Saturday, February 11, 2012

Four Serious Mistakes People Make When Reading Body Language

I read an article on Psychology Today by Ronald Riggio about the four serious mistakes people make when reading body language. I agree with 3 out of 4.

Misinterpreting a Smile

One of the mistakes mostly men make is misinterpreting a woman's smile as a seductive invitation. Studies have shown that people, particularly women, smile when uncomfortable. However, I wouldn't exactly call this a “fake smile.” I would call it an “uncomfortable smile.” This is because I am not consciously forcing myself to smile when I feel uncomfortable or nervous. It is quite the opposite! Many times I attempt to suppress the smile and laughter, but it happens anyways. I have always felt weird about the fact I act that way in such situations. It's nice to know I'm not the only one!

Believing We Can Catch People Lying

Another common body language mistake that people make is believing that they can tell when a person is lying. Usually, they believe that someone who is not truthful has trouble making eye contact. However, some people actually make more eye contact while lying to appear more honest. In addition, studies have shown that few people can spot lies above chance. People are not good at reading complex nonverbal communications, because of following stereotypes, misinterpreting cues, and individuals are different. I also agree with this, because when I lie I make eye contact. Each person reacts differently when they lie, so there is probably another body language cue that gives me away. To the untrained eye, you wouldn't catch it.

Believing that Touch Means Affection

Many people believe that touching is a sign of affection. However, touch can mean many things; it is not necessarily a sign of affection. For example, some people are more prone to touching people during a conversation to hold their attention. I also agree with this, because I have been touched on the arm by women and never thought anything of it. I am not a “toucher,” and dislike being touched by strangers. Yet, I don't misinterpret it when someone does touch me.

“Uhs” are a Sign of Nervousness

According to Ronald Riggio, “uhs” while giving a speech don't mean that the speaker is nervous or forgetful. In fact, he claims that his research has shown that “uhs” were correlated with more positive ratings of speakers. I find this extremely hard to believe, because when I listen to a speech and the person keeps saying “uh,” I feel so annoyed and irritated that I cannot focus on what is being said. I stand by my speech teacher's side when he says that “uhs” are unacceptable in speeches and quite distracting. Perhaps, I am in the minority? Do you hate it when people say “uh” during a speech? In my opinion, pausing for a moment is so much more effective.

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