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Thread: Body Language

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Body Language

    Mskis missed it yesterday, but I was working the front counter and this lady came in who had HUGE…….tracts of land….. and was inquiring into the feasibility of a somewhat complicated lot split. She was rather short in stature and our front counter is situated at a level such that she managed to use it for, um, support as she explained her request. While not the first time I have seen this sort of thing (not an uncommon occurance with restaurant booths), it was terribly distracting and made it hard for me to concentrate on her explanation. I realized only after she left that I neglected to take into account the number of previously approved splits and that one less lot could be created than I indicated. I guess she’ll find out later when/if she files her application. I’m now wondering if she intentionally did that to get the answer she wanted to hear or if it was coincidental (and therefore making me just a garden variety perv enamored of the situation)?

    I am inclined to think the former. I know on occasion I will intentionally use my understanding of psychology and customs and do things like deliberately stand within someone’s ‘space bubble’ (Amercans tend to maintain at least 2-3 feet around them in public places) to disconcert or throw them off their game.

    How many times has it happened where you’re telling someone something at the front counter or at a public meeting where they are nodding their head and a smile on their face as if they are in agreement with you, but at the same time stand in a defensive/closed posture with their feet spread apart and their arms crossed? Do you ever consciously pay attention to people’s body language or employ your own during the course of work or other activities?
    Last edited by Maister; 16 Aug 2007 at 12:11 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    All the time.

    Learning to decipher and predict the next action based on body language is important. Doing so allows you to prevent fights, decide on alternate forms of communication, and a whole host of other things.

    That lack of "body language" context is also why text discussions often go haywire.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Have you ever strolled into a crowded elevator, stayed close to the doors and not turned around? People REALLY start to get uncomfortable...

  4. #4
    Interesting. I had a very different take on the situation. The first thing I wondered about was the actual height of the counter.

    I recently read an article which discussed the issue of kitchen remodeling with special attention to boosting the height of the counter tops to work with the fact that people are taller now. If this lady was laying out paperwork on the counter, she may have felt awkward bending over the counter at an odd angle in order to converse with you.

    Of course, having known some women with um, larger than life blessings, the counter sometimes helps to take the weight off the lower back. Don't laugh - they're heavier than you think!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    Body language and postioning of oneself does create power or the lack of power. If the individual does it more than once than they know what they are doing.
    On occasion if I have some one playing power games, I will deliberlately do something to throw them off.
    Years ago, during a deposition, the city attorney quoted a law, the opposition attorney pointed to the book case and told her to get the book and show it to him, when she reached for the book, he looked at me and said "don't you wish you could afford a good attorney like me"? In my mind I agreed with him but said aloud " I have full confidence in +++" When we got out in the parking lot after the deposition, I played the game in case he was looking out the window, but the next day she and I had an interesting discussion. Occasionaly I still run into her (she is a nice person) and she is always complaining that her firm has not given her a raise in a few years. She is not very succesful in trial cases. But the power games can come into play, especially in our profession, and we have to be able to recognise them and make the appropriate counter move.
    In your case, I would agree, what is the height of the counter and how wide is the counter? The world of the vertically challenged is not an easy one.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I worked with an adult educator/facilitator once who used an artificial stammer/stutter to ask people to do things for him that he thought they might be reluctant to do. (like write a report or make a speech.) I never once saw it fail, and though I was fully conscious of his tactic, it almost always worked on me too.

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Monamogolo View post
    I worked with an adult educator/facilitator once who used an artificial stammer/stutter to ask people to do things for him that he thought they might be reluctant to do. (like write a report or make a speech.) I never once saw it fail, and though I was fully conscious of his tactic, it almost always worked on me too.
    Off-topic:
    While strictly speaking not body language, that is nevertheless a very interesting technique. Makes sense how it would probably work in many cases too.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  8. #8
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Do you ever consciously pay attention to people’s body language or employ your own during the course of work or other activities?
    Ditto what DoD said: all the time. I love people-watching, and looking around in cafes and restaurants and interpreting what's going on between people. In interview situations I'll make a conscious effort to sit comfortably and try not to look nervous.
    Your position at a meeting table in relation to others, and people's postures in their seats are always interesting, and tell you a lot about dynamics of the situation. When I get the chance to sit down first (meeting, interview, presentation etc) I try to choose the position of power and then I'll watch where others place themselves

    Do handshakes count as body language? Hugely important for first impressions. Nothing worse than a "limp fish" handshake. Unfortunately many women seem to have less than impressive handshakes. I'm female, and young compared to many of the people I work with, and I've often had comments on what a good, firm handshake I have! I don't actually do it consciously, and I don't go over the top, I just understand the importance of it so I make sure to give a confident shake.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    OFF TOPIC - Once again Maister cleverly works in a MPFC reference.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  10. #10
          Downtown's avatar
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    My best friend's supervising teacher over her student teaching assignment with fourth graders told her "Do not smile once on the first day." It wasn't about being mean, or harsh, it was about letting the kids know the teacher was their teacher, not a friend, and wouldn't tolerate monkey business.

    Depending on the meeting, I have to conciously restrain my self from smiling. I naturally smile a lot, and there are definitely developers/consultants that i do not want them to get the idea that i'm their friend, kwim? But it is hard for me not to smile in tense situations, to ease the tension. But especially being the only women in teh room, I can't be the pushover, or even remotely appear to be less than 100% serious.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL View post
    Do handshakes count as body language? Hugely important for first impressions. Nothing worse than a "limp fish" handshake. Unfortunately many women seem to have less than impressive handshakes. I'm female, and young compared to many of the people I work with, and I've often had comments on what a good, firm handshake I have! I don't actually do it consciously, and I don't go over the top, I just understand the importance of it so I make sure to give a confident shake.
    It's interesting you say this because it's something I've noticed to. Because I worked in a male manager dominated industry before planning we women had to learn to compete on the same playing field and when the VP came to visit you did not give him a limp fish handshake.

    I think people watching is a sport. I engage in it often because you learn a ton from how people posture themselves and what they aren't saying. Also being a former manager it was helpful to pay attention to body language to see if the message was being received appropriately or if something else was coming into play. I have a couple of friends that are lawyers and it's fascinating seeing them interact with people and cut through BS in no time.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Yes, I had an applicant come to a meeting with extremely ample clevage showing, she nodded and smiled alot as the planning board gently turned her variance down and asked her to come back and plat the property ( so they could get another look.)
    During one of our visits in the office she was joking about her ability to control the men...
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL View post
    Do handshakes count as body language? Hugely important for first impressions. Nothing worse than a "limp fish" handshake. Unfortunately many women seem to have less than impressive handshakes. I'm female, and young compared to many of the people I work with, and I've often had comments on what a good, firm handshake I have! I don't actually do it consciously, and I don't go over the top, I just understand the importance of it so I make sure to give a confident shake.
    This can be one of my real pet peavs and a real hostility generator. You have the limp fish thing right, but here is the kicker, the "agressive shaker"! The agressive a-hole who has figured out the importance of shaking hands and decides to turn it into a power play. This person does not extend the hand and mutually clasp the others hand in a respectful way. Thier goal is to stab thier hand forward, rapidly clamping the other persons hand prematurely or at least quickly before the recipient is ready, INDUCING A LIMP FISH handshake! On PURPOSE!

    This is nearly unforgivable and I do my best to retaliate in any way possible. I t pisses me off to no end as you only get one shot at it. It is disrespectful and an overtly hostile act. Sort of like the jello necked head bob used as a physical challenge in ghetto culture.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Maister… next time, call me in from the field.

    Body language is a wonderful thing. There has been several situations when a very attractive woman wearing clothing that extenuates her assets who have acted in a flirty manner in attempt to get what ever it was that she wanted. Being older and wiser, I play it to my advantage by smiling, making direct eye contact, asking tons of questions and encouraging the continuation of the conversation in a friendly manner. After a bit of this, they agree to what ever code requirement that I ask instead of me doing something stupid.

    When I was in college and women did this, I asked them out. Almost all of the time, they said yes.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    Yes, I had an applicant come to a meeting with extremely ample clevage showing, she nodded and smiled alot as the planning board gently turned her variance down and asked her to come back and plat the property ( so they could get another look.)
    During one of our visits in the office she was joking about her ability to control the men...
    You need to send her my way. Nobody gets special treatment around here............ ABSOLUTELY NOBODY !!!!
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  16. #16
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie View post
    You need to send her my way. Nobody gets special treatment around here............ ABSOLUTELY NOBODY !!!!
    The entire female contingent in the planning office I worked in last summer was amply endowed so nobody who came in trying to use that tactic ever succeeded. We had a drag queen come in once but that's a whole other issue.....
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  17. #17
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    clothing that extenuates her assets
    Did you mean 'exaggerates'?
    Extenuate means "lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of"
    Sorry couldn't let that one pass

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL View post
    Did you mean 'exaggerates'?
    I think he meant Accentuates.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie View post
    I think he meant Accentuates.
    Exfolliates?

  20. #20
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie View post
    I think he meant Accentuates.
    Or extrapolates?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Or extrapolates?
    No, no. I think he was trying to say that it was an existential experience in which he, as an individual human being, was able to create the meaning of his own life. Yeah, right. Big knockers, they were.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    I absentmindedly rest my...huge tracts of land...on tables when at restaurants and probably on counters, too. However, I don't go out of my way to give them a rest (go up on tiptoes and unfurl them on the counter). It's just if the counter hits me right below them, and I'm leaning on it, it happens.

    Probably a combination of her habit, intentional or not, and your perviness.


    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Mskis missed it yesterday, but I was working the front counter and this lady came in who had HUGE…….tracts of land….. and was inquiring into the feasibility of a somewhat complicated lot split. She was rather short in stature and our front counter is situated at a level such that she managed to use it for, um, support as she explained her request. While not the first time I have seen this sort of thing (not an uncommon occurance with restaurant booths), it was terribly distracting and made it hard for me to concentrate on her explanation. I realized only after she left that I neglected to take into account the number of previously approved splits and that one less lot could be created than I indicated. I guess she’ll find out later when/if she files her application. I’m now wondering if she intentionally did that to get the answer she wanted to hear or if it was coincidental (and therefore making me just a garden variety perv enamored of the situation)?

    I am inclined to think the former. I know on occasion I will intentionally use my understanding of psychology and customs and do things like deliberately stand within someone’s ‘space bubble’ (Amercans tend to maintain at least 2-3 feet around them in public places) to disconcert or throw them off their game.

    How many times has it happened where you’re telling someone something at the front counter or at a public meeting where they are nodding their head and a smile on their face as if they are in agreement with you, but at the same time stand in a defensive/closed posture with their feet spread apart and their arms crossed? Do you ever consciously pay attention to people’s body language or employ your own during the course of work or other activities?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I'll call people on the body language. If I think the response they're giving me is BS, I'll bluntly ask the question.
    I can't say I can recall a woman who try to use her assets in a way to get what she wanted. I do love nothing more than to make that kind of person think they have me, then tell them exactly what they don't want to hear (which would've been the answer anyway).
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Body language? This Bear has used it, on purpose, to make a point, grab somebody's attention, exhibit disgust. If not overused, it can be effective.

    When you are dealing with human resource issues (as anybody in management is) body language is just one of the items in your toolbox.

    BTW.....never had to flash my boobs to get a point across.

    Bear
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  25. #25
    Alas, as a guy, I'm not zoned for development in my tracts of land, so I can't really flaunt them.

    I do find that I have my arms folded across my chest quite frequently. It does a good job of getting people to leave me the heck alone, however. I guess I'm not really a very open and approachable person.

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