Body language: keep your distance in the power struggle!


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Text comes from: Die Macht der versteckten Signale: Wortwahl - Körpersprache - Emotionen. Nonverbale Widerstände erkennen und überwinden (2014) by Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka, Gabriele Schranz, published by Linde Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Just as the lips reshape our letters, our eyes and hands also emphasize our speech by their movements. What we mean, we dress not only in words, but also in looks and gestures, And we show, for example, clearly: keep me from the body.

Body language: keep your distance in the power struggle! distance


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Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka cerwinkaDr. Gabriele Cerwinka is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG.

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Gabriele Schranz SchranzGabriele Schranz is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG; Vienna - Zurich.

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With eyes threatening

How we communicate with our eyes also depends on whether we are talking or listening. When listening, the other feels as normal when we look him in the eye - we thereby signal attention, undivided attention to his message.

The situation is different for those who actively communicate, speak straight. If, while he is talking to us, he fixes us - maybe even with his eyes slightly narrowed - without letting his gaze wander in between, it will be threatening to us. The friendliest words leave us with this "side effect" a bad feeling.

Power struggle of the eyes

So it is normal to occasionally turn your eyes away during the active conversation. Only those who want to emphasize their words, who “penetrate” their counterpart with their eyes, want to hypnotize it. Unfortunately, it does not always achieve the desired effect.

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After a few minutes, the listener can only concentrate on the power struggle of the eyes and no longer perceive the content of the words. Who will lose, who will turn the look first?

Blow your nose

A threatening look can not only be supported by the contracted eye area. A typical “threatening look” is also caused by raising one or both eyebrows. So that the eyes are not opened too far (which would symbolize a rather open facial expression), pull the upper eyelids down a little.

So that the other does not disappear from the direct field of view, the head is raised slightly. This creates the typical "head teacher look": condescending, instructive, correcting.

Rump nose - but right!

In contrast to the eyes and mouth, the nose is not very "expressive". In spite of this, or precisely because of this, even the shortest noses in the face of the other person are registered very clearly and mostly consciously.

A short wrinkling of the nose is a clear sign of displeasure. "That pisses me off!" The small changes in the eyes, however, are only perceived unconsciously.

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Of the three monkeys

When we listen and are skeptical about the matter we have received, we like to hide behind a wall of protection. If we have no files at the desk in front of us, our hands have to fulfill this function.

We feel our fingers interlocked and our thumbs set up to the pointed “weir roof”. Then the other person can talk quietly, your own defense is built up. It won't penetrate our bulwark so quickly.

The hand as a protective barrier for the face

The hand also serves as a protective barrier for our face. Not only the famous three monkeys hold their eyes, ears and mouth shut, through one or the other gesture we try again and again to protect our senses from too much information from the outside.

Even if we prefer to hold back the words we are saying, we may put our hands over our mouths for a moment. In case of a lie or insecurity we like to grab our noses - is it getting longer, like the unfortunate Pinocchio? All these little ones gestures Defense or defense in conversation express in the conversation.

Internal defense

Anyone who gesticulates expansively with supposedly open arms seems dynamic and extroverted. However, if the palms are directed almost exclusively inwards, ie toward one's own body, then one would rather protect oneself from too much something new.

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The openness is deceptive - he does not let anything and nobody approach him so quickly! The crossed arms in front of the chest can also express this inner defense.

Beware of misinterpretation

But at this point we would like to introduce a fundamental consideration for the interpretation of our body language: Not every one of our gestures can be translated easily and clearly. Every movement of our body is due to some stimulus.

This stimulus can come from the outside or from the inside. Feelings and unpleasant messages can be such stimuli. So if we get a bad message and cross our arms over our chest, it's clearly a defense gesture, an emotional safeguard.


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