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There has been plenty of research done on body language and when it is used, how it’s used, and why and so on. It is used all around us every day whether it is someone trying to sell you something or someone who is showing care and compassion towards you. It is being used for and against you. There are masters of body language out there using it for ‘good’ such as police officers, and detectives who use it to detect lies and deceit from the law.
There are also counsellors, therapists and other health professionals using it to know when intervention is needed with someone who isn’t feeling themselves that particular day. There are some with a moderate understanding of body language and use it to help with their personal relationships and work relationships.
The other side to this coin though, is that there are some out there that have learned body language and are using it to influence and persuade people into things which they are uncertain about. For example going out to buy a new car, the sales person wants to make a commission off the car he sells to you, and therefore will use his body language skills to build a rapport with you, make you feel comfortable and confident with them, and at this point you feel on a deeper level with the sales person; they can influence you into other products which you may not have wanted to begin with. Such is an example of how body language can be used (This is not a representation of car sales in general). The same principles apply to any situation.
Have you got a friend where from the start you both just ‘clicked’? This is body language working at your subconscious level, you probably both mirrored each other’s movements, hand gestures, and facial expressions. All this would have been done without you even noticing what was happening.
There is also tone of voice and the language which you two would have been using. These again would have happened subconsciously, you would have matched pace, tone and even the same language style being used.
All of this may seem ‘alien’ to you. However it is how human behaviour works, and those who are more in tune with body language and related skills, are able to become more aware of their own body language and that of other people. They are then able to use the techniques which they have to either influence and persuade people or use it to build a genuine rapport with people.
Human behaviour is something which has baffled people from the early ages, why we do what we do, why we behave in certain ways. It is down to who we are and what we believe in, and what we want to do. Some people who feel they are quite level-headed and know what they are doing, can be influenced into other things.
It does not matter how strong minded someone is, they can be influenced, as they will have behaviours which can be mirrored, and rapport can be built with them. It is similar to a key and a lock, once you have found the right key to their lock, you are able to open it.
Understanding the powers of body language is a good thing, when in the hands of the right people, but it can be a bad thing when it is in the hands of those who only wish to cause us harm and hurt through manipulation and persuasion.
There are cases of people giving away life savings because they have been influenced into doing it, people who said I can never be fooled and been the fool, because of influence on them. No one can be forced to do anything against their own will, but there are people out there that will try to as much as possible to go against some of their uncertainties, by using any means they have.
Dale Burden is a correspondent for Psychreg. He holds a dual honours degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Keele University.
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