Body language. allan pease


When I first heard about ‘body language’ at a seminar in 1971, I became so excited
about it that I wanted to learn more. The speaker told us about some of the research
done by Professor Ray Birdwhistell at the University of Louisville, which had shown
that more human communication took place by the use of gestures, postures, position
and distances than by any other method. At that time I had been a commission salesman
for several years and had undergone many long, intensive courses on selling techniques,
but none of these courses had ever mentioned anything about the non-verbal aspects or
implications of face-to-face encounters.
My own investigations showed that little useful information was available on body
language and, although libraries and universities had records of the studies done on it,
most of this information consisted of closely set manuscripts and theoretical
assumptions compiled in an objective manner by people who had little or no practical
experience in dealing with other human beings. This does not mean that their work was
not important; simply that most of it was too technical to have any practical application
or use by a layman like myself.
In writing this book, I have summarised many of the studies by the leading
behavioural scientists and have combined them with similar research done by people in
other professions — sociology, anthropology, zoology, education, psychiatry, family
counseling, professional negotiating and selling.
The book also includes many ‘how to’ features developed from the countless reels
of videotape and film made by myself and others throughout Australasia and overseas,
plus some of the experiences and encounters that I have had with the thousands of
people that I have interviewed, recruited, trained, managed and sold to over the past
fifteen years.
This book is by no means the last word on body language, nor does it contain any of
the magic formulae promised by some of the books in the bookstores. Its purpose is to
make the reader more aware of his own nonverbal cues and signals and to demonstrate
how people communicate with each other using this medium.
This book isolates and examines each component of body language and gesture,
though few gestures are made in isolation from others; I have at the same time tried to
avoid oversimplifying. Non-verbal communication is, however, a complex process
involving people, words, tone of voice and body movements.
There will always be those who throw up their hands in horror and claim that the
study of body language is just another means by which scientific knowledge can be
used to exploit or dominate others by reading their secrets or thoughts. This book seeks
to give the reader greater insight into communication with his fellow humans, so that he
may have a deeper understanding of other people and, therefore, of himself.
Understanding how something works makes living with it easier, whereas lack of
understanding and ignorance promote fear and superstition and make us more critical
of others. A birdwatcher does not study birds so that he can shoot them down and keep
them as trophies. In the same way, the acquisition of knowledge and skills in
non-verbal communication serves to make every encounter with another person an
exciting experience. This book was originally intended as a working manual for sales people, sales