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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.

Here writes for you:

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.

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.

Body language: treacherous gestures

If the conversation partner's monologue becomes too long, we like to start tapping our fingers nervously on the table. A clear stop signal that reveals our true thoughts. But actually we don't want to be looked at in the cards ...


Just want to run away

The drumming on the table is like saying, "If you don't stop talking soon, I'll jump up and run away." This wanting to run away very often determines our body language.

If a negotiating partner with a calm, upright upper body and a confident facial expression is sitting at the negotiating table, he gives the impression that he is the master of the situation.

When the restlessness rises imperceptibly in us

But suddenly the feet become restless almost imperceptibly. Again and again they move back and forth. Even if this restlessness is not in the upper body spiegelt, that is an unmistakable sign that the matter is slowly getting tricky.

He wants to flee, but must suppress this impulse and thus hide the other's true feelings.

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When feelings are a disadvantage

It has become very important in our world in many situations not to show our true feelings, to preserve the appearance.

It would not be very beneficial for us if that Manager would notice what we actually think of him. Or if the customer realizes that he is about to buy the annoying shop keeper.

Treacherous body language

In any kind of negotiation, it is crucial for success not to let others look into the cards. Therefore, we try to hide our feelings as much as possible.

Many have recognized that it is just the body language that she keeps betraying. Therefore one is very concerned about a conscious use of the body language. Body language trainees are very popular not only among politicians and television supporters.

Remove the ground contact

To avoid a constant unwanted movement of the legs, we like to beat one leg over the other. Although we have immobilized the feet, but at the same time also partially lost the contact with the ground.

Only those who stand firmly on the ground with both legs have a firm “position” - they appear convincing. If he has crossed one leg over the other, there is a great risk that the “air leg” will start to move up and down restlessly.

Who will flee, who will attack?

If the tip of the foot is also directed towards the partner, the latter feels an unconscious threat. The foot step can be done at any time.

Any form of hectic and driving movements affects a conversation as an atmospheric disturbance. The conversation partner loses the thread rather, the attention is distracted from the subject matter, the hidden fight begins. Who will flee, who will attack?

When the hands contradict the words

In contrast to the words, we are less able to lie with our hands. The language of the hands is more immediate and thus much more genuine. But sometimes the gesture with the hands can also act as a weapon.

For example, who leans back in his chair and puts his hands outstretched, as if he wants to push something away, but emphasizes that he fully agrees with the matter, he lies - with his words! The hands, on the other hand, tell the truth, and with it the opposite: this is far from over, I prefer to push that far away from me.

The power of primitive times

If we stretch our hands or legs while sitting, we push something away from us, distance ourselves, enlarge our territory. The other person understands the threat: "Don't move too close, keep your distance!"

Before our primeval ancestors learned to use tools as tools and as weapons, they only had their bodies at their disposal, as the animal world does today.

Hand for self defense

The hand is very suitable as a weapon: you can bang it into a fist, hit the edge of the tense hand like a hatchet or drill your fingers into the opponent's eyes.

Granted, not too civilized ideas. Today we prefer to fight with remote-controlled rockets in case of emergency. Or in everyday working life with words.

Threaten with the fist

Sometimes, however, our hands fall into primordial patterns of behavior. Our sense of anger is then expressed directly by a clenched fist and not by an imaginary pressure on a rocket launch button!

However, we seldom hold this fist directly under the “opponent's nose” - this gesture would be too clear. We much prefer to hide them under the table, behind our back or to brake the indicated punch with the other hand.

Only in the extreme emergency does the fist slap down on the table. We do not threaten our desk, but the negotiating partner!

The karate hand

Anyone who often argues with the straight hand edge, the typical “karate hand”, clearly means:

"Don't play with me, I'm ready to strike at any time and quite capable of breaking whole brick walls!"

Drill holes in the mind with the raised index finger

Even the raised index finger represents a clear threatening gesture. If I do not aim directly at the eyes of my opponent, I would at least want to drill holes in his rigid opinion.

Anyone who constantly points with his index finger and palms down to a point in a written document acts like a swordsman who threatens to practice his sword: "If you don't do what I want, I'll stab you!"

elbow tactics

The slightly raised and forward-facing elbows are also seen as a subliminal threat. It is not for nothing that one often speaks of “elbow tactics”.

I get more space through the raised elbows, pushing all opponents seemingly far from me.

cross arms

The charm that makes my arms cross, but can also be quite different in nature: when we freeze, we make exactly the same gesture.

Another time we are just tired of long standing, looking for new support and relaxation by changing our position.

Signs of relaxation

With his arms crossed, he simply lets himself be relaxed and pleasant-I signal the other:

"I'm taking a moment back, I'll let you speak, I'm just listening!" The same gesture can be interpreted in so many ways. The real background always becomes clear from the overall context.

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3 responses to "body language: tell-tale gestures"

  1. Competencepartner says:

    The Power of Hidden Signals - Part 6: Tell-Tale Body Language: Becomes the Monologue of… #Profession #Education

  2. Simone Janson says:

    The Power of Hidden Signals - Part 6: Tell-Tale Body Language -

  3. Profession pictures says:

    The Power of Hidden Signals - Part 6: Tell-Tale Body Language -

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