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March 27, 2013

Reading Body Language - Challenges

I was talking with one of my friends about developing abilities and skills of reading body language precisely in different social situations. During the same discussion, he mentioned about one of his friends who became frustrated after starting to read people around him and decode underlying messages.

Perhaps, he could not tolerate the unexpected clues given away by people he was surrounded with. Many of them would be his friends, teachers, classmates, colleagues, family members, siblings, seniors, neighbors, spouse, children and relatives. He might not have realized about himself giving unexpected clues in different situations in the first place.

Negative emotions, emotional manipulations, lying and deception can burn and spoil relations because a social reader doesn't expect the same from familiar persons in the first place. When someone becomes a good social reader, the very first challenge to face and overcome is to accept the negative aspects of human nature in the first place.

Most of us have only a lot of information about body language but not the true knowledge or the technique to interpret or decode it systematically so it's really shocking to many who get excited after reading books and website articles about body language.

In this regard, I would like to share a very interesting email that I received from another friend. He is trying hard to become a good social reader. Some text has been deliberately highlighted. For sake of privacy, I've not mentioned his name at the bottom.

Hello Sir,

It is really great to see the work you are doing for the page and community. I am really sorry that I am way too off from the page as if for now. I wanted to tell you that where I am facing problem.

Few months back, when I posted those videos. I was quite enthusiastic about it and I prepared 6 more analysis of Indian Celebrities. I started reading more and more and then I realized that I am too much into it.

The problem as with the practice, I was getting a better understanding of the nonverbal language. But, it wasn't really coming up as a boon. It started entering my personal life too much. I couldn't have a conversation without reading those few leaks of micro expressions on my classmates or friends' faces.

It gets annoying when you come to the point where you cannot just stop picking up these cues. I had quite a number of arguments and fights with people I am close with. I wasn't even able to focus on any lecture in my class as I would be busy staring at my professor for some body language cues.

My class notes had like records of at what time did say a professor ABC did and why. It is one good thing that it was trying to keep me closer to what people actually meant but I was getting closer ALONE.

For the same reason and few more things which happened, I just decided to leave for a while, till I find a good reason or a stable life where I can accept such realities.

Location: Bengaluru (Banglore), India.
Date: 1st April, 2013

Negativity induced in mind of any social reader might ultimately lead to frustration, added insecurity, phobia and sadness because our unconscious mind becomes defensive very easily, quickly and instinctively. Many aspiring social readers cannot overcome the shock, surprise and/or sadness after starting to interpret people around them and above all - realizing too much about themselves too.

High degree of impartiality, diligence and dissociation is required because a social reader is also a fragile, needy, insecure (in one or other way) and perishable being. Also, one has to strongly decide about what exactly he/she wants to make out of the clues without loosing peace of mind and not bother too much as long as the personal safety is not compromised at all.

Social reading can lead to frustration, insecurity and sadness.

It's really challenging to know what is most likely to happen in the future with the same individuals that we read and profile. It's really hard but not at all impossible to become an impartial observer and also a situationally aware person. It takes thousands hours of practice which includes not just learning to pick and analyze clues accurately but also peacefully accepting some of the grave realities, limitations and dark aspects of the human nature.

On 18th April 2013, my friend and I met in Pune, India. We had a very personal and serious discussion for almost an hour about issues with social reading and their solutions. Bottom line was that it's really possible to become a good and contextual social reader and yet able to maintain healthy social relations.

After all, we're all fragile, needy, insecure, secretive and perishable human beings so Empathy is the fundamental prerequisite to become an expert social reader without loosing peace of mind and also the social connections. We all may have some darker sides.

I hope that this small meeting would definitely help him and his friend in their lives and careers. I wished him and his troubled friend a great future!

Related Articles:
1) Hand Gestures 2) Facial Expressions 3) Postures 4) Para Language 5) Micro Expressions 6) Context 7) Proxemics 8) Congruence 9) Clusters 10) Interpretation 11) Perceptual Bias 12) Observation is the key 13) Basic Bodily Clues

March 16, 2013

Subtle clues given by Itching skin

Perhaps, you might know that Mahatma Gandhi (Father of Indian nation) asserted a maxim - "Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil." with the help of a statue/sculpture of three monkeys covering or closing their ears, eyes and mouth with their palms. I think that similar kinds of maxims, idioms or paraphrases related to this kind of sensory wisdom might have been coined, invented or asserted by philosophers of your own country or region too.

The maxim "Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil." has its origin in 17th-century carving of three Japanese macaques or snow monkeys (a common local species) over a door of the famous Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan. However, it was Mahatma Gandhi's genius idea to use a statue/sculpture of three Indian monkeys to spread this maxim in India population. These monkeys are popular as Gandhi's Three Monkeys in India.

Just cover and avoid undesirable consequences!

These three monkeys are consciously trying to avoid unpleasant input or signals reaching to their respective sensory organs. However, in case of covering mouth, it's about suppressing unpleasant words getting out of it that might hurt others and lead to conflict. Three sensory organs play very critical role not just in sensing and communicating with others but also in bridging a vital gap between the brain hungry for inputs and the outside world.
Rat rubbing its lips

That's why zoo keepers, animal handlers or biologists cover the eyes of captured animals while transporting them, drugging or tagging. By doing this, they try to suppress hostility or aggressive behavior animal that could trigger in its brain after watching unsettling, unwanted, unpleasant, terrorizing or threatening activities happening around itself.

Unlike conscious suppression, a similar kind of self-soothing is also done by our own brain. At some extent, it can be also observed in other creatures too and especially in mammals. We can see a rat rubbing or touching its lips in the face of a danger. However, we human do it more often and widely than other animals.

Unconscious facial touching or covering to avoid signals (getting inside or outside) can be observed in humans at large extent. In early childhood, facial touching is more prominent and can be observed easily and frequently. As we get older and find obvious facial and body touching as an immature (childlike) act, we try to refrain or avoid it in public.

Blocking eyes in Fear
However, our brain starts sending signals to respective body part(s) and we experience tingling or itching sensation right beneath the surface of skin of that particular body part(s). It's an entirely unconscious or involuntary and rapidly happening process which ends with rubbing, using our own body parts like hand or external objects.

More we try to suppress the impulse of letting out, acting upon, expressing or reacting in the ways that are not socially suitable or acceptable, more our brain adds the sensation of tingling or itching to skin of the respective body part. However, it just only just the skin of our face but other body parts too tingle or itch.

If you simultaneously pay attention to your impulses and sensation of tingling or itching of skin of any body part, you would probably be able to decode what exactly you are trying to suppress consciously at the very moment you want to scratch or rub neck, scalp, forehead, lips, chin, eyes, eyebrows, ears, nose, nostrils, upper back, front side of neck, back side of neck, legs, forearms, palms, genital area etc.

Only reason behind the tingling or itching sensation is purpose of our brain to force an individual to scratch or rub the body part to act like a 'wise monkey'. Brain itself tries to sooth the distress feeling caused by conscious restrain or suppression of an impulse, especially in the presence of people.

Through self-rubbing or scratching, our brain soothes itself quickly by making the person to act for it. It's an impulse soothing mechanism evolved by itself. Rapid, relentless and continuous rubbing or scratching of skin of body parts in repetition releases the stress relieving hormones in the blood.

I too have observed that we scratch or rub the body part even if we expect or like corresponding sensory input or desire (to act). For example, a waiter can be observed rubbing his palms rapidly in expectation of a good tip from customer or a young woman can be observed rubbing a small patch of skin exactly below her right eye after watching an attractive man.

As we know that left hemisphere controls the right side of body and right hemisphere controls the left side of body, the side of our body we scratch or rub is directly related to the positive or negative polarity of the underling, unacceptable and suppressed impulse. It secretly reveals so much that many people simply don't take into account. It makes a huge difference in reading body language instantaneously.

Self-soothing is also called as pacifying and self-soothing touches are called as pacifiers. Self-soothing or pacifying is considered as the very primitive act of complex the human brain to pacify underlying mental impulses in the real-time.

[Special Note: I've done a pilot study about this on my own. If somebody is really interested in decoding the 'wise monkey' act of brain, an elaborate research can be conducted for sure. With the help of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanning, we could monitor neural activities in different brain parts that leads to the self-rubbing and scratching.]

Related Articles:
1) Body Language Brain 2) Importance of Touch 3) It’s Written All Over You...