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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.

Inside an 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 its face and other follows or matches up with it mechanically without thinking about 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 (USA) coined a scientific term called as Isopraxis 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 runs 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.

Related Articles:
1) Like attracts like 2) Making true friends 3) Secret behind imitation 4) Secondary Attraction 5) Facial Feedback: World smiles with you!

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 a 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.

Unlike rest of the subconscious body language cues, ettiqute need to learned by oneself or taughed by others consciously.

Perhaps, you may find yourself and many persons following all of these etiquette already since years.

Related Articles:
1) Secret of Metropolitan nervousness 2) Workspace Etiquette 3) Proxemics 4) Online Etiquette

Basic Emotional Expressions

When it comes to talking about body language, facial expressions come first because our eyes pick the muscular movements given away by the face on which they're located. Paying attention to the face and facial experssion is obvious due to the peculiar location of eyes. We pay a lot of our attention to the way our entire face move its muscles.

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

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

Don't forget to watch below YouTube video of Dr. Paul Ekman himself talking about the emotions - their 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, eyes stay focused or averted, blinking goes up, 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 go up, face becomes faint, throat gets dry and saliva’s swallowed, torso lowers, stomach gets pulled inside, whole body starts sweating and shivering, hands appear muffling the mouth to suppress scream, body hides itself behind something and feet gets ready to flee.

2) Anger: It’s a state of preparing to retaliate, oppose or punish somebody. 

Whole body is tightened or bluffed to appear bigger and hostile.

Eyes get wide open, body temperature starts rising, eyes stay focused, short darts move all over target, neck gets stiff, face and eyes turn red, shoulders spread wide, torso elevates, chest puffs, nostrils flare, respiration soars, pulse jumps, lips get tightly closed or opened, teeth get exhibited, vocal tone becomes fierce, feasts get clenched, arms get crossed over chest or rest on hips, 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 a person or an object.

Torso and face turn away, eyes become faint, heartbeats drop, gaze becomes more fleeting than fixated, mouth gets opened on either side, 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 the source of disgust away.

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

Posture doesn't remain stiff, responses dampen, neck hangs loose or tilts side way down, hands support neck or cover face, shoulders come closer, respiration rate drops, eyes hover around own body, eyes barely open, lower lip pushes over upper lip, edges of mouth curl down, palms clamp together and rest on lap or hid in pocket, vocal tone becomes dull - heavy and sluggish, sounds like “Hmm”, “Whoosh” expel from mouth.

5) Surprise: It’s a state of hyper 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, 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 message of excitement, open and outgoing or sharing temperament.

Body raises upwards, footsteps appear flying, movements become energetic, 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 are 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 exhibition of self-evaluated superiority i. e. assumption about oneself as better than the other (in some areas) or an utter dislike.

Unlike other six basic expressions, contempt is expressed consciously or thoughtfully and mostly on face.

Eyes are narrowed, lips tightly press together, either edge of mouth gets pulled upward appearing like an asymmetrical smile, sound like "Hhhhh" rapidly expels from mouth.

Either or both edges of lips deeply pinched inside cheeks is also an expression of contempt.

Related Articles:
1) Survival of communicator 2) "Nonverbal" is alien way of communication? 3) "The expression of emotions in man and animals" 4) Evolution of Nonverbal communication 5) Emotional expressions are manipulated 6) Emotional Intelligence and success 7) Women are body language experts8) Genius of acting 9) Observation is the key 11) Body Language Brain 12) Common Facial Expressions 13) Common Hand Gestures 14) Fear Factor 15) Indian Classical Dances 16) Is learning micro expression really useful? 17) Botox hampers emotional awareness 18) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints 19) Should leaders show emotions? 20) Blind Sight is enough to pick emotions 21) Basic responses in stressful situations

November 13, 2010

Why we wave hands at others?

We wave hand(s) to friends, fans, guests, neighbors, colleagues and relatives while 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 a few lovely words with smiles on their faces while confronting us or going away. Why waving hands to make us and others feel better? Why we have become so habitual of it?

Hand wave simply serves very a basic purpose that makes us social animals by exhibiting our disarmed, non-hostile and friendly intentions. By holding open palms with stretched fingers up above and visible to others silently conveys "Feel completely safe from me! I'm not holding any arm or weapon".

If somebody who knows you well is going away from you or departing the shared physical space then the very first thing that might lurk in the person's unconscious mind is if you're going to luanch an attack from behind or a distance by using your hands with the help of an arm or a weapon of some kind.

Waving hand isn't as formal like shaking hand. The social ritual of hand shake is like a treaty of ensuring mutual disarmament and willingness to connect
by touching each other mutually whereas a hand wave communicates harmlessness from a distance.

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

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...".

A hand wave or waving hand (or palm) is one of most valued body language rituals in the whole world so this short article is meant to discuss about in details.

Related Articles
1) What is hand shake? 2) Why we smile? 3) Why we hug? 4) Positive Body Language 5) Woman's Courtship Body Language (Part 1) 6) Making true friends

November 07, 2010

What hand shake conveys about person?

In modern world, hand shake has become an integral part of our social lives. There are different kinds of hand shakes that are exercised consciously and unconsciously by us, across the globe. Let’s try to decode what they convey unconsciously about the person's nature who is involved in shaking hand with you.

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 private. Such person 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) SKIPPER 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 some genuine reason to skip handshake and rush for other tasks.

You would most likely 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 an 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 such as 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.

A hand shake or hand shaking is one of most valued body language rituals in the whole world so this short article is meant to discuss about in details.

Related Articles:
1) What is hand shake? 2) Retaining positive impression of hand shake 3) Why we hug? 4) Why we smile? 5) The Power of Handshake