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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

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