At Work

Get better fluency in (body) language!

Nineteen years ago, a smooth-talking salesman walked into my office. My first impression of him was that he was probably an untrustworthy person.

In the time we spent together, we became better acquainted. I began to trust him more. He spoke eloquently and shared a business plan with me. Taken in by its promise of handsome rewards, I begged him to let me be a part of it. In less than an hour and a half, he had persuaded me to invest RM40,000.

I never saw my money again.

Sometimes we say: “I have a strange feeling about this person”, or “I sense something is not right”, or “I have this intuition about this”.

It is usually because we are picking up subtle but revealing body language and emotional signals from people that help us form an impression of them. Learning how to read body language will enable you to interpret these signals or accurately conclude what these mean.

Signs of deceit

Many common body gestures can tell you if a person is lying. For example, he avoids eye contact, rubs his nose or plays with keys or other items in his pocket. These are basic signs that suggest that a person may be lying.

However, a serial liar might be able to conceal such obvious signs through his experience and boldness.

A trained body-language practitioner will be able to skilfully pose questions and retrieve both verbal and non-verbal clues. If, for example, a person is suspected of stealing from the office cash box, he can be cleverly questioned so that he will exhibit the necessary reflectors.

Should he be guilty of stealing from the cash box, he is likely to be defensive, with a tendency to scramble for an alibi. If he is innocent, he tends to be offended, and may be aggressive when questioned.

Facial expressions

Facial expressions often reveal the true emotions of a person. A smile is often taken as a happy expression, but it may not necessarily be so.

A smile with wrinkle lines around the eyes is a sign that the person is genuinely happy. A smile with raised eyebrows shows he may be trying to conceal surprise. A smile with squinted eyes and narrowed eyebrows shows he is concealing disgust. A smile with V-shaped eyebrows shows that he is happy for selfish reasons.

So you should not be too quick to interpret a smile as a sign of happiness. The trick to being a natural detective is to be observant.

At an interview

Human resource personnel do not look at candidates enough when conducting an interview. They pose questions to the candidate while screening the candidate’s resumé.

This gives the candidate an opportunity to influence the interviewing process by using clever, prepared answers. Almost all the facial expressions and body language signals are not picked up, and candidates can “bluff” their way through.

We often rely on our auditory senses when we communicate. We take in what we hear, and the brain processes the information. As we rely more on our auditory skills, we begin to neglect the visual sense in the communication process.

Try doing this: record a talk show programme on the television. Play back the programme without the sound. You are now forced to make sense of what the emotions are, simply by observing the facial expressions and body gestures.

What are the eyes saying? Are they squinting and showing disgust? Is the smile genuine or is the person smiling just to be polite? Is he distressed?

Now play back the programme with sound and see if you got it right. Did the signals you picked up correspond with the words spoken? Is the person concealing deceit?

Recently, I met a client who spoke to me in a warm and friendly manner. She smiled a lot and was engaged throughout the conversation.

However, I noticed that she had her arms folded throughout the conversation, and I asked her: “What’s bugging you?” She revealed that she had unresolved issues with her colleagues on her mind.

These special skills allow me to be more aware of my environment and to be more sensitive to what is happening around me. – Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

·Article by Christian Chua, a master practitioner in unconscious communication and a profiling expert. Extracted from Star Classifieds.