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Text comes from the book: “The power of hidden signals: choice of words - body language - emotions. Recognizing and overcoming non-verbal resistance ”(2014), published by Linde Verlag, reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher.

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cerwinkaDr. Gabriele Cerwinka is a partner at Schranz and Cerwinka OEG and has many years of professional experience as a board secretary. After studying vocational education and communication sciences as well as international human resource management / organizational development, she has been a freelance consultant and coach for personality development, communication and office management since 1993. She is also a specialist book author and university lecturer. All texts from Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka.

schranzGabriele Schranz is a partner in Schranz and Cerwinka OEG; Vienna - Zurich. After studying business administration in Vienna, she worked in management at the Berlitz language school in Vienna. Since 1993 she has been an independent trainer and consultant for communication, professional appearance, process optimization and personal development. She mainly oversees projects in the service, doctor and assistant areas as well as communication in hospitals. She also works as a university lecturer and has already written numerous specialist books on the subject of office management and professional communication. All texts by Gabriele Schranz.

Body language: smile as a weapon

The mouth is our actual loudspeaker. The words come out as we “shape” the sounds with the muscles around the mouth. With some training, we can read from each other's lips without hearing the sound of the words.


Just make your mouth open

In addition, the mouth also emits a multitude of signals that have nothing to do with the words. The mouth is the gateway to the vital and enjoyable food intake. If something does not taste good, we simply close our mouths.

If we do not agree with our conversation partner, we squeeze our lips together. Although perhaps our slightly inclined head is a thoughtful gesture , the pressed lips clearly show a defense. We do not let the other opinion approach us, the mouth serves as a barrier. This kind of silence, therefore, should never be regarded as consent!

A smile that enchants

One of the most important signals of our mouth is the smile. How does a smile come about? When did we learn it? Nothing captivates the parents as much as the first smile of their baby. Many developmental psychologists are of the opinion that this is only an unconscious muscle movement in the face of the small earth citizen.

The angle of the mouth pulls up at random. And how do parents react to it? Through joyful attention, through loving words and through a conscious smile. Does the toddler only learn through this reaction that his smile has a positive effect?

Surely, there is also the inborn smile: just as the face, eyes and mouth tighten with the taste of a lemon, the corner of the mouth rises slightly at the thought of something sweet, pleasant or pleasurable. This expression is expressed - similar to the lemon example - also from the eyes.

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Smile as a weapon

It is quite different with the typical victorious smile: a series of radiant white, flawless teeth flashes out of a brown-burned face. With so much shine no one looks any more in the eyes anyway. The victor smiles and shows his teeth - our consciousness wants us to convince him that he is friendly and open to us.

But our subconscious mind also probably records the threat behind it. A dog would never come up with the idea to keep the bled teeth of another dog for a friendly welcome! This kind of smile - the lips only open so far that the teeth are clearly visible - is almost an open threat.

Cold Smiling fed off

But there is also the far more harmless, binding smile. The corners of the mouth pull upwards, but otherwise there is no muscle in the face, the eyes remain completely uninvolved. Sometimes it is accompanied by a slight nods. This smile has somehow tense, the binding gesture only pretends - behind it hides indifference and disinterest.

The other does not feel taken seriously, real Communication This creates even less than with a real threatening gesture.

Smile as a threat

A threat can lead to confrontation and thus to the confrontation with the other. But such a supposedly binding gesture says:

"For me you are not an opponent to be taken seriously, I feed you off with a smile - and then on to important things!" This is how a generally friendly greeting ritual - the smile - has become a barrier that is often difficult to overcome.

Behavioral patterns of the Stone Age

Many of our body language behavior patterns have been the same since ancient times. This is particularly evident in the area of ​​"defense gestures". Before man had elaborate weapons and defense mechanisms, he had only his body available for combat and protection.

And he knew there were more or less sensitive body parts. A fist in the belly or a bite in the neck is still mostly fatal today.

Defense: Turn the body aside

If, on the other hand, the blow was removed with the arm, there was at most one broken bone, but usually no life-threatening injury.

Therefore, our ancestors attacked an attacker with a body turned to the side, facing the somewhat more insensitive bone side, thus protecting the sensitive soft parts.

Open body

This behavior pattern has remained the same to this day. An open posture presents the other person with the vulnerable front - neck, chest and stomach. "I'm not afraid of you, I'm not taking cover."

In turn, we unconsciously turn our bone side, our side face, to a potential opponent. We show him the cold shoulder. The other feels the subconscious movement, the barrier.

Body language barriers

Communicating with someone in a friendly way "over the shoulder" is difficult. The bone-side conversation barrier gets in the way.

This often imperceptible lateral turning is one of the most common body language barriers.

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2 responses to "body language: smile as a weapon"

  1. Profession pictures says:

    The Power of Hidden Signals - Part 2: Smile as a Weapon -

  2. Simone Janson says:

    The Power of Hidden Signals - Part 2: Smile as a Weapon -

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