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Can You Keep Your Feelings to Yourself?
By Kare Anderson   Printer Friendly Version

Actions often speak louder than words. In fact, they often precede your words as you walk into a room to meet someone. Therefore your actions are the signals you give others from which they judge you in that first seven to twenty seconds that Americans now take to make a first impression of others.

To establish a first impression of comfort and credibility, remember these three words: lower, slower and less. When you first meet someone talk and move less, with lower and slower and fewer gesture and voice rate and level. You don’t have to look comatose, just not speedy. This serves two purposes. First, people subconsciously associate self-confidence and empathy with this body style, although it has no proveable relationship to those human qualities. Second, humans, like all other animals, need to feel comfortable in a new situation before they can literally hear other people and begin to form positive feelings towards them.

The most reliable way to feel more comfortable is to get “in sync” with others. Getting in sync is a two-step dance. First, by minimizing your movements and voice in the beginning, others have less “data” to process so they can get comfortable with you more quickly. Then, second: bring out the part of you which is most like the person you are with, literally in how you look and sound to them. Why? Because people are most comfortable with and favorably disposed towards people who look right, like them. While you can’t make many changes of the four main ways we are either similar or different (age, sex, ethnicity and size) you can become more like them. Children do this instinctively. As adults we have lost the instinct to get into sync with others, except in the thrall of early romantic love.

Your every move is telling the world what you expect from it.

In fact, as adults, we tend to act more differently as we are around people unlike us, thus accentuating our differences and further increasing the sense of discomfort, distrust and potential for conflict.

How can you become more like someone else? By making your voice rate, volume and volubility and your amount and kind of gestures and other body movements approximate theirs. Before they can feel comfortable

Curious about how to read others better? Conversely, would you like some insights on how to cover your feelings when you want to keep them private from others who are around you?

Here’s a place to begin. While the expression on your face may reveal how you fee, your body language will indicate the intensity of that feeling. We literally leak --to use the scientific term -- our feelings. In fact there is a system called the Efforte-Shape system for recording body movement for study that is derived from dance choreography notation. It offers a way to attempt to understand what sequences of gesture have what meaning in what cultures.

Some gestures are nearly universal in meaning. For example, watch men in the company of other men they do not like. Their posture will become more strained, tense and often rigid. On the other hand, women tend to assume an overrelaxed position with people they dislike.

Body Signs and Their Possible Meaning

Follow this guie to observe physical changes in someone else and discern their possible emotional meaning. Remember, these indicates are not true for everyone.

may indicate an increase in some emotional feeling

blinks more:
may indicate an increase in some emotional feeling

dilated pupils:
often indicates arousal or fear

may signal embarrassment, shme, anger or guilt

talks louder and faster:
usually signals anger, fear or otehr excitement

talks slower and softer:
may signal sadness or boredom

raises body gestures:
signals a negative emotion, usually fear or anger

breathes fast and shallow:
indicates the presence of emotion

Are You Out on a Limb?
Gestures are emblems of feelings. Using too many gestures usually takes away from the potency of yoru presence, just as talking high, fast, loud and/or alot dimininshes your power and credibility.

Most people cannot help “leaking” their feelings. Fortunately few of us are attuned to noticing the often subtle signals that indicate strong emotion in others. Or we misread the signals.

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