Guiding people to understand reading: interpreting fashion and body language correctly

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Text comes from: Menschen verstehen und lenken: Ein FBI-Agent erklärt, wie man Körpersprache für den persönlichen Erfolg nutzt (2011) by Joe Navarro, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
Copyright:  Images created with a smartphone provided free of charge by our sponsor Mobilcom Debitel, which we checked as part of the test until it was unusable. .

Non-verbal behavior is often so obvious that it is overlooked. The external appearance is also important. It is not an art to correctly interpret the body language of your counterpart - and to adapt yourself accordingly.

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Here writes for you:


Joe Navarro Best of HR –®Joe Navarro was an FBI agent and is now a body language specialist.


From the author:





A question of the right movements: the thing with the body language

I will try to contribute the crucial - and always available - component to your personal formula for success: the ability to positively influence colleagues and employees, interpret the non-verbal signals of others, and understand their actions and goals as quickly as possible.

Non-verbal behavior encompasses a wide range of movements and gestures that can take place at lightning speed like a fluttering eye and can be as broad and sublime as the arm movements of a ballerina; For example, the way we tilt our head or the direction our feet point - and of course everything that is anatomically in between. There are numerous known legends about what certain body signals are supposed to mean.

Reading people correctly: more than a sleight of hand

The ability to "read" people is a serious science and not a cheap sleight of hand. In the following chapters you will learn how professionals make a non-verbal assessment, as I did during my service with the FBI, and you will gain an impressive wealth of knowledge on how to read the human body when in business meetings. and "speak" to us in everyday life. You will also learn that body language is only one of several components of nonverbal communication.

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It is interesting, as we keep emphasizing, that the external appearance is irrelevant, especially when you consider how much we concentrate on our external appearance (we go with the fashion; buy anti-wrinkle creams; worry about our weight; complain about it) Which celebrities have probably "put under the knife" (read in tabloids and fashion magazines, which stars and starlets are best or worst dressed, etc.). However, our apparently contradicting obsession results Senseif you understand that the external appearance is also a form of non-verbal communication.

Everything but superficial: the external appearance

The visual cortex of our brain, the data center that handles the visual input, is huge and has become a major component of our brain for two good reasons: survival and aesthetics. We notice not only the unkempt guy standing next to our car, but also the pretty young woman in the perfumery department. We constantly observe what other people look like, and make decisions about who we want to associate with on the basis of in-depth visual information - even to the extent that many are trying to imitate the style of celebrities living in Tabloids and magazines are presented as a »new, hot fashion trend«.

Our love of aesthetics and beauty is deeply rooted in our genes. In all cultures, there is a preference for beauty, health, youth, aesthetics and symmetry, which can be explained as an evolutionary necessity. We know from studies that even babies already have a sense of beauty. Aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical faces make babies smile; her pupils dilate in the unconscious effort to absorb the visual stimulus as comprehensively as possible.

On the physical presence and effect it depends

We also attach great importance to physical presence and the impact it creates. For that very reason bouncers are usually tall, awe-inspiring figures. We have a biological preference for size, which explains why our political leaders are often larger than the average of the population.

The fact that the external appearance gives us material advantages has already been explored in great detail and is referred to as a "beauty dividend". Economists have shown that attractive people tend to earn more and are more likely to be hired or promoted. In addition, it has also been found that not only the workers themselves benefit from an attractive appearance, but also their employers, because the presence of visually appealing employees leads to higher incomes. The beauty dividend is a secret that advertising professionals have known for a very long time, and that's why you see so many faces in spots and ads - especially in the context of beauty products, but also in virtually every other consumer good.

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Peter the Great: As fashion czar enforce reforms

Peter the Great, who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725 as Tsar, embarked on a long voyage through Western Europe, the so-called Great Legation, when he realized that his homeland was backward in terms of ways of thinking and customs. It was clear to him that he could only sustainably modernize his people if he managed to change his compatriots, internally and externally, so that they could compare themselves to the West. He began with the boyars (the Russian nobility), who were to serve as an example to the rest of the population. He stated that the men had to say goodbye to their long beards and hair. He also called for them to exchange their long robes for more Western clothing such as pants (imagine a Greek Orthodox priest, and get a rough idea of ​​what the clothes looked like at the time).

Working in a shipyard in Western Europe, he knew trousers were far more practical, and he wanted the Russians to be as innovative and productive as their western contemporaries. In the event that someone escaped these changes, the image of an ideal costume known as the "German style" was displayed on the city gates of Moscow, and anyone who did not comply with the new dress code was fined , It soon became too costly to resist the Tsar's bidding. A refusal to adapt was acknowledged, including the nobility, with a prison sentence and a forced shave. Resistance was therefore futile.

How our outward appearance changes our feelings

So Peter the Great began to change his people by first modifying his clothing and appearance. As the Russians began to look at themselves with different eyes, their mindset began to change as well. After only five years, Russia had changed so much that visitors from Western Europe were surprised to see how much the Russians had adjusted not only outwardly but also internally. This radical change was necessary so that Peter the Great could extend his influence in Western Europe and increase the reputation of his empire.

He knew that in the West, two things symbolized power: a great navy and big cities. On the basis of the new, modern way of thinking, which was now widely used by the people, he did everything to achieve these two goals. He built a large navy (which today is the second largest in the world) and moved the capital from Moscow to St Petersburg. This city remained the political and cultural center of the Tsarist empire in the next 200 years.

Thinking changes our actions

In just one generation, Russia has evolved from a backward country to a world power, evidence of the progressive thinking and knowledge of Tsar Peter Alexeyevich Romanov that if you want to achieve big goals you have to change your way of thinking, and you need to to change the self-image and the self-perception of the people - who are closely intertwined with the external appearance.

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Our focus on externals may not be fair, but it's just too human, and if you really want to master non-verbal communication, you need to pay attention to what external impression you and your fellow human beings make on each other.

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