- Words are more than 7%
- Gesticulating more, more eye contact and more facial expressions are linked to dominance
- Extroverts get aroused faster
Words are more than 7%
I love how quickly David Cohen gets to dispel what’s also a pet peeve of mine and one of the most misunderstood experiments. The one from Albert Mehrabian stating that words are only 7% communication.
He uses an en example I used as well to underline the fault in those numbers: if you tell someone they’re terribly unpleasant with a smile, a positive body language and an upbeat tone of voice, it’s still unlikely the message will be 93% positive.
David Cohen calls “displacement activities” what some others in the literature call “adapters” and what Joe Navarro calls “pacifying behaviors”. Comparing displacement activities to the ostrich burying its head in the sad, Cohen says that the displacement activities don’t necessarily make the situation any better, they mostly help us feel better.
He says that in animals usually appear when they are torn between two opposing drives. For example wanting to make but being deterred by a bigger opponent.
David Cohen says that the gazing behavior, or how much we look at other people’s eyes, is determined by culture. As a rule of thumb, in the western world if you look too little in someone’s eyes you might be perceived as deceitful and shifty. If you look too much you can be viewed as domineering.
We tend to be comfortable if the other person’s gaze meets our for 60-70% of the time.
Albeit we are told to look at people in the eyes usually the person who is speaking looks away more than the person who is listening. Much research indeed shows it gets uncomfortable if you look at them too much, so a skilled speaker will only spend around 40% of the time making eye contact.
Most episodes of direct gaze will last between one and four seconds.
Eye contact also signals that you’re almost done speaking.
So the rule of thumb is: look more at them when they’re speaking, less when you’re speaking.
Hairdo and Meaning
The author says that short and tussles hair on a woman communicates confidence and an outgoing personality, but not sexiness. Medium length hair suggests intelligence and good nature. Long hair projects sexuality and affluence.
Cohen says that cupping your shaking hand with your other hand can be perceived as motherly, controlling or too intimate. The exception is that if there’s a big gap in status between the two people shaking hands, in which case it’s seen as a sign the person cares (example of Bill Clinton).
The perfect length of time is 2.7 seconds. Too brief an handshake can signal anxiety
People who make strong, definite movements are seen as more dominant. People are also seen as more dominant when they gesticulate more, make more eye contact and show more animation on their faces.
Submissive women also tend to stay in the same posture for longer, while women who move more are seen as dominant.
Extroverts VS Introverts
Extroverts tend to have fewer inhibitions about entering personal spaces. Introverts will be more awkward about allowing people into their personal spaces. Men who are perceived as cold tend to be given more personal space.
Extroverts are more impatience, get bored more easily and also get aroused faster. Introverts are slower instead, which would make them better lovers… If they didn’t also get more anxious :).
The risk of an extrovert is that he might move too quickly for an introvert.
Relationships and dominance
The person who drives most often in a couple will be the most dominant one in the relationship.
When a couple is a the checkout and they forgot something, the person who stays is the dominant one as he or she has effectively sent the other one to fetch and carry.
Most interesting for me, was the author quoting an article on high flyer career women. The women were used to being the boss at work, but the moment they got home they wanted to relax, and they relaxed by being submissive to their man -particularly in bed-.
Cohen says there’s no dominance in flirtation, it’s more like a dance.
Relationships and communication
Cohen says that when a woman complains to the man “you’re not listening” and the man says he’s actually listening, they’re both right. Women for example use more “aha”, “uhu” and other perfunctory sounds to show they’re listening. Men think those are signs of impatience instead, so they don’t use them as much.
Cohen talks about NLP and mentions a colleague saying it’s not easy assessing if someone’s lying by looking at where their eyes go.
Eyelashes flutter means the person does not like the question.
There are 6 cues to spot liars:
- cues suggesting you’re reticent or withdrawing from the situation (ie.: looking down)
- behaviors which are very different from your normal behaviors
- behaviors suggesting you dislike what you’re doing
- cues showing underlying vagueness -hesitating before saying something-
- incongruous messages
- less “I” or “mine”
- less emotional words such as angry or hurt
Self confident people tend to lie better when they’re under pressure and, funny enough, the author says attractive people tend to lie better (?).
We trust people who smile more than people who don’t. Politicians who smile more get more votes (example of Bush and Al Gore).
Too many exercises
There are a lot of exercises and quizzes to take, you might like that but I don’t particularly appreciate that.
Lots of unrelated topics
Reviews on Amazon are not great and it’s a bit scatterbrained, but Body Language by Cohen did teach me many new stuff and they all have practical utility, so I am very appreciative for his work.
I also liked the author’s calm voice and “non definitive” approach to information, such as presenting findings without implying they were truths cast in stone, so might read further from the author too.