Never Underestimate Body Language

I’ve been watching YouTube videos on body language in the evenings when the alternative is some kung fu movie from the 60s. It’s so interesting. While I generally had a feeling that, oh, that person is dishonest, or that person is genuinely happy, or whatever, I never really had a reason why I thought that. Just a vibe. Now I know.

But I realized the other night, while watching these, I send out mixed body signals. And this explains my whole life! People don’t take me seriously. They question my motives and integrity constantly. Sales people avoid me even if I’m flashing cash and telling them exactly what I want. The three people closest to me will ask me the same question four or five times until they feel satisfied that I’m telling them the truth. Even then, I usually get a raised eyebrow or two. It’s so frustrating!

For example, Sweetie will say, “I’m planning to go watch the game with the guys.” I say, “Ok. Have fun.” What  I mean is, “Please, for the love of Pete, go have fun with your guy friends.” What my body language says is, “You jerk. I don’t get to go anywhere, why should you?” Then he stays home and we’re both mad. Raahr. I’ve been trying to figure out for years why people treat me differently. Now I know.

So apparently, the tell of a liar, which I always thought was shifty eyes, is a very still body. I was a fidgety child. I was constantly told to hold still. Stop jiggling your leg. Stop dancing. Stop jumping when you’re talking to me. Don’t tap your fingers. Stop clicking your pen….

I’m still fidgety, but when I talk to people, I concentrate on not moving. When I’m talking to someone I also have to focus very hard on their lips because otherwise my mind will wander and I’ll lose important parts of what they’re saying. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, but I’ve also never been tested. Anyway, so when I’m doing what I think I need to do to have a conversation, my body is screaming, I’m lying to you with every word of my mouth. So frustrating. Because I’m not. I might tell you the polite version of what I’m thinking, because generally speaking, I’m not a jerk; but it is actually what I’m thinking.

Another thing I was made aware of several years ago is that I seem cold, defensive, and snobbish because I fold my arms across my waist. Part of this is the environment in which I was raised. I grew up at the apex of the evangelical purity culture in Utah where the common culture is already afraid of visible knee caps and shoulders. Then, to my utter horror, I started getting a figure very young and by the time I was 14, I could make Barbie blush. So, to avoid being the object of someone’s lust (if you don’t understand, in the purity culture, the woman is responsible for the thought life of men), I kept my arms folded neatly across my waist to hide that I had a figure at all.

As a byproduct, I am telling you right now, I don’t know what else to do with my arms! I mean, they just flop there at your sides like jelly. They’re kind of in the way when you’re not using them. What else am I supposed to do with them? I’ve mostly negated this by always having a baby in my arms or holding something, but my kids are now to the age where those things aren’t an option anymore and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my arms.

Anyway, the science of body language is fascinating. I was introduced to these videos through the History Channel and  Bombard’s Body Language videos. I’ve linked to them if you want to check it out yourself.


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