The Definitive Book of Body Language : It's So You!

The Definitive Book of Body Language

by Mary Sheehan Warren on 12/31/10

I just finished reading The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease. If you could see my body language right now -actually watch my face and shoulders and palms and feet - you'd pick up that I'm rather enthused about the  topic these days.

After about the first chapter I began to wonder how it is I got through life this far without knowing all these things the authors insist are true. Sure, I instinctively know, for example, that crossed arms imply a defensive attitude and that a lack of eye contact usually means a lack of interest in a speaker. But there were many things I didn't know, and the Pease Team managed to weave each bit of information into an organic whole which made sense to me as a regular observer and user of body language. (Regular user because I'm human not because of what I do for a living!)

The book was a quick read because it has diagrams, cartoons, and photos (of some very famous people) to provide examples of many of the astounding claims made in the book.

Do I sound doubtful? Perhaps maybe more than I actually am, but, as my husband reminded me, some of these phenomena can be overstated by the experts.

Overstated perhaps, but eerily true in so many situations.

You decide: (Check out these randomly chosen claims.)

"Being 'perceptive' means being able to spot the contradictions between someone's words and their body language."

"When a person's words and body language are in conflict, women ignore what is said."

"When men lie, their body language can be obvious. Women prefer to look busy as they lie."

"Turning your palm from facing upward to facing downward completely alters how others perceive you."

"Only 15 percent of our laughter has to do with jokes. Laughter has more to do with bonding."

"If you're not sure whether you're being lied to or not, look under their desk."

"Jiggling the feet is like the brain's attempt to run away from what is being experienced."

I could go on! The book is packed with tips, stories, cautions, and exceptions. Fortunately, it's also packed with studies which back up some (but not all) of the claims. It also provides some wiggle room for the obvious conscious control of body language.

All I know is that I'm going to...

  • Hold my head up high.
  • Smile more.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Wear a large watch.

You'll just have to read the book to see what I mean.



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