Hey, New Best Friend!
People who are well-schooled in the finer points of body language know how to use it to their advantage—every day, in every situation. Despite your best intentions, you sometimes end up being the pawns in their little schemes. Is there a way to watch out for this kind of sketchy behavior? Why, yes, there is! In fact, if you know the other person’s motivation for being extra-super nice to you, his body language not only becomes obvious, it becomes downright predictable.
You’re the Best! Sign Here, Please
Take, for example, the classic salesman. If he’s any good at his job, you want to like him, even though you know you should take anything he says with a grain of salt. You’re wondering if he’s the exception to the rule, the honest needle in the otherwise shady haystack. The answer: probably not. He might be a great guy, but he has a job to do. Part of that job includes charming potential customers so that they’ll drop their guard along with their hard-earned cash.
Someone who’s working hard to win you over will:
• Smile. A lot.
• Use a firm handshake.
• Use eye contact in a way that makes you take notice. (He doesn’t over- or underuse it.)
• Widen his eyes and possibly raise his eyebrows as you speak.
• Nod when you speak.
Yes, this guy knows exactly how to reel you in, make you feel like his numero uno customer, and sell you an inferior product at a ridiculous markup. And what’s more, you may be well aware that this guy isn’t for real, and you end up falling for his act anyway. Don’t feel too badly about it; you aren’t his first victim and you won’t be his last.
Protecting Yourself Against False Charms
What is this power that body language has over people, and how can you defend yourself against it? Is there some sort of invisible shield available to those who are extremely gullible, or should everyone simply adopt a completely cynical attitude?
While cynicism is certainly one way to protect against professional fibbers, it’s also a really lousy way to go through life. Sure, you’ll end up blocking access to the undesirables, but you’ll also end up shielding yourself from good, genuine people. No, the best way to fight back is to arm yourself with knowledge: What are the classic body language signs that indicate lying? Which signs tell you that someone may not necessarily be lying, but may not be telling you the whole truth? In asking (and answering) these questions, what you’re really looking for are the practical uses of an understanding of body language.