So you want to stay safe and use every edge possible to ensure your personal safety. Most of us have heard about body language. It's a powerful, yet underrated tool of empowerment.
Powerful body language can do wonders for your confidence and help ensure your safety. But not everything you may have heard about body language is true. Let's examine a few of the common body language beliefs, and tell you why many are myths. Test your knowledge as we guide you through some of the body language myths and misconceptions.
NO EYE CONTACT INDICATES LYING / EYE DIRECTION GIVES YOU AWAY
Your eyes give you away, right? Well, not always. Two common beliefs are liars don't make eye contact, and eye direction indicates lying. Not always true. Lack of eye contact can happen for a number of reasons, including a short attention span, autism, or even cultural reasons. Pathological liars are more likely to be skilled in the art of manipulation and some have no problem in maintaining direct eye contact when telling lies.
When it comes to the direction of eyes, or the ways eyes shift when talking, there is a common belief that shifty eyes indicate deception. However, researchers analyzing body language have found no connection between where the eyes move and whether a person is telling the truth. Most experts think that detecting lying is far more complicated than eye movement. (source: brainfodder.org)
TALKING WITH YOUR HANDS IS UNPROFESSIONAL
Gesturing as you talk can actually help your thinking. Gestures can also help listeners track and interpret what you are saying. Brain imaging has shown a link between gestures and speech. Keeping your hands still when you speak could limit your effectiveness as a communicator. (source: carolkinseygoman.com )
ARMS CROSSED IS A NEGATIVE SIGN
Folding your arms in front of your body is almost a universal gesture. Most people think this body language is a sign of personal defense or a need for personal safety; the person wants to be left alone or is being defensive.
But people cross their arms for a number of reasons including feeling cold, tired, or it might be a way to comfort or reassure the person doing it.
BODY LANGUAGE TO IMPROVE PERSONAL SAFETY
At Mace® Brand, we are committed to providing community and family safety through individual empowerment. While body language can offer insights into the emotional state of someone, it cannot tell us why a person is exhibiting that emotion.
Here are a few ways to improve your body language to help increase your personal safety.
Stand up straight, make eye contact, smile for real, and lean in. Leaning in shows openness and attention. A real smile is infectious and can turn the tables on what could be a negative encounter. Making eye contact and standing up straight both convey confidence, which makes you a much less likely target. Remember, criminals usually look for easy targets.
The Power Pose
Claim your space and presence. You can do this without being rude. Try "power posing" during a meeting at work, on a bus or a train, or even while riding an elevator. Power posing involves spreading out and striking confident postures, such as hands on a table, arms on your hips, with both feet placed wide apart. These poses have been proven to boost confidence, and send a signal to those around you that you're confident and in control.
Remember when your parents or grandparents could get you to behave at church, the dinner table, or family functions by sternly looking at you? You can practice "the look" in public. Try it on friends first, and ask for their feedback. You want to look serious, confident, and convincing.
Eyes and Eyebrows
The muscles around your eyes are called the ocular orbital muscles. When people are suspicious or intensely curious, their ocular orbitals will tighten. If you see someone narrow their eyes at you, try to figure out what they are hung up on and ask for clarification or an explanation. Conversely, analyzing body language has shown that if you feel your eyes narrowing, that could indicate to a potential assailant that your are suspicious of their behavior. Tense or lowered eyebrows is usually a very dominant gesture. It is common for someone to express anger by lowering their eyebrows. If you tilt your head down, this also is a sign of anger or disapproval.
Effective body language skills takes practice. And now that you know what to work on, take some time to improve your body language and improve your own personal safety and empowerment.
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