used to resolve most of the issues, overcome their challenges and meet the demands by using muscles, getting physical, using tools and skills, fighting and competing. On the other hand, women chose an entirely opposite approach to resolve and overcome issues with harmonious, non-confrontational and non-harming solutions. That's why they are more expressive, sensitive, empathetic, verbally skilled, articulating and diplomatic than most men.

Men can become experts or at least better in reading body language like women, only with developing the habit of keen observation and accurately analyzing different clues in the given situation or circumstance. Developing the contextual awareness in different situations can help men in mastering people reading. The ability to empathize with others is required to become a good communicator.
(Special Note: According to Google Analytics, women share more than 60% of total visits to this website from September 2010. This numeric fact profoundly proves that women are more sensitive to social dynamics and reading people.)

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October 25, 2010

What is Hand shake?

Hand shake's almost a global ritual for establishing mutual confidence and faith with equality, cooperativeness, and friendliness. Handshake is an initiating gesture and more formal way of connecting with people and encouraging them for further interactions.

A hand shake can make or break the deal. Not offering or receiving it appropriately i.e. not considering kind of environment, gender, age, authority, mood of person could invite shame, rejection or hostility.

How an effective hand shake should be? Let's find out how it evolved in the first place in our body language's social repertoire to realize its importance in today's context.

Basically, hand shaking is to communicate the harmless state. As per a story, roman soldiers used to check each other by touching or running their fingers on wrists, forearms and elbows to ensure that they are not holding or hiding any arm or weapon.

Furthermore, holding and shaking hands together would let any blade or dagger fall to the ground. Isn't that interesting? Keep in mind that shaking hand is to let others know that you are approaching them friendly and want to connect.  

A positive and formal handshake is exercised by two  persons by standing upright, facing each other at comfortable distance, pointing feet towards each other, keeping neck straight and not stiff, smiling on face, meeting gaze, touching each others palm in vertical direction by firmly griping fingers over them and slowly moving hands up and down at least 2-3 times.

Emotional Intelligence and Success

We think that our materialist knowledge and skills to operate and handle many things would help us in achieving what we want in our life. Do you really think that this assumption is true? If it was the case then we might not have run in many issues in our lives related with emotions. We live in a world that is full of people with different interests, motives and orientations.

We can neither fight with nor surrender ourselves completely to others for getting successful but we can try to understand each other in terms of emotions and feelings.
Prof. Dr. Howard Gardner
It's not at all possible until an individual isn't capable of understanding its own emotions, feelings and motives to be able detect them in others. Howard Gardner (the founder of Multiple Intelligence theory) greatly emphasizes on emotional awareness. Success mostly depends upon how person precisely understand emotions and reacts appropriately i.e. whether person is emotionally intelligent or not.

Emotions are common and natural but traits and temperaments of an individual its destiny. Want to know your EQ (Emotional Quotient)? Take this test.

Traits like openness, ingenuity, tolerance, politeness, resilience, courage, diligence, determination, confidence, cooperativeness, compassion, competency, consistency, commitment, comfort level, maturity, self-esteem, strength, enthusiasm, trustworthiness, respectfulness, kindness, foreseeability and affection give clear insight of individual nature. In short, body language and nonverbal communication clues gives an idea abut an emotional character of a person.

We have an inherited ability to realize an emotional interplay at an unconsciously level even we don't emphasize or not paying enough attention to nonverbal clues we collect unconsciously.

All personal characteristics can only be judged through face-to-face interactions or deliberate observations but most of us don't pay much importance to same and ultimately invite many troubles.

Until we don't realize great importance of emotional intelligence, we would keep body language clues undervalued.

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