Mirroring and more - use body language to your advantage
Don’t try to pull the wool over Allan Pease’s eyes, ‘Mr Body Language’ can spot a lie at five paces - mind you, his wife can do it at 10 paces.
The mischievous Aussie has sold more than 25 million books worldwide and has entertained CEOs through to housewives with his on-the-nose observations of human behaviour. However, he’s not afraid to admit that he’s got nothing on his wife and business partner Barbara when it comes to reading someone.
“I’m great at it but I’m nowhere near as good as Barbara,” he says candidly. “When it comes to catching lies face to face, the average female is three times better than a man at picking it. They have an intuitive ability to read a person. Most of the time they can’t articulate how they know someone is lying, they just know ‘this guy is full of it’.”
Where it becomes interesting is when someone believes their own lies. Pease adds: “If you believe what you’re saying, even if the rest of us don’t, then you will appear, to all intent and purpose, that it’s the absolute truth because body language is reflecting your emotional state.”
You can also fake body language, he says, but it depends on how good an actor you are on how long you can pull it off.
“You can only fake the big gestures, all the small ones - nostril flaring, pupils dilation, skin colour change - you can’t fake those and that’s what women are so good at picking up on the minor contradictions.”
‘Women’s intuition’, Pease says, is simple evolutionary programming.
“Women needed to be able to look at their babies and determine what behaviours say frightened, tired or hungry. If you look at women’s evolutionary history, if a stranger was approaching, women needed to know quickly whether to come out or stay hidden. The person’s body signals would give you that clue. These things weren’t so much of an issue for men,” he laughs, “because if he wasn’t sure about someone, he’d just hit him with a great big rock!”
Pease was a salesman 30 years ago when he first discovered body language and he wanted to use it to influence customers.
He recalls: “I became so excited about it that I wanted to learn more. A speaker at a seminar told us about research which showed that more human communication took place by the use of gestures, postures, position and distances than by any other method.”
Being a born salesman and able to spot a gap in the market - he was selling rubber sponges door-to-door in Melbourne at the age of 10 - he realised there was very little information available on body language.
“While there were academic studies, most of it was too technical to have any practical application or use by a layman like myself,” he says. So he wrote the book ‘Body Language’ in 1978, which became a huge success.
Today his advice is sought out by business executives, rock stars and even prime ministers. His best-selling books have led to appearances on TV and radio throughout the world and people clamour to attend his seminars, which he conducts in more than 20 countries.
Pease says understanding body language can help you get what you want from your life.
He explains: “When people are getting on well, they do a thing called ‘mirroring’ - they start to make the same movements, gestures and even the tone of voice starts matching. Being in sync with someone is a very powerful way of warming people up to you. They probably can’t pinpoint what it is but they’ll say, ‘oh when I first met you, we hit it off straight away’.
“If someone likes you, they’re predisposed to giving you a fair hearing. If they like you, they’ll look for a reason to say ‘yes’ to you or, if you screw something up, they’ll try to explain away why it’s not an issue.”
You can deliberately mirror or copy someone to develop an immediate rapport and create a relaxed atmosphere, Pease says. But be subtle about it. Be too obvious and they may think you are some kind of mad stalker!
And there’s no benefit in mirroring your boss if they are using body language to show their superiority and dominance. That could seriously upset the applecart.
Learn more from Mr Body Language at his ‘Communicating for Results’ workshop at Le Meridien Hotel, Dubai on Thursday. Visit www.rightselection.com