4 Body Language Secrets That Will Reshape Your Outlook Of Others

Humor about body parts is a serious business.

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When I was a little kid, I loved looking up. I still do. The outstretched arms, head tilted up, soaking in the open sky — the vastness of the horizon kinda hugs you. At the polar opposite are feet. They were never in my radar.

That all changed when one scene [from a 2006 movie about an underdog success story] jammed into my head and stayed.

In 1976 , Vince Papale made the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie. Vince was 30 year old then — too old by American football standards.

His friend, Dennis Frank was tired of Vince getting hammered every night at the line of tussle. Mirroring the stance of an opposing linesman, he thunders to Vince “what color are my knuckles?”

Vince notices that Dennis’s knuckles whiten up before he charges. Ever so lightly leaning forward and putting the body weight on the knuckles, blocks the blood flow.

What Vince found in knuckles as a leading indicator, I found in the feet, eye brows, handshakes and believe it or not — nostrils.

  1. Story of Feet

When people have a conversation standing, I found something interesting. Invariably, after the conversation, they moved in the direction their feet were already pointing.

Those feet gave me a clue about overstaying a welcome. Or as George Costanza, from the TV sitcom Seinfeld would say it — leave on a high note. Always exaggerated for comical effect and always on point about minutiae of daily life — the beauty of one of my favorite shows.

2. Story of Eye Brows

Paul Ekman (inspiration behind the TV series, Lie to me) reported that only 50 out of the 20,000 people he tested were able to pick up on and interpret micro expressions- 1/25th of second change on faces. For the remaining 19,950 folks, there is a comforting thought — simplicity of watching eyebrows.

All of us have ideas. We want to test how good our ideas are. We test it by telling others and seek their reaction. The best tip — watch their eyebrows. If their eyebrows go up in excitement as you explain, you have a good idea. If they eyebrows go down, their words have less weight.

Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, calls this the simple eyebrow test. I found it mega useful in pruning ideas to bubble the best to the top.

3. Story of Handshakes

When I was young I learned: A firm handshake was a rite of passage to strong first impressions.

Somewhere along the way, I started to make a mental note of others with weaker handshake.

As I got older, one incident changed me: someone squeezed my hands tighter than what I would consider firm. From that day, I understood: The best of them mirror the other person’s pressure in a handshake.

Relationships are about making the other person comfortable and less about ourself. It starts with something simple — learning more about that person by observing the pressure of their handshake.

One thing you don’t do is — “be in Gordon Brown’s shoes”

4. Story of Nostrils

I have observed many people with tremendous know how. Some “command” a room with content, they have some of the best insights, and sage advice in the best interest of the organization at large. Yet, few times the stellar content gets lost in the small, important details that the human eye subconsciously processes — they deliver it with their chin up with the inside of their nostrils clearly visible to the audience. Great content lost to self-importance.

When somebody is presenting — if I see jargons, complexity and most importantly inner nostrils, I look around. Most times, I can feel that a tipping point has occurred- the message is lost and feelings remain. It truly validates the importance of one of the best advice I ever received - “make the other person feel good about themselves.” Indeed, earnestness and sincerity triumph content.

Borrowing immortal words from Spiderman, slightly modified — “With great content comes great responsibility.” A responsibility to the audience — not self, not content.

Hope you enjoyed the read especially the nostrils one. Level up the chin made it into the “Weird recommendations from the Internet that actually work when put into practice” — courtesy Aspen Times.

What is your favorite?

Karthik Rajan

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Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

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