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December 25, 2013

Blindsight is enough to pick emotions

While most of us take the acute visual awareness or ‘Conscious Vision’ for granted, there’re a few within us who can’t enjoy this privilege. They’ve perfectly normal eyes but they don’t have the same awareness of what is being seen at the moment. This unusual phenomenon is called as ‘Blindsight’ which is an unfortunate result of damage to Primary Visual Cortex (PVC), the rear/dorsal area of human brain which processes visual information gathered by eyes. However, this sight isn’t entirely ‘blind’ at all. Now, you mst be wondering - How it’s possible?

Actually, this so-called ‘Blindsight’ is much more watchful and judgmental than our conscious visual awareness or ‘Conscious Vision’. The persons suffering with blindsight subconsciously react to visual information being gathered by their eyes. They don’t consciously at all realize what is being seen but they unmistakably react to the incoming visuals by evaluating them subconsciously. They sense and react but they don’t realize what exactly they’ve seen. It’s as if they’ve an additional sense or 'Sixth Sense', apart from the five senses.

What if someone tells you that you don’t need to consciously look at the faces (of other persons) to pick emotions on them? Is it really possible for you and if yes then exactly HOW? Do only faces can express and convey different emotions? How to identify emotions if facial cues are not available? Is reading the mind possible only by looking at the rest of the body?

These are the few basic questions Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder (a renowned Cognitive Neuroscientist and Neurophysiologist) and her team has conducted an elaborate experiment at Tilburg University to find answers for. What they call this amazing (or “supernatural”) ability to pick emotions without clear visual clues is as ‘blindsight’ (?). It's really interesting!

Faces with emotional expressions

She conducted an elaborate scientific experiment in a lab with a numerous individuals (or subjects) having or suffering from blind sight or blind vision which is a phenomenon in which visual cortex in one hemisphere of brain gets damaged due to stroke which ultimately leads to the deficiency of conscious visual perception or clue collection.

(Affective) Blindsight or Blind Vision is the residual visual ability in the patients who has suffered damage to their primary visual cortex (V1, striate cortex). They react reliably to the emotional degree of stimuli presented to their blind visual fields but they cannot consciously report presence and properties of the stimuli.

Bodies expressing different emotions

Her team found that the patients responded unconsciously by moving or twitching muscles of their own faces to mimic the same emotions when different emotionally charged faces were shown to the eye of patients suffering from the blind sight or blind vision phenomenon. Movements and twitches of their facial muscles were recorded with sensors.

This is a revolutionary discovery about our brain's ability to pick emotions in others. Her work was published by Scientific American journal. Also, a short clip on the entirely experiment was broadcasted in the episode “Is there a Sixth Sense?” of the famous scientist documentary series called as “Through the wormhole”.

Please kindly watch the below clip (link: thoroughly to understand what she and her team tried to reveal or unearth circuits or parts inside our brain that help us to decode emotional clues on faces and bodies of others without conscious visual perception of them.

This so-called subconscious sight, secret sight, inner vision or 'Sixth Sense' works for normal persons too, including you. We quickly evaluate or judge emotional cues given by body language of others but we don’t consciously realize that we’ve already done it.

[#Special Note: Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder currently works in Maastricht University, Netherlands. She once had written an email to me about this site, commenting as “Very Interesting!”, when she was working in Tilburg University, Netherlands. Know more about her on Wikipedia.]

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints

December 15, 2013

Turtle Effect: Body response under threat

We all remember our good old childhood days and especially cheerful play time with our family and friends. Out of many amusing and thrilling activates that each of us might have had, tossing in air and catching back in repetition done by elders was mixed with excitement and fear. Even though the vertical distance a child is tossed at isn’t unsafe but definitely frightening for it.

Almost every child on this planet might have experienced the mixed feelings deep inside even though it couldn’t explain it into words. Still, that very mixed feeling thrills and amuses most of us in our at special occasions. In fact, we crave to face such occasions, only to get rid of boredom.

We like to get scared but obviously in a controlled situation and we’re ready to pay for same too. In fact, whole multimillionaire amusement industry has spread its roots over the planet by scaring and thrilling us only. Now, this same industry is looking forward to scare and amuse us above surface of earth.

I’m talking about the space tourism or zero-gravity experience that an individual other than astronauts could enjoy. I really don’t know the exact date I could (afford to) fly in the outer space but I always wanted to take similar kind of experience on the ground, if at at possible to me in my lifetime.

Recently, I got an opportunity to visit Adlabs Imagica which is an amusement park which is located near Khopoli (Mumbai, Maharashtra, India) and close to Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway. Coincidentally, my wife was with me to experience an enormous thrill of different rides and simulations.

By taking three different roller coaster rides, I could test my courage and also feel the thrill deep inside my gut. Almost everybody was screaming and shouting till each ride coming to an end. Even after trying harder, we couldn’t stop ourselves by doing so because body was in total control of an unconscious mind.

While coming down from high above, moving faster on banked curves and getting rolled in 360 degrees on the steel rail; our bodies were getting hurled, tossed, thrown and pushed abruptly in almost every direction continuously.

Many of us must have felt mild, moderate or strong tingling sensation inside stomach especially while looking down at steep slope from very highest points but suddenly realizing that we cannot escape from moving seat going down on same path.

Body’s quickest (within milliseconds) and natural reaction in this kind of situation is to protect itself from potential harm that might cause by falling down from above. Watch this video clip and experience what a rider might be feeling.

Even if we consciously know that we won’t fall off (of course, until protecting arrangement malfunctions) the seat, we tightly grip the straps, bars and railings to avoid falling. While going down deep from above or taking a dive, we unconsciously push our bodies towards the back of seat to minimize gravitational drag and retain center of gravity at its place as much as possible.

Most astounding thing we can easily observe or realize is that most riders on roller coaster or inside any threatening simulators pull all movable parts of body inside and towards torso (an upper body). It's an easily deteactable change in their overall body language.

This phenomenon is called as ‘Turtle Effect’ because a turtle does same in face of danger. It pulls all movable body parts (legs, tail and neck) inside its shell to avoid potentials injuries to them and thus increase chances of survival. We clearly know that we don’t carry any natural or artificial shell or armor like a turtle all the time and also we walk on two feet only.

Still, we protect our neck by raising both shoulder high as if they are about to touch ears. We clench our feasts and tug or keep our forearms close to our neck. We clasp our legs together, pull them towards abdomen, lock them at ankles and grip them tightly sometimes.

How this response might have evolved in us in the first place? It has evolved in us the same way we’ve evolved into humans from creatures. Our remotest ancestors didn’t roam on two feet (limbs) but four. In fact, they used to roam and forage inside oceans only with help of fins before evolving into land roaming quadrupedal (four limbed/legged) amphibians.

Please let me make it clear here that our remotest ancestors weren’t fishes but they were having overall philological features which were almost similar to a fish i. e. except the ability to breathe by nose.

Retreated Turtle
Vertebral and quadrupedal body structure i. e. ability to adapt different postures with the help of spine or backbone (vertebra connected in an elongated shape) and roam on limbs, ultimately led to development of rib-cage i. e. an astounding structure made up of bones to cover and protect different life supporting organs.

Still, stomach remained unprotected because of its functions like storing food, digesting it and exerting wastage. Since stomach needs to expand and contract in cycles, any solid structure or protection can hinder its normal functions.

In the face of any physical risk or an advance of a predator, only thing any vertebral and tetra-pedal creatures can do is to pull all moving body parts inside to provide protection to them and also to cover exposed stomach. Thus two great goals are met while defending most of the body and multiplying the chances of survival.

This strategy was further inherited by all descending species that evolved to roam on land and fly in the sky and climb on trees. As we evolved from the greater apes, we still adapt same defense tactics that was evolved before millions of years ago.

If you get an opportunity to ride a roller coaster or seat inside a scary and body shaking simulator, try to keep all your movable body parts in perfectly normal position. You may not because of unconscious suggestions you might get from deep inside.

Since we are not designed to fly and dive from tens and hundreds of feet like bird, our body tries to protect itself from falling on ground and getting hurt by either moving hands rapidly like a birds or getting itself pulled inside like a turtle.

[#Special Thanks to the world's leading, respected and critically proven Body Language expert, Nonverbal Communication pioneer and my Guru Sir Joe Navarro (retired special agent, Counter-Intelligence Supervisor and Spy-Catcher who served in FBI for 25 years) for coining term 'Turtle Effect'.]

Related Articles:
1) Fear Factor 2) Body Language Brain 3) The Body Seeking Comfort 4) Surprise vs Startle Reflex 5) Amygdala Hijack: Irrational Physical Reactions 6) Chicken and Egg Paradox

December 01, 2013

The couple in trouble?

When a man and a woman fall in love with each other, it speaks loudly through their body language. Love doesn't remain hidden or suppressed for a long time and shows up in one or other form. People start talking about them and different stories are shared or gossiped.

Eventually, we come to know that the couple has decided to live with each other together. Knot is tied between both of them and they are officially declared as a married couple publicly by performing some rituals and by giving a feast to the attendees.

Some couples may choose to stay in a short-term, a live-in relationship or an uncommitted 'venture' but still they have to make some adjustments. Relationship between a man and woman is natural and wonderful but it is also filled with many challenges, unforeseen incidents and uncertainties.

Though every romantic relation has a glorious and rosy beginning, not all stories progress ahead very pleasantly. Every couple experiences rough days, monotonousness or stagnation in their relationship but their mindset determines future of their relationship.

Those who give enough time to develop healthy and positive outlook towards each other, survive through rough patches and keep flourishing in unimagined ways. Developing a strong, healthy and respectful bond between two individuals takes a a lot of time.

However, not every person is the same when it comes to have patience, manage negative impulses and guide oneself into a right direction. When many things go beyond peaceful compromise, a couple starts moving into a disappointing stage i. e. separation.

Thinking about "What exactly went wrong?"

n daily routine, both men and women often get busy with their tasks at hands in such a way that they could hardly pay attention at each other. Traditionally, it’s the woman who starts filling unsafe when enough attention is not paid at her and some fruitful conversation doesn’t take place between a husband and wife. Sometimes, one partner starts drifting away and taking less interest into an existing relationship.

Many people, mostly men, get into a shock after coming to know that their partner is no longer enthusiastic in the relationship they both had set out for. Unlike flashy and telling courtship signs, a man and woman drift away from each other silently. Aren't there any expression, signs or clues, prior to separation?

Expression of Contempt
According to Prof. Dr. John Gottman (a psychologist well known for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction), a telling sign for a couple on verge of separation is not anger and sadness but contempt and disgust.

Unlike pair bonding facial expressions, gestures and maneuvers; contempt and disgust convey unconscious disrespect and dislike towards each other. Both emotional expressions silent convey the wish to stay away from each other. Both are distancing emotional expressions.

One partner may not realize that the other is expressing contempt and/or disgust during regular interaction but identifying these alarming emotions on face (and body) can help in saving a troubled relationship. Moreover, contempt and/or disgust are expressed not only by couples in rocking relationship but also by any two persons irrespective of their genders.

Expression of Disgust
Contempt can be a result of suppressed anger and/or heightened social status and desirability level of one or both partners. It can be readily observed in today’s liberal environment that allows both partners to climb professional, social, economical and materialistic heights with many potential partners in sight and in presence at their respective workplaces.

On the other hand, disgust simply means “I don’t want to or can't stay by your smell!”. It’s a state of utter dislike but not disagreement with the other person. Disgust is also related with the signature smell (pheromones) that body of one person produces and the another inhales it unconsciously. Pheromones play a greater role to play in romantic lives.

More often these two expressions are given away by one or both partners during every single face to face interaction and also while discussing about partner with some other person; more there are chances of their separation in (near) future.

Out of these two alarming expressions, women are more likely to express disgust and men are more likely to express contempt on their faces unconsciously. Women too can show contempt like men do.

Related Articles:
1) Courtship and Dance 2) Woman's Courtship Body Language (Part 1) 3) Woman's Courtship Body Language (Part 2) 4) Man's Courtship Body Language 5) Know Who is Attracted to You 6) The Look of Love? 7) Asymmetrical Smile but not Scorn

November 23, 2013

Body Language of Extreme Narcissist

Can you quickly spot an extremely narcissistic individual i. e. a grandiose, self-submerged, entitlement seeking, abusing, impulsive and exploiting individual, just by observing its body language and overall behavior? Both self-confessed and unidentified narcissists are all around us in a great number and you’re likely to face them at almost every location and in different situations throughout our lives. In fact, the modern age has provided a firm platform for the proliferation of narcissism like never before.

Like every other individual living with and around us in the same society, an extremely narcissistic individual too makes for living and struggles for survival. Then what’s so wrong with an extremely narcissistic individual after all? According to some psychology experts, narcissism is the final stop on the downward and steep slippery slope of psychopathy, social predation and criminality. Hence if you can't identify a narcissistic individual then you are most likely to face the consequences.

"I, ME, MINE and MYself!"

Everybody needs to sustain itself through adversities, challenges and dangers which is the fundamental necessity of every living and flourishing creature and not just human beings. Moreover, we all need to form different types of relations with different individuals for living, progressing and prospering. One needs to develop and posses self-love, self-respect and self-worth for the same. It gives us confidence, strength and social advantage.

Only thing is that a few of us are extremely self-loving and entitlement seeking individuals and this turns them into manipulators, controllers, serial liars, cheaters, scape-goaters and abusers. Principally, what every extremely narcissistic individual does most of time is attracting attention of others towards itself then ultimately impress, exploit, manipulate and control others for serving its own best interests.

Following are the body language clues given by extremely narcissistic individuals:

1) They come forth to shake their hands with you and say, “It was only me to encourage you from the beginning.”, “It has happened only because I accompany you.”, “It happened only because I greeted you in the beginning.”.

2) They try to attract attention of others and especially individuals of opposite gender in crowd by raising themselves above others or staying away from others.

3) Unlike open-ended and “away from body” gestures, they gesticulate in such way that their hands and palms face their own bodies most of the time.

4) They would raise their voice unnecessarily to make their presence felt without any hesitation about their contribution to the noise pollution.

5) They try to accentuate their presence and make maneuvers that saliently convey to others, “Hey, I’m here! Aren’t you looking at me?”.

6) They often express jealously in presence of those individuals who make them feel genuinely inferior, insecure and powerless.

7) They hardly show facial expressions that match with their words and actions while they appreciate, admire and praise others.

8) They invade your private and intimate space suddenly and remind that you didn’t treat them as per their own expectations.

9) They standout as magnets for the members of apposite genders and especially those with genuine low self-esteem.

10) They often express contempt in presence of those individuals whom they assume as inferior than themselves.

11) They look very charming, intelligent, smart, updated and tidy by their overall appearance and clothing.

12) They put on glossy or gleaming cloths and carry costly accessories so that people should praise them.

An extremely narcissistic individual tries to overrate oneself and creates a scene or a drama of having a great level of self-esteem which the individual completely lacks in the first place. If they're dating or courting somebody especially with lower self-esteem then they would try to manipulate them to spill out the words of appreciation, recognition and admiration about themselves.

""WHO else is BETTER than ME?"

Unlike extreme psychopaths, extreme extremely narcissistic individuals wouldn't pose any physical harm to others due their higher sense of guilt and remorse. However, they mentally torment, abuse and gaslight others at a great extent, leaving their victims in psychological pain throughout their lives. Also, narcissistic parents can give birth to psychopathic children.

Following are the overall behavioral characteristics, patterns and clues of extremely narcissistic individuals:

1) They show arrogance, stiffness and haughty behavior. They even ignore the existence or presence of those who boldly object/criticize their negative aspects.

2) They are preoccupied with fantasies and dreams about unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or an ideal love and thus they always try to pursue them.

3) They have an extravagant sense of self-importance. They try to exaggerate their qualities, skills and talents with expectations of recognition as superiors.

4) They lack the ability of recognizing and respecting feelings and needs of others. They form circles of underachievers around themselves and stand in their centers.

5) They exploit others to achieve or fulfill their own needs, goals and ambitions. They roam only with those who appreciate them or follow their instructions.

6) They have a very strong sense of entitlement i. e. unreasonable or extraordinary expectations for special treatment, care, attention and compliance.

7) They believe that they are “special” and unique hence can only be understood by or should associate only with other special individuals or institutions.

8) They are addicted to or involved in substance abuse. They may not be able to stay in a single (committed) relationship for a longer amount of time.

9) They have definite plans, strategies or agendas to stand out in the crowd without any considerable contributions to the community or the society.

10) They demand excessive and continuous admiration and appreciation. In fact, they seek every opportunity of getting admired and appreciated.

11) They look very charming and witty but they always try to make fun of the others. They greet as if they are doing great favor to the others.

12) Their relationships with others last as long as they satisfy their empty ego. They don't at all bother to disrespect others publicly.

13) They hardly make statements like “Didn’t I tell you that you could make it?” or “You had all necessary qualities and the potential!”.

14) They cannot control their own impulses or bad tempers. Also, they publicly cannot withstand any kind of criticism at all.

15) They often express extreme jealously towards the others but they claim that others are jealous of them on the contrary.

There are number of reasons that turn a tender, loving and easy going child into an extremely narcissistic or a noxic individual in the future who gives importance to itself and doesn't really care about others and their feeling and/or emotions. In fact, an extremely narcissistic individual is empty from inside that's why it creates a lot of noise outside.

Narcissistic individuals aren’t like psychopaths who have cruel intentions in their minds but actually they are victims of biological, genetic, psychological, environment and parenting factors that transform their fragile personalities in an ego-centrism, exactly like the prince (or princess) who falls in love with his (or her) own reflection in water and ultimately die by falling and drowning into it.

Could you believe that everybody, including you and me, possess certain level of narcissism or self-love? Actually, most of us are healthy narcissists but some individuals are beyond the normal or acceptable level of narcissism. However, the extreme narcissists are self-destructing individuals. They never can have a long-term, strong and deeper relationship with other individuals, including their own family members.

"Every psychopath is a (extreme) narcissist but not every (extreme) narcissist is a psychopath."
Clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula
(World leading expert on Narcissism)

According to experts, there are five main types of narcissism i. e. overt, covert, communal, antagonistic and malignant narcissism. Actually, an extremely narcissistic individual isn’t a subject to punish but actually the individual needs a great amount of counselling and therapy to overcome the narcissistic traits.

When put on a scale of narcissism or conducted psychological assessment, every individual would find itself at different level of narcissism. If you really want to know then you can undergo a test by following this link and giving honest answers only.

By the way, there are some common or shared behavioral and psychological traits among Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths. Also, sociopaths are often called as angry psychopaths.

Related Articles:
1) The face of liar(?) 2) Body Language with Poor Body Image 3) Body Language in Depression 4) Body Language of Extreme Psychopath 5) Amygdala Hijack: Irrational Physical Reactions

November 16, 2013

Self-communication by gesturing

Let it be nonverbal, spoken or written; communication is vastest domain of our life. Many of us think that any exchange with only others is communication but this is not entirely true at all.

We regularly do communicate with ourselves too and on both cognitive (related to perception, learning and reasoning) and emotive (related with emotions) terms.

We communicate with ourselves too but as per situational demand only. We communicate with ourselves in different situations the same way we emphasize, reiterate, remind and draw focus of others at something or somebody by using hand gestures and through touching ourselves or others.

Have you ever noticed yourself stroking or rubbing you chin when you're thinking deeply and trying to understand something complex? Have you ever tried to locate or find something without making any pointing or allocating gestures by your hands?

If you try to refrain yourself from not making any hand gestures to remind, allocate, symbolize or illustrate something; you would experience that you're not able to perform many tasks more efficiently or quickly. So the question is - Why shouldn't we be able to emphasize, reiterate, remind and draw focus at without making hand gestures?

Development of cognitive abilities and intelligence (problem solving) is strongly related with pattern recognition, spatial allocation and establishing co-relation among different entities that we come across throughout our life time. We get inputs through different senses but vision has greatest share i. e. almost 90% in a visually fit person.

Everything we capture through eyes is stored inside our brain (visual cortex) in form of blueprints, maps or something alike. Representation of complex ideas or illustrations is entirely based upon our visual memory. It means that we can explain something based upon what we've saw or observed till date.

So what could be the purpose of hand gestures, touching or even some facial emblems during conversation? Pointing at something, mimicking to position or hold something in front of ourselves (by hand) and representing different things through hand gestures helps us to recall and also strengthen graphical memories related with entities.

By doing so, we can say that hand gestures provide a 'helping hand' in understanding the information in a quicker and better way. Making had gestures to process and understand the information for one's sake is less discussed aspect of human body language.

It's a kind of close loop communication we engage in with ourselves only. Also, others can easily understand graphical representation over words so we share our memories with them.

Spatial Gesturing: Sensing space around yourself

[This article entirely is based on the chain of email communication which took place between myself and my friend Prof. Dr. Lonny Douglas Meinecke, a psychologist and a nonverbal communication researcher from Grand Canyon University located in Phoenix (AZ), United States of America (USA).]

Related Articles:
1) Words and gestures are alike 2) Hand Gestures 3) Gestures - Are they learned or genetic? 4) Can body language reveal thoughts? 5) Basic Gestures: Best Survival Tools for Travelers

October 19, 2013

Should leaders show emotions?

Modern world and especially the workplace has remained not so formal as compared to former generations. We’re witnessing, adapting and adjusting ourselves with new ‘styles’ of leadership too. We're observing the political, corporate and social leaders interacting with sub-ordinates more and more than discussing about serious stuff only.

However, the core requisites for being a good, result oriented and widely accepted (being accepted by followers is very crucial) leader haven’t changed much since hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of years.

A good leader should be master
of its own emotional expressions.

First of all, any leader shouldn’t assume himself/herself as superhuman entity or alien being altogether. Like any other human being, a leader has emotions and ways to express them. Showing and expressing emotions verbally, nonverbally and para linguistically should be used mostly to make followers and sub-ordinates aware of true potentials they have and different areas they could improve.

Throwing speech in an upbeat, assertive and firm tone of voice is what good leader can do to motivate its followers, sub-ordinates or team members. We see this in movies e. g. a knight or general giving an inspirational speech to motivate its soldiers to fight with enemy especially when their morale is down or enemy is appearing more powerful/outnumbered.

Every emotion serves a unique survival and socialization purpose. Throughout the million years of our evolutionary history, we've learned and got in heredity the ability and skill to express, read emotions and also control their expressions on purpose i. e. voluntarily manipulation of emotional expressions. A good leader has to have all these skills.

Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream." speech

Although most part of emotional expression is entirely unconscious, degree and validity of every expression is entirely contextual i. e. kind of situation, cultural and gender norms, people involved into it, necessity of own (of a leader) involvement and severity and scale of potential outcome of any emotional expression.

Expressing an emotion at a certain amount in front of family members and friends is one thing and doing exactly the same in front of followers, sub-ordinates or team members is a different thing. Therefore, the context has greater importance when we try to necessitate and also validate an expression of any emotion.
A leader should be a motivator.

A leader should be more skilled and also quick (as compared to its followers, sub-ordinates or team members) in picking emotional clues and respond them appropriately, in a very constructive manner. If a leader wants to express emotions then he/she should be well aware of contextual factors (as mentioned above) before expressing any emotion.

Sometimes, not expressing an emotion at the very moment it induces in subconscious mind and conveying a message to followers, sub-ordinates or team members at any other time through a different channel (verbal or nonverbal) could be the wisest choice. A good leader has to gain the mastery in responding appropriately and reasonably to something in the first place.

If a leader wants express useful emotions on face and body then facial emblems, vocal tones, postures, body positions, body orientations, body movements and hand gestures can be used more effectively to convey emotional message to people. Not expressing emotions at all would simply disconnect a leader from followers, sub-ordinates or team members.

A leader should express its emotions but should keep their expressions in check as much as possible so that they don’t create mess. Yelling, shouting, grunting, frowning, furrowing and taking out frustration is not expected at workplaces or in public. Negative emotions shouldn't be expressed openly.

If a leader could manage its own emotions well then its overall body language and especially facial expressions would reflect the same unmistakably.

[#Special Note: This article is entirely based on my own comment under a question "Should a leader show emotion?" posted by Stephen Manallack (Australia), Consultant in Communication and author of "Soft Skills for a Flat World" book, in a Indian Leadership Network group on LinkedIn.]

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints 3) Emotional Intelligence and Success

October 13, 2013

Good posture is Healthy

You can conduct seemingly easy experiment on your own after reading this article. Fill a glass with water (on any other liquid) and hold it in one of your hands. You can choose any other (light or moderate weighted) object too for this experiment.

I'm quite sure that you might think that what this fellow is asking me to do is what you do routinely i. e. holding a glass, cup, mug or bottle in hand to drink water, tea, coffee or other beverages. You might be holding or handling these kinds of containers for less than 2 or 3 minutes on average at a single instance.

What’s so different with this so-called experiment then? Complete specifications of this seemingly ordinary and short lasting experiment are not over yet. Please stay with me for next few minutes and you'd understand what am I trying to convey through this lengthy article.

I’m asking you to hold any object by stretching you hand straight and keeping it away from your body. You have to keep your hand steady and not let it bend at elbow. Obviously, you can’t take support of anything and also take breaks. To arrive at a conclusion of the experiment, you should hold the object until you start feeling trembling, pains and tingling sensation in muscles of your hand.

Why supposedly strong muscles, which have been sophisticatedly designed to lift heavy load than that of one you’ve hold in your hand, started to ache after few minutes only? Answer to this question, which you would know after going through rest of this article, is definitely eye-opening.

Before evolving into tree dwelling apes, our remote ancestors used to roam on four limbs. As we can easily observe, vertebral column i.e. backbone or spine of all four legged animals remains horizontal. Standing and walking on four legs (i. e. quadrupedal anatomy) offers them more flexibility, good balancing ability and capacity to attain more speed while running.

That’s the very reason why the fastest animal on earth is cheetah and not us. Also, almost all quadrupedal (four-legged) creatures can achieve balance and walk on their feet within just few minutes or hours after taking birth.

"Human body is more vulnerable due to its bipedal anatomy. We can easily adapt a defensive posture in danger."

On the other hand, we have a unique ability to stand and walk on two hind limbs or legs (i. e. bipedal anatomy) that we feel very proud about. Moreover, it's only the bipedal anatomy which developed broader shoulders in men and wider hips in women.

This kind of anatomy allowed us to lift different things by forelimbs or hands, carry objects, throw stones, climb flexibly and observe much clearly over a large distance with wider visual angle and move from one location to other by spending less amount of energy.

Probably you might knew that our spine is made of interconnected bony segments which are stacked upon each other and called as vertebrae. Also, our spine has four different sections and curves which are Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral.

While standing, taking rest, walking upright or running on four legs; quadrupedal creatures hardly have to pay conscious attention at their body postures and natural curves of their spines. Watch carefully at your dog or cat when it seats, stands or runs.

Only in the condition of not having enough energy and essential body parts unfit or in a bad shape (infested, deformed, amputated or wounded), bad body posture could negatively affect speed of roaming, ability to perform different tasks and their natural spinal curves.

We too are not exception to this but I believe that only we humans suffer from spine related pains, deformities and decay by most. Unlike four legged creatures, we need to maintain accurate balance along with keeping upper body erect to carry our different kinds of static and dynamic tasks.

Types of Posture

To be able to adjust ourselves with various operational demands, we eventually alter spinal curves, distance between two vertebrae and pressure on the whole vertebral column. We twist, jerk, pull or burden it instantaneously, momentarily or over a considerable amount of time.

"Pat your back on your own frequently because it reduces the issue of frozen shoulders. Simple idea but great effect!"

As many anatomists would agree, the lower section of our back is not much perfectly designed (or not ‘evolved’ correctly through millions of years). When it comes to perform activities by adapting an erect posture, this very design defect speaks (and also ‘hurts’) very loudly. Perhaps, only human babies need to learn and also practice to walk on two feet.

Ability to stand and walk with the perfectly erect or upright posture comes only after few years after a baby's birth. We insist on good posture because it’s an inevitable part of influence and impression in society but we hardly relate it with health.

Vertebral column or spine is a bridge of life force that flows between brain and rest of the body. Vertebrae or one of the bony segments of the spinal column that rests on other vertebrae with soft disk or cushion in between, is one of the vulnerable and also complex structures.

Spine connects the whole body with the brain and also provides energy and signals to different body parts through spinal cord. Both stagnant life style and exhaustive workout done by adapting wrong postures accelerate the process of spinal decay and deformation.

Like any other moving body part that is made up of blood veins, nerves, bones, tendons (band of inelastic tissue that connects muscles with bones) and muscles; entire spine or backbone is spring like a long metal spring but a little more complex than it.

One question might be raising in your mind i. e. Why we experience inflammation and pains in back, neck or arms only few minutes after applying pressure or strain? Crucial importance of good posture, workout and physical activities won’t make sense properly until we don’t get answer of this big question.

Bone, tendon and muscles: All tied up together

"Musculoskeletal pains and inflammation, if persisted over a long time, can lead to performance degradation and most importantly - deterioration of self-confidence."

Composed by elastic and fibrous tissues, muscles have their own dynamics and chemical processes. Muscles remain fit and also painless when they are moved in regular intervals because only movements ensure supply of blood and oxygen. Lactic acid gets generated as by-product of exercise but it also needs to get washed out through adequate blood circulation.

Holding any body part in a one position or configuration and putting strain on it in repetition causes contraction of muscles and ultimately disturbance in process of circulation of blood, nutrients and oxygen. You might have heard about an athlete suffering from tennis elbow.

In absence of required nutrition and accumulation of lactic acid, the muscles start to ache, tingle and inflame. If muscular pain is not relived and lactic acid is not excreted within proper time then it badly affects not only muscles but also tendons and nerves in the long run.

Spinal column is also surrounded by muscles, nerves and tissues. Muscle fibres provide support and stability to it. Muscles help us in adapting different postures by bending and twisting the spinal column at different curves. Weaker and injured muscles led to improper postures.

Which posture you think is the correct one?
"Incorrectly lifted load of only 5 kilos puts an enourmous pressure of 80 kilos on lumbar area i. e. 15 times higher than the original weight."

While sitting at one place for a long time in any particular posture, we put pressure on our whole spinal structure and thus kicking off the vicious process of musculoskeletal decay. Upper body weight also adds to the pressure on lower body, which is felt in lower back and abdominal region.

If posture isn’t changed or any body movements are not made to re-establish sufficient blood supply then not just spine but all related body parts get exhausted and start to ache and inflame. Over a considerable amount of time (in months or years), person working  stagnantly starts to feel lack of energy, enthusiasm and lightness from inside.

"Nearly more than 80% of today's youngsters in cities suffer from pains in shoulders, back, neck, arms, wrists, palms and feet. Only reason is stagnation and spending a of time with motorbikes, computers, cell phones and television."

Although we all love luxury and relaxation, it's crucial that our body is moved and not kept stagnant for a long time. In fact, stagnation deteriorates it much faster as compared to a lifestyle filled with regular movements and actions. While sitting, walking or doing different tasks; only good body posture ensures spinal health and continuity of liveliness.

Try to remain in a good and upright posture as much as possible because it’s not just healthy but impressive too. Respect your body and pay attention at your posture. Be smart and stay fit, healthy and performing for a long time!

Good and impressive sitting body posture with and without computer
"Stagnant lifestyle coupled with bad static and dynamic postures make situation worse or nightmarish."

Between year 2008 to 2013, I've gone through worst health and performance conditions. Pains, swelling, inflammation of muscles and tendons in back, neck, shoulders and wrists was about to put me out of action permanently. However, my own excruciating conditions and ordeal has taught me a great lesson in life.

I've successfully recovered from severe pain in back and neck only by adapting a proper posture, changing it frequently and doing rigorous exercise on regular basis. Good posture is a health insurance and a very impressive too. It has changed my life completely and also how people perceive me socially.

Would you still like to conduct or continue the experiment, mentioned in first two paragraphs? Certainly not I guess. If you want to test that how your muscles and tendons respond to long lasting stagnation, go ahead and try it out carefully.

It would end in ailing but I'm sure that you would become more conscious about your body and its dynamics. Also, you'd become more conscious about your overall body language and especially posture while sitting, walking and standing.

Related Articles:
1) Postures 2) Positive Body Language 3) Confident Body Language 4) Conscious shift in body language 5) My posture discovery 6) Power Postures

September 21, 2013

King Shivaji: Superior in Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication is not at all limited to body language, facial expressions, gestures, postures, vocal tones, para-language, cultural norms, etiquette, impressionism and attire only. It’s the unimaginably broader area that includes different entities, techniques, operations and methods to convey messages, indications, signals, hints and clues from source to destination without words.

Without any doubt, tactical rewards are assured after thoroughly studying, discovering potentials of and applying various elements of nonverbal communication in practical life. After successfully exchanging nonverbal messages and decoding them accurately in lesser amount of time, many stories of unbelievable successes and victories could be written. World's history of warfare and tactics is full of the same.

You might know that torches can be used to send messages or signals especially in darkness by waving or moving them in a pre-specified or a particular pattern. Perhaps, you’ve might seen people doing the same in movies only. What if a King utilizes smoke and cannons to convey encoded messages for achieving something incredible which his enemies cannot think about same in the first place? This is what was exactly happening during 17th century in Maratha Empire of medieval India.

The great Indian king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज) intelligently studied and utilized different entities, tools and methods for spreading encoded messages or signals to the troops and allies scattered over a large geographical area and many miles away from the locations where the messages were initiated.

This was really one of the greatest technological or technical achievements at the time when a strategic or tactical exchanges taking place among the officials located at different geographical locations were not safe, rapid, secured and efficient.

Human messengers who were capable of covering larger distances on their feet or by riding horses and other animals were employed to exchange written and oral messages. Messages were also used to be sent by employing pigeons, hawks or eagles. Still, it used to take hours, days and sometimes months for successful passage and exchange of a message from one point to another.

Along with same, there were many hurdles, hazards, time constraints, climatic challenges, and physical limitations for exchanging an ordinary message by the aforementioned methods. Nevertheless, it was not assured that the message makes to its destination and the person for which it is intended due to chances of interception, loss and theft. Also, impairment, murder or death of message carrier was highly likely.

Only way was to send some encoded visual or auditory (sounds) messages or signals from one location. Torches can be used to send encoded signals from one point to another but over a certain distance due to limitation of visibility. So what King Shivaji and his men did to convey messages that let them to excel in tactical communication?

They might have used other entities, ways, methods, tools and techniques but any written evidences haven’t found yet. Let’s see how they used colored smoke and sounds generated by firing cannons for signaling.

1) Signals given by firing cannons: King Shivaji and his army fought many wars but the battle of Paawan Khind (Khind - a narrow passage way in the mountainous terrain) became legendary in the whole history of warfare for Maratha Empire. Also, it’s really interesting to know that how exactly Shivaji could send a crucial encoded message to his fighting men much quickly in that critical and demanding situation.

During the secret escape from Panhalgad (a mountainous fort situated near Kolhapur, Maharastra), he and some 600 soldiers headed towards Vishalgad (another mountainous fort, few kilometers away from Panhalgad) through the thick forest at a night with the full moon above in the sky. On their way, they eventually came of know that the enemy troops of Adil Shah has were pursuing them upon getting intelligence of Shivaji's escape and they were getting closer to Shivaji and his companions progressively.

King Shivaji had to reach on Vishalgad at any cost so Bajiprabhu Deshpande (a legendary warrior and one of his commanders) and few men decided stay at Paawan khind, fight with the approaching enemy and let Shivaji reach to the destination safely. He kindly requested Shivaji and other men to keep moving towards Vishalgad. With heavy heart, Shivaji had to keep moving on by leaving 300 committed men behind him to fight with some 3,000 enemy soldiers.

Unlike most of the other self-centered kings, Shivaji was deeply concerned about those men who had decided to create barrier between him and the approaching enemy troops. After reaching at the destination safely, Shivaji couldn’t waste time in attempt of saving lives of his gallantry warriors. Paawan Khind was located few kilometers away from Vishalgad so he could send messengers on horseback to convey the message.

A cannon: Fastest way to send sound across miles

He told them to keep on fighting until he doesn’t reach at Vishalgad and fires few rounds of cannon as signal of his successful and safe appearance at the destination. He asked his men to retreat and run away from enemy soldiers immediately after hearing the sound. Why did he choose only cannons to send them the signal?

Crisscrossing hills, thick forest and tight valleys of Western Ghats of Maharastra were the greatest barriers for sending visual signals. Hence only large and bustling noise could travel the larger distance efficiently and cross the terrain much quickly. That was a ingenuously, instantly and tactically delivered nonverbal message during highly tense time.

Even though they were fatally wounded, Shivaji's gallantry soldiers kept fighting with high spirit and great energy until they heard the roaring sound created by the cannons fired at Vishalgad upon Shivaji's order. Finally, all 300 men including Bajiprabhu Deshpande scarified themselves happily to safeguard the great Maratha Empire.

This is first example of his Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) tactics.

2) Signals given by colored smoke: King Shivaji conquered, built and repaired more than 300 forts as the guarding posts of his vast and growing empire that was constantly being spied, invaded and attacked by rivals, kings and emperors. As forts were separated from each other over miles, sending audio signals or messages quickly wasn’t possible. Hence, he came up with an excellent idea.

He ordered the men who were guarding the forts to use smoke for sending signals among different forts spread over a larger geographical are of his empire's heartland. Going further, he invented an encoded messaging system by generating colored smoke. His men discovered trees, bushes and shrubs that could generate smoke in different colors.

A colored smoke: Easily visible from a long distances

As it has been found in many historical documents, white colored smoke was used to convey positive messages e. g. victory, conquer, allying or expansion of the empire. On the other hand, black colored smoke was used to convey negative messages e.g. defeat, retreat, betrayal or death.

After watching colored smoke rising upward from a fort, guards at different forts used to generate smoke with same color to pass on the message to other forts. Just within few hours, a message initiated from one fort could reach to another which was located hundreds or thousands miles away from the first one.

This is another example of his Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) tactics.

3) Intelligence Department and Super Spy: Along with his famous gurilla tactics, his intelligence department was perhaps the best in contemporary India. Its head was Bahirji Naik (बहिर्जी नाईक). He was skilled in putting on different disguises and playing convincing roles to be able to intrude enemy camps, roam freely in enemy territories and gather key information or intelligence.

The intelligence gather by him and his team greatly helped King Shivaji for battles, invasions, escapes and covert operations. He can be called as the best 'shape shifting' super spy. For most of the times, it was only King Shivaji who could quickly identify him in the crowd.

4) Prescribed codes for bodily conduct: King Shivaji asked his delegates, representatives and messengers to adapt an upright seating posture in meetings. He also asked them to avoid doing uncontrolled and immature body movements, facial expressions, gestures and eye contacts.

According to him, any message to the servants should be conveyed through subtle gestures, expressions or emblems only to accomplish the intended tasks.

[Special Note: This article is dedicated to the great King Shivaji Maharaj (Maharaj - a Sanskrit word synonymous to 'King'), his gallantry soldiers, close companions, secret agents and intelligence officers. His visinory mother JijaBai sowed seed in his mind.

Shivaji was not only a brave Indian warrior to succeed in carving out a sovereign pan-Indian subcontinental empire out of the mighty and persecuting Mughal Empire but also a great visionary, engineer, entrepreneur and strategist to inspire millions of people.

His his qualities, his achievements and his managerial skills are openly appreciated, accredited and respected by many world famous leaders, statesmen, historians, tacticians, travelers, generals, politicians, researchers, academics and experts.]

Related Articles:
1) What is Nonverbal Communication?

September 14, 2013

The Look of Love?

Where there's smoke, there's fire! This fundamental principle perfectly applies to attraction, courtship and romance because the sparks in hearts speak silently during the early stages of relationship. However, the clues we try to obtain (or ignore) from potential or existing partner can either make us to stray into the smoke of uncertainty or end up in the perfect fiery disaster.

Can just a single body language cue given away by other person indicate brewing attraction or romantic feelings for you? This is a grueling question that most of us want to find a firm answer for. A recently conducted research claims that a mere glance gives away the clue. Being myself an observer, I attest the results of the same research and this article is about the same.

When a woman develops romantic or intimate feelings about a man, she briefly glances at right side in presence of him. She does so even if she finds complement given to her by the man more appealing. Coy smile, raised eyebrows and micro-expression of happiness may accompany the glance.

Specifically, women have been observed giving an indicative glance more (often) as compared to men. Hence, it is widely utilized in commercial advertisements by female models endorsing the kind of products which needs expression of attraction and romantic feelings towards the male models.

My own insight about this type of glance is all about how a man and woman normally stand or walk alongside with each other. Most men in this world are right handed and women use to stand at the left side of them. This kind of physical positioning might not be just a cultural norm because men are supposed to protect their female partner.

Men can keep their female partner (also children) at left side of their bodies and attack or defend them by an arm or a weapon hold in their right hands. Thus a woman glancing at right side unconsciously appeals the desired man to position or stand at right side of her i. e. to protect her.

So what about men? A man too glances briefly at left side in presence of woman he likes, finds interesting or wants to be romantic with. It perfectly complements with glancing done at right side by a woman. Man wants her woman to position herself or stand at left side of him so that he could protect her.

Side-way glancing or looking into eyes of each other can be observed in couples with positive spirit. In contrast, they tend to look away from each other when they are in troubled relationship, mutual disliking or disagreement over something.

The research about side-way glancing might have been conducted on women seeking right handed men only. Similar observations were not recorded about women seeking left handed men till date. An article about same was published in UK's DailyMail. You can go through entire article by following this link.

After posting this article, I've been witnessing a sudden rise in this sideway eyeball movement cue in Indian commercial advertisements.

Related Articles:
1) Man's Courtship Body Language 2) Woman's Courtship Body Language (Part 1) 3) Woman's Courtship Body Language (Part 2) 4) Know Who is Attracted to You 5) Couple in trouble?

August 17, 2013

Reading Body Language - Interpretation

There are thousands of on-line and printed and books, videos and articles available about reading body language. I too have a few books in written in English and other languages in my own bookshelf. I referred these books many times at the beginning of my own research about sociology, body language and nonverbal communication.

In the concluding section or epilogue of almost every book, there is a strong, loud and clear message i. e. Don’t try to jump on conclusions in hurry and try to look at other side of any picture. How many times we do exactly the same in the real life too? Matter of fact is that most of us jump of conclusions in hurry and fall flat on their faces.

Without spending more time and energy, most of us just jump on conclusions that take them away from the facts or the reality. They don't even bother to look at the other side of the picture. Such self-proclaimed or so-called "body language experts" are plentiful in our society. Some of them might be living and moving around you too at present.

Interpretation based on recognized or repetitive patterns that we’ve been observing in books might not help us to arrive at an accurate conclusion in real life. Unlike some fixed hot-spots which an inexperienced person too easily acknowledge, there could be many pitfalls while interpreting, decoding or reading body language.

Recently, I saw a picture which is a very good specimen for interpreting both emotional and physical status at once in the given context. While taking a first look at it, I’m sure that most of us would jump on the easiest and quickest conclusion which is that the body is infuriated at his father. Right?

Mr. Ashok Thiruvengadam with his son Tarun

Are you damn sure about your interpretation? Really? Now, I’m putting same lines (just below) that were originally published with the image in a slideshow on yahoo India news website. I'm damn hopeful that it would help you greatly while verifying the authenticity or validity of your quick interpretation.

"I think this kind of mindfulness isn't something you can get in the city in a mall watching a movie," says Mr. Ashok Thiruvenkatam (49) from Bengluru (India). He had just finished a 1,000 km brevet through Karnataka and did not look like a man recovering, as he matched his 12-year-old son Tarun for excitement and energy."

While taking a first look what appears is the the body is standing by putting his both hands on his hips and he looks quite distressed by his facial expressions. His lower lip has protruded and nostrils have flared. His is holding his gaze not exactly in the direction of his father who is standing just a feet away from him.

Many people think that different expressions we make unconsciously by our faces and bodies only convey emotional, social and relational statuses. This is not the whole truth at all because we’re not just the social and emotional creatures but we’ve all have living bodies in the first place. Our faces and eyes give away cognitive clues too.

Many times we make muscular movements and adapt different postures to adjust with given working situations, operational demands, physical environments and our own internal physical states. Tightening jaws, furrowing eyebrows and closing eyes while experiencing physical pain or applying force to do something is a good example.

Now, let’s try to interpret the above image in an entirely different way. For that, we’ve to imagine physical state of the boy at the same moment when this photograph was taken by a photographer. Definitely, by looking at his body language, the boy seems distressed but the reason of the same is not his father.

As lines give hint us that the father matched excitement and energy of his son while cycling, the boy seems physically exhausted and running out of energy. Actually, father appears to have higher energy level as compared to his son. Isn't it? Regular long-distance cycling has improved his endurance and skills to expend energy more skillfully.

Have you ever seen sprinters and runners after crossing the finishing line? Most of them appear very much the same i. e. sweating and panting, both hands rested on hips or knees, mouth opened widely and bent body posture. Extremely exhausted athletes might simply lay down on ground.

An exhausted athlete

Even winners of the races and competitions can be observed giving away this typical distress and exhaustion cluster at the finishing lines. Switch on your television and look out for players expressing physical pain, strain and/or exhaustion.

[Special note: I've personally met Mr. Ashok Thiruvenkatam in Chennai (India) during a charity duathlon event in which we both participated together and gave each other company. He's a well-known ultra-runner and an ultra-cyclist in India.

Being myself a regular bicycle commuter, a long-distance cyclist and also an ultra-cyclist; I strongly promote cycling as (recreational) sports, fitness activity, mode of environment friendly and also pollution-free transportation.]

Related Article:
1) Hand Gestures 2) Facial Expressions 3) Postures 4) Para Language 5) Micro Expressions 6) Context 7) Proxemics 8) Congruence 9) Clusters 10) 11) Baseline 12) Perceptual Bias 13) Artificial Intelligence and Body Language