Today we are going to talk about how to increase congruence in your body language display and the message you want to send. I will cover 3 of the most often used emotions on a daily basis so that you can see how to work with these on your own. Now there are 8 basic emotions per Robert Plutchik’s Psychoevolutionary Theory and they are:
Robert Plutchik developed what is known as the Psychoevolutionary Theory of emotion and this has turned out to be one of the most influential classification systems for categorizing general emotional responses.
Knowing and understanding what each of these emotions “looks” like is an important fundamental component to your tool box. There are more emotions that you can work with as you will see below, but the 8 above are a bare necessity for using body language to effectively communicate. Today we are going to talk about three common messages conveyed through body language. Dissecting all of the 8 above will be left for another day.
The three we will deal with today are sincerity (acceptance), happiness (joy) and annoyance (watered down anger)… These are great messages and can be very versatile in a communication setting. Being able to volitionally display any one of these can do a great deal for effective communication. So let’s get right into it…
- Face – The brow of the eyes is lifted just a bit. The eyes and jaw line are relaxed with relaxed full lips. Affirming head nods can be used during the communication along with interactive questioning.
- Shoulders/posture – There should be zero tension in the shoulders and your torso should be slightly leaning toward the person you are communicating with. A loose, comfortable but upright posture should be used to convey vigilant comfort. Your shoulders and torso should also be facing them directly, squarely. The only possible exception to this may be when you have two men communicating. If there is not a common understanding or comfort level it may communicating a dominant stance.
- Arms/Hands – should be out in front of you and possible touching the arms of your partner. Hands should be relaxed and your palms facing upward.
- Hips/Stance/Feet – Your hips, like your shoulders should be facing the person directly with your feet a bit closer than shoulder length apart (to show comfort and attentiveness but NOT readiness for action).
- Face – The brow of the eyes is overtly lifted and the eyes will be very open. The jaw line is a bit tense as it supports a true limbic smile. The will be displayed by lips that are pulled back and the corners of the eyes should be squinting as the cheeks are pulled upward. If possible, showing teeth is a plus…
- Shoulders/posture – The shoulders will be a bit tense and pulled slightly upward showing excitement. You will be leaning toward them and again, shoulders should be facing your communication partner directly with an upright, slightly tense posture indicating readiness to engage in the proposed action.
- Arms/Hands -Arms should be out in front of you and possible touching the arms or shoulders of your partner. Hands should be open with palms upward to show acceptance and comfort.
- Hips/Stance/Feet – Your hips, like your shoulders should be facing the person directly with your feet about shoulder width apart (to show a playful readiness for action).
- Face – The brow should be furled just a bit and the eyes will be slightly squinted. The gaze of your eyes will be held in-between their eyes and up onto their forehead. This is a tricky area as holding the gaze too long can be anger and dominance rather than annoyance. Cheeks will be slightly pulled directly upward with the squint of the eyes and the jaw line will be tense with a slight clenching of the mouth/teeth.
- Shoulders/posture – The shoulders will hold some tension in them and your posture will be erect and a bit tense. You will be facing your shoulders slightly away from them, say 20 – 30 degrees indicating and interest in leaving/disengaging.
- Arms/Hands – Arms should be straight downward and slightly in front of your body with palms facing downward and the tops of the hands facing your partners. Be sure to have your hands at least semi open as a clenched fist can show anger and aggression rather than annoyance.
- Hips/Stance/Feet – Hips, like the shoulders should be facing slightly away from them, say 20 – 30 degrees indicating an interest in leaving/disengaging.
What is important here is that we are being cognizant of each part. When you are experiencing true sincerity, happiness and annoyance, all of these things will just happen naturally… But when you are volitionally enacting them without the true emotion, it is easy to let one or a number of the components slip and an incomplete “package” will NOT ring true.
The key is to really break each component down into an “action” rather than an evaluation. For instance, a “furling of the brow” is different that the evaluation of “an angry brow”. By determining the specific action/display, you will be able to better use it in your communication.
Having a fully characterized display of each of Plutchik’s 8 emotions and any other ones that you display on a regular basis is a MUST for your communication arsenal.
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