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Neural substrates of basic emotions
Neuropsychology of emotion
In addition to the researchers mentioned in each section, a number of studies have also
been conducted in collaboration with Andy Young (University of York), Dave Perrett
(University of St Andrews), and Andrew Lawrence(Cardiff).
Research discussed below addressing the neural underpinnings of fear and disgust are
summarised in a review article - 'The Neuropsychology of Fear and Loathing' (Calder,
Lawrence, and Young, 2001b; Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2(5), 352-363). Here we
argue that brain mechanisms underlying these two emotions are coded by separate, but
overlapping systems. A system for fear in which the amygdala appears to be critical, and
another for disgust in which the important neural structures are the insula and parts of the
basal ganglia (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Research summarised below discusses the involvement of the amygdala in fear
processing and insula/basal ganglia regions in disgust processing. This graphic illustrates
the position of these structures in the brain.
Impaired recognition of fear and anger following bilateral amygdala damage
An investigation of two cases with bilateral amygdala damage, DR and SE revealed that
both have problems in recognising facial expressions of fear, and to a lesser extent anger
(Calder et al., 1996b). Additional collaborative projects with Ralph Adolphs (Caltech,
USA) and Paul Broks (Plymouth), have confirmed the amygdala's role in processing
facial expressions of emotion, and in particular fear (Adolphs et al., 1999; Broks et al.,
1998).
A collaborative project with Sophie Scott (University College London), addressed the
contribution of the amygdala to the recognition of emotion from vocal cues (Scott et al.,
1997) in case DR. Results showed that DR demonstrates an identical pattern in the vocal
domain (i.e., impaired recognition of vocal signals of fear and anger), supporting the
view that the amygdala contributes to the recognition of these emotions across different
sensory modalities (Calder et al., 2001b). This proposal is also supported by a

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collaborative functional imaging (fMRI) project with Mary Phillips (Institute of
Psychiatry) (Phillips et al., 1998), which showed enhanced amygdala signals for facial
and vocal signals of fear (see below).
A Neural Response in the Human Amygdala to Fearful Facial Expressions
Collaborative projects with Ray Dolan at the Wellcome Department of Cognitive
Neurology, used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to investigate participants'
perception of different intensities of facial expressions of fear and happiness (see
perception of facial expressions page) (Figure 2) (Morris et al, 1996; 1998). The results
demonstrated that fear, but not happy facial expressions produced increased rCBF in the
amygdala. Moreover, activation in the amygdala was positively correlated with
increasing intensity of facial expressions of fear, and negatively correlated with
increasing intensity of facial expressions of happiness (Figure 3).

Figure 2: The two image sequences show examples of the morphed continua used. The
sequences ranged between neutral and afraid (top) and neutral and happy (bottom)
expressions (100%), and then beyond to caricatured (125%) versions of each expression.
Participants viewed examples of the images in a block design. Different levels of
exaggeration of each emotion were presented in separate blocks (i.e., 25% fear images,
75% happy images were shown in separate blocks).

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Figure 3: Activation in the amygdala showed a linear relationship with decreasing
intensity of happiness and increasing intensity of fear (see Figure 2). A fear minus happy
contrast also showed increased rCBF in the amygdala.
Impaired recognition of disgust
Collaborative work with Reiner Sprengelmeyer has demonstrated that Huntington's
disease causes a disproportionate impairment in recognising facial expressions of disgust
(Sprengelmeyer et al., 1996; Sprengerlmeyer et al., 1997). To investigate further the role
of the basal ganglia in coding this emotion, an additional project examined two
psychiatric disorders associated with abnormal metabolic activity in this brain region -
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (Braun et al.,
1995; Rapoport, 1989; Rapoport & Fiske, 1998). The results showed that the OCD group
and sub-group of the Tourette's group with co-morbid OCD symptoms showed a
selective impairment in recognising disgust facial expressions. These findings emphasise
the role of the basal ganglia in recognising disgust. In addition, it was proposed that the
presence of OCD symptoms in the patients' childhood years may have led to a weakened
mapping between self-experienced emotion and the facial expressions of others.
Functional imaging studies of disgust
Huntington's disease, OCD and Tourette's syndrome are not characterised by focal
neuropathology. Hence, although these patient-based studies point towards the probable
involvement of the basal ganglia in disgust, the evidence is indirect. In this respect
functional imaging research has been particularly informative. Collaborative work with
Mary Phillips (IOP) (Phillips et al., 1998; Phillips et al., 1997) has identified two areas
involved in processing facial expressions of disgust - the insula and the basal ganglia
(Figures 4&5). Insula involvement is particularly interesting given its identified role in
gustatory function (Augustine, 1996; Small et al., 1999). Of equal relevance is research

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showing that lesions to the insula or pallidum of rats interferes with conditioned taste
aversion (Dunn & Everitt, 1988; Hernadi, Zaradi, Faludi, & Lenard, 1997). Together
these findings concur with Rozin and colleagues' (Rozin & Fallon, 1987; Rozin, Lowery,
& Ebert, 1994) proposal that disgust has developed from a more primitive system
involved in distaste.

Figure 4: Examples of stimuli used by Phillips et al (1997). Two levels of disgust and
fear expressions were used â€" morphed (blended) images containing 75% of the
expression and 25% neutral, and 150% caricatures of the expressions (see perception of
facial expressions page). The baseline condition contained morphs composed of 25%
happiness and 75% neutral.

Figure 5: Left - the neural correlates of viewing disgust facial expressions (disgust minus
baseline [25% happy condition]) for both 75% and 150% disgust images. Both show
significant signals in the insula and basal ganglia. Right â€" anterior insula activation

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associated with the 150% disgust minus 75% disgust contrast. Contrasts involving the
fear expressions replicated the involvement of the amygdala discussed above (Figure 3).
A cross-model system for recognising disgust
We have provided further evidence for the role of the insula/basal ganglia regions in
processing disgust in the form of a case study of a man (NK) with a focal lesion affecting
these areas (Calder, Keane, Manes, Antoun, & Young, 2000b). NK's damage is
lateralised to the left and includes the insula, putamen, internal capsule, globus pallidus,
and the head of the caudate (Figure 6). NK showed highly selective impairments in
recognising disgust from facial and vocal cues; his self-reported experience of disgust
was also significantly reduced. NK's results are consistent with damage to a system
involved in both the recognition of disgust from different sensory modalities and the
experience of this emotion.

Figure 6: Axial (left) and coronal (right) T1-weighted MR images showing a left
hemisphere infarction involving the posterior part of the anterior insula, posterior insula,
internal capsule, the putamen and the globus pallidus. Coronal (right) image also shows
damage to the head of the caudate nucleus. To aid interpretation, the intact right putamen
(P) and intact right globus pallidus (GP) (axial section (left)), and intact right head of
caudate (CN) (coronal section (right)) have been traced. Insula lesion is identified by a
white arrow (I).
Differential effects of ageing on the recognition of fear and disgust
In line with the proposal that separate neural systems underlie the recognition of fear and
disgust, we have found differential effects of ageing on the recognition of these emotions
(Calder et al., 2002). On two tests of facial expression recognition with five age groups
ranging from 20-30 years to 60-70 years, increasing age produced a progressive reduction
in the recognition of fear and, to a lesser extent, anger. In contrast, older participants
showed absolutely no reduction in recognition of facial expressions of disgust, rather
there was evidence of an improvement. Recognition of other facial expressions showed
no significant evidence of deterioration (or enhancement) across age groups. These
results are consistent with the differential effects of ageing on two brain regions
underlying the recognition of fear and disgust. In relation to fear, research has shown that

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medial temporal pathology (including the amygdala) is a consequence of normal ageing
(Anderton, 1997), while fMRI research has demonstrated reduced amygdala activation to
negative facial expressions with increasing age (Iidaka et al., 2001). In contrast, the gross
structure and neurochemistry of a region of the basal ganglia implicated in taste aversion
(Hernadi et al., 1997), OCD, and fMRI studies of disgust (Calder et al., 2002), is largely
spared by ageing (Raz, 2000).
The contribution of frontal systems to facial expression recognition
The work discussed above identifies separate neural mechanisms involved in processing
fear (amygdala) and disgust (insula and basal ganglia). Other studies, however, have
emphasised the important role of the frontal lobes in processing emotional cues in
general, and some have suggested that the systems involved in coding individual
emotions may feed into more general emotion systems in frontal cortex (Sprengelmeyer,
Rausch, Eysel, & Przuntek, 1998). If this is correct, then we would expect to see general
emotion recognition impairments following frontal cortex damage. We recently
investigated this issue in a case series of patients with frontal variant frontotemporal
dementia (fvFTD) (Keane, Calder, Hodges, & Young, 2002), a condition that largely
affects the frontal regions of the brain but particularly the ventromedial frontal lobes. The
results showed that fvFTD was associated with impaired recognition of a number of
emotions from both facial and auditory cues. In contrast, there was no evidence of
impaired recognition of identity from faces. These results emphasise a role for the frontal
lobes in processing emotional cues from different sensory modalities. In addition, they
suggest that previous reports of impaired facial expression recognition in the absence of
impaired facial identity recognition, may have been incorrect to interpret this pattern as
the antithesis of prosopagnosia (impaired facial identity recognition). Rather, as
suggested by the results of the fvFTD study, this pattern may instead reflect impaired
recognition of emotion.
Perceptual and motor codes involved in facial expression recognition
It is tempting to think of the perceptual mechanisms underlying facial expression
recognition as analogous to those for facial identity. However, we should be cautious of
adopting this view for a number of reasons. Foremost amongst these is that we not only
recognise expressions in other people's faces, we generate them ourselves. Hence, in
addition to a visual code, the mental representation of facial expressions has the added
requirement of a motor-program code (to produce the expression). The extent to which
these two codes interact is unclear. To investigate this issue, we studied a group of
participants with a rare congenital disorder that causes facial diplegia (Möbius
Syndrome) (Calder, Keane, Cole, Campbell, & Young, 2000a), meaning that they have
never produced facial expressions. Anecdotal reports had suggested that this group are
severely impaired at recognising facial expressions, but until now, there has been no
systematic research. We found no evidence of marked deficits in facial expression
recognition in the Möbius individuals. These findings demonstrate that there is minimal
interaction between motor-code and visual representations for facial expression
recognition.
Eye gaze processing

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We have explored the role of eye gaze in social interaction using functional imaging
(PET) (Calder et al., 2002). This initial study investigated Baron-Cohen's (1997) proposal
that the interpretation of gaze plays an important role in a normal functioning theory of
mind (ToM) system. Consistent with this proposal, previous functional imaging research
has shown that both ToM and eye gaze tasks engage a similar region of posterior superior
temporal sulcus (STS). However, a second, more prominent brain region associated with
ToM, the medial prefrontal (MPF) cortex, had not been identified by the eye gaze
research. Certain methodological issues that might account for the absence of MPF
activation in these experiments were identified, and a PET study that controlled for these
factors addressed the neural correlates of processing direct and averted gaze. The results
showed that the MPF regions associated with ToM were indeed involved in processing
gaze, but particularly averted gaze (Figure 7). Moreover, because participants were not
explicitly asked to attend to the faces' gaze, the study demonstrates that simply viewing a
face with averted gaze is sufficient to engage the mechanisms involved in ToM.

Figure 7: Medial frontal region (BA 8/9) involved in viewing faces with averted gaze.
Selective impairment in anger recognition
A collaborative project with Andrew Lawrence (CBU) investigated the neurochemical
basis of emotion perception. Offensive aggression occurs in the context of
resource/dominance disputes in a wide variety of species. Hence, the possibility arises
that a specific neural system may have evolved to detect and coordinate responses to this
specific form of threat. The dopamine system has been implicated in the processing of
social signals of offensive aggression in social-agonistic encounters in several species. In
this study, we found that dopaminergic antagonism in healthy male volunteers, following
acute administration of the dopamine D2-class receptor antagonist sulpiride, produced a
selective disruption in the recognition of facial expressions of anger, signals of offensive
aggression in humans. In contrast, recognition of other emotions and the matching of
unfamiliar faces, were not significantly affected.

Emotion is one of the most controversial topics in psychology, a source of


intense discussion and disagreement from the earliest philosophers and other

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Common representation
thinkers to the present day. Most
of angry emotion experience:
psychologists can probably agree on a "steamed up" with hot glowing
description of emotion, e.g., what eyes, and uncontrolled
phenomena to include in a discussion of appearance. Is it the same across
people?
emotion. The enumeration of these parts of
emotion are called the "components of
emotion" here. These components are
distinguished on the basis of physiological or
psychological factors and include emotion
faces, emotion elicitors, and emotion neural
Interpersonal aggression in the
processes.
form of instrumental behaviors
Components of Emotion
produced by skeletal muscles is
The component that seems to be the core of often a concomitant of anger.
common sense approaches to emotion, the
one that most people have in mind when
talking about human emotions, is the feeling
component, i.e., the passion or sensation of
emotion. For example, people generally
agree that the state of mind during anger is
different from that when one is happy. This
component is also one of the most
contentious in scientific discussions of
emotion, raising many questions such as:
A bright idea can bring a pleasant
emotion, or pleasant emotions
• to what extent are such feelings,
can foster bright ideas.
especially the claimed differences in
quality, based on real physical differences?
• is the feeling quality of a particular emotion shared among people?
• what is the nature of the differences in quality among emotions?
• what underlies or produces these feelings?
• what importance or function do such feelings have?

Another obvious descriptive component of emotion is the set of behaviors that


may be performed and observed in conjunction with an emotion. These
behaviors are produced by the striated muscular system and are of two general
types: gross behaviors of the body effected by the skeletal muscles and the so-
called emotion expressions. These categories shade into each other because
any behavior can be interpreted as expressing emotion. The gross body
behaviors may have no apparent adaptive value, e.g., wringing and rubbing the
hands or tapping a foot, or they may be directed towards a goal, e.g., striking
something or running away. In the field of animal behavior, discovering the
adaptive function and organization of behaviors in situations analogous to human
emotion, and speculating on the evolutionary patterns of these behaviors is an
established endeavor. This emphasis has not typically been given to the study of
human emotions by psychologists. The facial and bodily behaviors called
"emotion expressions" are indicators of emotion, as opposed to effecting some

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action or achieving some goal. These expressions can differentiate
one emotion from another. The most widely discussed and
investigated emotion expressions are the emotion faces (see the
examples of emotional
expressions).
A less obvious component
of emotion is the set of
Adrenalin is a secretion that affects many organs and internal bodily changes
may contribute to the felt quality of emotion. caused by the smooth
muscles and glands. Chemicals secreted by the body's various glands are
activated during emotion and spread to other parts of the body, usually by the
blood, to act in diverse ways on the nervous system and other organs. Smooth
muscles of the digestive system, circulatory system, and other bodily
components can shift from their typical level or type of operation during emotion
under the effects of chemical and neural action. This component includes some
behaviors that can be observed, such as the constriction or dilation of the iris of
the eye, possibly piloerection, and sweating, blanching, and flushing of the skin,
and other responses that are relatively hidden, such as heart rate, stomach
activity, and saliva production.
Another less observable component
in emotion consists of the ideation,
imagery, and thoughts that occur
during emotion. These aspects of
emotion are also cognitive activities,
and can both give rise to an
emotional event and be affected by
Computers often elicit frustration and anger it, e.g., thinking about a lost pet may
evoke feelings of sadness, which may in turn evoke memories of a romance now
finished. Since thoughts and other cognitions, like feelings, cannot be directly
observed and are hard to measure, there is less understanding of how they fit
into the emotion picture than other components.
The circumstances that give rise to emotions comprise another component,
called the "elicitors" of emotion. These elicitors might be internal or external to
the organism, e.g., a frightening pain in one's chest or a frightening dog at one's
heels. Some events seem to activate similar emotion in people of all cultures, for
example, the death of one's own child typically elicits sadness. Other things, such
as what foods are relished or rejected with disgust, vary widely according to
acculturation.
Finally, the neural processes that underlie much of the preceding activities can
be considered a component of the emotion process, especially how the neurons
and their emotional concomitants are organized centrally in the brain. Many
contemporary research studies, and thus a lot of the research money, is
focussed on anatomical and functional aspects of brain activity in regard to
emotion.

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Theories of Emotion
Beyond the descriptive approach to emotion, there are theories of emotion, which
attempt to specify the interrelationships among components as described above
and the causes, sources, and functions of emotional responses. Disagreement
characterizes the intellectual climate surrounding emotion theories, but there are
several works in print that summarize these approaches for the interested reader.
The Theories of Emotion page of this section summarizes some of the most
important theoretical statements on emotion that emphasize the role of the face.
Expression of Emotion
Emotion expression is another area of controversy, but at the descriptive level,
some behaviors tend to occur with other components of emotion, and seem to
reveal the quality of the emotion to an observer. The Emotion Expressions page
of this section discusses the relations between emotion and facial expression.

Emotion and Facial Expression


Neither emotion nor its expression are concepts universally embraced by
psychologists. The term "expression" implies the existence of something that is
expressed. Some psychologists deny that there is really any specific organic
state that corresponds to our naive ideas about human emotions; thus, its
expression is a non sequitur. Other psychologists think that the behaviors
referenced by the term "expression" are part of an organized emotional
response, and thus, the term "expression" captures these behaviors' role less
adequately than a reference to it as an aspect of the emotion reaction. Still other
psychologists think that facial expressions have primarily a communicative
function and convey something about intentions or internal state, and they find
the connotation of the term "expression" useful. Some of these theoretical views
are discussed briefly on the Theories of Emotion page. Regardless of approach,
certain facial expressions are associated with particular human emotions.
Research shows that people categorize emotion faces in a similar way across
cultures, that similar facial expressions tend to occur in response to particular
emotion eliciting events, and that people produce simulations of emotion faces
that are characteristic of each specific emotion. Despite some unsettled
theoretical implications of these findings, a consensus view is that in studies of
human emotions, it is often useful to know what facial expressions correspond to
each specific emotion, and the answer is summarized briefly below.
To match a facial expression with an emotion implies knowledge of the
categories of human emotions into which expressions can be assigned. For
millennia, scholars have speculated about categories of emotion, and recent
scientific research has shown that facial expressions can be assigned reliably to
about seven categories, though many other categories of human emotions are
possible and used by philosophers, scientists, actors, and others concerned with
emotion. The recent development of scientific tools for facial analysis, such as
the Facial Action Coding System, has facilitated resolving category issues. The

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most robust categories are discussed in the following paragraphs. This page
shows some thumbnails of emotion faces, and there are links to other emotion
faces. Click on the thumbnail image for each emotion category to access other
facial expression illustrations and facial analysis commentary on the expressive
elements of each emotion face.
Happy
Happy expressions are universally and easily recognized, and are
interpreted as conveying messages related to enjoyment, pleasure, a
positive disposition, and friendliness. Examples of happy expressions
are the easiest of all emotions to find in photographs, and are readily
produced by people on demand in the absence of any emotion. In fact, happy
expressions may be practiced behaviors because they are used so often to hide
other emotions and deceive or manipulate other people. Consider this point when
viewing invariably smiling political figures and other celebrities on television.
Detecting genuine happy expressions may be as valuable as producing good
simulations. Some of the differences in genuine versus false smiles are shown in
the action of zygomatic major in Expression section, and more illustrations are
available by clicking the happy thumbnail on the right.
Sad
Sad expressions are often conceived as opposite to happy ones, but
this view is too simple, although the action of the mouth corners is
opposite. Sad expressions convey messages related to loss,
bereavement, discomfort, pain, helplessness, etc. Until recently,
American culture contained a strong censure against public displays of sadness
by men, which may account for the relative ease of finding pictures of sad
expressions on female faces. A common sense view, shared by many
psychologists, is that sad emotion faces are lower intensity forms of crying faces,
which can be observed early in newborns, but differences noted between these
two expressions challenge this view, though both are related to distress.
Although weeping and tears are a common concommitant of sad expressions,
tears are not indicative of any particular emotion, as in tears of joy.
Anger
Anger expressions are seen increasingly often in modern society, as
daily stresses and frustrations underlying anger seem to increase, but
the expectation of reprisals decrease with the higher sense of personal
security. Anger is a primary concomitant of interpersonal aggression,
and its expression conveys messages about hostility, opposition, and potential
attack. Anger is a common response to anger expressions, thus creating a
positive feedback loop and increasing the likelihood of dangerous conflict. Until
recent times, a cultural prohibition on expression of anger by women, particularly
uncontrolled rage expressions, created a distribution of anger expressions that
differed between the sexes. The uncontrolled expression of rage exerts a toxic
effect on the angry person, and chronic anger seems associated with certain
patterns of behavior that correspond to unhealthy outcomes, such as Type A

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behavior. Although frequently associated with violence and destruction, anger is
probably the most socially constructive emotion as it often underlies the efforts of
individuals to shape societies into better, more just environments, and to resist
the imposition of injustice and tyranny.
Fear
Fear expressions are not often seen in societies where good personal
security is typical, because the imminent possibility of personal
destruction, from interpersonal violence or impersonal dangers, is the
primary elicitor of fear. Fear expressions convey information about
imminent danger, a nearby threat, a disposition to flee, or likelihood of bodily
harm. The specific objects that can elicit fear for any individual are varied. The
experience of fear has an extremely negative felt quality, and is reduced, along
with the bodily concommitants, when the threat has been avoided or has passed.
Organization of behavior and cogitive functions are adversely affected during
fear, as escape becomes the peremptory goal. Anxiety is related to fear, and
may involve some of the same bodily responses, but is a longer term mood and
the elicitors are not as immediate. Both are associated with unhealthy physical
effects if prolonged.
Disgust
Disgust expressions are often part of the body's responses to objects
that are revolting and nauseating, such as rotting flesh, fecal matter
and insects in food, or other offensive materials that are rejected as
suitable to eat. Obnoxious smells are effective in eliciting disgust
reactions. Disgust expressions are often displayed as a commentary on many
other events and people that generate adverse reactions, but have nothing to do
with the primal origin of disgust as a rejection of possible foodstuffs.
Surprise
Surprise expressions are fleeting, and difficult to detect or record in
real time. They almost always occur in response to events that are
unanticipated, and they convey messages about something being
unexpected, sudden, novel, or amazing. The brief surprise expression
is often followed by other expressions that reveal emotion in response to the
surprise feeling or to the object of surprise, emotions such as happiness or fear.
For example, most of us have been surprised, perhaps intentionally, by people
who appear suddenly or do something unexpected ("to scare you"), and elicit
surprise, but if the person is a friend, a typical after-emotion is happiness; but if a
stranger, fear. A surprise seems to act like a reset switch that shifts our attention.
Surprise expressions occur far less often than people are disposed to say "that
surprises me," etc., because in most cases, such phrases indicate a simile, not
an emotion. Nevertheless, intellectual insights can elicit actual felt surprise and
may spur scholarly achievements. Surprise is to be distinguished from startle,
and their expressions are quite different.
Other emotion expressions and related expressions

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Some psychologists have differentiated other emotions and their expressions
from those mentioned above. These other emotion or related expressions include
contempt, shame, and startle. Contempt is related to disgust, and involves some
of the same actions, but differs from it, in part, because its elicitors are different
and its actions are more asymmetrical. Shame also has a relation to disgust
according to some psychologists, but recent evidence suggests it may have a
distinct expression. Most psychologists consider startle to be different from any
human emotions, more like a reflex to intense sudden stimulation. The startle
expression is unique.

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Robert Plutchik created a wheel of emotions in 1980 which consisted of 8 basic emotions
and 8 advanced emotions each composed of 2 basic ones.[1]
Basic emotion Basic opposite
Joy Sadness
Trust Disgust
Fear Anger
Surprise Anticipation
Sadness Joy
Disgust Trust
Anger Fear
Anticipation Surprise
Advanced emotion Composed of... Advanced opposite
Optimism Anticipation + Joy Disappointment
Love Joy + Trust Remorse
Submission Trust + Fear Contempt
Awe Fear + Surprise Aggressiveness
Disappointment Surprise + Sadness Optimism
Remorse Sadness + Disgust Love
Contempt Disgust + Anger Submission
Aggressiveness Anger + Anticipation Awe

[edit] Emotions by groups


Here is a categorised, tree structured list of emotions as described in Parrot (2001).[2][3]
Primary Secondary
Tertiary emotions
emotion emotion
Adoration, fondness, liking, attraction, caring, tenderness,
Affection
compassion, sentimentality
Love Lust/Sexual
Arousal, desire, lust, passion, infatuation
desire
Longing Longing
Amusement, bliss, cheerfulness, gaiety, glee, jolliness,
Cheerfulness joviality, joy, delight, enjoyment, gladness, happiness,
jubilation, elation, satisfaction, ecstasy, euphoria
Zest Enthusiasm, zeal, zest, excitement, thrill, exhilaration
Joy Contentment Contentment, pleasure
Pride Pride, triumph
Optimism Eagerness, hope, optimism
Enthrallment Enthrallment, rapture
Relief Relief
Surprise Surprise Amazement, surprise, astonishment
Aggravation, irritation, agitation, annoyance, grouchiness,
Irritation
grumpiness, crosspatch
Exasperation Exasperation, frustration
Anger, rage, outrage, fury, wrath, hostility, ferocity,
Anger Rage bitterness, hate, scorn, spite, vengefulness, dislike,
resentment
Disgust Disgust, revulsion, contempt, loathing
Envy Envy, jealousy
Torment Torment
Sadness Suffering Agony, suffering, hurt, anguish
Sadness Depression, despair, hopelessness, gloom, glumness,

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sadness, unhappiness, grief, sorrow, woe, misery,
melancholy
Disappointment Dismay, disappointment, displeasure
Shame Guilt, shame, regret, remorse
Alienation, isolation, neglect, loneliness, rejection,
Neglect homesickness, defeat, dejection, insecurity, embarrassment,
humiliation, insult
Sympathy Pity, sympathy
Alarm, shock, fear, fright, horror, terror, panic, hysteria,
Horror
mortification
Fear
Anxiety, nervousness, tenseness, uneasiness, apprehension,
Nervousness
worry, distress, dread

[edit] In artificial languages


[edit] EARL
The HUMAINE Emotion Annotation and Representation Language (EARL) classifies
the following 48 emotions.[4]

• Negative and forceful


o Anger
o Annoyance
o Contempt
o Disgust
o Irritation
• Negative and not in control
o Anxiety
o Embarrassment
o Fear
o Helplessness
o Powerlessness
o Worry
• Negative thoughts
o Doubt
o Envy
o Frustration
o Guilt
o Shame
• Negative and passive
o Boredom
o Despair
o Disappointment
o Hurt
o Sadness
• Agitation
o Stress
o Shock
o Tension
• Positive and lively
o Amusement
o Delight
o Elation
o Excitement
o Happiness
o Joy
o Pleasure

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• Caring
o Affection
o Empathy
o Friendliness
o Love
• Positive thoughts
o Courage
o Hope
o Pride
o Satisfaction
o Trust
• Quiet positive
o Calm
o Content
o Relaxed
o Relieved
o Serene
• Reactive
o Interest
o Politeness
o Surprised

http://changingminds.org/techniques/body/parts_body_language/parts_body_language.ht
m

Using Body Language


Techniques > Using Body Language
Message clusters | Core patterns | Parts-of-body language | Other notes | See also

Body language is an important part of communication which can constitute 50% or


more of what we are communicating. If you wish to communicate well, then it makes
sense to understand how you can (and cannot) use your body to say what you mean.

Message clusters

Body language comes in clusters of signals and postures, depending on the internal
emotions and mental states. Recognizing a whole cluster is thus far more reliable than
trying to interpret individual elements.

• Aggressive body language: Showing physical threat.


• Attentive body language: Showing real interest.
• Bored body language: Just not being interested.
• Closed body language: Many reasons are closed.
• Deceptive body language: Seeking to cover up lying or other
deception.
• Defensive body language: Protecting self from attack.
• Dominant body language: Dominating others.
• Emotional body language: Identifying feelings.
• Evaluating body language: Judging and deciding about something.
• Greeting body language: Meeting rituals.

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• Open body language: Many reasons for being open.
• Power body language: Demonstrating one's power.
• Ready body language: Wanting to act and waiting for the trigger.
• Relaxed body language: Comfortable and unstressed.
• Romantic body language: Showing attraction to others.
• Submissive body language: Showing you are prepared to give in.

Core patterns
A number of core patterns can be identified that include clusters of body movements:

• Crossing, Expanding, Moving away, Moving forward, Opening,


Preening, Repeating, Shaping, Striking and Touching

Parts-of-the-body language

You can send signals with individual parts of the body as well as in concert. Here's
details of the contributions of each part of the body.

• Head: Face, Cheek, Chin, Mouth, Lips, Teeth, Tongue, Nose, Eyes,
Eyebrow, Forehead, Hair
• Arm: Elbow, Hand, Finger
• Torso: Neck, Shoulder, Chest, Back, Belly, Bottom, Hips
• Legs: Thigh, Knee, Foot

Other notes
Remember that body language varies greatly with people and especially with
international cultures (so be very careful when applying Western understanding to
Eastern non-verbal language).

• Body as Cue, Evidence, Persuasion: How we shape changes how we


feel.
• Body language caveat: You can't control all of your muscles. So why
bother?
• Emphasis with body language: Adding emphasis to what you are
saying.
• Social distances: The space between us.
• Touching: Using physical touch.

Aggressive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Aggressive body language
Body positions | Gestures | See also

A significant cluster of body movements is used to signal aggression.


This is actually quite useful as it is seldom a good idea to get into a fight, even for
powerful people. Fighting can hurt you, even though you are pretty certain you will

17
win. In addition, with adults, fighting is often socially unacceptable and aggression
through words and body language is all that may ever happen.

Threat
Facial signals
Much aggression can be shown in the face, from disapproving frowns and pursed lips to
sneers and full snarls. The eyes can be used to stare and hold the gaze for long period.
They may also squint, preventing the other person seeing where you are looking.
Attack signals
When somebody is about to attack, they give visual signal such as clenching of fists
ready to strike and lowering and spreading of the body for stability. They are also likely
to give anger signs such as redness of the face.
Exposing oneself
Exposing oneself to attack is also a form of aggression. It is saying 'Go on - I dare you.
I will still win.' It can include not looking at the other person, crotch displays, relaxing
the body, turning away and so on.

Invasion
Invading the space of the other person in some way is an act of aggression that is
equivalent to one country invading another.
False friendship
Invasion is often done under the cloak of of familiarity, where you act as if you are
being friendly and move into a space reserved for friends, but without being invited.
This gives the other person a dilemma of whether to repel a 'friendly' advance or to
accept dominance of the other.
Approach
When you go inside the comfort zone of others without permission, you are effectively
invading their territory. The close you get, the greater your ability to have 'first strike',
from which an opponent may not recover.
Touching
Touching the person is another form of invasion. Even touching social touch zones such
as arm and back can be aggressive.

Gestures
Insulting gestures
There are many, many gestures that have the primary intent of insulting the other person
and hence inciting them to anger and a perhaps unwise battle. Single and double fingers
pointed up, arm thrusts, chin tilts and so on are used, although many of these do vary
across cultures (which can make for hazardous accidental movements when you are
overseas).
Many gestures are sexual in nature, indicating that the other person should go away and
fornicate, that you (or someone else) are having sex with their partner, and so on.
Mock attacks

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Gestures may include symbolic action that mimics actual attacks, including waving
fingers (the beating baton), shaking fists, head-butts, leg-swinging and so on. This is
saying 'Here is what I will do to you!'
Physical items may be used as substitutes, for example banging of tables and doors or
throwing . Again, this is saying 'This could be you!'
Sudden movements
All of these gestures may be done suddenly, signaling your level of aggression and
testing the other person's reactions.
Large gestures
The size of gestures may also be used to signal levels of aggression, from simple finger
movements to whole arm sweeps, sometimes even with exaggerated movements of the
entire body.

Attentive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Attentive body language
Listening | Wanting more | See also

When you are in conversation or otherwise attending to what others are saying or doing,
you body sends signals to the other person as to how interested you really are. Attentive
body language sends a strong signal of real and deep interest that is both flattering and
likely to result in reciprocal attention.
It was said that if you met with the English 19th century politician William Gladstone,
you would come away thinking he was the most intelligent and witty person in the
country. If, however, you met his peer Benjamin Disraeli, then you would come away
thinking that you were the most intelligent and witty person. Disraeli, it would seem,
was somewhat more skilled at paying attention.

Listening
A person who is attentive is first of all listening. This can be of varying intensity though
attentive listening is deep and interested.
Ignoring distractions
There are many competing stimuli that demand our attention. If a person ignores
distraction, from phone calls to other people interrupting, then they send strong and
flattering 'I am interested in you' signals.
Stillness
Body movement often betrays distracting thoughts and feelings. When the listener is
largely still, the implication is of forgetting everything else except the other person,
with not even internal dialogue being allowed to distract.
Leaning forward
When I am interested in you and what you have to say I will likely lean slightly towards
you, perhaps better to hear everything you have to say.
Tilted head

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An attentive head may be tilted slightly forward. It also may show curiosity when tilted
to the side (although this may also indicate uncertainty).
Gaze
An attentive person looks at the other person without taking their gaze away. They will
likely blink less, almost for fear of missing something.
Furrowed brow
Concentration may also be shown in the forehead as the eyebrows are brought together
as the listener seeks to hear and understand the other person.

Wanting more
An attentive person seeks not just to hear but to be ready to listen to everything the
other person has to say.
Patience
When you want to hear more from the other person you are patient, listening until they
have finished speaking and not butting in with your views. Even when you have
something to say or when they pause, you still patiently seek a full understanding of
them and give them space in which to complete what they have to say.
Open body
Open body language shows that you are not feeling defensive and are mentally open to
what they have to say (and hence not closed to their thoughts).
Slow nodding
Nodding shows agreement and also encourages the other person to keep talking. Fast
nodding may show impatience, whilst a slower nod indicates understanding and
approval.
Interest noises
Little noises such as 'uh huh' and 'mmm' show that you are interested, understand and
want to hear more. They thus encourage the other person to keep talking.
Reflecting
When you reflect the other person back to them they feel affirmed and that you are
aligned with them. Reflecting activities range from matching body language to
paraphrasing what they say.

Bored body language


Techniques > Using body language > Bored body language
Language of boredom | Reasons for boredom | See also

When a person is bored, they whole body is telling you. So if you are trying to persuade
them, don't bother (unless you are trying to bore them into submission).

Language of boredom
A ready body is poised for action.
Distraction
A bored person looks anywhere but at the person who is talking to them. They find
other things to do, from doodling to talking with others to staring around the room.
They may also keep looking at their watch or a wall clock.

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Repetition
Bored people often repeat actions such as tapping toes, swinging feet or drumming
fingers. The repetition may escalate as they try to signal their boredom.
Tiredness
A person who feels that they are unable to act to relieve their boredom may show signs
of tiredness. They may yawn and their whole body may sag as they slouch down in
their seat, lean against a wall or just sag where they are standing. Their face may also
show a distinct lack of interest and appear blank.

Reasons for boredom


Lack of interest
If the person is not interested in their surroundings or what is going on, then they may
become bored. The disinterest may also be feigned if they do not want you to see that
they are interested. Watch for leaking signs of readiness in these cases.
Readiness
A bored person may actually be ready for the actions you want, such as closing a sale.
Sales people are known to keep on the sales patter long after the customer is ready to
sign on the dotted line.

Closed body language


Techniques > Using body language > Closed body language
Language of closure | Reasons for closing | See also

A significant cluster of body movements are all about closing. This is sometimes
misinterpreted solely as indicating defensiveness.

Language of closure
Closure literally closes the body up. It may range from a slight bringing together of the
limbs to curled up into a tight ball. Extreme cases may also include rhythmic rocking of
the body to and fro.
Arms across
In a closed positions one or both arms cross the central line of the body. They may be
folded or tightly clasped or holding one another. There may also be holding one
another.
Lighter arm crossing may include resting an arm on a table or leg, or loosely crossed
with wrists crossing.
Varying levels of tension may be seen in the arms and shoulders, from a relaxed droop
to tight tension and holding on to the body or other arms.
Legs across
Legs, likewise can be crossed. There are several styles of leg crossing, including the
ankle cross, the knee cross, the figure-four (ankle on opposite knee) and the tense wrap-
around.
Legs may also wrap around convenient other objects, such as chair legs.

21
When legs are crossed but arms are not, it can show deliberate attempts to appear
relaxed. This is particularly true when legs are hidden under a table.
Looking down or away
The head may be inclined away from the person, and particularly may be tucked down.

Reasons for closing


There can be several reasons for closed body language. This is one reason why reading
body language can be hazardous and you should take into account other factors. In
particular look for the transition when the body closes and the triggers that may have
caused this change.
Defending
When we feel threatened, our body language becomes defensive. We use closure to
place the barriers of our arms and legs across in front of us to defend ourselves from
attack. When we close, we also make our body smaller, reducing the size of the target.
When we tuck our chin down, we are protecting the exposed throat.
We also may be signaling to the other person that we are not a threat to them. Thus the
held-in arms shows that we are not attacking and looking away from them removes
aggressive staring.
In a variant of this, particularly where the person is holding themselves, a closed
position may indicate self-nurturing. The person is effectively holding or hugging
themselves in an imitation of a parent or other caring person.
Hiding
Closing also may serve the purpose of hiding something that we do not want the other
person to see. Holding the body still prevents it from betraying our thoughts. Looking
away prevents the other person from seeing our expression that may show dislike or
lying.
Cold
A more pragmatic form of closure is when we are cold. Huddling up reduces exposed
body area and reduces heat loss. Holding warmer parts of the body against colder parts
evens the temperature and prevents extremities from being chilled too much.
Relaxing
And we also cross our arms and legs when we are relaxing. It can just be a comfortable
place to put those gangly limbs. We may look away because we are thinking, nothing
more.

Opening
When you are trying to persuade a person, then their standing or sitting in a closed
position is usually a signal that they are not ready to be persuaded. Moving them to an
open position can significantly increase your chances of persuading them.
Force hand use
A common method sales people use to break a crossed-arms closed position is to give
the person something to hold or otherwise ask them to use their hands, for example
asking them to hand over something, turn over a page, stand up and so on.
Following

22
The other common method of opening a person is to first adopt a closed position like
them. Then some effort is put into building a bond with them, such that they start to like
you and are attaching their identity to yours. Finally, you then open your position,
unfolding arms and legs. If they are sufficiently bonded then they will follow you.
This should be done naturally and steadily, for example unfolding your arms in order to
use your hands to illustrate what you are saying. If they do not follow you, return to the
closed position and work further at bonding before trying again.

Deceptive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Deceptive body language
Language of deception | Reasons for deception | See also

When a person is seeking to trick or deceive you, they there are many different body
signal they may use.

Language of deception
A deceptive body is concerned about being found out -- and this concern may show.
Anxiety
A deceptive person is typically anxious that they might be found out (unless they are
psychopathic or good at acting), so they may send signals of tension. This may include
sweating, sudden movements, minor twitches of muscles (especially around the mouth
and eyes), changes in voice tone and speed.
Many of us have hidden anxiety signals. For example: Biting the inside of the mouth
(George W. Bush), patting head (Prince William), hands in pockets (Tony Blair). These
signals are almost impossible to stop as we start them very young.
Do remember that anxiety can be caused by many other factors other than
deceptiveness.
Control
In order to avoid being caught, there may be various signs of over-control. For example,
there may be signs of attempted friendly body language, such as forced smiles (mouth
smiles but eyes do not), jerky movements and clumsiness or oscillation between open
body language and defensive body language.
The person may also try to hold their body still, to avoid tell-tale signals. For example
they may hold their arms in or put their hands in their pockets. This can be particularly
seen when they emphasizing something with their voice and their body does not align,
showing limited (or exaggerated) emphasis.
Distracted
A person who is trying to deceive needs to think more about what they are doing, so
they may drift off or pause as they think about what to say or hesitate during speech.
They may also be distracted by the need to cover up. Thus their natural timing may go
astray and they may over- or under-react to events.
Anxiety may be displaced into actions such as fidgeting, moving around the place or
paying attention to unusual places.

23
Reasons for deception
There can be many good reasons for deception.
Persuading
Deception may be an act that is intended to get another person to say or do something.
Avoiding detection
Deception also may be more self-oriented, where the sole goal is to get away with
something, perhaps by avoiding answering incriminating questions.

Defensive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Defensive body language
Defending from attack | Pre-empting attack | See also

When a person is feeling threatened in some ways, they will take defensive body
postures.

Defending from attack


The basic defensive body language has a primitive basis and assumes that the other
person will physically attack, even when this is highly unlikely.
Covering vital organs and points of vulnerability
In physical defense, the defensive person will automatically tend to cover those parts of
the body that could damaged by an attack.
The chin is held down, covering the neck. The groin is protected with knees together,
crossed legs or covering with hands. The arms may be held across the chest or face.
Fending off
Arms may be held out to fend off attacker, possibly straight out or curved to deflect
incoming attacks.
Using a barrier
Any physical object may be placed held in front of the person to act as a literal or
figurative barrier. This can be a small as a pen or as large as a table. Straddling a
reversed chair makes some people comfortable in conversation as they look relaxed
whilst feeling defensive.
Barriers can also protect the other person and if I am powerful, I may use a simple
barrier to make you feel less defensive. It also means I control the barrier.
Becoming small
One way of defending against attack is to reduce the size of the target. People may thus
huddle into a smaller position, keeping their arms and legs in.
Rigidity
Another primitive response is to tense up, making the muscles harder in order to
withstand a physical attack.
Rigidity also freezes the body, possibly avoiding movements being noticed or being
interpreted as preparing for attack.
Seeking escape
Flicking the eyes from side to side shows that the person is looking for a way out.

24
Pre-empting attack
Giving in
Pre-empting the attack, the defensive person may reduce the, generally using
submissive body language, avoiding looking at the other person, keeping the head down
and possibly crouching into a lower body position.
Attacking first
Aggressive body language may also appear, as the person uses 'attack as the best form
of defense'. The body may thus be erect, thrust forward and with attacking movements.
Where attack and defense both appear together, there may be conflicting signs
appearing together. Thus the upper body may exhibit aggression whilst the legs are
twisted together.

Dominant body language


Techniques > Using body language > Dominant body language
Size | Superiority | Greeting | Responding | See also

Dominant body language is related to aggressive body language, though with a less
emotional content.

Size signals
The body in dominant stances is generally open, and may also include additional
aspects.
Making the body big
Hands on hips makes the elbows go wide and make the body seem larger. So also does
standing upright and erect, with the chin up and the chest thrust out. Legs may be
placed apart to increase size.
Making the body high
Height is also important as it gives an attack advantage. This can be achieved by
standing up straight or somehow getting the other person lower than you, for example
by putting them on a lower seat or by your standing on a step or plinth.
Occupying territory
By invading and occupying territory that others may own or use, control and dominance
is indicated. A dominant person may thus stand with feet akimbo and hands on hips.

Superiority signals
Breaking social rules
Rulers do not need to follow rules: they make the rules. This power to decide one's own
path is often displayed in breaking of social rules, from invasion and interruption to
casual swearing in polite company.
Ownership
Owning something that others covet provides a status symbol. This can be territorial,
such as a larger office, or displays of wealth or power, such as a Rolex watch or having
many subordinates.

25
Just owning things is an initial symbol, but in body language it is the flaunting of these,
often casually, that is the power display. Thus a senior manager will casually take out
their Mont Blanc pen whilst telling their secretary to fetch the Havana cigars.
Invasion
A dominant act is to disrespect the ownership of others, invading their territory, for
example getting to close to them by moving into their body space. Other actions include
sitting on their chairs, leaning on their cars, putting feet up on their furniture and being
over-friendly with their romantic partners.
Invasion says 'What's yours is mine' and 'I can take anything of yours that I want and
you cannot stop me'.
Belittling others
Superiority signals are found both in saying 'I am important' and also 'You are not
important'. Thus a dominant person may ignore or interrupt another person who is
speaking or turn away from them. They may also criticize the inferior person, including
when the other person can hear them.
Facial signals
Much dominance can be shown in the face, from disapproving frowns and pursed lips
to sneers and snarls (sometimes disguised as smiles).
The eyes can be used to stare and hold the gaze for long period. They may also squint,
preventing the other person seeing where you are looking. They may also look at
anywhere but the other person, effectively saying that 'you are not even worth looking
at'.
Faces can also look bored, amused or express other expressions that belittle the other
person.
Dominant people often smile much less than submissive people.
Phallic displays
Dominant men will often expose their crotch, effectively saying to other men 'I am safe
from attack' or 'my penis is bigger than yours', whilst showing off. They may also be
offering 'come and get it!' to women. When women do this, it is to some extent a tease
or invitation to men but may also be an emulation of the male display, thus saying 'I am
as strong as a man'.
This appears in standing or sitting where the legs are apart. It may be emphasized by
scratching or adjusting of the crotch.

The dominant greeting


When people first meet and greet, their first interaction sets the pattern for the future
relationship. When a person is dominant here, then they will most likely continue to be
dominant.
The handshake
A classic dominant handshake is with the palm down, symbolically being on top.
Another form of dominant handshake is to use strength to squeeze the other person.
Holding the other person's hand for longer than normal also shows that you are in
control.
Eyes

26
Prolonged, unblinking eye contact acts like overplaying the handshake -- it says 'I am
powerful, I can break the rules.' The dominant person may alternatively prevent eye
contact, saying 'You are beneath me and I do not want even to look at you.'
Speaking
The person who speaks first often gets to control the conversation, either by talking for
longer or by managing the questions.

Responding to dominance
If others display dominant body language you have a range of options.
The simplest response is simply not to submit, which is what they probably want.
Continue to appear friendly and ignore their subtle signals.
Another response is to fight dominance with dominance, for example:

• Out-stare them (a trick here is to look at the bridge of their nose, not
their eyes).
• Touch them, either before they touch you or immediately when they
touch you.
• When they do a power handshake, grab their elbow and step to the
side.
• When they butt in to your speech, speed up, talk more loudly and say
'let me finish!'

Another approach is to name the game. Ask them why they are using dominant body
language. A good way to do this is in a curious, unafraid way.

Emotional body language


Techniques > Using body language > Emotional body language

With careful observation, emotions may be detected from non-verbal signs. Remember
that these are indicators and not certain guarantees. Contextual clues may also be used,
in particular what is being said to the person or what else is happening around then.
Anger
Anger occurs when achievement of goals are frustrated.

• Neck and/or face is red or flushed.


• Baring of teeth and snarling.
• Clenched fists.
• Leaning forward and invasion of body space.
• Other aggressive body language.
• Use of power body language.

Fear, anxiety and nervousness


Fear occurs when basic needs are threatened. There are many levels of fear, from mild
anxiety to blind terror. The many bodily changes caused by fear make it easy to detect.

• A 'cold sweat'.
• Pale face.
• Dry mouth, which may be indicated by licking lips, drinking water,
rubbing throat.
• Not looking at the other person.

27
• Damp eyes.
• Trembling lip.
• Varying speech tone.
• Speech errors.
• Voice tremors.
• Visible high pulse (noticeable on the neck or movement of crossed leg.
• Sweating.
• Tension in muscles: clenched hands or arms, elbows drawn in to the
side, jerky movements, legs wrapped around things.
• Gasping and holding breath.
• Fidgeting.
• Defensive body language, including crossed arms and legs and
generally drawing in of limbs.
• Ready body language (for fight-or-flight)
• Other symptoms of stress

Sadness
Sadness is the opposite of happiness and indicates a depressive state.

• Drooping of the body.


• Trembling lip.
• Flat speech tone.
• Tears.

Embarrassment
Embarrassment may be caused by guilt or transgression of values.

• Neck and/ or face is red or flushed.


• Looking down or away from others. Not looking them in the eye.
• Grimacing, false smile, changing the topic or otherwise trying to cover
up the embarrassment.

Surprise
Surprise occurs when things occur that were not expected.

• Raised eyebrows.
• Widening of eyes.
• Open mouth.
• Sudden backward movement.

Happiness
Happiness occurs when goals and needs are met.

• General relaxation of muscles.


• Smiling (including eyes).
• Open body language

Evaluating body language


Techniques > Using body language > Evaluating body language
Language of evaluation | Reasons for evaluation | See also

A notable cluster of body movements happens when a person is thinking, judging or


making some decision.

28
Language of evaluation
Hand movements
The classic signal of evaluation is the steepled hands which are clasped together, either
looking like they are praying, with both hands pressed together, or with linked fingers
and with index fingers only pointing upwards. The fingers pointing upwards may touch
the lips.
Another common evaluative movement is stroking, often of the chin but possibly other
parts of the face.
Other actions
Other evaluative signals include pursing lips, stroking the side of the nose and (if worn)
peering over the top of spectacles ('To look more carefully at you').
Relaxed intensity
The body may well be relaxed and open. The person seems to be unafraid or even
unaware of danger. However there is also a level of concentration, perhaps with pursed
lips and an intense gaze. The chin may be resting in one or both palms.

Reasons for evaluation


There can be several reasons for a ready body language.
Deciding
A person who is evaluating may be making an important decision. If they are buying
from you, they may be close to the point of closure.
Judging
In their decision-making, they may be judging. Perhaps this is you, something you are
saying or something else. Watch how they change with what you say and try to figure
this one out.
Thinking
Sometimes the evaluation is only on an internal point. When they are deep inside their
own world, they may be mentally trying out ideas to see if they will work. If you have
suggested something, they may be trying to fit your idea into their own model of the
world.

Greeting body language


Techniques > Using body language > Greeting body language
Handshake | Salute | Bowing | Waving | Hugging | Kissing | Facial signals | Words | Other | See also

There are many possible components of greeting as the styles vary significantly across
social groups and cultures.
Greeting is a ritual that helps break the ice and paves the way for appropriate other
interaction. Greetings can include signals that may even be secret, for example saying
'we're in the same club'.
Formality is often an important factor, and when you move from a formal greeting to an
informal greeting is an important factor in development of a friendship. Too early and it
is an insult. Too late and it you may be considered arrogant or distant.

29
Handshake
Variables
Handshake variables include:

• Strength (weak - strong)


• Temperature (cold - hot)
• Moisture (damp - dry)
• Fullness of grip (full - partial)
• Duration (brief - long)
• Speed (slow - fast)
• Complexity (shake - dance)
• Texture (rough - smooth)
• Eye contact (prolonged - intermittent - none)

Styles
A firm grip shows confidence, whilst a limp grip may indicate timidity, particularly in
men (women may be expected to be more gentile). A firm grip by men also indicates
they are more sensation-seeking.
Palm down indicates dominance and a feeling of superiority ('I am on top'). Palm
sideways indicate equality. Palm up indicates submission.
A long handshake can indicate pleasure and can signal dominance, particularly if one
person tries to pull away and the dominant person does not let them.
Dominance may also be shown by using the other hand to grip the person, such as at the
wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder. This may also be done by gripping the shaken hand with
both of your hands. This may also indicate affection or pleasure (which allows for an
ambiguous signal).
A variant of the dominant handshake which is used by politicians who are being
photographed and hence shake hands side-by-side is to stand on the left hand side of the
other person. This means your hand will be on the outside and it will look like you are
the dominant party to those viewing the photograph.
Responses to the dominant handshake can include counter-touching (use your other
hand to hold their hand, wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder), hugging (pull them in),
thrusting (push them away by pushing your hand towards them) and stepping the side.
Hand-touching is also used, for example the 'high five', where open palms are touched
high in the air, or where closed fists are tapped. Where the other person is not gripped,
the origins may be in potentially aggressive situations where holding of another could
be construed as a threatening act.

Salute
Variables
Salute variables include:

• Shape of hand (straight - curved)


• Speed (fast - slower)
• Head-touch (forehead - none)
• Shape (up-down - curved)

Style

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The salute is a formal greeting where the open hand is brought up to the forehead. It is
often used in the military in a strictly prescribed manner and situation.
There are several possible origins of this, including:

• Shading the eyes from the brilliance of a superior person.


• An abbreviation of raising one's hat or tugging the forelock (in the
absence of a hat).
• Raising helmet visor to show the face (to allow recognition and dispel
fears of enmity).
• Raising the hand to show it does not contain a weapon.

Bowing
Variables
Bowing variables include:

• Lowering (slight - very low)


• Pivot (head - waist)
• Duration (short - long)
• Gender style (bow - curtsey)

Style
Bowing is another formal greeting and can be as extreme as a full 90 degree bend from
the waist to even complete prostration on the floor. This averts the eyes ('I dare not look
at your majesty') and exposes the head ('You can kill me if you wish').
Bowing amongst peers is commonly used in a severely contracted form as a slight nod
of the head. Even in the shortened form, the lower and longer the bow, the greater the
respect that is demonstrated.
If eye contact is maintained during a bow, it can signify either mistrust or liking.
Looking down as you bow indicates submission, although this also can just be a formal
action.
The female variant on the bow is the curtsey, which again can be a full sinking to the
floor or a slight bob. Similarly to bowing, this puts the person lower than the other
person and into a position of greater vulnerability.
Bowing is different in different cultures. In countries such as Japan it is clearly defined
and an important part of greetings. In other countries it is less important or maybe seen
as obsequious.

Waving
Variables
Variables for waving include:

• Open palm (flat - curved)


• Movement angle (big - small)
• Raised (above head - held low)
• Direction (sideways rotation - up-down)

Style
Waving can be done from a distance. This allows for greeting when you first spot
another person. It also allows for

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Waves gain attention and a big, overhead wave can attract a person from some distance.
This also makes others look at you and is not likely from a timid person.
A stationary palm, held up and facing out is far less obvious and may be flashed for a
short period, particularly if the other person is looking at you (all you need is that they
see the greeting).
Greeting children is often done with a small up-and-down movement of fingers, holding
the rest of the palm still. Between adults, this can be a timid or safe signal from a child
position ('I won't harm you - please don't harm me.').

Hugging
Variables
Hugging variables include:

• Hand placement (shoulder, etc.)


• Arms touch (none - wrap)
• Body position (front - side - behind)
• Pressure (light - strong)
• Body touching (none - full)
• Gender (man/woman - man/woman)

Styles
Hugging is a closer and more affectionate form of greeting than shaking hands and
perhaps reflects a desire for bonding.
Hugging is generally more common between friends, although its usage does vary
across cultures and is common in some places. Gender rules may also apply, for
example hugging in America is far more common between women than between men.
Harassment laws may also limit touching of the other person in what may be interpreted
as an intimate way.
Full-body hugs create contact with breasts and between genitalia and hence may be
sexually suggestive or stimulating. This tends to limit their use to romantic greetings,
although they are still used in some cultures, including between men.
Light shoulder-only hugs are more common as social greetings, in which people lean
forward in order not to break rules about touching breasts or genitalia.
Side-on, one-handed hugs are safer and can be a friendly touch. Even so, this still can
be a deliberate romantic advance or act of domination (even if not, it may be perceived
as such).
Longer, fuller hugs often signal greater affection and may happen between people who
have not seen one another for some time.
Hugging someone from behind can be surprising and even threatening, and is usually
only done by friends who trust one another implicitly.

Kissing
Variables
Contact during kissing can be:

• Lip/cheek to lip/cheek
• Duration (peck - smooch)

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• Tongue (involved - not)
• Gender (man/woman to man/woman)
• Body involvement (none - full)

Styles
In some cultures, kissing is a part of social greeting. This may or may not include man-
man and man-woman (which can lead to significant cross-cultural embarrassment).
The type of kiss is governed strongly by the relationship. Social greetings are relatively
short, and may involve double or triple kissing, alternating either side of the face.
General friendship kissing may be longer and with more body contact, though mostly
using arms to include a hug (and steady the body).
The most intense kiss is the romantic kiss which may well include full-length body
touching, caressing with hands and lip-to-lip kisses that may even include interplay of
tongues.

Facial signals
The face is used a great deal in sending greeting signals, and accompanies other
greeting activity for example saying:

• Smiling: I am pleased to see you.


• Frowning: I am angry with you.
• Raised eyebrows: I am surprised to see you.
• Eyebrows together: I do not know your name.
• Looking down: I am inferior to you.
• Expressionless: I do not care about you.

Eye contact is particularly important in greeting and is usually held for a socially
prescribed period. Prolonged eye contact can indicate both affection and dominance.
Little or no eye contact can indicate timidity ('I dare not look at you'), dislike ('I do not
want to see you') or dominance ('You are unimportant and below my interest.'). As with
the handshake, a dominant signal may be sent under cover of the 'friendly' greeting.

Words
The words used in greetings can change significantly with the culture and context.
Formality
Informal greetings often use non-words and short forms like 'Hi', 'Watcha', 'Yay' and so
on. Formal meetings use more formal language, such as 'Hello', 'Greetings', 'Good day'
and so on. In some cultures, greeting is very formal and a fixed set of words are
required in specific situations, 'Greeting, O holy one, father of us all and master of the
world'.

Other greetings
There are many other ways in which people greet and further subtleties around the
actions above, including:

• Touching or raising a hat


• Pressing or rubbing noses
• Touching or pressing bodies together in certain places and ways
• Moving the body through a defined locus

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• Giving of gifts
• Touching palms or fists

Greetings may also be extended to parting, for which there are many similar rituals,
including handshakes, bows and words of praise

Open body language


Techniques > Using body language > Open body language
Language of openness | Reasons for opening | See also

A significant cluster of body movements are all about being open. This is sometimes
misinterpreted solely as indicating being relaxed and untense.
Remember that perhaps the most significant part of being open or close is the act of
opening or closing. When you open or close, you are signaling a change in the way you
are thinking or feeling, which is likely to be in response to what the other person has
said or done.

Language of openness
The open stance has arms and legs not crossed in any way. They may also be moving in
various ways.
Arms open
Arms are not crossed and may be animated and moving in synchronization with what is
being said or held wide.
Palms are also relaxed and may be quite expressive, for example appearing to hold
things and form more detailed shapes. Open hands show that nothing is being
concealed.
Legs open
Open legs are not crossed. Often they are parallel. They may even be stretched apart.
The feet are of interest in open legs and may point forward or to the side or at
something or someone of interest.
Looking around and at the other person
The head may be directed solely towards the other person or may be looking around.
Eye contact is likely to be relaxed and prolonged.
Relaxed clothing
Clothing is likely to hang loosely and actions to loosen clothing may take place, such as
removing a jacket and unbuttoning a collar.

Reasons for opening


There can be several reasons for open body language. In particular look for the
transition when the body opens and the triggers that may have caused this change.
Accepting
When arms rounded and palms are sideways, the person may be offering a 'mock hug',
showing that they care for the other person. Gestures may be slower and symbolize
gentleness.
Passive threat

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An open posture may also be associated with a passive threat. When the person casually
'exposes themself', for example by opening their body and looking away they are
opening themselves for attack. When this is relaxed, it may be saying 'I am so powerful
and you are so weak, you are unable to attack me even when I am exposed.'
Males with knees apart are also doing a crotch display, which, as well as casually
exposing vulnerabilities is effectively says to other males 'Look: I have a large penis
than you!'
Aggression
When there is tension in the open body, especially if fists are clenched, then this may be
a sign of significant aggression. The person is effectively holding their body open in
readiness for a fight.
Aggression is also seen when the body is square on to the other person and is relatively
close to them. Movements may be particularly sudden and designed to test the other
person's reactions.
Supplicating
When palms are held upwards, this may form a pleading gesture and may be combined
with lowering of the body. This is saying 'Please don't hurt me'.
Opening the body in supplication is also saying 'Here, you can hurt me if you wish' and
is equivalent to a dog who rolls over on its back and exposes itself to indicate that it is
not a threat.
Relaxing
And finally, the open body may simply be the body at rest, relaxed and comfortable.

Power body language


Techniques > Using body language > Power body language
Greeting | Speaking | And... | See also

Power is often expressed in communication as a combination of strength and humanity.


This is very attractive and is a form of Hurt and Rescue.

Greeting
Handshake
As the other person approaches, move to left side, extend your arm horizontally, palm
down (be first to do this). Grab their palm firmly, pull them in and hold their elbow
with your left hand.
The horizontal arm is an unmissable signal. Palm on top is being dominant, putting
yourself on top. Holding the elbow further controls them.
The royal handshake is outstretched arm to keep the other at their distance. A limp
hand, palm down, stops them doing a power shake.
Touching
Touching is power symbol. Touching people can be threatening, and is used by leaders
to demonstrate power.
The handshake is, of course, a touch, and can lead to further touching, such as the
elbow grip and patting shoulders and back.

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Guide people with a palm in the small of the back. Greet them with a hand on the back.
Touch them on the elbow or other 'safe' areas.

Speaking
Talking
Talk with confidence and use the body beat in time with assertions. Beat with a finger, a
palm or even a fist (which is rather aggressive). Emphasize and exaggerate your points.
Use silences too. Pause in the middle of speaking and look around at everyone. If you
are not interrupted they are probably respecting your power. Stand confidently without
speaking. Look around, gazing into people's eyes for slightly longer than usual.
Emoting
It is powerful to show that you have emotion, but in the right place only. It shows you
are human. At other times it emphasizes how you are in control. A neat trick is to bite
the lower lip, as it shows both emotion and control (Bill Clinton did it 15 times in 2
minutes during the Monica Lewinsky 'confession').

And...
Walking
Walk with exaggerated swinging of arms, palm down and out. Kink elbows outwards,
making the body seem wider. Add a slight swagger.
When walking with others, be in front of them. When going through doors, if you are
going to an audience, go first. If you are going from an audience, go last (guiding others
through shows dominance).
Position
Generally be higher. Sit on a higher chair. Stand over people. Wear heels. Drive a
higher car.

Ready body language


Techniques > Using body language > Closed body language
Language of readiness | Reasons for readiness | See also

A significant cluster of body movements are all about being ready for something.

Language of readiness
A ready body is poised for action.
Pointing
Any part of the body may be pointing at where the person is thinking about. This may
be another person or the door. This may be as subtle as a foot or as obvious as the
whole body leaning. Eyes may also repeated flash over in the intended direction.
Tension
The body is tensed up and ready for action. If sitting, hands may hold onto armrests in
readiness to get up. Legs are tensed ready to lift the body. Things in the hand are
gripped. Attention is away from everything except the intended direction.
Hooking

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The hands may slightly hook clothing, in particular with thumbs hooked into the
waistband. This is like a not-quite putting of hands in pockets, indicating the person is
relaxed but ready to move quickly.
Movement
Where there is movement, it is in preparation for further movement. Legs uncross.
Hands grab bags, straighten clothing, and so on. The whole body leans in the intended
direction.

Reasons for readiness


There can be several reasons for a ready body language.
Leaving
The person may want to leave. Perhaps they have another appointment. Perhaps they
are uncomfortable with the situation and just want to get out of there.
Ready to buy
When a person is ready to buy, then they may send readiness signals. They point at the
thing they want to buy or the contract that needs selling.
Continuing conversation
Readiness may also be to talk more. When you are talking and they show readiness
signals, maybe they just want to say something.
Ready to fight
When a person sees a real or verbal fight coming up, they put their body in a position
where they can move quickly, either to attack or to defend.

Relaxed body language


Techniques > Using body language > Relaxed body language
Relaxed body | Relaxed limbs| Relaxed head | See also

A relaxed body generally lacks tension. Muscles are relaxed and loose. Movement is
fluid and the person seems happy or unconcerned overall.

Relaxed body
Torso
The torso may sag slightly to one side (but not be held there by irregular tension). It
may also be well-balanced, with the shoulders balanced above the pelvis. It does not
curl up with fear, though it may curl up in a restful pose.
Shoulders are not tensed up and generally hang loosely down.
Breathing
Breathing is steady and slower. This may make the voice a little lower than usual.
Color
The color of the skin is generally normal, being neither reddened by anger or
embarrassment, nor pale with fear. There are no unusual patches, for example on the
neck or cheeks.

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Relaxed limbs
Relaxed limbs hang loosely. They do not twitch and seldom cross one another, unless as
a position of comfort.
Arms
Tense arms are rigid and may be held close to the body. They may move in suddenly, a
staccato manner. Relaxed arms either hang loosely or move smoothly.
If arms cross one another, they hand loosely. Any crossing, of course can indicate some
tension. Folding arms may just be comfortable.
Hands
When we are anxious, we often use our hands to touch ourselves, hold ourselves or
otherwise show tension. Relaxed hands hang loose or are used to enhance what we are
saying. They are generally open and may shape ideas in the air. Gestures are open and
gentle, not sudden nor tense.
Legs
Legs when sitting may sit gently on the floor or may be casually flung out. They may
move in time to music, with tapping toes. They may be crossed, but are not wound
around one another.
Note that legs can be a particular sign of hidden tension when the person is controlling
the upper body and arms. When they are sitting at a table, what you see may be relaxed,
but the legs may be held tense and wrapped.

Relaxed head
There are major signs of a relaxed person in their face.
Mouth
The person may smile gently or broadly without any signs of grimacing. Otherwise the
mouth is relatively still.
When talking, the mouth opens moderately, neither with small movements nor large
movement. The voice sounds relaxed without unusually high pitch and without sudden
changes in pitch or speed.
Eyes
The eyes smile with the mouth, particularly in the little creases at the side of the eyes.
A relaxed gaze will look directly at another person without staring, and with little
blinking. The eyes are generally dry.
Eyebrows are stable or may move with speech. They do not frown.
Other areas
Other muscles in the face are generally relaxed The forehead is a major indicator and
lines only appear in gentle expression. The sides of the face are not drawn back.
When the head moves, it is smoothly and in time with relaxed talk or other expression.

Romantic body language


Techniques > Using body language > Romantic body language
From afar | Up close | See also

38
A significant cluster of body movements has to do with romance, signaling to a person
of the opposite sex that you are interested in partnering with them.

From afar
From afar, the first task of body language is to signal interest (and then to watch for
reciprocal body language).
Eyes
The eyes do much signaling. Initially and from a distance, a person may look at you for
slightly longer than normal, then look away, then look back up at you, again for a
longer period.
Preening
There are many preening gestures. What you are basically saying with this is 'I am
making myself look good for you'. This includes tossing of the head, brushing hair with
hand, polishing spectacles and brushing clothes.
Enacting
Remote romantic language may also include enactment of sexually stimulating
activities, for example caressing oneself, for example stroking arms, leg or face. This
may either say 'I would like to stroke you like this' or 'I would like you to stroke me like
this'.
Similarly, the person (women in particular) may lick and purse their lips into a kiss
shape and leave their mouth slightly open in imitation of sexual readiness.
Objects held may be also used in enactment displays, including cigarettes and wine
glasses, for example rolling and stroking them.
Displaying
Attractive parts of the body may be exposed, thrust forward, wiggled or otherwise
highlighted. For women this includes breasts, neck, bottom and legs. For men it
includes a muscular torso, arms or legs, and particularly the crotch (note that women
seldom do this).
Faking often happens. Pressing together muscles gives the impression of higher muscle
tone. Pressing together and lifting breasts (sometimes helped with an appropriate
brassiere) makes them look firmer and larger. Holding out shoulders and arms makes
the body look bigger. Holding in the abdomen gives the impression of a firm tummy.
This is often playing to primitive needs. Women show that they are healthy and that
they are able to bear and feed the man's child. The man shows he is virile, strong and
able to protect the woman and her child.
Leaning
Leaning your body towards another person says 'I would like to be closer to you'. It also
tests to see whether they lean towards you or away from you. It can start with the head
with a simple tilt or may use the entire torso. This may be coupled with listening
intently to what they say, again showing particular interest in them.
Pointing
A person who is interested in you may subtly point at you with a foot, knee, arm or
head. It is effectively a signal that says 'I would like to go in this direction'.
Other displays

39
Other forms of more distant display that are intended to attract include:

• Sensual or dramatic dancing (too dramatic, and it can have the


opposite effect).
• Crotch display, where (particularly male) legs are held apart to show
off genitalia.
• Faked interest in others, to invoke envy or hurry a closer
engagement.
• Nodding gently, as if to say 'Yes, I do like you.'

Up close
When you are close to the other person, the body language progressively gets more
intimate until one person signals 'enough'.
Close in and personal
In moving closer to the other person, you move from social space into their personal
body space, showing how you would like to get even closer to them, perhaps holding
them and more...
Standing square-on to them also blocks anyone else from joining the conversation and
signals to others to stay away.
Copying
Imitating the person in some way shows 'I am like you'. This can range from a similar
body position to using the same gestures and language.
Lovers' gaze
When you are standing close to them, you will holding each other's gaze for longer and
longer periods before looking away. You many also use what are called 'doe eyes' or
'bedroom eyes', which are often slightly moist and with the head inclined slightly down.
Where the eyes go is important. Looking at lips means 'I want to kiss'. Looking at other
parts of the body may mean 'I want to touch'.
A very subtle signal that few realize is that the eyes will dilate such that the dark pupils
get much bigger (this is one reason why dark-eyed people can seem attractive).
Touching
Touching signals even closer intimacy. It may start with 'accidental' brushing, followed
by touching of 'safe' parts of the body such as arms or back.
Caressing is gentle stroking that may start in the safer regions and then stray (especially
when alone) to sexual regions.

Submissive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Submissive body language
Body positions | Gestures | See also

A significant cluster of body movements is used to signal fear and readiness to submit.
This is common in animals, where fighting (that could terminally harm each animal) is
avoided by displays of aggression or submission.

Body positions
The body in fearful stances is generally closed, and may also include additional aspects.
Making the body small

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Hunching inwards reduces the size of the body, limiting the potential of being hit and
protecting vital areas. In a natural setting, being small may also reduce the chance of
being seen. Arms are held in. A crouching position may be taken, even slightly with
knees slightly bent. This is approaching the curled-up regressive fetal position.
Motionlessness
By staying still, the chance of being seen is, in a natural setting, reduced (which is why
many animals freeze when they are fearful). When exposed, it also reduces the chance
of accidentally sending signals which may be interpreted as being aggressive. It also
signals submission in that you are ready to be struck and will not fight back.

Head
Head down
Turning the chin and head down protects the vulnerable neck from attack. It also avoids
looking the other person in the face (staring is a sign of aggression).
Eyes
Widening the eyes makes you look more like a baby and hence signals your
vulnerability.
Looking attentively at the other person shows that you are hanging on their every word.
Mouth
Submissive people smile more at dominant people, but they often smile with the mouth
but not with the eyes.

Gestures
Submissive gestures
There are many gestures that have the primary intent of showing submission and that
there is no intent to harm the other person. Hands out and palms up shows that no
weapons are held and is a common pleading gesture.
Other gestures and actions that indicate tension may indicate the state of fear. This
includes hair tugging, face touching and jerky movement. There may also be signs such
as whiteness of the face and sweating.
Small gestures
When the submissive person must move, then small gestures are often made. These may
be slow to avoid alarming the other person, although tension may make them jerky

Parts-of-the-body language
Techniques > Using Body Language > Parts-of-the-body language

You can send signals with individual parts of the body as well as in concert. Here's
details of the contributions of each part of the body.

Head
We look a lot at the other person's head, which is used to send many signals to us. Many
are subconscious, which can be very useful.

41
• Head body language
• Face body language
• Cheek body language
• Chin body language
• Mouth body language
• Lips body language
• Teeth body language
• Tongue body language
• Nose body language
• Eyes body language
• Eyebrow body language
• Forehead body language
• Hair body language

Arms
We often talk with our arms, windmilling as we describe with arms and hands what we
are saying.

• Arm body language


• Elbow body language
• Hand body language
• Finger body language

Torso
The torso, though often ignored, contains the main mass of the body and can give
important signals.

• Neck body language


• Shoulder body language
• Chest body language
• Back body language
• Belly body language
• Bottom body language
• Hips body language

Legs
The legs often betray body language when the person is trying to control their body
(and often forget the lower half). Particularly when seated, if you can look down you
may find another story.

• Leg body language


• Thigh body language
• Knee body language
• Foot body language

Head body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Head body language
Lowering | Raising | Tilting | Oscillating | Rotating | Pointing | Touching | See also

42
The head can send such a wide range of signals that the face and other parts of the head
are covered in other pages. Here, we focus just on movement of the head as affected by
the neck muscles.

Lowering
A lowered head covers the neck with the chin and hence can be a defensive posture that
can occur as a result of any perceived threat (not just physical threat).
Lowering the head also lowers the eyes and hence can be a sign of submission,
effectively saying 'I dare not even look at you'. The eyes are typically also lowered here.
It can be driven by affection ('you are so wonderful') or fear ('you might hurt me if I
look at you').
Lowering the head whilst maintaining eye contact can also be a strong flirting signal,
typically by women. It says 'You are superior and I just can't take my eyes off you'. It
can also be a sign of defiance or caution, for example when showing respect to an
enemy ('You are strong and I do not trust you').
Sometimes, lowering the head is just a sign of exhaustion. The head is rather heavy and
a tired person's head will sag.
Lowering the head can be a part of ducking as the person reflexively pulls the head
down to avoid a real or imagined hazard. This makes the body smaller and protects the
neck.
A single short lowering of the head can be an abbreviated nod. This is a common
greeting, perhaps as a small bow. It may also be a signal of power ('I am so powerful
people are paying will notice even a small nod'). Again it may be a deliberate
concealment, sending covert agreement to a colleague.

Raising
When the head is low, raising it may be a sign of interest as the person moved to
looking at the point of interest. This is typically accompanied by other expressions of
interest such as raised eyebrows.
From a level position, a quick flick upwards can be a sign of query ('What do you
mean?').
Raising the head and looking at the ceiling may signal boredom. It may also indicate a
visual thinker who is looking at internal images. Another alternative is where a person
wants to focus on the sound and is thus averting the eyes in order to concentrate on the
sound.

Tilting
Tilting the head sideways can be a sign of interest, which may be in what is said or
happening. It can also be a flirting signal as it says 'I am interested in you!'
Tilting can similarly indicate curiosity, uncertainty or query, particularly if the head is
pushed forward, as if the person was trying to look at the subject in a different way in
the hope of seeing something new. The greater the tilt, the greater the uncertainty or the
greater the intent to send this signal.

43
A tilted head pulled back tends to indicate suspicion, as the uncertainty of the tilt is
combined with a defensive pulling back.
The tilted head exposes the carotid artery on the side of the neck and may be a sign of
submission and feelings of vulnerability.
If the head is propped up by the hand, it may be tiredness or an expectation of continued
interest ('This is so interesting!').

Oscillating (nodding and shaking)


Nodding up and down signals agreement in most cultures and may well be accompanied
by smiling and other signs of approval. A vigorous nodding probably indicates strong
agreement, whilst slow nodding may indicate conditional agreement (and so may be
questioned if you want full agreement).
Turning the head from side to side usually indicates disagreement or disapproval and
may originate in infant refusal of food. Again, speed of swinging indicates strength of
feeling. A head tilted down whilst swinging may signal particular disapproval ('I don't
even want to look at you').
Alternately tilting the head at an angle to each side can say 'I'm not sure', though in
Southern India it means 'Yes'.
Nodding or shaking the head whilst talking is an encouragement for the other person to
agree (which works surprisingly often).
Nodding whilst the other person is talking sends approval signals and encourages them
to keep talking. Shaking the head shows disagreement and they may either stop and
seek your view or redouble their attempts to persuade you.
A nod can be used when emphasizing a point. The may range from a subtle
encouragement to agree to a rapid and aggressive tilt.
A short, sharp nod can symbolize a head-butt, indicating the desire to strike the other
person (this may be in emphasis or for other reasons).
Shaking the head when saying something positive is a negative signal and may indicate
the person does not believe what they are saying.

Rotating
Rotation of the head in a circle is a relatively rare gesture and may just be the person
exercising a stiff neck (if they should be paying attention, this may thus indicate
boredom).
Turning the head away removes attention and thus may say 'I do not want to
communicate with you'. This can be very insulting as it denies the existence of the other
person.
Turning the head slightly to the side points the ear at the other person, perhaps better to
hear them. This is usually accompanied by continued eye contact and the hand may be
cupped behind the ear.
A slight head turn also puts one eye in the middle of your head as the other person sees
it. To make eye contact they thus have to focus on one eye. This can be very
disconcerting and this 'one-eye' gaze may be used as an act of dominance (It may also
be used in the act of 'giving the evil eye').

44
A slight rotation on top of oscillation may indicate incomplete agreement or
disagreement, for example where a nod has a slight additional side-to-side movement,
indicating primary or external agreement but with a certain amount of disagreement too
(which may be significant if they feel coerced into agreement).

Pointer
We tend to point at people and things in which we are interested in some way. Pointing
the head and face at another person shows interest in them.
In groups and meetings, you can often see power people as others often look at them.
Likewise, the less significant people are not looked at often.
We can also point with a twitch of the head in any given direction. Pointing at a person
in this way without looking can be insulting and can be subtle, for example where you
do not want the indicated person is being pointed at.

Touching
We can touch the head in many places. Touching the face is a common sign of anxiety
and people tend to have preferred places they touch or stroke when they are concerned.
This is a classic pattern that poker players look for in other players as signs of having
good or bad hands.
Covering eyes, ears or mouth may say we do not want to see, hear or say something.
We may touch the side of the nose or stroke the chin when we are thinking, making
decisions and judging others.
Tapping the head can be self-punishment and hence signal regret, for example tapping
the forehead with the heel of the hand ('I'm stupid!'). Note that, depending on context,
this can also be a signal that somebody else is considered stupid.
The head is heavy and when tired we may prop it up, either under the chin or at the side.
Boredom makes us tired so propping the head may indicate this. Propping up the head
also happens when a person is thinking or evaluating.
In some cultures, the head is considered the part of the body that is most spiritual.
Touching the head can be considered wrong in such contexts

Face body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Face body language
Color | Moisture | Emotions | See also

The face has around 90 muscles in it, with about 30 of these purely for expressing
emotion. It can thus be used to send many non-verbal signals, using its various features
in concert.

Color
Red
A generally red face may indicate that the person is hot as the blood come to the to
surface to be cooled. They may heat up either from exercise or emotional arousal, for
example when they are excited and energized.

45
A red face is typical of a person who is angry. This is a clear danger signal, warning the
other person that they may be harmed if they do not back down.
People blush with embarrassment in various ways. Some people's neck goes red. With
others it is mostly the cheeks. Sometimes the whole face goes red.
White
White skin may be a sign of coldness as the blood goes deep to avoid cooling further.
White skin is also an indication of fear, often extreme. This happens as the blood
abandons a surface that might be cut, going to muscles where its power is needed more.
Blue
The skin can also take on a bluish tinge. This can also indicate coldness or extreme fear.

Moisture
Sweating is the body's natural cooling mechanism when it gets hot, possibly from
excitement and emotional arousal.
Sweat is also associated with fear, perhaps to make the skin slippery and hence prevent
an opponent from taking a firm grasp.

Emotions
Here are some of the facial signals that you might see for different emotions. Do note
that these are only possible indicators: not all signals are needed and not all signals
indicated here necessarily indicate the associated emotion.

Emotion Facial signals

Eyes damp; eyebrows slightly pushed together; trembling


Anxiety
lower lip; chin possibly wrinkled; head slightly tilted down.

Eyes wide, closed or pointing down; raised eyebrows; mouth


Fear open or corners turned down; chin pulled in; head down,
white face.

Eyes wide and staring; eyebrows pulled down (especially in


Anger middle); wrinkled forehead; flared nostrils; mouth flattened
or clenched teeth bared; jutting chin, red face.

Mouth smiling (open or closed); possible laughter; crows-


Happiness feet wrinkles at sides of sparkling eyes; slightly raised
eyebrows; head level.

Eyes cast down and possibly damp or tearful; head down;


Sadness
lips pinched; head down or to the side.

Eyes staring; mouth corners turned down; nose turned in


Envy
sneer; chin jutting.

Eyes wide open with dilated pupils; slightly raised eyebrows;


Desire lips slightly parted or puckered or smiling; head tilted
forward.

Steady gaze of eyes at item of interest (may be squinting);


Interest slightly raised eyebrows; lips slightly pressed together; head
erect or pushed forward.

Boredom Eyes looking away; face generally immobile; corners of

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mouth turned down or lips pulled to the side; head propped
up with hand.

Eyes wide open; eyebrows raised high; mouth dropped wide


Surprise open with consequent lowered chin; head held back or tilted
to side.

Eyebrows tilted outwards (lowered outer edges); mouth


Relief
either tilted down or smiling; head tilted.

Eyes and head turned away; nostrils flared; nose twisted in


Disgust sneer; mouth closed, possibly with tongue protruding; chin
jutting.

Eyes and head turned down; eyebrows held low; skin


Shame
blushing red.

Eyes in extended gaze and possibly damp; eyebrows slightly


Pity pulled together in middle or downwards at edges; mouth
turned down at corners; head tilted to side.

Relaxed facial muscles and steady gaze with eyes. Perhaps


Calm
mouth turned up slightly at sides in gentle smile.

Cheek body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Cheek body language
In-out | Redness | Internal | Touching | See also

Cheeks can speak body language, although admittedly not very much.

In-out
Cheeks can be drawn in or blown out. When pulled in and particularly when linked with
pursed lips, it indicates disapproval.
Cheeks sucked in to the extent that the lower lips curl can indicate pensiveness which
may be uncomfortable (look also for a furrowed brow).
When cheeks are blown out, this can signify uncertainty as to what to do next (watch
also for raised eyebrows and rounded eyes). This may be exaggerated by the person
actually blowing air from their mouth ('Pfoof - what do I do now??').
Blown out cheeks can also be a sign of exhaustion. If the person has been exercising the
face may also be red and sweaty.

Redness
Red cheeks is a classic sign of embarrassment. Watch for them becoming red (some
people just have natural red cheeks). Red cheeks may also be a sign of anger. Watch
here for other anger signs, such as enlarged and staring eyes.
Cheeks pale when blood drains from them. This typically happens when a person is
frightened as the blood is moved to the muscles in readiness to flee. Pale cheeks can
also be a sign of coldness.

Internal
Chewing the inside of the cheek or mouth can be a hidden sign of nervousness and may
indicate lying.

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Pushing the tongue into the cheek can show pensiveness as the person thinks about
something and tries to come to a decision.

Touching
The cheek is a wide area that can be touched without obscuring any of the functional
organs. Touching the cheek is often done in surprise or horror. A light touch, along with
an open mouth that says 'Oooh' indicate light surprise. Touching both cheeks with the
flat of the palm is an exaggeration of this and may indicate horror.

Chin body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Chin body language
Protecting | Jutting | Touching | Beard | See also

The chin, as with other corners of the face, has its own body language.

Protecting
The chin is vulnerable when fists are flying as a good upper-cut punch can knock you
out. Even more vulnerable than the chin is the throat, where a predator might try to
asphyxiate you or worse. Holding in the chin protects both it and the throat, and hence
is a naturally defensive move that people use when they feel threatened.
Holding the chin in also lowers the head, which is a submissive gesture. This is distinct
from the defensive move as the head tilts down more and the eyes are often largely
downcast. This can similarly be a shy or flirting gesture.

Jutting
The chin can be used as a subtle pointing device and a small flick of the head may give
a small signal that only people in the know are likely to notice.
Jutting out the chin towards a person exposes it and says 'Go on, I dare you, try to hit
me and see what happens!' This can thus be a signal of defiance, if not towards the other
person then instead towards some situation or person in the conversation.
Jutting may also exposes the teeth and is a thus a threat to bite which may be added to
an aggressive display.
Pointing at a person with the finger is a threatening act. Doing it briefly with the chin is
more covert and can thus be an insult.

Touching
Stroking the chin is often a signal that the person is thinking hard. They may well be
judging or evaluating something, particularly if the conversation has offered them a
choice or decision to make.
The head is a heavy object and is often propped up by holding the chin in a cupped
hand, particularly when the person is tired and it may drop. Boredom can make you
sleepy and a hand under the chin may be done to stop an embarrassing drop of the head.
Holding the chin also prevents the head from moving and can signal that the person
wants to send a head signal but simultaneously does not want to send the signal, for

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example when they emotionally agree and want to nod, but intellectually want more
information so they can have good reason before they say yes.

Beard
Beards and moustaches are sometimes controversial items, particularly in cultures
where being clean-shaven is the norm. A beard may thus be an indicator of a non-
conformist.
A full beard is more likely to indicate a person who has no vanity needs and is
confident and relaxed as they are. When the beard is shaped and neatly clipped, it may
indicate a more vain and fussy person who is particular about how they appear and what
they do.
An unkempt beard that is left to grow wild may indicate an untidy mind or simply that
the person is lazy. It may also point to a person for whom external appearance is
unimportant, such as a university intellectual.
Stroking a beard can be a preening gesture, symbolically making oneself look beautiful
and hence sending 'I'm gorgeous' signals.

Mouth body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Mouth body language
Emoting | Breathing | Speaking | Eating | Drinking | Covering | Smiling | Laughing | See also

Generally speaking body orifices are not terribly desirable as they can cause problems
such as being entries for disease or can be snagged on passing bushes. The mouth is
perhaps the ultimate multi-function orifice as we use it for communicating, breathing
and eating.

Emoting
The mouth is involved in the expression of many different emotions, from happiness to
sadness, from fear to disgust. In emoting, the lips play a major role in creating visible
shapes, with able backup from the teeth and tongue.

Breathing
We usually breath through the nose, but when we need more oxygen we use the mouth
to gulp in greater amounts of air.
A person who is frightened or angry by the fight-or-flight reaction may well open their
mouth to get more oxygen in preparation for combat or running away. This may also
involve breathing faster (panting).
A hot person also pants hard. With typical the red face, this can be mistaken for anger
(or vice versa).
Yawning is a process of taking a deep gulp of air as a quick 'pick-me-up' and often
indicate a person who is tired or bored.
A short, deep, exhaling sigh, can indicate sadness, frustration or boredom.
Short inhalation, particularly in a sequence, can be like silent sobs and hence be an
indicator of deep and suppressed sadness.

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Slow, deep breathing, sometimes with slightly parted lips, may indicate someone who is
relaxing or meditating. With closed eyes, they are seldom aware of what is going on
around them and this may be done as an escape.

Speaking
The mouth sends additional signals when it is speaking.
If the mouth moves little, perhaps including incoherent mumbling, this may indicate an
unwillingness to speak, for example from shyness or from a fear of betraying
themselves.
A mouth that moves a lot during speech can indicate excitement or dominance as it
sends clear signals that 'I am speaking, do not interrupt!'
Careful shaping of words can also indicate a person with auditory preferences or a
concern for precision and neatness.
Fast speakers are often visual thinkers who are trying to get out what they are seeing.
They may also be looking upwards.
Slow speakers may be deep thinkers who are being careful about finding the right
words. They may also have an auditory preference as they carefully enunciate each
word.

Eating
The mouth is also used for eating, and the way people eat can tell things about them.
A well-mannered person opens their mouth the minimum to put in a moderate amount
of food and keeps it closed whilst carefully chewing each mouthful. They also do not
speak when they have food in their mouth.
On the other hand, an uncouth person gobbles large mouthfuls and opens their mouth as
they chew and talk at the same time.
In a curious reversal, snobbish gourmands who take great pleasure in eating may do it
noisily as an expression of pleasure. This may also be a cultural variable and in some
places noisy eating is not only acceptable but also desirable.
People who chew smaller amounts at the front of their mouth are like children whose
molars have not developed and may be timid.
People who chew for a longer time may be chewing on ideas at the same time.
When people slide their jaw sideways when they eat are grinding the food. this may
also be pensive.

Drinking
As with eating, drinking may be done in a polite way, sipping smaller amounts and
swallowing noiselessly. It may also be done with loud glugging and followed by
equally distasteful burping -- although again, in some cultures this is a desirable
expression of pleasure.
Someone who is slooshing their drink around their mouth may well be thinking and
deciding.

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Covering
Sometimes the hand is used to cover the mouth. In polite society, exposing the inside of
your mouth may be considered rude, so the hand is used to politely cover a yawn.
The hand is also used to conceal the mouth when it will betray emotions that may be
undesirable. Thus we put our hands over impolite giggles and smirks. This may also be
a reason for hiding a yawn. We also cover the open mouth of surprise and the
downturned mouth of sadness.

Smiling
Smiling indicates pleasure, either that you are generally happy and are enjoying the
other person's company or that you are amused by something in particular, such as a
joke.
A full smile engages the whole face, particularly including the eyes, which crease and
'twinkle'.
Smiling with lips only is often falsehood, where the smiler wants to convey pleasure or
approval but is actually feeling something else. This false smile is known as the
Duchenne smile, after the scientists who first described it in 1862. False smiles also
tend to last for longer.
A genuine smile is often asymmetric and usually larger on the right side of the face. A
false smile may be more symmetrical or larger on the left side of the face.
Lowering the jaw to show a D-shaped mouth can be a false smile as it is easy to do. It
may also be a deliberate signal of amusement and and an invitation to laugh.
Smiling without opening the mouth, and particularly with lips firmly pressed together,
may indicate embarrassment about unsightly teeth. It may also be a suppression of
words ('I can see the funny side, but I'm not going to comment.').
A half-smile, on one side of the face, may indicate cynicism, sarcasm or uncertainty
('Sorry, I don't buy that idea.').
Smiling is also a sign of submission as the person effectively says 'I am nice and not a
threat'.
Smiling in some cultures indicates a question or that you want the other person to
speak.

Laughing
Beyond smiling, laughter shows greater pleasure and happiness. Whilst smiling may
happen over a longer period, laughter is a relatively brief affair, happening for a few
seconds.
There are many variants on laughter and we all laugh differently, from the suppressed
titter to the loud and uproarious belly-laugh. Louder and less suppressed laughter may
indicate someone who is less self-conscious. It may also be used by a person who is
trying to gain attention.
In general, women laugh at men they like whilst men like women who laugh at them
('It's working! She likes me.'). This can lead to a satisfying bonding mechanism.

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'Funny' often gets equated to 'nice' and 'harmless' and the use of humor thus can a way
of sending friendship signals. Laughing at risqué jokes is a sign of acceptance of the
other person (the alternative is to criticize or otherwise censure them).
Laughing and smiling at the misfortune of others is often socially unacceptable
although we often find this funny (Germans call this 'schadenfreude'). In such cases you
may see suppressed grins and giggles as the person tries desperately to hide their feeling
of amusement. Laughs, for example may get disguised as coughs and the person may
turn away to hide their expression.

Yawning
Yawning is opening the mouth wide and gulping in a large quantity of air. We do it
when we are tired and blood oxygen is low.
Boredom can indicated by yawning, signalling that the other person is so uninteresting
they are sending us to sleep, which makes it often impolite (also because it shows the
inside of the body). This results often in the yawn being covered with the hand or
concealed such as by turning the head or holding the mouth more closed than it actually
want to be.
The gulping of air in yawning can also be in preparation for action and a stressed person
may yawn more, or at least take some bigger breaths.

Lips body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Lips body language
Parted | Pursed | Puckered | Flattened | Turned up | Turned down | Retracted | Moving | Twitching |
Protruding | Biting | Relaxed | See also

Lips can say a lot of things without words. Our muscles around them mean we can
shape them with incredibly fine control. Lipstick is used to draw attention to the lips,
thus exaggerating further the signals sent by them.

Parted
Lips which are slightly parted can be a strong flirting signal, particularly if the lips are
then licked and even more so if done whilst holding the gaze of another person.
Parting lips is the first stage in speaking and may thus be a signal that the person wants
to talk.

Pursed
Lips which are pulled inwards from all directions are an indication of tension and may
indicate frustration or disapproval.
Pursed lips are a classic sign of anger, including when it is suppressed. It is effectively
holding the mouth shut to prevent the person saying what they feel like saying.

Puckered
A light puckering of the lips into a kiss shape typically indicates desire. It can also
indicate uncertainty, particularly if the lips are touched with the fingers.

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When you say 'oo', the lips form the kiss shape. This is one reason that romantic songs
often linger on words like 'you' and 'too'.

Flattened
Lips which are kept horizontal but squeezed flat are an exaggerated closing of the
mouth and hence indicate a repressed desire to speak. This indicate disapproval ('If I
spoke I would be very critical, which I do not want to be'). It can also indicate
frustration ('I want to speak, but others are speaking and I feel I should wait').
Flattened lips can also indicate a refusal to eat, either because of dislike of offered food
or some other motivation.

Turned up
When the corners of the mouth are turned upwards, this can be a grimace of disgust or a
smile of pleasure. In a grimace, the teeth are unlikely to be shown (although toothless
smiles are also common). Grimaces are often flatter and tenser.
A full smile engages the whole face, particularly including the eyes. Smiling with lips
only is often falsehood, where the smiler wants to convey pleasure or approval but is
actually feeling something else.

Turned down
Corners of the mouth turned down indicates sadness or displeasure.
Some people are so miserable so often, this is the natural state of rest of their mouths
(which is perhaps rather sad).

Retracted
When the lips are pulled back, they expose the teeth. This may be in a broad smile or it
may be a snarl of aggression. The eyes should tell you which is which. In a snarl, the
eyes are either narrowed or staring. In a full smile, the corners of the eyes are creased.

Moving
Lips which are moving in the shape of words but without making sounds means that the
person is thinking of saying the words. This subvocalization often happens with very
small movement and is often completely subconscious. Stage mentalists use this when
they ask their 'victims' to think hard of a word and then lip-read as they silently sound
the word.
Up and down movement may indicate chewing. Some people chew the insides of their
mouths when they are nervous.
Rolling in the lips so they roll across one another can be a preening gesture for women,
evening out lipstick. It can also be a sign of uncertainty or disapproval (look for
accompanying lowered eyebrows).

Twitching
Small, lightning-fast movements of the mouth betray inner thoughts, for example a
single twitch of the corner of the mouth that indicates cynicism or disbelief.

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Liars in particular will often give themselves away with very brief grimaces as their
conscience expresses disapproval of the conscious lies.

Protruding
When the top lip is over the bottom lip, this may be linked with biting of the bottom lip,
a common indicator that the person is feeling guilty about something.
The bottom lip extended over the top lip can indicate uncertainty, as if the person is
saying 'umm'.
The bottom lip jutting out is often a part of a sulky pout, where the person expresses
child-like petulance at not getting their own way.
Both lips pressed together and pushed out generally indicates doubt. If the finger
touches them, it may indicate internal thinking or may say 'I am considering speaking
but am not quite ready to talk yet'.

Biting
Biting the lip, centrally or at the side, is often a sign of anxiety. Usually, this is the
bottom lip (especially if the person has overhanging top teeth). This may be a habitual
action and people who do this, will often repeat the move in predictable situations.
This is a fairly child-like action, especially if accompanied by wide eyes and eyebrows
raised in the middle and lowered at the sides, and thus may betray concern about being
told off or otherwise being censured in the manner of a child.

Relaxed
Finally, the lips will have a position of rest when they are not pulled in any direction.
This usually indicates that the person is also feeling relaxed.

Teeth body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Teeth body language
Biting | Smiling | Noise | Tapping | See also

There's not a lot of body language with teeth, but this is a complete section, so here's
details.

Biting
Teeth are made to bite, tear and grind. Exposing the teeth in a snarl is saying 'I am
thinking of biting you' and is hence a primitive and potentially scary threat.
Actual biting is rare, but indicates the person has been reduced to a base position and is
probably not thinking rationally.
Biting can also be affectionate, for example where lovers chew the other person's lip or
ear. This can create arousal from the basic fear instinct but the person knows from the
context that they are not in danger and hence reframes the arousal as pleasure. Gentle
biting also stimulates nerve receptors and is thus similar to touch.
Young animals at play pretend to bite one another as they prepare for adulthood. When
people play with friends they may also expose their teeth.

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Smiling
Exposing the teeth in smiling tends to indicate extreme pleasure. People who are self-
conscious and particularly if their teeth are not that attractive may try not to show their
teeth when smiling.

Noise
Teeth can make a noise when banged or slid together. Chattering teeth may indicate
extreme fear and is usually accompanied by shaking of the body. This may also indicate
extreme coldness.
Grinding teeth can indicate suppressed anger or frustration as the person tensely tries
not to speak.
Light tapping of the teeth can be mild frustration or thinking (it is similar in effect to
tapping of a finger).
As with other repetitive action, teeth noise can also just be habit.

Tapping
Sometimes people tap their teeth with their nails, making a noise that echoes in the
mouth. This can signal thinking or boredom. It may also be a deliberate interruption or
irritant, although this is less likely.

Tongue body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Tongue body language
Sticking out | Licking | Biting it | Inside the mouth | See also

The tongue is normally important in spoken body language. In practice it can also send
some body language non-verbal signals.

Sticking out
A deliberate gesture of sticking out the tongue at a person is impolite, although
considered rather childish and thus reflects as much on the person doing it. The gesture
thus appears petulant unless it is done in an amusingly cheeky way. The rest of the face
should indicate more of the intent. Cheeky tongue-poking is often followed by a smile
or laughter.
Sticking out the tongue also can happen when the person is trying hard to do something.
When this happens it traditionally appears at the side of the mouth.
When people are talking in romantic setting, sticking out the tongue can be a sign of
lust.

Licking
The tongue can be used to lick. By oneself, pretty much the only thing the tongue can
lick is the lips (although a more hidden way of this is licking the teeth).
Lip-licking may indicate desire, perhaps for another person and perhaps for food.
Usually it is for what is in front of the licker.

55
As a deliberate signal to others it can be sexually enticing, saying 'I would like to like
you'. As such, it can be very arousing, particularly when done slowly and with other
flirting signals such as a slightly lowered head and steady gaze.
Licking another person can be extremely arousing and is typically done either as a part
of foreplay or as a quick tease.

Biting it
Biting the tongue typically indicates that the biter wants to say something but somehow
feels unable or unwilling to say what they want, perhaps for fear of offending or
breaking social rules.

Inside the mouth


With mouth closed and tongue inside the mouth, you can still sometimes see what it is
doing. Pressed against the cheek it can indicate thinking and uncertainty. Pushed in
front of the teeth, pushing out the lips, can also indicate uncertainty.

Nose body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Nose body language
Flared | Wrinkled | Sniffing | Touching it | See also

The nose, which is right in the middle of the face, can send a certain amount of body
language.

Flared
When the nostrils are widened it allows more air to be breathed in and out and readies
the person for combat. In a related sense, this can indicate the person is experiencing
extreme displeasure.
Flared nostrils may also indicate that the person is making an internal judgment about
something.

Wrinkled
The nose can be wrinkled by pushing up from the mouth. This happens when a bad
smell is detected. It can also appear with a metaphoric bad smell is thought about, for
example when somebody else suggests a distasteful idea (see: even language uses bad-
taste metaphor!). Another variation is when the person is thinking about something but
is not satisfied with their own ideas.

Sniffing
Aside from when a person has a cold, sniffing can indicate displeasure or disgust. This
may also happen on one side, with the mouth twitching up as well.

Touching it
Touching the nose can indicate that the person has detected a bad smell. It is also
common signal from a person who is not telling the truth.
When a person lies, blood vessels in their nose may dilate, making the nose swell or
appear redder. This also may lead to them touching or scratching the nose.

56
Rubbing the finger alongside the nose can indicate disagreement.
Pinching the bridge of the nose can show the person is evaluating something, usually
negatively and with some frustration.
Fiddling with the nose or pressing it down can just be a habit when the person is
thinking.

Eyes body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Eyes body language
Up | Down | Sideways | Gazing | Glancing | Eye contact | Staring | Squinting | Blinking | Winking |
Closing | Damp | Tears | Pupil size | Rubbing | See also

The eyes are often called, with some justification, 'the windows of the soul' as they can
send many different non-verbal signals.
For reading body language this is quite useful as looking at people's eyes are a normal
part of communication (whilst gazing at other parts of the body can be seen as rather
rude).

Looking up
When a person looks upwards they are often thinking. In particular they are probably
making pictures in their head and thus may well be an indicator of a visual thinker.
When they are delivering a speech or presentation, looking up may be their recalling
their prepared words.
Looking upwards and to the left can indicate recalling a memory. Looking upwards and
the right can indicate imaginative construction of a picture (which can hence betray a
liar). Be careful with this: sometimes the directions are reversed -- if in doubt, test the
person by asking them to recall known facts or imagine something.
Looking up may also be a signal of boredom as the person examines the surroundings
in search of something more interesting.
Head lowered and eyes looking back up at the other person is a coy and suggestive
action as it combines the head down of submission with eye contact of attraction. It can
also be judgemental, especially when combined with a frown.

Looking down
Looking at a person can be an act of power and domination. Looking down involves not
looking at the other person, which hence may be a sign of submission ('I am not a
threat, really; please do not hurt me. You are so glorious I would be dazzled if I looked
at you.')
Looking down can thus be a signal of submission. It can also indicate that the person is
feeling guilty.
A notable way that a lower person looks down at a higher person is by tilting their head
back. Even taller people may do this.
Looking down and to the left can indicate that they are talking to themselves (look for
slight movement of the lips). Looking down and to the right can indicate that they are
attending to internal emotions.

57
In many cultures where eye contact is a rude or dominant signal, people will look down
when talking with others in order to show respect.

Looking sideways
Much of our field of vision is in the horizontal plane, so when a person looks sideways,
they are either looking away from what is in front of them or looking towards
something that has taken their interest.
A quick glance sideways can just be checking the source of a distraction to assess for
threat or interest. It can also be done to show irritation ('I didn't appreciate that
comment!').
Looking to the left can indicate a person recalling a sound. Looking to the right can
indicate that they are imagining the sound. As with visual and other movements, this
can be reversed and may need checking against known truth and fabrication.
Lateral movement
Eyes moving from side-to-side can indicate shiftiness and lying, as if the person is
looking for an escape route in case they are found out.
Lateral movement can also happen when the person is being conspiratorial, as if they
are checking that nobody else is listening.
Eyes may also move back and forth sideways (and sometimes up and down) when the
person is visualizing a big picture and is literally looking it over.

Gazing
Looking at something shows an interest in it, whether it is a painting, a table or a
person.
When looking at a person normally, the gaze is usually at eye level or above (see eye
contact, below). The gaze can also be a defocused looking at the general person.
Looking at a person's mouth can indicate that you would like to kiss them. Looking at
sexual regions indicates a desire to have sexual relations with them.
Looking up and down at a whole person is usually sizing them up, either as a potential
threat or as a sexual partner (notice where the gaze lingers). This can be quite insulting
and hence indicate a position of presumed dominance, as the person effectively says 'I
am more powerful than you, your feelings are unimportant to me and you will submit to
my gaze'.
Looking at their forehead or not at them indicates disinterest. This may also be shown
by defocused eyes where the person is 'inside their head' thinking about other things.
It is difficult to conceal a gaze as we are particularly adept at identifying exactly where
other people are looking. This is one reason why we have larger eye whites than
animals, as it aids complex communication.
Eye contact in many cultures is considered dominant or rude.

Glancing
Glancing at something can betray a desire for that thing, for example glancing at the
door can indicate a desire to leave.

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Glancing at a person can indicate a desire to talk with them. It can also indicate a
concern for that person's feeling when something is said that might upset them.
Glancing may indicate a desire to gaze at something or someone where it is forbidden to
look for a prolonged period.

Eye contact
Doe eyes
A softening of the eyes, with relaxing of muscles around the eye and a slight defocusing
as the person tries to take in the whole person is sometimes called doe eyes, as it often
indicates sexual desire, particularly if the gaze is prolonged and the pupils are dilated
(see below). The eyes may also appear shiny.
Making eye contact
Looking at a person acknowledges them and shows that you are interested in them,
particularly if you look in their eyes.
Looking at a person's eyes also lets you know where they are looking. We are
amazingly good at detecting what they are looking at and can detect even a brief glance
at parts of our body, for example.
If a person says something when you are looking away and then you make eye contact,
then this indicates they have grabbed your attention.
Breaking eye contact
Prolonged eye contact can be threatening, so in conversation we frequently look away
and back again.
Breaking eye contact can indicate that something that has just been said that makes the
person not want to sustain eye contact, for example that they are insulted, they have
been found out, they feel threatened, etc. This can also happen when the person thinks
something that causes the same internal discomfort.
Looking at a person, breaking eye contact and then looking immediately back at them is
a classic flirting action, particularly with the head held coyly low in suggested
submission.
Long eye contact
Eye contact longer than normal can have several different meanings.
Eye contact often increases significantly when we are listening, and especially when we
are paying close attention to what the other person is saying. Less eye contact is used
when talking, particularly by people who are visual thinkers as they stare into the
distance or upwards as they 'see' what they are talking about.
We also look more at people we like and like people who look at us more. When done
with doe eyes and smiles, it is a sign of attraction. Lovers will stare into each others
eyes for a long period. Attraction is also indicated by looking back and forth between
the two eyes, as if we are desperately trying to determine if they are interested in us too.
An attraction signal that is more commonly used by women is to hold the other person's
gaze for about three seconds, Then look down for a second or two and then look back
up again (to see if they have taken the bait). If the other person is still looking at them,
they are rewarded with a coy smile or a slight widening of the eyes ('Yes, this message
is for you!').

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When done without blinking, contracted pupils and an immobile face, this can indicate
domination, aggression and use of power. In such circumstances a staring competition
can ensue, with the first person to look away admitting defeat.
Prolonged eye contact can be disconcerting. A trick to reduce stress from this is to look
at the bridge of their nose. They will think you are still looking in their eyes.
Sometimes liars, knowing that low eye contact is a sign of lying, will over-compensate
and look at you for a longer than usual period. Often this is done without blinking as
they force themselves into this act. They may smile with the mouth, but not with the
eyes as this is more difficult.
Limited eye contact
When a person makes very little eye contact, they may be feeling insecure. They may
also be lying and not want to be detected.

Staring
Staring is generally done with eyes wider than usual, prolonged attention to something
and with reduced blinking. It generally indicates particular interest in something or
someone.
Staring at a person can indicate shock and disbelief, particularly after hearing
unexpected news.
When the eyes are defocused, the person's attention may be inside their head and what
they are staring at may be of no significance. (Without care, this can become quite
embarrassing for them).
Prolonged eye contact can be aggressive, affectionate or deceptive and is discussed
further above. Staring at another's eyes is usually more associated with aggressive
action.
A short stare, with eyes wide open and then back to normal indicates surprise. The
correction back to normal implies that the person would like to stare more, but knows it
is impolite (this may be accompanied with some apologetic text).

Following
The eyes will naturally follow movement of any kind. If the person is looking at
something of interest then they will naturally keep looking at this. They also follow
neutral or feared things in case the movement turns into a threat.
This is used when sales people move something like a pen or finger up and down,
guiding where the customer looks, including to eye contact and to parts of the product
being sold.

Squinting
Narrowing of a person's eyes can indicate evaluation, perhaps considering that
something told to them is not true (or at least not fully so).
It can similarly indicate uncertainty ('I cannot quite see what is meant here.')
Squinting can also be used by liars who do not want the other person to detect their
deception.

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When a person thinks about something and does not want to look at the internal image,
they may involuntarily squint.
Squinting can also happen when lights or the sun are bright.
Lowering of eyelids is not really a squint but can have a similar meaning. It can also
indicate tiredness.
Lowering eyelids whilst still looking at the other person can be a part of a romantic and
suggestive cluster, and may be accompanied with tossing back the head and slightly
puckering the lips in a kiss.

Blinking
Blinking is a neat natural process whereby the eyelids wipe the eyes clean, much as a
windscreen wiper on a car.
Blink rate tends to increase when people are thinking more or are feeling stressed. This
can be an indication of lying as the liar has to keep thinking about what they are saying.
Realizing this, they may also force their eyes open and appear to stare.
Blinking can also indicate rapport, and people who are connected may blink at the same
rate. Someone who is listening carefully to you is more likely to blink when you pause
(keeping eyes open to watch everything you say).
Beyond natural random blinking, a single blink can signal surprise that the person does
not quite believe what they see ('I'll wipe my eyes clean to better see').
Rapid blinking blocks vision and can be an arrogant signal, saying 'I am so important, I
do not need to see you'.
Rapid blinking also flutters the eyelashes and can be a coy romantic invitation.

Winking
Closing one eye in a wink is a deliberate gesture that often suggests conspiratorial ('You
and I both understand, though others do not').
Winking can also be a slightly suggestive greeting and is reminiscent of a small wave of
the hand ('Hello there, gorgeous!').

Closing
Closing the eyes shuts out the world. This can mean 'I do not want to see what is in
front of me, it is so terrible'.
Sometimes when people are talking they close their eyes. This is an equivalent to
turning away so eye contact can be avoided and any implied request for the other person
to speak is effectively ignored.
Visual thinkers may also close their eyes, sometimes when talking, so they can better
see the internal images without external distraction.

Damp
The tear ducts provide moisture to the eyes, both for washing them and for tears.
Damp eyes can be suppressed weeping, indicating anxiety, fear or sadness. It can also
indicate that the person has been crying recently.
Dampness can also occur when the person is tired (this may be accompanied by redness
of the eyes.

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Tears
Actual tears that roll down the cheeks are often a symptom of extreme fear or sadness,
although paradoxically you can also weep tears of joy.
Weeping can be silent, with little expression other than the tears (indicating a certain
amount of control). It also typically involves screwing up of the face and, when
emotions are extreme, can be accompanied by uncontrollable, convulsive sobs.
Men in many culture are not expected to cry and learn to suppress this response, not
even being able to cry when alone. Even if their eyes feel damp they may turn away.
Tears and sadness may be transformed into anger, which may be direct at whoever is
available.

Pupil size
A subtle signal that is sometimes detected only subconsciously and is seldom realized
by the sender is where the pupil gets larger (dilates) or contracts.
Sexual desire is a common cause of pupil dilation, and is sometimes called 'bedroom
eyes' (magazine pictures sometimes have deliberately doctored eyes to make a model
look more attractive). When another person's eyes dilate we may be attracted further to
them and our eyes dilate in return. Likewise, when their pupils are small, ours may well
contract also.
Pupils dilate also when it is darker to let in more light (perhaps this is why clubs and
bars are so dingy!).
The reverse of this is that pupils contract when we do not like the other person, perhaps
in an echo of squint-like narrowing of the eyes.

Rubbing
When a person is feeling uncomfortable, the eyes may water a little. To cover this and
try to restore an appropriate dryness, they person may rub their eye and maybe even
feign tiredness or having something in the eye. This also gives the opportunity to turn
the head away.
The rubbing may be with one finger, with a finger and thumb (for two eyes) or with
both hands. The more the coverage, the more the person is trying to hide behind the
hands.

Eyebrow body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Eyebrow body language
Lowered | Raised | Middle-raised | Middle-lowered | Oscillating | See also

Eyebrows can send body language. Being near the eyes, which are the major senders of
signals, they are highly visible communicators, although the limited control of muscles
around them can limit what they say.

Lowered
Lowering the eyebrows conceals the eyes to a certain degree. Particularly with a
lowered head, this can thus indicate deception or a desire that eye signals are harder to
see.

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Lowered eyebrows may also indicate annoyance, perhaps effectively saying 'I am so
displeased, I do not want to look at you.' Related to this, lowered eyebrows are a sign of
a dominant person.

Raised
When a person is surprised, their eyebrows are often raised. This typically happens as a
part of opening the eyes wider, perhaps to see more clearly what is going on. The more
the surprise. the higher the eyebrows are raised.
Raising the eyebrows asks for attention from others and can signal general emphasis.
When as question is asked and the eyebrows are raised afterwards, this is a clear
invitation to answer the question.
Opposite to the dominant lowering of eyebrows, raising eyebrows is may be a
submissive move or indicate openness, as it lets the other person see your eyes ('I am
not looking where I should not!').
Raising a single eyebrow is something that only some people can do and can be a bit
more wry in its meaning, for example asking 'Are you sure?' when the other person
appears to be talking with limited accuracy.

Middle-raised
By pushing together the eyebrows and pulling up the forehead, the eyebrows can be
made to slope outwards. This can indicate relief ('Whew!'). It can also indicate anxiety
('Oh no!').

Middle-lowered
When the middle of the eyebrows are pulled down so they slope inwards, this often
shows that the person is angry or frustrated. It can also indicate intense concentration.

Oscillating
When we see people we know, we often give a quick up-down flash of the eyebrows in
recognition and greeting. This is a common signal across all primates, including
monkeys and gorillas.
Rapid and repeated up and down movement may be an exaggerated signal, meaning
'Well how about that then!', in the way that Groucho Marx used it.

Forehead body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Forehead body language
Wrinkling | Sweating | Touching | See also

The forehead has its place in body language communications, often as a part of a wider
set of signals. It is near the eyes and can be looked at without sending other signals (for
example looking the mouth can say 'I want to kiss you'), which can make even small
movements with it reliably observed and hence significant. Its main limitation is that it
can only make a few movements.

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Wrinkling
Wrinkling the forehead is often connected with movement of the eyebrows, particularly
upwards, and hence acts as an amplifier of these signals. Raised eyebrows (and
wrinkled forehead) indicates surprise or questioning.

Sweating
We often sweat more from the forehead than other parts of the body, making it
significant in sending moisture-related signals.
Sweating can occur when we are hot, which can come from external temperature,
exercise and also inner energy and arousal.
A cold sweat can indicate extreme fear and may be accompanied by damp eyes.

Touching
Wiping the forehead can be to remove sweat. It typically indicates relief and can be a
deliberate exaggeration. It can also indicate fear, even when the person is not sweating.
Touching the forehead happens in the greeting of a salute. This is effectively shading
the eyes and says 'You are so wonderful I am dazzled by your brilliance.'
Slowly rubbing the forehead can indicate deep thinking, as if the person was massaging
their brain to get it going.
Rubbing the temples either side can indicate stress as the person tries to massage away
the actual or implicit headache.
The forehead may also be touched as a part of a propping up the head, typically with the
thumb touching the side of the face.
Tapping the forehead with an open palm or light fist says 'Gosh, how stupid I am!

Hair body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Hair body language
Appearance | Tossing | Touching | See also

The hair is a part of the body and hence is used in various ways for communication.

Appearance
Hair can be cut and shaped into a wide range of styles which contributes to the overall
image and hence sends non-verbal signals.
A conventional and tidy cut indicates a conventional person who follows basic social
rules.
Well-styled hair can indicate a desire to be attractive and so get the approval and
admiration of others.
Men
Conventionally, men usually have a very limited social style, with hair cut reasonably
short.
Very short hair may signal aggression, perhaps echoing army crew cuts. It has also been
used by 'skinheads' and is popular with club bouncers and other 'heavies'.

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Long male hair is typical of young 'drop-outs' (or those who would like to, but cannot
afford it :). When unkempt it can show a lack of care and perhaps lower self-esteem.
Longer hair can also be a sign of rebellion and assertion of identity.
Women
Women are socially permitted to wear a much wider range of styles, probably to attract
men (and compete with other women in this).
Long hair frames the face and may partially cover it, teasing about the beauty behind
this curtain. Particularly when covering the eyes, long hair over the face provides a
barrier behind which the woman can hide, perhaps when she has lower confidence or
self-esteem.
When women cut their hair short, it can indicate a desire to be male, like a man or
perhaps to be unattractive to men. It may also be a rebellion against womanhood, for
example when they have been mistreated by other women when they were young.

Tossing
Tossing the head throws the hair backwards (actually or virtually), drawing attention to
it. It can thus be a romantic gesture ('Hey, guys, wouldn't you like to stroke my
gorgeous long, blonde hair!').
Throwing long hair back also exposes the face, which may be an invitation, opening the
doors to communication. It can also be an aggressive act as the person now gives you
more unwanted attention.

Touching
Stroking the hair is a preening gesture, which can be deliberate checking that it is
perfectly coiffed or an invitation to stroke also.
Playing with the hair is particularly flirtatious and invites the other person to do this for
you.

Arm body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Arm body language
Expanding | Shaping | Raising | Weapon | Crossing | Reaching forward | Pulling back | See also

The arm is an interesting appendages with a ball at the top, a hinge in the middle, and
with a rather complex toolset at the end.
Watch also for arms held still -- this is often the first place the deceiver starts when
trying to control body language (they may even hold one arm with the other to keep
them both still).

Expanding
Arms are clever expanding devices that can make us bigger or smaller, reaching out
without having to move the rest of our body.
They can extend towards the other person, either in threat or a more friendly way.
Moved directly and quickly they threaten. Curved and moving more slowly they may
offer comfort.

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The can also extend laterally, sometimes as a part of a body-expanding 'I am big'
display that can signify confidence or perhaps aggression.

Shaping
Arms are used as a part of shaping as we wave them around and carve out the world.
They are an adjunct to our words as we literally show other people how big the fish was
or how small the child is.
When we are excited or confident, we may wave our arms about like windmills. When
we are less confident, our shaping is smaller and closer to the body.
This waving of arms needs control and a person who bangs their hand on something
may indicate clumsiness.

Raising
Raising the arms lifts something up. Done rapidly, it throws things into the air. With
both arms, it exaggerates it further. A typical two-arm-raising gesture is frustration, as
everything that is weighing the person down with confusion is thrown up into the air.
Coupled with a shrug it indicates confusion ('I don't know!!').

Weapon
Arms can be like weapons. They can symbolize clubs and spears as they strike out at
imaginary foes. They can also be defensive, blocking and sweeping away attacks. In
martial arts arms can be used to block and strike and this is reflected in how they may
be used in communication.

Crossing
Arms can act as the doorway to the body and the self. When they are crossed, they form
a closed defensive shield, blocking out the outside world. Shields act in two ways: one
is to block incoming attacks and the other is a place behind which the person can hide
and perhaps not be noticed.
Crossed arms may thus indicate anxiety which is either driven by a lack of trust in the
other person or an internal discomfort and sense of vulnerability (that may, for example,
be rooted in childhood trauma).
The extent of crossing indicates how firmly closed the person is. This may range from a
light cross to arms folded to arms wrapped around the person. An extreme version
which may indicate additional hostility is a tight close with hands formed as fists. If
legs are crossed also then this adds to the signal.
The hands in an arm-cross may also be used to hold the person in a reassuring self-hug,
for example holding upper arms in a folded-arms position or wrapped around the torso,
holding the sides. If the thumbs are up, this may indicate some approval or agreement
with what is being said.
Crossed arms, especially when holding one another can show the person to be trying to
keep themselves still. This can be to suppress any signals. It may also indicate repressed
anger (I have to hold myself to prevent myself hitting you). In some cultures it also
signals that the person is holding themself still so they can pay greater attention to you
(and is hence a compliment).

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When arms are not crossed, they expose the torso and the person, making them more
vulnerable. This signifies comfort that often indicates trust. It can also be power
position that dares the other person to attack whilst knowing that the other person dare
not.
Crossed arms is a very obvious signal and if you do it in front of other people they will
likely feel rejected and respond accordingly (including not agreeing with you).
Note that not all crossed arms are defensive. Sometimes folded arms, for example, are
just a relaxed position. Crossed arms are also used when the person is cold (this is
typically done with hands tucked under armpits to keep them warm).
A common method sales people use to break a crossed-arms closed position is to give
the person something to hold or otherwise ask them to use their hands.

Reaching forward
Reaching forward to the other person can be quite scary for them as you could attack
them, and a sudden thrust forward can indeed be an aggressive signal, especially if the
hand is pointing or shaped as a fist.
Reaching forward can also be an offer of support or affection, seeking to touch and join
with the other person.

Pulling back
When arms are thrust forward, they are the first thing that may be grabbed or attacked.
When a person feels defensive they may pull back their arms out of harm's way

Elbow body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Elbow body language
Size | Weapon | Prop | Pointer | See also

When you think 'body language', the elbow is not usually the first thing you think of,
and indeed there are less things they can say. The lesser-noticed parts, however, should
always be watched, both individually and as a part of a wider cluster.

Size
Elbows are often used as a central part of a size display as we push them outwards as
we puff ourselves up to appear bigger larger than we are (much as birds stand their
feathers on end).
Putting hands on the waist sends a stronger signal. More subtle is simply to expand the
chest and push elbows slightly out.
This is usually done whilst standing and with the body stationery (it is difficult to run
with elbows sticking out).
This can signify aggression, but may also be a more relaxed attention-getting pose (look
at me!). This often is accompanied by a relaxed S-shaped body curve, with one foot
pointing forward at the target person.

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Weapon
For those who have struggled in big January sales know (or any hurrying crowd for that
matter), elbows can make excellent weapons. They are a pointed tool at the end of the
powerful upper arm and a jab in the ribs can wind even a somewhat larger opponent.
In everyday language a symbolic strike towards someone (without hitting them) says 'I
feel like hitting you' or 'I could hit you'. It thus can be a suggestion to desist from some
undesirable behavior.

Prop
When seated, putting elbows on the table may indicate a relaxed state. The head may
thus be propped up by cupped hands.

Pointer
We tend to point at people and things in which we are interested in some way. The most
obvious way is with the finger. We also do it with other parts of the body. One of the
most subtle and subconscious of these is the elbow.

Hand body language


ETechniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Hand body language
Holding | Control | Greeting | Shaping | Cutting | Striking | Covering | Giving | Asking | Rubbing |
Thinking | Supporting | Hiding | Touching | Preening | Weighing | See also

Hands have 27 bones and are a very expressive part of our anatomy. The give us
enormous capability as an evolved species in how we handle our environment.
Reading palms is not just about the lines on your hand. After the face, hands probably
the richest source of body language.
It is also worth noting that gestures with the hands vary significantly across cultures and
an 'innocent' hand signal can get you arrested in another country.
A hand signal may be small, perhaps betraying subconscious thinking. It may also be
exaggerated or done with both hands to emphasize the point.

Holding
Cupped hands form a container which can hold gently. Gripping hands can hold tightly.
Hands can hold both individually or together (giving an exaggerated effect).
Cupped hands can symbolize delicacy or hold a fragile idea. They may also be used for
giving. Gripping can show possessiveness, ownership and desire (the tighter the fist, the
stronger the feeling).
Hands may also hold the self, such as when people hold their own hands, typically for
comfort. Wringing the hands indicates more extreme nervousness.
Holding the self can also be an act of restraint. This can be to let the other person talk. It
can also be used when the person is angry, effectively stopping them from attacking.
The two hands can show different desires, for example with one forming a fist and the
other holding it back, restraining the desire to punch the other person.
Note also that people who are lying often try to control their hands, and when they are
kept still (often holding one another), you might get suspicious. Another sign can be

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holding them behind the back. As ever, these are only possible indicators and you
should also look for similar signs.
Hands may also be used to hold items such as pens or cups, which may be used as
comfort objects, for example where a person hugs a cup (the cup represents the person,
so they are effectively hugging themself). Holding an item with two hands effectively
creates a closed position.
Holding imaginary objects as they are talked about can show importance. Things which
are important (and perhaps with fear of loss) are held close and tight. Things which are
not wanted are held further away (or even tossed away).
Even ideas may be held. The bigger and more important the idea, the wider the arms are
held. A common size is as if they are holding a basketball -- this is useful as you can
give it to other people. A wide-armed hold may indicate the whole world or something
massive.
Items may also be for distracting activity that releases nervous energy, such as fiddling
with a pen, clicking it on and off, or doodling with it.

Control
A hand with palm down may figuratively hold or restrain the other person. This can be
an authoritative action ('Stop that now') or may be a request ('Please calm down'). This
also appears in the dominant hand-on-top handshake.
A palm facing outward towards others fends them off or pushes them away in a more
obvious way than the palms-down signal ('Stop. Do not come any closer!').
A pointing finger or whole hand tells a person where to go ('Leave now!').

Greeting
Hands are often used in greetings. The most common form of greeting is shaking hands,
of which there are many different forms. Opening the palm shows that there is no
concealed weapon. This is significant in greeting, salutes, waves etc.
This is one of the few times we are allowed to touch the other person and it may get
used to send various signals.
Dominance is shown with hand on top, strength, prolonged holding ('I decide when to
let go') and holding the person with the other hand.
Affection is shown with speed and duration of shake, touching with the other hand and
enthusiastic smiles. The similarity between dominant and affection handshakes leads to
tricky situations where a dominant person pretends to be friendly.
Submission is shown with a floppy hand, palm up and which is sometimes clammy and
with a quick withdrawal.
Most handshakes use vertical palms to show equality, are firm without being crushing
and for a very exact period (so both know when to let go).
Waving is also used for a greeting and may be done at a distance.
Salutes are sometimes used, but mostly only in the military, where their style is strictly
prescribed.

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Shaping
Hands can carve the air, shaping what the person is talking about or meaning. They can
thus create visual metaphors out of literally nothing.
A man talking may shape a fish he caught. He might also carve out the shape of his
ideal woman. Other gestures can shape more crudely, indicating holding and moving
sexually significant body parts.

Cutting
The side of a flat hand can appear as a knife, cutting the air like a karate chop. The
cutting hand may strike the other palm, creating visual and aural impact.
A side-swiped cut with palm down tells others to stop what they are doing, for example
when a person on stage asks the audience to stop clapping so they can speak. A short
side swipe may also signal 'no' in any conversation.
Cuts can signal aggression, particularly when coupled with an aggressive face. They
may also indicate decisiveness, chopping with each point. A side-swiped cut can chop
away someone else's argument.

Striking
The hand can strike openly, with the palm or closed as a fist. The fist can strike
forwards, sideways or downwards. One hand is often used for symbols as two hands as
fists can be an invitation to fight (two hands held inwards can also indicate extreme
tension).
Fist shapes and movements are often symbols of inner aggression. When moved
towards a person, even a small amount, they signal aggression towards that person. A
shaking fist signifies a strong desire to strike someone. Punching the air indicates
triumphal excitement.

Covering
Hands can hide things. When people do not want to hear something, they put hands to
ears. When they do not want to look, they cover their eyes. When they want to say
something but feel restrained, they put their hands to their mouth. A hand may also
cover a rudely open mouth, which may be opened in such as surprise or a yawn.
Hands covering the mouth when speaking may be an indicator of lying, although it may
also just indicate uncertainty.
Hands can cover other things. A hand to heart may seek to protect it from shocking
harm. A hand to the groin may protect from dangerous attack. Hands can also cover one
another. Sometimes a tense fist may be covered by the other hand.

Giving
Outstretched palms may offer something to another person. Held with palms faced
towards one another they might hold something large. Held upwards they openly
proffer an idea.
They may also show that nothing is being concealed, giving what I have, which is
nothing.
A single offered hand is the start of the handshake.

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Asking
Palms offered upwards are a common plea gesture, as if asking for alms. Palms
downwards may ask a person to calm down.
Palms up or at 45 degrees and then pulled towards the body seeks to bring others closer
to you in an attenuated beckoning gesture.
Hands with palms pressed together indicate a more anxious pleading. This gesture may
be done with fingers upwards in a clear prayer position ('Please do not harm me!'), and
possibly thrust towards the other person. With fingers pointing down, this may be more
concealed or a less anxious desire for agreement. A variant of this is to have fingers
interleaved, but otherwise making the same shape and movement.

Rubbing
Rubbing the hands together can mean that the person is cold. It also means the person is
feeling particularly gleeful about something. This can be a shared benefit and be used in
a conspiratorial way.
When they do this less obviously and more slowly, they might thinking that they are
going to benefit at the expense of someone else. Watch also for small smiles and
defocused eyes as they imagine a rosy future (at least for them).
Rubbing the face and particularly the chin can indicate thinking, evaluating and
deciding.
When a part of the body is sore, the person may rub it. This also happens when that part
of the body is tense, for example the neck or abdomen, and can thus be a signal of
anxiety.
Light stroking of the body can be a romantic invitation, particularly if the erogenous
areas (or nearby) are touched. This says 'I would like you to do this' and can be very
arousing.

Thinking
When the fingers are pressed together forming a steepled shape, pointing upwards, the
person may well be thinking, evaluating or deciding. This may also be done with just
index fingers pressed together and other fingers interlinked ('the church'), with all
finger-tips touching ('the cage') or with fingers interlinked.
The steepled position forms a barrier against the other person and may be held lower
when the person wants to connect more, such as when they are listening.
A subtler version of the evaluative position is with the hand supporting the head but
with the index finger up the side the of the face. The middle finger may cover the mouth
('I'm not ready to talk yet').
These fingers-up positions may include touching of the mouth or chin with the fingers,
which may indicate the person is thinking about saying something but is not yet ready
to speak out loud.
The fingers may also be all intertwined and typically held under the chin. Again, this is
a thinking and evaluating signal.
Hands clenched can be a self-restraining act, effectively holding the person back from
speaking until they are ready.

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Supporting
Hands may be used to support the head or even the body when leaning.
Hands wrapped around the cheeks with elbows on the table indicates a heavy head and
the person may be sleepy or bored. This may also be indicated with a single hand
propping up the chin or side of the head.
The hands may also lightly support the head, either as a single hand gently under the
chin or with fingers intertwined with elbows on table and chin touching the fingers.
Particularly when looking at the other person, this says 'look at my face, isn't it nice' and
may thus be an enticing position.
A simple rule is that the more that the head is supported, the more the person is bored.
When they are interested in what others are saying, support is light.

Hiding
Hands are often used in communication and hiding the hands may indicate a desire not
to communicate or not to collaborate, saying 'I don't want to talk with you' or 'I do not
agree with you'.
This may be done in a deliberate gesture of defiance, such as stuffing hands in pockets.
Liars may hide their hands in fear that they will give themselves away.
Hiding hands may also be a position of listening, sending the message 'I do not want to
talk because I want to listen to you.'
Putting hands in pockets or behind the back can also be due to just feeling relaxed and
not needing to talk.

Touching
The hand may touch any part of the body in a whole range of situation.
Perhaps the most common reason for touching oneself is self-affirmation ('I am here. I
am real. I am ok.') and related anxiety. Anxiety can be related to concern for the outer
world or the inner world of thoughts and forecasts.
Touching is also used in romantic situations, where parts of the body may be lightly
touched or stroked in simulation of desired or suggested action by the other person. The
more erotic the parts being touched, the stronger the signal is sent.
Touching can also be a form of punishment, for example when a person slaps their head
('Bother - I forgot!').
Touching the other person can be an act of domination or of friendship, for example a
hand on the shoulder whilst telling them off adds authority, whilst a gentle touch on the
arm when sympathizing demonstrates concern for them.

Preening
Preening is a common action as the person brushes their hair and clothes, figuratively
making themselves look more attractive and sending the signal 'Aren't I beautiful!' This
is thus says 'Please like me' and may be a romantic invitation, a signal of superiority or
indicate feelings of vulnerability.
Picking at bits of fluff clothes often shows disapproval as the person figuratively picks
apart your argument.

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Weighing
Cupped hands may be used to indicate weight, which often is used as a metaphor for
importance.
Single-handed weighting bounces the cupped hand up and down, for example when an
argument is being proposed.
Two hands are used to indicate discussion of A vs. B. Watch which hands seems to hold
the heavier weight -- this will be the one which the person thinks is most significant.

And...
Not body language as such, but the length of the index finger compared with the length
of the ring finger is related to masculinity. High levels of testosterone in the womb lead
to a longer ring finger. Testosterone is also related to other masculine characteristics,
including strength and aggression, spatial and musical ability.
By looking for long and short ring fingers (as compared with the index fingers), you
might hence find a tendency towards masculine or feminine characteristics.

Finger body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Finger body language
Pointer | Club | Prod | Plate | Cup | Claw | Drumming | Rudeness | Thumb | See also

Fingers are very flexible and allow for subtle gestures.

Pointer
A pointing finger indicates direction ('It's over there'). For a long distance, the finger
may be pointed diagonally upwards, as if firing an arrow. The index finger is usually
used, though the middle finger or even all fingers may be used.
The thumb may be used to pointer to something being as it is jerked over the shoulder.
Pointing at people is like using the prod (see below) and is often considered to be rude
and threatening.
People who are angry tend to point more, including at themselves (when they feel hurt
or insulted) and at those who they feel are to blame.
Pointing, especially at other people, can be particularly rude in a number of cultures.
In some cultures the thumb is a phallic symbol and giving a 'thumbs up' signal says 'I
want to have sex with you.' or may just be a rude insult. This can cause a lot of
confusion between people from the Orient and the Occident.

Club
The wagging finger of admonition beats up and down as if striking the culprit. This can
be with a stable hand and just a finger way. It may also be done with the whole arm,
giving an exaggerated striking movement.
A more polite version points downwards as it beats out an important point, perhaps
tapping on something like a table.
The forefinger held up and stationary means 'wait' (perhaps as a threat of being used as
a club otherwise).

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Prod
The finger prod can act like a stiletto knife, stabbing forward at the other person. This is
usually the index finger, although the middle finger is sometimes used. This is often
very threatening and felt as a personal attack.
The prod may also be used to prod downwards at an imaginary item in front. This is
less threatening than pointing directly at the person.
The prod can also be made less threatening by bringing several fingers together and
bending the fingers. A disguised form of this is the finger-and-thumb pinch, where an
imaginary idea is delicately held and offered forward.

Plate
Fingers extended and closed join with the palm to form a plate. The plate holds
symbolic things, such as ideas, often gently. The plate may be proffered forwards,
offering the held item to others. For large things both hands may be held together.
Held under the chin, it presents the face as an object to be admired and is often used in
flirting.

Cup
Fingers held together and curled upwards form a cup that can contain things more
securely than the plate. Relaxed fingers form a loose cup, whilst tense fingers form a
more closed cup. Two hands together form a big cup (to hold bigger things).
Cups may be used to plead for something to be given or offer something forward to
others.

Pinch
Fingers pinched together hold something small and delicate. This may be finger and
thumb or may involve more fingers (finger and thumb is less frequent as this forms an
'O' which can have many different meanings).
It may be used when saying 'you must grasp this idea'. Held out towards others it offers
them the idea. Pushed down it holds the idea whilst beating out the key points.

Claw
Curved and separated fingers form a claw. With palm facing down, the claw may
threaten to reach forward and grab, scratch or tear.
If the fingers are held loosely, the shape is more of an open cup and may thus hold
something. Held downwards it may gently restrain.

Drumming
Drumming or tapping the fingers can indicate frustration, for example when another
person is speaking and the person wants to interrupt. It may also mean that the person
drumming wants to leave.
Non-verbal noise sends an audible interrupt signal to the other person. The louder the
noise and faster the drumming, the greater the tension the person is feeling. Drumming
with the nails makes an even louder noise and hence sends a more urgent signal.

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Drumming can also indicate that the person is thinking, and that the frustration is with
internal thoughts and perhaps that an easy solution cannot be found.

Rudeness
The middle finger pointing upwards says 'up yours' and symbolizes a penis. The little
finger in this gesture indicates the other person has a small penis (this is sometimes
used as a rude gesture from a woman to a man).
The first two fingers pointing upwards and with the palm towards the self says 'f**k off'
(though curiously, with the palm facing the other person indicates peace).
The finger and thumb together forming a circle may symbolize the female genitalia
(perhaps likening the other person to this). It can also indicate the anus. Moved up and
down it may indicate male masturbation (implying the other person, a male, is unable to
gain a female partner and thus has to masturbate to get sexual relief). Yet with little
finger facing outwards it can also mean 'OK' or 'wonderful'.
The index and little finger pointing upwards as a gesture can say that the other man is a
cuckold. It can also signify the 'evil eye'.

Thumb
Thumbs-up signals approval and agreement. Thumbs-down signals disapproval. Held
sideways (and perhaps waggled) indicates uncertainty).
Roman amphitheater audiences reputedly used this signal to suggest to the emperor that
a defeated gladiator be spared or killed.
Thumbs up when arms are crossed or a single hand is held across the chest is a subtle
sign of approval. It can also be an invitation to others to show approval of what you are
saying.
Thumbs sticking out when hands are in pockets is often a sign of confidence, feeling
relaxed and in control. It can thus be both a sign of authority and also of friendliness.

And...
Fingers crossed indicates hope (because they form a rough crucifix).
Inspecting fingernails indicates boredom and disinterest.
Fluttering fingers may indicate uncertainty ('I'm not sure') or may be a small wave (for
example being child-like, indicating 'I am not a threat' or 'protect me').
Fidgeting fingers may indicate boredom or tension.
Sucking fingers is a regressive return to childhood and breast feeding. This may well
indicate timidity and feelings of inferiority.

Neck body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Neck body language
Hiding | Turning | Touching | No neck | See also

The is used to support and rotate the head and hence controls some head body language.
It also may send a few signals of its own.

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Hiding
The neck a classic position where a predator attacks, either going for the jugular artery
at the side or crushing or ripping out the windpipe.
When people feel threatened they will thus naturally act to protect the neck, pulling the
chin down to protect the throat and possibly also raising the shoulders to protect the
sides of the neck.
Embarrassment or fear can lead to increased swallowing. A hand on the throat may
cover up the signs of swallowing as the person seeks to hide this signal.

Turning
The neck can be rotated, both horizontally and vertically, thus giving our head several
degrees of freedom and the ability to look in many directions. The eyes can also look
without turning the head. Rotating the neck is useful for extending the range of vision.
It can also be used deliberately to send a signal that the person is giving or removing
attention.
The neck can also become stiff from propping up the head and rotation of the neck may
be done to exercise it. Exercising the neck can be a sign of tension. It may also indicate
boredom.

Touching
Touching the front of the neck may indicate concern about what the person is saying
(via their windpipe). This may because they are lying or otherwise are embarrassed or
uncomfortable with what they are actually saying or are thinking of saying.
When a person is uncomfortable with what they are saying or where they are saying it,
then their neck muscles may tense, affecting their voice through constriction of the
windpipe or tensing of the vocal chords. This can cause discomfort in the neck and the
hand thus acts to sooth this irritation.
When a person is uncomfortable they may sweat. If they are wearing a tight collar this
will start to rub and irritate them. As a result they may pull at their collar.
The neck also contains the tubes going down to the stomach and touching the neck may
show a concern about eating or drinking.
Another reason for touching the neck is when the person fears attack, as it reflects the
desire to cover their windpipe.
There are also major muscles at the side and back of the neck and rubbing or squeezing
these indicates tension, which may well be anxiety.
Suddenly grabbing the back of the neck can be a displacement activity for anger, as if
the person raises their hand to strike then has to do something to restrain it. A neck-grab
can also be a sign of shock or surprise as if the person is pulling their head back and
grabbing it to suppress the reaction. This may be done as a deliberate exaggeration.

No neck
Having 'no neck' is often associated with people who have done so much weight
training that their necks are almost as wide as their heads. The appearance, coupled with

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a muscled body, can be very threatening. If the person enjoys this effect on others, they
may exaggerate it with arms held wide, fierce glares and other dominant body language.

Shoulder body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Shoulder body language
Raised | Curved forward | Pushed back | Circling | Shrug | Leaning | Turning | See also

The shoulders, although they have limited movement when compared with other parts
of the body, can be used to convey various signals.

Raised
Holding the shoulders in a raised position requires that the whole weight of the arms are
lifted. This takes continued effort, which is supplied if the person is aroused in some
way.
Shoulders hunched up can be a sign that the person is cold (they may be shivering too).
Often, this is a sign of tension, often from anxiety or fear.
Raising the shoulders and lowering the head protects the neck when the person fears
attack (actual or virtual).

Curved forward
curving the shoulders forward happens naturally when arms are folded. When curled
forward with the hands down this reduces the width of the body and can thus be a
defensive posture or a subconscious desire not to be seen, for example when the person
is feeling threatened or when they want to stay 'under cover'.

Pushed back
Pushing the shoulders back forces the chest out and exposes the torso to potential
attack. This posture is thus used when the person does not fear attack and may be used
as a taunt to demonstrate power.
If the body is pulled back when the shoulders are pulled back, particularly when the
person is up against the wall, this can indicate a desire to hide the body and not be seen,
or otherwise defensively move it out of harm's way.

Circling
Circling the shoulders may be done forwards or backwards, with one or both shoulders.
This is often done to exercise a stiff shoulder, which may have been held tensely (and
hence may indicate anxiety). This may also be accompanied by rotating or leaning of
the neck and other muscle-exercising movements.
This exercising can signal that the person is readying themselves for action and perhaps
combat, and hence may be used as a sign of aggression.
When done whilst the other person is talking and it would be polite to listen carefully,
this deliberate breaking of protocol can be an insulting signal of power ('You are so
unimportant I do not need to bother listening politely').

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Shrug
The classic shrug, with one-off raising and lowering of shoulders usually means 'I don't
know!' and may be accompanied with raised eyebrows, down-turned mouth, and hands
held to the side, with palms upwards or forwards (showing nothing is being concealed).
A small and quick shrug may send the same signal but be performed subconsciously
and thus can indicate uncertainty or lack of understanding.
A more prolonged and animated shrug can be similar to the circling shoulders that
indicate readying for aggression and can thus signal a threat. In a smaller form it may
indicate irritation or frustration.

Relaxed
We often carry tension in the shoulders and a person who is truly relaxed will have their
shoulders held low, with arms that can move naturally, without jerkiness and swinging
free.

Leaning
When the person leans against a wall, they often contact the wall with their shoulder.
This is usually a relaxed pose as galvanizing into physical movement would take more
than a little effort, which puts the person in a position vulnerable to attack.

Turning
Turning shoulders is a key part of turning away. If a person turns their shoulders whilst
still looking at you, it probably means they want to leave (maybe because what you are
saying is uncomfortable for them).

Chest body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Chest body language
Thrust out | Withdrawn | Profiled | Breathing | Touching | See also

The chest can send a few non-verbal body language signals.

Thrust out
Pushing the chest forward draws attention to it, and can be a part of a provocative
romantic display. Women, especially, know that men are programmed to be aroused by
the sight of breasts. When women push forward their chests they may thus be inviting
intimate relations (or just teasing). This is a function of high heels, which curves the
spine to push out the chest and buttocks.
Men also thrust their chest out to display their strong pectorals (and perhaps hide their
bulging gut). Enlarged pectorals are, along with biceps, the most common muscles that
are used to assess overall strength.
A difference with men is that they do this both to women ('Look at me - I'm strong and
will protect you and our babies') and also other men ('I am strong, so you'd better not
get in my way').

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Profiled
When the person stands sideways or at 45 degrees, the effect of a thrust-out chest is
exaggerated as the person is seen in profile. Women may use this to display the curve of
their breasts. Likewise, men may show their strong profiles.

Withdrawn
The chest cavity, although protected to some extent by the ribs, contains vital organs
and thus is vulnerable in attack. When the chest is pulled back, this may well indicate
that the person is trying to hide or appear inoffensive ('I am weak - please don't hurt
me!'). Curling forward the shoulders may offer further protection.

Breathing
The chest expands and contracts with breath. When the person is breathing deeply, then
the chest moves more.
Deep breath may be used to help thrust out the chest, as above. It also increases the
oxygen intake and readies the person for action, thus indicating such as fear or anger.
We also breath deeply when we are experiencing intense emotions such as love.
A person who is particularly anxious may breathe too fast and deep and so
hyperventilate, taking in so much oxygen they get giddy (and can even faint).
When the body is held rigid, then breathing is more difficult and short breaths are more
likely and may indicate tension.
When a person in a state of hopeful suspense they may hold their breath, as if breathing
would either cause what is feared or destroy what is being enjoyed.

Touching
Touching the chest draws further attention to it. When a woman does this in front of a
man it makes the man think of doing this and is thus a highly suggestive and flirtatious
act.
Rubbing the chest can also be a sign of pain of discomfort, perhaps from tension and
stress.

Back body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Back body language
Rejection | Power | Protection | See also

The back, which includes the spine and the rear of the torso, does not send much non-
verbal body language and is probably the 'least communicative' part of the body.

Rejection
The face is on the front of the body and so we present the front when talking to other
people. If we do not want to talk to them, we can indicate our desire not to talk with
them in several stages:

• Avert the gaze, not making eye contact.


• Turn the head.
• Twist the torso (feet not moving).

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• Twist further (one foot rotates).
• Turn at an angle (both feet move).
• Turn around (so they can only see our back).

Each of these is an escalating signal, with complete 180 degree rotation as the
maximum rejection. Even turning at a slight angle sends a clear message (giving the
'cold shoulder'). Turning fully around thus sends the loudest possible non-verbal signal
'I do not want to talk with you.'

Power
Turning around means you are potentially vulnerable to attack as you cannot see anyone
behind you make a move on you. This can thus be a power move, usually between men,
which says 'I do not have to look at you to decide if you are going to attack me because
I am so powerful you do not dare.'

Protection
Whilst having the back facing someone makes you unable to defend yourself, if you are
about to be hit with something the back provides perhaps the least sensitive area on the
body. It is broad and well-muscled, with ribs around the organs.
When we face imminent impact we turn around, typically also putting our hands behind
our head to protect it and crouching down to make ourselves a smaller target. This is a
reflexive action for example when something is thrown at us or someone tries to his us
with a stick.

Belly body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Belly body language
Pulling it in | Pushing it out | Touching | Pregnancy | See also

The belly (tummy, abdomen, venter, gut, stomach, paunch) is, for this section, defined
as the area between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hips.

Pulling it in
In romantic and 'body beautiful' situations, a flat tummy is considered desirable in both
men and women as it indicates fitness and health. In men, at least, the ultimate is a 'six
pack' where individual muscles can be seen.
Most of us, particularly as we get older, fall victim to excessive consumption of food
and drink, resulting in a convex belly. Fortunately, we do have muscles in our abdomen
and we use these to pull in the belly walls so, for at least whilst we are walking past that
desirable other person, we look good.
For the determined, corsets may be used to apply constant inwards pressure. Whilst not
as popular as they once were, these may still be found in surreptitious use.

Pushing it out
Sticking out the tum does not indicate a desire to be attractive and can be a counter-
reactive move. Particularly in groups of men, 'letting it all hang out' without feeling

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judged can be quite relieving and contribute to male bonding (along with loud
discussions and lewd jokes).
The tummy may stick out more as a counterbalance when we want to pull our
vulnerable upper body and head away in a situation where we feel uncomfortably close
to another person.

Touching
The tummy area contains the stomach and the intestine, both of which are used to
process food and which may be subject to assorted pains as we over-eat or consume
substances that disagree with us. Rubbing the stomach can mean the person simply has
a digestive problem.
The abdomen walls contain significant muscles and we can carry tension here. Rubbing
or holding them can thus indicate tension, for example from excessive worry.
The gut is particularly vulnerable to attack and is a common area for punching and
stabbing. If the gut is pierced, this can cause internal bleeding and a slow death.
Holding hands across the tum can thus be a defensive act when we actually or literally
fear attack.

Pregnancy
When women become pregnant, they have little opportunity but to let their ever-
expanding abdomens push forward. This can be a point of pride, perhaps for feminism,
perhaps as a signal of fertility or maybe just delight at impending motherhood.

Bottom body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Bottom body language
Pushing out | Moving | Touching | See also

The bottom is a large padded area at the base of the back. It has many alternative names
(bum, ass, fanny, etc.), indicating its significance.

Pushing out
The bottom has a strange combination of meaning. It houses the smelly anus and hence
can symbolize unpleasantness. Yet it also can have a sexual significance and some
people find it particularly attractive in a partner.
Pushing the bottom towards someone may thus be an insult or an invitation, depending
on the situation. It can thus say 'kiss my ass' or 'fondle my fanny' and may thus need
careful interpretation!
Exposing the bottom can range from a slight push towards the person or significant
extension, such as from leaning on a table (to retain balance) or bending over, such that
the upper body is hidden and the bottom is highly visible.
'Mooning' is a semi-serious insult and involves exposing the naked bottom. This is a bit
degrading and is often done with a certain amount of humorous intent.

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Moving
Waving the bottom draws attention to it even more than pushing it out, although this
tends to be more enticing than insulting.
Wiggling the hips can cause loose muscle on the buttocks to oscillate even more. This is
highly visible and is used by women to attract men. It is sometimes called 'shaking the
booty' and is a common feature in dancing. Wiggling hips may also make the upper
body move in compensation, making the move even more attractive.

Touching
With hands behind, the person is more vulnerable and cannot cover their front. This
may thus either be a relaxed and comfortable position or else a defiant power display.
Putting hands in rear pockets makes them slightly less difficult to retrieve in the event
of an attack and hence suggests the person is even more relaxed.
Stroking the bottom often suggests that the person would like their bottom stroked and
may thus be a suggestive invitation.
Placing the hands on the buttocks also exposes the chest and hence gives a combined
suggestive signal.
The thigh may be slapped as a self-punishment or 'gee up' self motivation.

Hips body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Hips body language
Thrust out | Held back | Pushed sideways | Moving | Touching | See also

The hips are at the base of the body trunk and are made up of the pelvis and covering
tissue.

Thrust out
The hips contain the primary sexual organs and thrusting them forward is a provocative
and suggestive gesture. This may be exaggerated further if the legs are opened,
exposing the genitals further and inviting intercourse.
Pushing the hips forwards is difficult without losing balance, so this is sometimes done
by leaning back against something like a wall to support the upper body whilst the hips
are clearly foremost.
Men may use the hip thrust with other men as a signal of power ('my penis is bigger
than yours' or 'I am so powerful you dare not attack my exposed and vulnerable parts').

Held back
Holding the hips back is the opposite of thrusting them out. It defends and hides the
genitals, seeking to protect them or avoid them being noticed.
One way of holding them back is to sit down, folding the body over them. This may be
compounded by crossing legs and covering the genitals with crossed hands.

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Pushed sideways
Pushing the hips sideways makes the spine curve and rearranges the whole body to
compensate. This can be a relaxed position as the person lets the body drop. The
sagging can also come from disappointment or tiredness.
The hips may be used as a subtle pointer, indicating what the person really wants.
Pointing at a person it may indicate they are found to be attractive. Pointing at the door
can mean the person wants to leave.

Moving
Swaying the hips from side to side is a common dance move and can indicate the
person would like to dance. It also draws attention to that part of the body and hence
can be a flirtatious action.
Moving the hips back and forth is a simulation of sexual intercourse and can be highly
arousing.

Touching
Hands on hips pushes the elbows sideways, making the body look larger and thus may
be a signal of power or aggression.
Stroking the hips in a romantic setting is suggesting that the other person may want to
do this and is thus rather flirtatious, particularly if accompanied by swaying hips and
prolonged eye contact.
Fingering genitals is extremely arousing and is only usually used as a direct invitation
to intercourse.
Hands held over the genitals, covering them, is a sign of embarrassment or fear.
Holding hands with yourself is a comforting move for someone who is anxious. The
natural position of rest for this is at hip level and thus may not be sexual in nature.
The male penis can become uncomfortable in his underpants and he may surreptitiously
rearrange it. If he does this overtly, it may be a signal of power or a sexual signal.

Leg body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Leg body language
Open Closed | Crossed | Pointing | Moving | Striking | Touching | See also

Legs are interesting in the field of non-verbal body language as the may say a lot
without us really realizing.
In particular when a person is trying to control their body language, they typically
concentrate on the upper body. The legs may thus tell what they are thinking. If the legs
and upper body are in conflict, then there is a possible of deliberate control.

Open
Standing
Legs which are held apart when standing provide a stable base for the person. Standing
with feet about the width of the shoulders is a normal, relaxed pose. Slightly wider
indicates that the person feels grounded and confident.

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A wider stance makes the body wider and hence appear bigger and is a signal of power
and dominance. This also takes up more territory and shows domination.
Taking a stable position is readying the body in case the other person attacks and can be
a cautious position.
Open legs displays and makes vulnerable the genitals. This can be a sexual display
(especially men to women) or a show of power (especially between men).
When one foot is forward and the other behind, this can be taking a extra stable position
in case of frontal attack (as with martial artists). It can also be a frozen walk, indicating
that the person wants to go somewhere (which way are they pointing?).
Sitting
Sitting with slightly open legs is a relaxed position, showing the person is comfortable.
One or both legs may be flopped down sideways as far as they can go.
Sitting allows a wider opening of the legs and can thus be even more of a sexual 'crotch
display'. If the person is a bit worried about this, then their hands may cover the
genitals.

Closed
Standing
When the person is standing with feet together (or less that a relaxed shoulder-width)
then this may display anxiety as it makes them smaller as a target and gives some
protection to the genitals.
A fully-closed standing position has knees touching. Increased desire for protection
may be indicated by the person turning slightly to the side, leaning forwards a little or
pulling the hips back.
Note that a closed position also happens when the person is cold.
Sitting
When sitting, the knees may be held gently or tightly together, depending on the anxiety
level.

Crossed
As with arms, crossing legs can protective and negative, shielding the person from other
people and their ideas.
Tension may be seen in crossed legs and greater anxiety leads to legs held more rigidly
and which move more jerkily.
Crossed legs can also mean that the person wants to visit the toilet!
Standing
Crossing legs when standing can be an indication of shyness or being coy and may be
accompanied by such as hands held behind the back and a lowered head.
This is an unstable position and the person may sway a little. Being so easy to be
pushed over and slow to unwind and run away, this is seldom a defensive stance,
although it can be submissive.
Sitting
Crossing legs is much easier when sitting and can take several different forms.

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Crossing ankles is a minimal cross and can be fairly relaxed, especially when the legs
are stretched forward and the person is leaning back (and more so if the hands are
behind the head). When more tension is seen, for example in clenched hands, then this
may be a signal of self-restraint.
An ankle cross with legs tucked under the chair can indicate concealed anxiety. The
concern may be more obvious if the person is leaning forward.
Crossing knees may indicate greater anxiety or defensiveness, particularly if the legs
appear tense and even more so if one leg is wrapped firmly around the other.
A relaxed cross with lower legs falling close together needs a wider pelvis and hence
may be used as a sexual signal by women, particularly if they have exposed legs.
The figure-four cross occurs where one ankle is placed on top of the other legs' knee,
with top leg's knee pointing sideways. This can be a surreptitious crotch display, and is
more common amongst men as it invites females and challenges other males. This may
be covered with hands that hold the shin or ankle of the top leg.

Pointing
Legs may be used to point to things of interest, as with other parts of the body. The
reverse is also true and pulling a leg back may show disinterest.
Standing
When standing, one leg may point at an angle with both foot and knee, for example in a
conversation where a person who wants to leave points at the door. Pointing anywhere
away from the other person means 'I want to be elsewhere'.
Sometimes, when the genitals are exposed in a crotch display the legs do point to the
side, but this is not the real message that is being sent.
Sitting
When sitting, legs do not have to support the body but they are more visible and so send
more obvious messages (unless they are under a table, where they still may
subconsciously point in a direction of interest).
Sitting legs may point with knees or feet at interesting other people, as well as desired
direction of travel.
Sitting forward with one foot pointing away and the other back is preparation to stand
up and is a common signal that the person wants to leave or go somewhere.

Moving
Moving legs sometimes is just exercising them to get the circulation moving more and
loosen cramped muscles. Sometimes also this sends a signal.
Standing
Swinging a leg when standing can act as a pointer. Bouncing the leg can indicate
impatience.
Moving a leg is one way of getting closer to another person without full body
movement. Pulling it back shows disinterest. When the leg moves back and fore
towards and away from a person it may be a subtle 'Attraction-rejection' game that
invites the other person to chase after you.

85
If done in time to music, especially if it bounces the upper body, it can be an invitation
to dance (females sometimes deliberately do this to make their breasts bounce and so
entice a male).
Sitting
A crossed leg may bounce up and down. This can be a sign of impatience (particularly
if rapid) or attraction, as with standing movement. It may also be rather obvious
pointing. When sitting, a knee waving sideways can also indicate impatience or point
sideways.
The leg may also swing in time to music, indicating that the person is relaxed and
enjoying the vibe (and perhaps inviting others to join in).

Striking
Legs can also be weapons, as all martial artists know. Legs are longer than arms and
have much bigger muscles. This can make a kick very powerful.
The legs can hit with thigh or knee (such as in the groin strike), the shin (a nice hard
bone) or the top, ball or side of the foot.
Actual striking is rare, but moving as if to kick someone can come from a desire to
actually do so. A slight twitch in the right direction can thus signal aggression and cause
embarrassment. Swinging the leg may simulate kicking.

Touching
Standing
When standing, not much of the leg can be touched. The bottom or thighs may be
stroked seductively. They may also be slapped. A single slap can say 'Right, let's go'
and signal that the person is about to make a suggestion. A slapped side of leg may also
indicate irritation, saying 'Dang! What a nuisance!'
Sitting
When sitting, more of the leg may be reached, particularly in the figure-four cross-leg
position, and in a more visible manner. Seductive stroking can thus be a strong sexual
invitation.
Preening may also be used, brushing real or imagined bits of fluff off crossed legs.
The leg may also be tapped, perhaps in time to music and perhaps impatiently.

Thigh body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Thigh body language
Opening | Closing | Crossing | Lifting | Touching | See also

Thighs are the upper legs, containing the femur and a lot of muscle. They have a ball
joint at the top that allows full rotation and a hinge at the knee at the bottom.

Opening
When the thighs are rotated apart, they expose the genitals and thus send a very inviting
message. In intercourse, a woman's thighs are open and thus this is a particularly strong
suggestion, particularly when wearing a short skirt or dress.

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For men it says something along the lines 'Hey, look at my great big penis!' For other
men, this can mean 'My penis is bigger than yours!'
Opening the thighs also expose the genitals to attack and this move may also be a power
display, saying 'You dare not attack me because I am so powerful.'
In a relaxed pose, the thighs are typically slightly open, with legs running in parallel
from the hips.

Closing
In an opposite of opening, thighs that are pulled tight together send a signal of rejection
that says something like 'No way you're getting in here!'
Knees together can be quite a prim move, particularly when sitting. When wearing a
short skirt, it can also be a pragmatic position to prevent embarrassing and socially
undesirable exposure of the genitals.

Crossing
Crossing the thighs, standing or sitting, takes the defensiveness of closing further. It is
often a strong 'closed' signal very much like crossing the arms right across the body.
When the upper body is open and the thighs are closed, this may be a symptom of the
person applying deliberate control to their upper body but forgetting (and over-
compensating with) their legs.
This can also be a relaxed position, particularly when the muscles seem loose.

Lifting
Lifting the thigh is a basic element of walking and may be a signal of a desire to walk
away.
The weight of the body rests on the legs and the thigh has the largest muscles to manage
this precarious balance. Lifting the thigh may simply be a stretching exercise.
Bouncing the thigh up and down may be a signal of impatience.

Touching
When people are about to stand up, they may put both hands on the thighs to push
themselves up. This may also be a signal of readiness ('I'm ready to go!').
Putting both hands on the thighs with the elbows out sideways can be a sitting version
of hands-on-hips, widening the body and showing displeasure or threatening action.
Touching the thighs draws attention to them. As the thighs are near the genitals,
touching can be very suggestive. The nearer the genitals the hands move, the more
inviting it is. Touching the inside of the leg is more suggestive than touching the outside
of the leg.
The thigh may be slapped as a self-punishment or 'gee up' self motivation.

Knee body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Knee body language
Pointing | Weapon | Attracting | Touching | See also

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The knee is made up of the kneecap (patela) and the joint between the upper and lower
legs. Whilst other areas may offer greater communication, the knee does its bit.

Pointing
The knee can act as a subtle pointer, just like the elbow. When pointing towards
something or somebody, the knee can indicate desire. Pointing away, it indicates the
opposite.
Thus a knee in a crossed leg (standing or sitting) in a conversation can indicate who the
person is really thinking about. Alternatively the person may point their knee at such as
the bar or the door to show their inner wishes.

Weapon
The knee, again like the elbow, can act as a weapon, with perhaps the most well known
(if not the most common) use being an attack on the (usually male) groin of another
person. Another attack is in the side of the thigh, temporarily disabling them with a
'dead leg'.
Twitching of the knee towards a person may be a desirable pointing and it may also be a
desire to hit them.

Attracting
Knees are often considered to be sexually attractive and exposing them below the
hemline in short skirts and dresses can be a deliberate female ploy to create attention.

Touching
Touching and stroking the knee, particularly when done by women, may signal a desire
that a nearby man does the same and is hence a sexual invitation or tease.
The knees are vulnerable in an attack, and a good kick will disable the person for a long
time. Holding the knees may thus be a defensive act when the person is feeling anxious.
Women may also hold their knees when they feel the attention of men that they would
rather not have. Sometimes they dress in attractive ways more from social convention
than from a desire to be picked up.

Foot body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Foot body language
Pointing | Curling | Kicking | Stamping | Moving | Touching | See also

After eons of using our feet mostly for erect walking, we have lost most of the ability
that our primate cousins still have to pick things up and manipulate things as if our feet
were another pair of hands.

Pointing
Feet are elongated as walking and stable platforms and so can be used for pointing, as
with other parts of the body. We point at things that are of interest to us and feet, being
down on the ground are often not noticed. They thus may send a very subtle and

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subconscious signal about people we like or places we would like to go (like away from
a current conversationalist).
In some cultures the feet are the lowest part of the body and exposing them to others is
an insult, particularly the sole of the foot (so be careful when crossing your legs).

Curling
We cannot move the foot a great deal and pretty much all we can do is curl the toes up
or down. Curling the feet can be a sign of extreme pleasure (or extreme pain).

Kicking
The feet can be used for kicking and hurting others. We can kick with the toes (not
always good as this may break them), with the ball of the foot (popular in martial arts),
with the side of the foot, the bottom of the foot, the heel or with the top of the foot.

Stamping
We can stamp with the whole flat of the foot or the heel. Stamping makes a noise and
can be an attention-getting signal 'Hey! Listen to me!' It can often be signal of anger and
aggression, particularly when used with other noise-making devices such as shouting,
perhaps to frighten the other person into submission or flight.

Moving
Tapping the foot can be a sign of impatience as the person gets into a kind of tense
repetitive state. The foot becomes literally a like a clock's pendulum, marking and
moving on time.
Moving the feet is also a common indicator of a person lying, particularly if they are
sitting down and their feet are hidden under a table.
Anxiety brings energy and presenters at conferences and teachers may walk up and
down, even when they know they should really stay in one place. This is sometimes
called 'happy feet'.
Swinging the foot can be a form of pointing.

Touching
The foot can be an erotic object and stroking it can be mildly suggestive.
When legs are crossed, the foot may be massaged or squeezed, perhaps to relieve
tension or as a substitute for massaging tension elsewhere in the body.
Reflexology is a massage method that relieves all kinds of ills by using pressure points
on the sole of the foot. If the person knows or has discovered some of these, then they
may be subtly

Core patterns
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns

When you look across the wide range of non-verbal signals, there are a number patterns
that appear in different places and in different ways. Here's details of some of these:

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• Closing: Defending, denying.
• Crossing: Protecting.
• Enacting: Acting out thoughts.
• Expanding: Growing larger.
• Moving away: Refusing, denying.
• Moving forward: Seeking, attacking.
• Opening: Offering, relaxing.
• Preening: Flirting, vanity.
• Repeating: Emphasizing, looping.
• Shaping: Creating, making.
• Striking: Displaced aggression.
• Touching: Communicating, dominating.

Closing
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Closing
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
'Closing' is a pattern of defending, hiding, refusing and denying. For example:

• Lowering the head, with chin down (protecting the neck).


• Closing mouth and eyes, lowering eyebrows refusing speech and
sight.
• Crossing arms or legs, pulling in shoulders, elbows and knees to
protecting organs and vulnerable parts.
• Turning hands to palms facing down.
• Curling fingers into the palm, protecting them (and also making a
fist).
• Turning feet to point toes inwards.
• Hunching down, with any or all of the above, making the body less
threatening and a smaller target.

Found in
• Head body language
• Arm body language
• Hand body language
• Leg body language

Discussion
Closing is a classic defensive move, making the body less vulnerable to attack, and is
typically seen when a person feels threatened or anxious in some way.
Arms can cross lightly, for example in holding ones hand. They can cover the abdomen
or chest. They can clutch opposite elbows. Generally the further across they move and
the greater the tension, the greater the close. Likewise legs may be pulled together or
may be crossed or even twisted together as tension increases.
These moves also is used to show disagreement or dislike, withdrawing the body away
from the other person and showing that you are not open to them and their ideas or
desires.
Closing moves the body into a position where further body language is difficult. The
only way to go is to either to leave or to open again. In the dance of give-and-take

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communication, it can thus be a request for the other person to give something or to
move away for a while.

Crossing
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Crossing
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
'Crossing' involves moving parts of the body across one another or the body, in a
defensive act.

• Crossing arms across the body.


• Crossing just the hands or wrists.
• Holding hands.
• Inter-twining the fingers.
• Crossing legs, either above the knee or at the ankles.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Hand body language
• Leg body language

Discussion
Crossing is usually an act to cover up the torso, defending it from attack. The torso
contains important organs, whilst the arms, particular on the outside, are just muscle,
which can be re-grown.
Crossing also increases the tension in the body and a person who is feeling stressed may
do this in echo of how they feel.
Crossing arms or legs can also just be a relaxed position. Never take crossing as
indicating defensiveness unless there are other indicators of tension.

Enacting
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Enacting
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
'Enacting' is a body language pattern where the person acts out, even in a small way,
what they are thinking. For example:

• Thrusting the head forward in a simulated aggressive head-butt.


• Smashing one fist into the other open hands.
• Hitting one's own head or body.
• Pouting lips into a simulated kiss.
• Curling arms around the air as if hugging someone.
• Thrusting hips forward in simulated copulation.
• Stamping feet as if squashing flat someone or something.
• Sagging the body in relief and simulated feint.

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• Moving towards or away from the other person, implying attack,
desire or retreat.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Hand body language
• Hips body language

Discussion
We have many desires that we feel unable to enact fully, for example because we know
that social rules forbid this or because we fear the consequences. Our body and mind
however are connected and we often signal these desires by the way we move.
Enacting can also be a part of descriptive communication as we play-act the actions of
others and even complete scenes. We will also enact concepts in trying to communicate
the idea to others, for example hugging oneself for 'love' and waving arms wide to
signal a wonderful and 'big' idea.
A common pattern in enacting is striking as, although we often feel like hitting people,
this is a socially forbidden act and so we displace it into body language. Enacting can
also include acting out many other emotions and ideas.
Enacting is similar to shaping. Shaping is usually smaller and shorter, whilst enacting
can be a full performance.

Expanding
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Expanding
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
The body is made taller, wider and generally bigger by:

• Standing upright, as tall as possible.


• Straightening the head.
• Thrusting out the chin.
• Flaring the nose.
• Push out the elbows and arms, possibly sweeping out a wide space.
• Opening the hands.
• Puffing out the chest.
• Planting feet to either side (standing wide).

Found in
• Arm body language
• Chest body language
• Leg body language

• Aggressive body language


• Romantic body language

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Discussion
Making the body bigger says 'I am powerful' and is a typical male action. This warns
other men not to attack and may indicate that the person is thinking of attacking. It can
thus be a response to a threat. If one man expands, then others have the choice of
retreating or expanding also ('If you attack, I'll fight back!'). Expansion can thus
indicate anger.
With women, expansion often also says 'I will protect you', demonstrating the basic
partnership requirement to protect one's family from harm.
Another expansion is 'puffing up with pride', where a person feels their sense of identity
grow and they literally feel bigger. When you praise another person, you may see them
expand.
A bigger person is metaphorically superior and looks down on others whilst they look
up. Expansion thus indicates a feeling of 'I'm better than others'.
This shaping can also mean 'Hello! I'm here'. Making yourself bigger also makes
yourself more visible. A person in a group who wants to speak may expand first.

Moving away
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Moving away
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
A person may retreat from the other person in a number of ways. These can be large
movements or small signals where they move only slightly away.

• Pulling back the head in fear, confusion or surprise.


• Pulling back arms or shoulders.
• Hollowing the chest, pulling it back.
• Turning away the head and, in extreme, showing the back.
• Stepping back.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Back body language
• Chest body language
• Head body language

Discussion
When people are conversing in close proximity, they are also within reach of the other
person and thus vulnerable to attack. Whilst this is unlikely, we are programmed to be
cautious and a movement away often shows a desire to continue moving away.
Politeness, though, often keeps us in place so we just lean back or turn away.
Defensive retreat is often coupled with other defensive acts including pulling in of arms
and pulling down of head and body.
Pulling back the head whilst lowering the chin protects the throat. This can be a surprise
signal ('No! Well, fancy that!') that uses a mock defensive move to show amazement.

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We all have defined personal spaces and when other people enter these we may back
away (which is easier and politer than pushing them back). This can happen when one
person is attempting a romantic connection with another and steps into their intimate
space (and the other person steps back). Cultural spaces are also different -- for example
city people usually have smaller spaces and will stand closer to a country person (who
will back away).
When a person feels threatened they will probably continue to look at the other person.
When they turn away, whilst they may be indicating that they do not want to be there,
this also can be a power move, saying 'I am not threatened by you and do not need to
monitor your actions.'
There can be other reasons for moving away from a person, for example if they have
bad breath.
Another reason to move away is to give space in which to move in. If you are close to a
person and want to use a moving-in signal, then you may need to back off first.

Moving forward
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Moving forward
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
When a person moves forward, even slightly, they are sending signals.

• Reaching forward with arms and hands, giving, grabbing or striking.


• Pushing the head forward.
• Thrusting the hips suggestively forward.
• Leaning forward.
• Stepping forward.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Hand body language
• Head body language
• Hips body language

Discussion
Moving forward can be an act of aggression and so signal anger, especially if it is done
quickly and in concert with other aggressive signals such as an angry expression on the
face. As such it is an invitation for the other person either to move away or to fight.
We all have defined personal spaces and moving forward may transition between social
and intimate space, signalling a desire to be closer to the other person. Other signals
will indicate the actual intent (there are many romantic signals, for example). This can
be used as method of emphasis as we move closer to gain attention and create a bond
through which ideas are transmitted.

Opening
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Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Opening
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
'Opening' is a pattern of unfolding, removing protection and offering. For example:

• Raising the head from a chin-down position to looking forwards.


• Unfolding arms.
• Holding open palms.
• Spreading palms in an opening circular move around from front to
side.
• Turning hands over from palm-down to palms-up.
• Pointing toes outwards, with splayed feet.
• Standing with legs akimbo.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Hand body language
• Leg body language

Discussion
Opening is a signal of readiness to listen and accept others. In particular the transition
of going from closed to open shows a change of heart, of going from suspicion and
anxiety to comfort and acceptance.
Openness exposes vulnerable areas to attack and is thus a symbol of trust. It shows that
no weapons are concealed for example with open palms.
Being open also exposes sexual organs and thus it may be used in flirting. Allied to this
is how it can be used in a display of power, which is used by men to warn off other men
and demonstrate the ability to protect the family.
In an aggressive or power-based stance, openness says 'I do not stand defensively
because I am not afraid of you.'

Preening
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Preening
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
'Preening' is act of faked cleaning or tidying that is common in courtship rituals across
the animal kingdom. birds pick at their feathers, chimps pick at fleas and humans tidy
themselves to look good for their prospective partners. Actions include:

• Straightening the tie or other clothes.


• Looking in a mirror.
• Curling lips to even out lipstick.
• Brushing imaginary lint off arms or legs.
• Patting down hair or combing it with the fingers.

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Found in
• Chin body language
• Hair body language
• Leg body language
• Lips body language

Discussion
Preening happens a lot before people meet as people deliberately make themselves
attractive. Women in particular spend time in the bathroom primping themselves up.
This can be a competitive signal to other women ('I'm more beautiful than you, so don't
bother competing with me!').
As an act in front of another person, preening says 'Look, I am making myself beautiful
for you!' It may be combined with the look away -- look up flirting pattern.
Sometimes preening is just about vanity, as self-obsessed narcissists make themselves
beautiful just for themselves. It says 'I am too wonderful for you, but not for me.'
Preening is also touching oneself which, when done as gentle stroking, can be done
romantically as an offer ('Wouldn't you like to touch me like this? I might just let
you...').
Self-touching can also be a sign of insecurity, so watch for other signs. Preening is done
with confidence and even arrogance ('I am so wonderful, you will not be able to resist
me!').

Repeating
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Repeating
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
Sometimes people repeat actions, such as tapping, waving, or otherwise moving one
way, then the other way then back again and so forth.

• Nodding or shaking the head.


• Tapping the teeth.
• Waggling the eyebrows.
• Swinging the arms.
• Clapping of hands.
• Waving with hands.
• Drumming of fingers.
• Swinging or bouncing a leg.
• Tapping of feet.
• Rubbing the body in various places.
• Waving the body back and forth.
• Stroking various parts of the body.

Found in
• Chin body language
• Eyebrow body language
• Foot body language

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• Finger body language
• Leg body language

Discussion
When a person is bored, they seek other things to do and a repetitive movement can
provide a simple distraction. The stimulation of movement may also be seen in dancing
and moving along to music. Curiously, repetition leads to a trance state which can be
pleasurable, and which may explain why some people repeat actions.
When they are irritated and impatient, their start to feel tense and would perhaps like to
hit someone. This often gets displaced into tapping of fingers or feet.
Moving the body in repetitive patterns may also be a part of a specific signal, such as
nodding the head in agreement or clapping the hands in approval.

Shaping
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Shaping
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

Pattern
What is being described is literally carved out what is from the air in front of the
person.

• Hands are the main implements, shaping the item being described.
• Arms may also be important, particularly when shaping something
big. For something very big, the person may move the rest of their body,
reaching up on the toes.
• Fingers can be used to shape something small.
• Words may be shaped with the lips.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Finger body language
• Hand body language

Discussion
When people talk, they use their whole body to describe what they are talking about,
shaping what they are saying as a reinforcement and emphasis of their words.
Often ideas are shaped as well as physical items.
We may also shape how we feel. Fear makes small. Anger makes us want to fight.
Desire makes us want to hold and make love. Envy may make us want to strangle
someone. Happiness can make us feel light and floating.

Striking
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Striking
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

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Pattern
The body can be used in various ways to strike out at others.

• A small but rapid nod of the head can be a symbolic head-butt.


• Wagging a finger in admonishment, symbolizing striking them with a
club.
• Shaking an entire arm.
• Jabbing a finger toward someone, as if prodding them.
• Striking subtly sideways with an elbow.

Instead of striking toward others, the person may strike something else -- still indicating
the desire to strike someone (perhaps who is not present).

• Poking a finger into an open hand or onto a table.


• Slapping a fist into an open hand or onto a table (this makes a good
noise).
• Stamping the ground with a foot.

The person may also strike their own body:

• Slapping the forehead, acknowledging stupidity. 'Gosh, I'm so stupid!'


• Slapping the bottom or thigh in self-punishment or as a 'gee up'
motivation.
• Clapping hands in glee or appreciation.

Found in
• Arm body language
• Bottom body language
• Hand body language
• Finger body language
• Forehead body language
• Thigh body language

Discussion
Striking (without actually hitting others) is usually an open act of aggression, saying 'I
want to hit you!' and can be very intimidating, particularly if the person involved could
clearly do damage. It is thus closely associated with anger.
Hitting others is socially undesirable and legally forbidden. To handle anger, we thus
displace it into a relatively harmless simulation (although this can still be scary for
others).
Striking oneself is often an act of self-deprecating humour. It may also beg forgiveness
('Look - I know you can't hit me, so I hit me for you -- will you forgive me now?'

Touching
Techniques > Use of body language > Core patterns > Touching
Pattern | Found in | Discussion | See also

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Pattern
Touching is a very common pattern in body language. Touching the face in particular is
often very significant, including:

• Touching the cheek in surprise or horror 'Oh goodness!'


• Stroking the chin whilst thinking.
• Covering or touching the mouth to silently say 'I don't know what to say!' or 'I
don't want to speak'.
• Finger to the lips to say the same thing or also 'Shh!'
• Tapping the teeth in boredom or irritation.
• Fingering the nose, when thinking.
• Scratching the nose when lying.
• Rubbing the nose in disagreement or discomfort.
• Pinching the bridge of the nose in negative evaluation.
• Tapping the nose to indicate 'this is a secret'.
• Rubbing the eyes to say 'I don't want to see' or 'I want to be elsewhere' or
otherwise as an indicator of discomfort.
• Putting a palm to the forehead to say 'Phew, that was close' or 'Oh no, that's
terrible!'
• Tapping the forehead with the palm or heel of the hand to say 'Oh I'm so stupid!'
• Touching the forehead in salute.
• Stroking the hair when flirting with others.

Touching other parts of the body can also be notable, including:

• Touching arms or hands or other part of the body in self-comfort.


• Clasping or touching fingers in an evaluative gesture.
• Caressing bottom, hips, legs, thigh, knees or other area to say 'I'd like you to do
this to me...'
• Rubbing the neck in discomfort.
• Rubbing the chest or belly which may be tense.

You can also touch the other person in friendship or with romantic intent. Touching
others may also be a power play.

Found in
Lots of places, including:

• Face, Cheek, Chin, Mouth, Lips, Teeth, Tongue, Nose, Eyes, Forehead, Hair
• Arm: Hand, Finger
• Neck, Shoulder, Chest, Belly, Bottom, Hips
• Thigh, Knee, Foot

Discussion
Touching oneself is often a sign of uncertainty or discomfort. It is as if the person is
reassuring themselves, using their own hands in place of the hands of a non-present
parent or friend.
Touching can similarly be an affirmation of the identity. 'I can feel myself, therefore I
exist!'
When a person is stressed their muscles become tense and they may sweat and itch. They
may thus rub the areas affected. Lying is often a stressful activity and thus rubbing can be
an indicator. It can also mean the person is worried about something else or is just hot.

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Covering such as the mouth, nose, eyes and ears often means 'I do not want to use these'
and indicates the person would rather be elsewhere or they are holding themselves back
from potentially harmful action.
Touching a friend affirms their identity and forms a physical bond. Holding them close
emphasizes this.
Touching other people with whom you are not comfortably familiar can be a sign of
power ('I can break social rules and you can't do anything about it!').
Touching varies greatly across cultures, for example in parts of South-East Asia, the head
(particularly of others) is considered to contain the spirit and hence must not be touched.
Touching in greeting rituals also varies hugely across cultures

Romantic body language


Techniques > Using body language > Romantic body language
From afar | Up close | See also

A significant cluster of body movements has to do with romance, signaling to a person


of the opposite sex that you are interested in partnering with them.

From afar
From afar, the first task of body language is to signal interest (and then to watch for
reciprocal body language).
Eyes
The eyes do much signaling. Initially and from a distance, a person may look at you for
slightly longer than normal, then look away, then look back up at you, again for a
longer period.
Preening
There are many preening gestures. What you are basically saying with this is 'I am
making myself look good for you'. This includes tossing of the head, brushing hair with
hand, polishing spectacles and brushing clothes.
Enacting
Remote romantic language may also include enactment of sexually stimulating
activities, for example caressing oneself, for example stroking arms, leg or face. This
may either say 'I would like to stroke you like this' or 'I would like you to stroke me like
this'.
Similarly, the person (women in particular) may lick and purse their lips into a kiss
shape and leave their mouth slightly open in imitation of sexual readiness.
Objects held may be also used in enactment displays, including cigarettes and wine
glasses, for example rolling and stroking them.
Displaying
Attractive parts of the body may be exposed, thrust forward, wiggled or otherwise
highlighted. For women this includes breasts, neck, bottom and legs. For men it
includes a muscular torso, arms or legs, and particularly the crotch (note that women
seldom do this).

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Faking often happens. Pressing together muscles gives the impression of higher muscle
tone. Pressing together and lifting breasts (sometimes helped with an appropriate
brassiere) makes them look firmer and larger. Holding out shoulders and arms makes
the body look bigger. Holding in the abdomen gives the impression of a firm tummy.
This is often playing to primitive needs. Women show that they are healthy and that
they are able to bear and feed the man's child. The man shows he is virile, strong and
able to protect the woman and her child.
Leaning
Leaning your body towards another person says 'I would like to be closer to you'. It also
tests to see whether they lean towards you or away from you. It can start with the head
with a simple tilt or may use the entire torso. This may be coupled with listening
intently to what they say, again showing particular interest in them.
Pointing
A person who is interested in you may subtly point at you with a foot, knee, arm or
head. It is effectively a signal that says 'I would like to go in this direction'.
Other displays
Other forms of more distant display that are intended to attract include:

• Sensual or dramatic dancing (too dramatic, and it can have the


opposite effect).
• Crotch display, where (particularly male) legs are held apart to show
off genitalia.
• Faked interest in others, to invoke envy or hurry a closer
engagement.
• Nodding gently, as if to say 'Yes, I do like you.'

Up close
When you are close to the other person, the body language progressively gets more
intimate until one person signals 'enough'.
Close in and personal
In moving closer to the other person, you move from social space into their personal
body space, showing how you would like to get even closer to them, perhaps holding
them and more...
Standing square-on to them also blocks anyone else from joining the conversation and
signals to others to stay away.
Copying
Imitating the person in some way shows 'I am like you'. This can range from a similar
body position to using the same gestures and language.
Lovers' gaze
When you are standing close to them, you will holding each other's gaze for longer and
longer periods before looking away. You many also use what are called 'doe eyes' or
'bedroom eyes', which are often slightly moist and with the head inclined slightly down.
Where the eyes go is important. Looking at lips means 'I want to kiss'. Looking at other
parts of the body may mean 'I want to touch'.
A very subtle signal that few realize is that the eyes will dilate such that the dark pupils
get much bigger (this is one reason why dark-eyed people can seem attractive).

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Touching
Touching signals even closer intimacy. It may start with 'accidental' brushing, followed
by touching of 'safe' parts of the body such as arms or back.
Caressing is gentle stroking that may start in the safer regions and then stray (especially
when alone) to sexual regions.

Defensive body language


Techniques > Using body language > Defensive body language
Defending from attack | Pre-empting attack | See also

When a person is feeling threatened in some ways, they will take defensive body
postures.

Defending from attack


The basic defensive body language has a primitive basis and assumes that the other
person will physically attack, even when this is highly unlikely.
Covering vital organs and points of vulnerability
In physical defense, the defensive person will automatically tend to cover those parts of
the body that could damaged by an attack.
The chin is held down, covering the neck. The groin is protected with knees together,
crossed legs or covering with hands. The arms may be held across the chest or face.
Fending off
Arms may be held out to fend off attacker, possibly straight out or curved to deflect
incoming attacks.
Using a barrier
Any physical object may be placed held in front of the person to act as a literal or
figurative barrier. This can be a small as a pen or as large as a table. Straddling a
reversed chair makes some people comfortable in conversation as they look relaxed
whilst feeling defensive.
Barriers can also protect the other person and if I am powerful, I may use a simple
barrier to make you feel less defensive. It also means I control the barrier.
Becoming small
One way of defending against attack is to reduce the size of the target. People may thus
huddle into a smaller position, keeping their arms and legs in.
Rigidity
Another primitive response is to tense up, making the muscles harder in order to
withstand a physical attack.
Rigidity also freezes the body, possibly avoiding movements being noticed or being
interpreted as preparing for attack.
Seeking escape
Flicking the eyes from side to side shows that the person is looking for a way out.

Pre-empting attack
Giving in

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Pre-empting the attack, the defensive person may reduce the, generally using
submissive body language, avoiding looking at the other person, keeping the head down
and possibly crouching into a lower body position.
Attacking first
Aggressive body language may also appear, as the person uses 'attack as the best form
of defense'. The body may thus be erect, thrust forward and with attacking movements.
Where attack and defense both appear together, there may be conflicting signs
appearing together. Thus the upper body may exhibit aggression whilst the legs are
twisted together.

Dominant body language


Techniques > Using body language > Dominant body language
Size | Superiority | Greeting | Responding | See also

Dominant body language is related to aggressive body language, though with a less
emotional content.

Size signals
The body in dominant stances is generally open, and may also include additional
aspects.
Making the body big
Hands on hips makes the elbows go wide and make the body seem larger. So also does
standing upright and erect, with the chin up and the chest thrust out. Legs may be
placed apart to increase size.
Making the body high
Height is also important as it gives an attack advantage. This can be achieved by
standing up straight or somehow getting the other person lower than you, for example
by putting them on a lower seat or by your standing on a step or plinth.
Occupying territory
By invading and occupying territory that others may own or use, control and dominance
is indicated. A dominant person may thus stand with feet akimbo and hands on hips.

Superiority signals
Breaking social rules
Rulers do not need to follow rules: they make the rules. This power to decide one's own
path is often displayed in breaking of social rules, from invasion and interruption to
casual swearing in polite company.
Ownership
Owning something that others covet provides a status symbol. This can be territorial,
such as a larger office, or displays of wealth or power, such as a Rolex watch or having
many subordinates.
Just owning things is an initial symbol, but in body language it is the flaunting of these,
often casually, that is the power display. Thus a senior manager will casually take out
their Mont Blanc pen whilst telling their secretary to fetch the Havana cigars.

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Invasion
A dominant act is to disrespect the ownership of others, invading their territory, for
example getting to close to them by moving into their body space. Other actions include
sitting on their chairs, leaning on their cars, putting feet up on their furniture and being
over-friendly with their romantic partners.
Invasion says 'What's yours is mine' and 'I can take anything of yours that I want and
you cannot stop me'.
Belittling others
Superiority signals are found both in saying 'I am important' and also 'You are not
important'. Thus a dominant person may ignore or interrupt another person who is
speaking or turn away from them. They may also criticize the inferior person, including
when the other person can hear them.
Facial signals
Much dominance can be shown in the face, from disapproving frowns and pursed lips
to sneers and snarls (sometimes disguised as smiles).
The eyes can be used to stare and hold the gaze for long period. They may also squint,
preventing the other person seeing where you are looking. They may also look at
anywhere but the other person, effectively saying that 'you are not even worth looking
at'.
Faces can also look bored, amused or express other expressions that belittle the other
person.
Dominant people often smile much less than submissive people.
Phallic displays
Dominant men will often expose their crotch, effectively saying to other men 'I am safe
from attack' or 'my penis is bigger than yours', whilst showing off. They may also be
offering 'come and get it!' to women. When women do this, it is to some extent a tease
or invitation to men but may also be an emulation of the male display, thus saying 'I am
as strong as a man'.
This appears in standing or sitting where the legs are apart. It may be emphasized by
scratching or adjusting of the crotch.

The dominant greeting


When people first meet and greet, their first interaction sets the pattern for the future
relationship. When a person is dominant here, then they will most likely continue to be
dominant.
The handshake
A classic dominant handshake is with the palm down, symbolically being on top.
Another form of dominant handshake is to use strength to squeeze the other person.
Holding the other person's hand for longer than normal also shows that you are in
control.
Eyes
Prolonged, unblinking eye contact acts like overplaying the handshake -- it says 'I am
powerful, I can break the rules.' The dominant person may alternatively prevent eye
contact, saying 'You are beneath me and I do not want even to look at you.'

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Speaking
The person who speaks first often gets to control the conversation, either by talking for
longer or by managing the questions.

Responding to dominance
If others display dominant body language you have a range of options.
The simplest response is simply not to submit, which is what they probably want.
Continue to appear friendly and ignore their subtle signals.
Another response is to fight dominance with dominance, for example:

• Out-stare them (a trick here is to look at the bridge of their nose, not
their eyes).
• Touch them, either before they touch you or immediately when they
touch you.
• When they do a power handshake, grab their elbow and step to the
side.
• When they butt in to your speech, speed up, talk more loudly and say
'let me finish!'

Another approach is to name the game. Ask them why they are using dominant body
language. A good way to do this is in a curious, unafraid way

Evaluating body language


Techniques > Using body language > Evaluating body language
Language of evaluation | Reasons for evaluation | See also

A notable cluster of body movements happens when a person is thinking, judging or


making some decision.

Language of evaluation
Hand movements
The classic signal of evaluation is the steepled hands which are clasped together, either
looking like they are praying, with both hands pressed together, or with linked fingers
and with index fingers only pointing upwards. The fingers pointing upwards may touch
the lips.
Another common evaluative movement is stroking, often of the chin but possibly other
parts of the face.
Other actions
Other evaluative signals include pursing lips, stroking the side of the nose and (if worn)
peering over the top of spectacles ('To look more carefully at you').
Relaxed intensity
The body may well be relaxed and open. The person seems to be unafraid or even
unaware of danger. However there is also a level of concentration, perhaps with pursed
lips and an intense gaze. The chin may be resting in one or both palms.

Reasons for evaluation


There can be several reasons for a ready body language.
Deciding

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A person who is evaluating may be making an important decision. If they are buying
from you, they may be close to the point of closure.
Judging
In their decision-making, they may be judging. Perhaps this is you, something you are
saying or something else. Watch how they change with what you say and try to figure
this one out.
Thinking
Sometimes the evaluation is only on an internal point. When they are deep inside their
own world, they may be mentally trying out ideas to see if they will work. If you have
suggested something, they may be trying to fit your idea into their own model of the
world.

Techniques for Changing Minds


This is the main 'how to' section. Below it, in the website, are generalized principles of
changing minds and the psychological details of explanations and theories. In this
section we cover specific techniques by which people change minds and otherwise
persuade.

• Assertiveness: Being neither passive nor aggressive.


• Body language: A large part of communication is non-verbal.
• Change techniques: Ways to make change happen.
• Closing techniques: From the discipline of sales, a myriad of ways to
gain closure.
• Confidence tricks: Ways people get tricked out of their money.
• Conversation: How to hold down a conversation with others.
• Conversion: Converting and retaining people in different beliefs.
• General persuasion techniques: Approaches and things that don't fit
elsewhere.
• Happiness: How to be happy.
• Hypnotism: How people are hypnotized.
• Interrogation: Getting answers to questions.
• Negotiation tactics: Getting what you want.
• Language: Much about subtle use of words.
• Listening: Hear the person as well as what they say.
• Objection-handling: Ways of handling objections to the sale.
• Propaganda: covert persuasion of populations.
• Public speaking: Presentation and speech-making.
• Questioning: Using questions to get the results you want.
• Resisting persuasion: A big list of ways to avoid being persuaded.
• Self-development: Becoming who you want to be.
• Stress Management: Keeping it down, building it up.
• Tipping: How to get a bigger tip.
• Using humor: Changing minds can be (and use) fun.

Caveat
Just a note of gentle caution: the word 'technique' sometimes implies some kind of
magic, with the implicit promise that 'if you do this you will get that'. There is no magic
and the techniques here are things that if you do, you may get something of what you
want. Life is a numbers game: there are no guarantees. Life is also about practice -- the

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more you try, the better you will get, so if things do not work for you this time, then
keep trying and keep trying different things.

Assertiveness
Techniques > Assertiveness
Understanding assertiveness | Being assertive | See also

Assertive behavior is one of the most powerful ways of acting in interacting with other
people.

Understanding assertiveness
Assertiveness is widely misunderstood, often equated with aggression, which is not.
Here's more detail to give you a firm foundation in this area.

• Assertiveness is: Submissive, assertive, and aggressive behavior.


• Submissive behavior: Being submissive is not being assertive.
• Aggressive behavior: Being aggressive is not being assertive.
• Comparing behaviors: Comparing assertive, aggressive and
submissive.
• Building assertive beliefs: Beliefs drive behaviors.

Being assertive
Once you now know what assertiveness is, then here are some methods to help you on
your way.

• Saying what you want: You can want anything.


• Standing up for your rights: You can have what is rightfully yours.
• Speaking your truths: Saying what you believe.
• The three-part message: Their behavior, your feelings, wider effects.
• Asking: Asking the other person to do something.
• Saying no: Refusing, even when it is hard.
• Disagreeing: Disagreeing with what they say and stating your own
case.
• Praise: Giving and getting it.
• Giving criticism: Constructively helping others improve.
• Receiving criticism: Taking criticism positively.

Assertiveness is...
Techniques > Assertiveness > Assertiveness is...
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Assertive behavior means standing up for your rights and expressing your truths in a
way that neither shrinks from what you want to communicate nor assumes that they are
the only valid truths.
Assertiveness also includes recognizing and respecting the equality, rights and truths of
other people.

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Example
John, I don't like the way you said that.

I want to stay at home tonight.

I think Jane is not comfortable with the way you look at her.

Discussion
Assertiveness can be understood in terms of what it is not: it is neither Aggressive
behavior and Passive behavior. In both persuasion and defending against persuasive
efforts, assertive behavior is a powerful tool.
The assumptions on which assertiveness is based are that:

• All people have needs that they legitimately seek to satisfy, including
you.
• All people have equal and legitimate rights, including you.
• All people can contribute to conversation, including you.

A critical aspect of this is an assumption of equality, which leads to a respect for others
that moderates, but does not obviate, the seeking to achieve one's own goals.
The result of assertive behavior is that you get much of what you want whilst retaining
the respect of other people.
In Transactional Analysis, the Adult uses assertive behavior and language, seeking
equality rather than control or safety.

Aggressive behavior
Techniques > Assertiveness > Aggressive behavior
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Aggressive behavior means standing up for your rights, but in a way that violates the
rights of other people. It means saying what you believe in a way that assumes that it
the only truth, and that any contradictory statement is wrong.
Aggressive people often uses anger, aggressive body language other threatening
behavior to bully, subjugate and dominate other people. They will use punishing
language to infer guilt and create shame. The will use overt techniques of conversion to
create unquestioning compliance.

Example
You're so stupid. Just do as I say and don't ask questions.

What! Are you arguing with me!! How dare you!!!

Was that you? You know you shouldn't have done that.

Discussion
The core assumption of aggressive behavior is that the aggressor is superior to others in
some way, and hence that other people have lesser rights and less valid truths than you.

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The result of aggressive behavior is that the aggressor gets much of what they want
whilst losing the respect of other people. Whilst aggressive people appear to have
friends, these are often passive people who either fear leaving or seek protection.
If you can cow another person then they are less likely to assertively or aggressively
stand up for their rights. The goal of much aggressive behavior is to create passive
behavior in others.
Aggressive people often have deep fears that they project onto other people. Bullies are
often cowards who use aggression as a method of attack that pre-empts others attacking
them. Where they fear particular people, they may displace their revenge onto unwitting
victims.

Submissive behavior
Techniques > Assertiveness > Submissive behavior
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
submissive (or passive) behavior means shying away from saying what you really mean
and not seeking to achieve your needs, particularly when someone else has conflicting
needs. A submissive person is a shrinking violet, avoiding upsetting others either
because they fear them or they fear to hurt their feelings.
When things go wrong, the submissive person is likely to assume that they are to blame
in some way, and accept culpability when singled out by other people.
You can often see submissiveness in the use of such as floppy language, qualifiers and
submissive body language, although these do not always indicate submissive behavior.

Example
A child is bullied at school but neither fights back nor tells the teachers.
They may wish they could be stronger, like the bully.

A manager tends to avoid giving complex work to one of their


subordinates who complains whenever something becomes difficult.

Sorry, I didn't mean to say that. I should have realized that you wanted
to go elsewhere.

Discussion
The core assumption of submissive behavior is that you are inferior to others in some
way, and hence that other people have greater rights and more valid truths than you.
In Transactional Analysis, the adaptive child may become submissive when coping with
the controlling parent.
The submissive person will typically suppress their feelings and repress memories of
being dominated, particularly early triggers that led them to their submissive state. They
may also cope with the disappointment of not getting what they want by trivializing.
The result of submissive behavior is that you get little of what you want whilst losing
the respect of other people. You are also likely to fall into a spiral of failing self-esteem,
internal anger and psychosomatic problems.

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Comparing behaviors
Techniques > Assertiveness > Comparing behaviors

Here is a summary of key differences between assertive behavior, aggressive behavior


and submissive behavior. Note how the benefits and costs of aggressive and submissive
behavior are sometimes the same and sometimes opposite.
One the traps of aggressive/submissive behavior is to believe that this is all there is, and
you have to be one or the other. Assertive behavior is not aggressive and not submissive
nor any way in between. It takes a new position in a separate place outside the one-
dimensional aggressive-submissive spectrum.

Attribute Aggressive Submissive Assertive

Respect for
Low High High
others

Respect for
High (usually) Low High
self

Attack others Respect others


Submit to others
Me first Me and you equal
Me last
Hide weaknesses Open about
Key actions Visible weaknesses
Exaggerate weaknesses and
Downplay strengths
strengths strengths
Always concede
Do not concede Fair exchange
Get much of what
Get what I want Won't get harmed
I want
Perceived
Won't get harmed Low personal risk
benefits Will be respected
Will be respected Will be liked
Fair relationships
Poor relationships Poor relationships Do not always
Subtle revenge Get overlooked get what I want
Likely costs
Lost People take Confusion/envy
communication advantage of others

Building assertive beliefs


Techniques > Assertiveness > Building assertive beliefs
Assertive beliefs | Non-assertive beliefs | Developing assertive beliefs | See also

Assertive beliefs
Much of what we do, say, feel and act is based on our beliefs, and in particular in our
beliefs about people. Problems occur when we hold different beliefs about ourselves
and about other people.
If you have assertive beliefs, then assertive behavior will follow. If you do not hold
assertive beliefs, then you will have difficulty in sustaining assertiveness.
Beliefs that drive assertive behavior include:

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• I am equal to others, with the same fundamental rights.
• I am free to think, choose and make decisions for myself.
• I am able to try things, make mistakes, learn and improve.
• I am responsible for my own actions and my responses to other
people.
• I do not need permission to take action.
• It is ok to disagree with others. Agreement is not always necessary or
possible.

Non-assertive beliefs
Non-assertive beliefs are generally those that assume we are not equal to other people,
and hence drive passive or aggressive behavior.
Beliefs that drive passive behavior include:

• Others are more important, more intelligent or otherwise better than


me.
• Other people do not like me because I do not deserve to be liked.
• My opinion is not of value and will not be valued.
• I must be perfect in everything I do, otherwise I am a complete
failure.
• It is better to be safe and say nothing rather than say what I think.

Beliefs that drive aggressive behavior include:

• I am cleverer and more powerful than other people.


• Other people cannot be trusted to do as they are told.
• It's a dog-eat-dog world. I must get other people before they get me.
• The only way to get things done is to tell people. Asking is a sign of
weakness.
• People who do not fight hard for what they want get what they
deserve.

Developing assertive beliefs


There are a number of things that you can do to develop and stabilize assertive beliefs
that will lead to you being more assertive:

• Notice how your current beliefs drive your decisions and actions.
Identify the beliefs that you want to change.
• Wonder about how the beliefs of others drive their decisions and
actions.
• Decide on the beliefs that you want to adopt. Write them down. Pin
them on the wall. Carry them with you in your wallet or pocket.
• Start by acting assertive. You may not feel it, but you can always act
it.
• Start small: be assertive in relatively simple contexts, such as asking
for things in shops and restaurants where it is not a 'life or death' situation.
• Reflect on your successes. Realize how new beliefs are making a
difference.

Saying what you want


Techniques > Assertiveness > Saying what you want
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

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Description
When you want something, say what you want.
Try to find ways in which saying what you want in a way that does not hurt other
people.
It is not necessary to justify what you want. You can just say 'I want...'. Explanation can
sometimes help, but only to persuade, not apologize.

Example
I want to go home early today.

I want this job, more than job I have done before.

I want to kiss you.

Discussion
Remember that being assertive means knowing that you have rights which, as a person,
are equal to others. This includes being able to say what you want without fear. To want
is human and a birthright. Everyone is allowed to want.
Wanting does not mean always getting what you want (if you do, then you may be
being aggressive). Being assertive also includes accepting, in a non-passive way, the
occasions where you do not get what you want.
Although you may not get everything that you want, remember that it is not an all-or-
nothing thing. You can get much of what you want through assertive negotiation, but
negotiation also means making exchanges, which means giving as well as getting.

Standing up for your rights


Techniques > Assertiveness > Standing up for your rights
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Standing up for your rights starts with knowing that you have the same rights as
everyone else. It then means responding to situations where those rights are being
compromised.
Remind others who are contravening your rights that you have those rights.
Refuse to do things that you are being asked to do that you do not want to do.
When you are not being respected, demand that others treat you with respect.
When others are pursuing you or otherwise giving you unwanted attention, tell them
that you do not want their company.
Know that you can call upon others to help you defend your rights.

Example
No, I am not going to work overtime. I need to see my family.

Leave me alone. You are invading my privacy.

There are people outside making a lot of noise. Please can you come and
deal with this disturbance.

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Discussion
You have basic rights as a human an a member of civilized society, as do all others.
Within any country you have legal rights, and there is a whole legal system there to
protect those rights, including your right to call upon that system for support. The same
effect happens at work, where you are protected both by employment law and company
regulations.
General rights include:

• Having individual needs and want.


• Having individual opinions.
• Feeling and expressing emotions.
• Asking others to do things (but not demanding).
• Being heard by others who listen to what you have to say.
• Being able to say no without feeling guilty.
• Being able to try new things and make mistakes.
• Standing up for the rights of other people.

Rights at work include:

• Knowing what is expected of you, and what 'success' means.


• To have a say in what you are asked to do.
• Being told when you are performing below expectations and having
the opportunity to improve.
• To be allowed to get on with your job without constant interruption.
• To choose aspects of how you work.
• To arrive and go home at reasonable times.
• To give others feedback on their performance.
• To be consulted about decisions that affect you.
• Not being harassed or stalked.

It is typical of passive behavior that the person involved gives away their rights or
assumes that they have less than others. At the other extreme, the aggressive person
denies the rights of others

Speaking your truths


Techniques > Assertiveness > Speaking your truths
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Say what you believe when you want to do this. Speak your truths quietly and clearly.
Whether or not it has any or absolute truth, you still have the right to say what you
believe and that others listen to you.
One truth that can never be denied is how you feel. If you say you are happy, sad or
angry, then nobody can challenge this. Only you truly know how you are feeling. By
the same chalk, you cannot say definitively how others are feeling, although you can
say that they look sad or appear angry.
When your truths are difficult for others to accept, you may make them easier to accept
in how you say them, but it does not mean you must not say them.

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Also listen to others. They, too have their truths which may be different from yours.
Explore the differences, seeking to understand how they come to believe these things
without judging the person. Also help them understand your thinking.
Know that when others do not understand or accept your truth, that does not mean that
it is not true. Even if they disagree, you are not obliged to change your mind.

Example
I believe that if we continue in this way, the company is going to fail.

Sorry, but I don't think that dress suits you.

I am very disappointed with how little you have done this week.

Discussion
There is, arguably, no such thing as an absolute truth. Truth is a human construction.
We believe things in order to understand and live in the world. Our beliefs are true to
each of us, and it is valid that you and I can hold different and conflicting beliefs. Each
of our truths is founded in our complex thought processes and memories. We can speak
our truths, even though they may not be true for others.
By sharing what you believe to be true and listening to what others believe to be true,
you can find other truths in between. You might also be able to persuade them to
change their truths -- and you can also be open to having your truths changed by their
arguments.
Sometimes truths can be uncomfortable, both for you and for other people, but this need
not be reason not to speak those truths. You can be tactful in helping others to accept a
truth that is difficult for them. It is surprising how often the hardest truths are also the
most valuable. Remember the story of 'The Emperor's New Clothes': speaking difficult
truths can have great power when all others are colluding in a larger lie.
Speaking assertively does not make something true (this is the assertion fallacy that
teenagers and others sometimes try to use).

The three-part message


Techniques > Assertiveness > The three-part message
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
The three-part message is a simple framework that you can use to give an assertive
message when others are doing something on which you want to comment.
1. Describe behavior
Describe the specific behavior of the other person in question. Note that this can be both
undesirable behavior or desirable behavior.
Do this simply, clearly and accurately, without any accusation or judgmental language.
2. Describe how you feel
Describe how the behavior makes you feel.
Do this clearly and assertively, with a minimal display of emotions.
3. Show the wider effect of their behavior

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Describe what the effect of the behavior is, beyond the basic effect on your emotions.
This can be include how you behave, after being triggered into the emotional state, or
how it affects other people and things.

Example
When you tell me what you want me to do I feel threatened because you
raise your voice and stare at me.

You have stayed after hours recently to complete this work. This makes
me really proud of you and has helped us to catch up with all the lost
work.

You often give work in late, which I find really annoying as it makes the
whole department look disorganized.

Discussion
Assertive messages can sometimes be difficult for the other person to accept. Clear
descriptions, as with other assertive methods, helps the other person to easily
understand what you are describing.
People often do not realize the effect of their actions on other people. Describing your
emotions can be quite a surprise for many. It is also impossible for them to deny this:
only you can describe how you feel.
The full extent of the effect of the behavior is also not always realized. Explaining this
helps the other person to accept the impact of what they have done, beyond having
affected your emotions

Asking
Techniques > Assertiveness > Asking
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you want something, you can ask for it. When you want others to do something,
you can ask them to do it. To ask assertively:

• Be brief, clear and specific. Ask for what you want without elaboration
or floppy language.
• Whilst you can explain reason, you do not need to justify your right to
ask.
• Do not apologize for asking.
• Be polite, but not effusive.
• Do not call in favors or play on friendship.
• Do not use deceptive or coercive tactics.
• Let them decide based on the merits of what you say.

Accept their answer as a valid response, although you can still question their rationale
and try to persuade them with further argument.
If they say 'no', then you can ask for their reasons, but do not consider them bad in any
way. Respect their right to refuse, and do not the refusal as a slight on you in any way.
Just as you can say 'no' to others without meaning them harm, assume that others may
do likewise.

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Example
I would like a pay rise of ten percent. This will bring me into line with
industry norms for the work I am doing.

Can you tell me what time you will be coming home, please.

Would you like to go on a date with me?

Discussion
What prevents many people from asking for things is fear of refusal. But if you have the
belief that others can legitimately say 'no' and that this does not constitute a personal
attack on you or somehow degrade or reduce your worth, then you will find it easier to
ask.
Floppy language when you ask for something is often a signal that you do not really
believe that you deserve what you are asking for, and hence is a cue for the other person
to refuse.

Saying no
Techniques > Assertiveness > Saying no
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are asked to do something that you do not want to do, then you can just say
no.
When saying 'no', keep your refusal short, but not so abrupt as to unnecessarily upset
the other person. Make sure what you are saying is crystal clear, with no scope for the
other person to think that you might yet be persuaded.
You can make the message clear by starting your response with 'no'.
You do not need to qualify or explain your response. The fact that you have made a
decision is enough. It may be helpful sometimes to explain a decision, but do not allow
this as something for them to challenge.
Do not apologize for your refusal and do not be apologetic in your tone. 'I'm sorry,
but...' often appears weak and leads to challenges and further argument. Be firm: neither
weak nor aggressive.
Do not make up excuses. If you are to give a reason, then be honest, even if it is
uncomfortable. Be careful about giving them explanation on which they may use
objection-handling.
Do not be persuaded by pleading, whining, wheedling etc. Listen to rational argument
and make rational decisions based on what you have heard. Only change your mind if it
makes real sense.
It can help to acknowledge the other person, for example by using their name.
Show that it is you making the decision rather than hiding behind other people or
impersonal rules. Say 'I' rather than 'we' or 'they'.
If the other person persists, repeat your reasons (do not look for new reasons to
decline). Use the broken record method if necessary.

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Example
I can't take on any extra work. My calendar is completely full for the next
month.

Sorry, Mike. You're a nice guy, but I do not want to go out with you.

I do not want double glazing. I am happy with my house as it is, thank


you.

Discussion
Saying 'no' is something with which many people have problems.
Whilst it is easy to say yes, saying no is risking the wrath of the person involved or the
other people they might tell. Ultimately, refusal may seem to risk hurting a relationship,
being ostracized from the group, being fired from the company or otherwise being
severely punished for your lack of cooperation. When you refuse, it may seem as if you
are also giving up your right to ask something of the other person.
All this is, of course, untrue. You have a basic right to refuse. The good news is that
reality is nowhere near as bad as imagination. When you say 'no' assertively and clearly,
you are more likely to gain respect than lose it.

Disagreeing
Techniques > Assertiveness > Disagreeing
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When another person makes a statement with which you disagree, state that you
disagree with them, rather than appearing to agree. Even if you passively say nothing,
you have, in effect, agreed with them.
Make the fact that you disagree clear.
Explain why you think the other person is wrong. Use specific evidence where you can.
Use clear logic, linking cause and effect.
You can soften the impact by appreciating how the other person may be mistaken, but
do not let this weaken your disagreement.
If you have a contrary view, then follow up your disagreement by stating this view.
Where possible, be constructive, helping them see a way forward from any
embarrassment.
If appropriate, listen to their response, and be prepared to change your own view if what
they say makes sense. Never change because of fears or threats.
If you do not want to discuss the matter further, then say so.
Do not be drawn into a destructive argument. If they become emotional or aggressive,
stay cool and do not give in just to calm them down.
Reward them for a good response to your disagreement with a smile or other accepting
behavior or language.

Example
John, I think you're wrong. If you do that then you will add risk to the
schedule. We cannot do this in less than a month.

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That's not true. I was there last week and saw it with my own eyes.

I can see how that may appear to be so, but I spoke with Sam today and
she told me that she was not there. We could try speaking with Susan.

Discussion
Disagreeing can be a very difficult thing for people who do not yet find assertion an
easy task. Even more than saying no, it risks disapproval and social punishment. If you
are drawn into an argument, you may fear being proven wrong.
A constructive argument is a good test of your assertiveness and assertive beliefs, as it
will require you to stay positive and rational whilst handling the other person's varying
behavior.
If emotions are aroused and a discussion turns into a heated argument, then rationality
will be lost. Giving in to other people when their emotions are aroused is teaching them
that the best way to persuade you is to become emotional.

Praise
Techniques > Assertiveness > Praise
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
You can use assertion both in giving praise and receiving it.
Giving praise
In giving praise assertively, be specific about the other person has done well. Mention
the value that the other person has created and how you feel about it.
Make the praise heartfelt. Do not say anything that you do not really mean.
You can praise your superiors as well as peers and subordinates. Many managers
receive very little recognition from their charges and a little appreciation can go a long
way. Be careful and succinct with this -- it is easy to appear as if you are sucking up to
them. A simple way of doing this is to thank them when they have helped you in some
way.
Accepting praise
When other people praise you, accept it with a slightly surprised thanks.
Do not be arrogant or show that you expected the praise ('Yes, it was rather good, I
though'). Nor be excessively diffident, effectively refusing to accept the praise or
downplaying your part in it ('Oh, it was nothing, really').

Example
Jed, you did a great job of getting the project completed to schedule. I
have had several very complimentary comments from our customers
about it.

Michelle, I really liked the way you handled Steve, yesterday. That was a
tricky situation and could easily have got out of hand.

Thank you. That's very kind of you to say that. (accepting praise)

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Discussion
Praise is a powerful motivator, if done well. It affirms the other person's sense of
identity, increasing their sense of worth. It also tells them what they are doing well.
Generally, people will do more of the things for which they are praised, but only as long
as they believe that they deserve the praise and that it was genuinely offered and
without ulterior motive.
Weak praise can sound like empty flattery, seeking to appease the other person rather
than offer genuine appreciation. When you give praise when it is not really deserved,
then you make worthless any praise that is deserved. As a result, the other person will
never really feel praised (and will dislike you for 'assassinating praise').
Aggressive praise can sound like cynicism or sarcasm that still seeks to keep the other
person in an inferior position. It happens when people realize that the other person has
done a good job but rather than truly admiring the other person, they feel threatened,
and that their own limitations have been shown up (perhaps deliberately).

Giving criticism
Techniques > Assertiveness > Giving criticism
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When criticism is needed, do not avoid it, although you should pick your moment. It is
often not a good idea to criticize another person in public (unless there is a particular
reason for doing so.
When you are going to criticize someone else, first make sure that your motivations are
genuine. Do not criticize to gain points or otherwise profit from the other person.
Be very specific about the things you are criticizing. Describe the action and the cause-
and-effect relationship with the outcomes, saying 'when you did that, then this
happened'.
Criticize the action, but not the person. Rather than say 'you are wrong' say 'what you
did was wrong'.
Seek to neither criticize too much at once nor criticize too often. Make the criticism as
easy as possible to accept.
Check that they understand the criticism and accept it as positive support.
Discuss what happens next, helping them to see the way forward and to avoid future
criticism. If necessary, describe the consequences of repeated failure.

Example
Your report was not handed in on time last week. That led to me looking
really stupid in the board meeting.

When you left the door unlocked there was a serious risk of us being
burgled. How can we ensure that it will not happen again?

I am not happy about the time you are taking off for lunch. You were late
for two afternoon meetings last week.

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Discussion
If you criticize a person, then you are attacking their sense of identity, which is a
fundamental part of who they are. This is highly likely to provoke a fight-or-flight
reaction, and unlikely for them to carefully consider and accept the criticism.
Avoiding criticism of another person may well be doing them a disservice. If you do not
point out their problems, then they are probably doomed to repeat history.
Frequent or multiple criticism may lead to people feeling persecuted, with the result that
feel overwhelmed and unwilling or unable to improve
Remember that the goal of criticism should always be to help the other person improve.
It should never be about revenge or punishment. Being assertive does not mean being a
judge, jury or executioner.

Receiving criticism
Techniques > Assertiveness > Receiving criticism
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When others criticize you, first pause before reacting and think honestly about what
they say.
Do not defend unless you really believe that you are being attacked. Even then, it can be
more effective to deflect or ignore the jibe.
If you know that you have done something wrong, then own up. Do not make excuses,
although you may give valid reason for what happened.
Ask for more detail as appropriate until you fully understand what happened. Ask for
their help in avoiding such future problems.
Thank them for the feedback and apologize as appropriate. Do not over-apologize! A
simple 'sorry' or 'very sorry' is often enough.
If necessary, find other ways to make restitution and regain trust, but do so with dignity
and integrity, not by debasing yourself. Watch for them demanding excessive restitution
and be assertive about this.

Example
Yes, you're right. I was not paying full attention.

Sorry, I don't understand. Could you elaborate further?

Thank you for your feedback. However, I disagree with your analysis and
want to show you what you have missed.

Discussion
When you receive criticism, it may not be expertly done. Nevertheless, you can seek
first to learn. If you treat the other person as if they are trying to help, then they will
increase behavior in this direction.
When others attack they may well be expecting a response and be ready (and seeking)
for battle. Not responding in the way that they expected can give you both a tactical
advantage and the moral high ground.

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Theories about persuasion
Explanations > Theories > Theories about persuasion

Here are academic theories about how we persuade other people.

• Bait-and-switch: Great offer that never happens.


• Door In The Face (DITF): Cause rejection then make real offer.
• Foot In The Door (FITD): Make small offer then increase.
• Forced Compliance: Obligation to obey.
• Information Manipulation Theory: Breaking one of the four
conversational maxims.
• Persuasion: factors important in persuasion.
• Priming: Setting up memory to be used later.
• Reciprocity Norm: we feel obliged to return favors.
• Scarcity Principle: we want what is of limited availability.
• Sleeper Effect: when persuasive messages increase effectiveness over
time.
• Social Influence: How we are strongly influenced by others.
• Subliminal Messages: famous method that is a sham.
• Ultimate Terms: some words are particularly powerful.
• Weak Ties Theory: How far does influence go?
• Yale Attitude Change Approach: factors important in persuasion.

Bait-and-switch
Techniques > General persuasion > Sequential requests > Bait-and-switch
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Offer them something that appears to be very good value. This should be a real bargain,
an offer they can't possibly refuse, even if they were not thinking about it.
Later, replace the item with something of less value to them (and more profit to you).

Example
A car sales showroom puts a basic car outside with a very low price-tag.
Once the customer is interested, the sales person trades them up to a
more expensive model.

Would you like to go out to this really expensive restaurant? ... Oh dear,
it's booked up. Never mind, we can go to the usual place.

Discussion
When the person sees the initial item of high value they cognitively close on the idea of
acquiring it and hence The early bait thus moves them from a negative position to one
of commitment.
When the high value item is removed, then they enter a state of anxiety in which they
seek to re-enter the comfortable closed state. They thus seek to satisfice, accepting
almost any solution that will get them back to that comfortable state.
There may also be an element of commitment to the person making the offer. If I offer
something to you, you feel some obligation to me. If I then switch the offer, especially

121
if the switching seems reasonable, then you are likely to accept the second offer out of a
sense of obligation to me. To do otherwise would expose myself as inconsistent and
break bonding between us.
Although common in sales, this method was first researched by Joule, Gouilloux, and
Weber (1989), who called it the lure procedure. They invited students to watch
interesting film clips (and hence got a lot of volunteers), but then switched the task to
memorizing lists of numbers. In the control group that was just asked to help by
memorizing numbers (no initial film-clip offer), only 15% agreed, as opposed to 47%
who had been first offered the film-clip experiment.
The bait and switch technique is a 'sequential request'.

Door In The Face (DITF)


Techniques > General persuasion > Sequential requests > Door In The Face (DITF)
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
First make a request of the other person that is excessive and to which they will most
naturally refuse.
Look disappointed but then make a request that is more reasonable. The other person
will then be more likely to accept.

Example
Will you donate $100 to our cause? [response is no].
Oh. Well could you donate $10?

Can you help me do all this work?


Well can you help me with this bit?

Can I stay out until 4am?


OK. How about midnight?

Discussion
DITF works by first getting a no and then getting a yes.
When the other person refuses the first request, they may feel guilty about having
refused another person and fear rejection as a result. The second request gives them the
opportunity to assuage that guilt and mitigate any threat of social rejection. In effect, the
person making the request is making an exchange of concession for belonging.
The lower request uses the contrast principle, making it seem very small in comparison
with the larger initial request and hence relatively trivial and easy to agree with.
This method works best when the requests being made have a socially valid element,
for example where you are seeking to learn something, teach people or help others. This
is so that the other person does not reject the whole request out of hand (it is just that
the initial request is 'too much').
The second request should be made soon after the first request, before the effects of
guilt and other motivators wears off.

122
Cialdini, Cacioppo, Bassett, and Miller asked students to to volunteer to council
juvenile delinquents for two hours a week for two years. After their refusal, they were
asked to chaperone juvenile delinquents on a one-day trip to the zoo. 50% agreed to
chaperone the trip to the zoo as compared to 17% of participants who only received the
zoo request.
The Door-in-the-face technique is a 'sequential request' and is also known as 'rejection-
then-retreat'.

Foot In The Door (FITD)


Techniques > General persuasion > Sequential requests > Foot In The Door (FITD)
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Ask for something small.
When they give it to you, then ask for something bigger.
And maybe then something bigger again.

Example
A person in the street asks me directions, which I give. They then ask me
to walk a little way with them to make sure they don't get lost. In the
end, I take them all the way to their destination.

Dad, can I go out for an hour to see Sam? [answer yes]


...I just called Sam and he's going to the cinema - can I go with him?
...I haven't got money -- could you lend me enough to get in?
...Could you give us a lift there?
...Could you pick us up after?

Discussion
FITD works by first getting a small yes and then getting an even better yes.
The principle involved is that a small agreement creates a bond between the requester
and the requestee. The other person has to justify their agreement to themself. They
cannot use the first request as something significant, so they have to convince themself
that it is because they are nice and like the requester or that they actually are interested
in the item being requested. In a future request, they then feel obliged to act consistently
with their internal explanation they have built.
Freedman and Fraser (1966) asked people to either sign a petition or place a small card
in a window in their home or car about keeping California beautiful or supporting safe
driving. About two weeks later, the same people were asked by a second person to put a
large sign advocating safe driving in their front yard. Many people who agreed to the
first request now complied with the second, far more intrusive request.
The Freedman and Fraser study showed significant effect. later studies showed that the
actual effect was more often far less.
The most powerful effect occurs when the person's self-image is aligned with the
request. Requests thus need to be kept close to issues that the person is likely to support,
such as helping other people. It is also affected by individual need for consistency.

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Pro-social requests also increase likelihood of success with this method. It is also more
likely to succeed when the second request is an extension of the first request (as
opposed to being something completely different).
The Foot-in-the-door technique is a 'sequential request'.

Note also that 'foot in the door' is also used as a generic term to describe where early
sales are relatively unprofitable (maybe a 'loss leader'), as the key purpose is to enable a
relationship to be developed whereby further and more profitable sales may be
complete

Forced Compliance
Explanations > Theories > Forced Compliance
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
People sometimes feel obliged to comply with commands against their will or better
judgment. When this happens, some expected and some odd effects can happen:

• People will comply with perceived authority, even acting in strongly


immoral ways or doing other things that contradict their values.
• Attempts at forced compliance can easily create a backlash effect,
particularly amongst those who refuse to comply.
• Persuaders who are disliked are more likely to be successful in
creating a change in attitude.

The reason why disliked persuader are more effective is possibly because of the way
people seek to explain and justify their actions. If they comply with someone attractive
or otherwise likable, they can tell themselves they were acting as a favor to the person
or because they liked them.

Research
Zimbardo et al (1965) used an authority figure to pressure students into eating Japanese
grasshoppers. When the persuader acted politely, a significant number of students later
reported a lower affinity with eating grasshoppers than when the persuader was
brusque.

Example
A sales manager rudely interrupts a sales person's spiel to correct performance details
about car. The customer finds the car more interesting.

So What?
Using it
Be careful with this as having other people liking you is generally good for persuasion.
An effective way of using this is with a collaborator who plays the persuasive 'bad guy'
on a particular point to your 'good guy' who completes the overall persuasion.
Defending

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Notice how you react to persuasive comments. You can sometimes be persuaded by
attractive people and, as noted here, also by people who are less attractive!

Information Manipulation Theory


Explanations > Theories > Information Manipulation Theory
Description | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
In order to persuade or deceive, a person deliberately breaks one of the four
conversational maxims:

• Quantity: Information given will be full (as per expected by the


listener) and without omission.
• Quality: information given will be truthful and correct.
• Relation: information will be relevant to the subject matter of the
conversation in hand.
• Manner: things will be presented in a way that enables others to
understand and with aligned non-verbal language.

Example
A student is late handing in an essay. They approach the lecture trembling and weeping,
saying how they have just been dumped by their long-term partner and forgot to hand in
the essay (they had done it in time, honestly!).

So what?
Using it
Persuade by omitting information, telling untruths, going off the subject and confusing
the other person. Use excuses. Be economical with the truth. Woffle.
Defending
Question what you are told, especially you find yourself changing your mind as a result.
Probe for detail. Seek corroborating evidence. Watch the body language.

Persuasion
Explanations > Theories > Persuasion
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
Persuasion occurs when a person causes someone else to change. The change may
either be to their inner mental systems or to their external behavior. Inner systems
include values, attitude, beliefs, schema, goals. The change may creation of something
new, or extinguishing or modifying something that already exists.
Elements of persuasion include:

• Intent: We usually persuade intentionally, but we can also accidentally


persuade. In fact every interpersonal interaction causes a change to both
parties.

125
• Coercion: Coercion gains compliance, where behavior is changed, but
without any internal commitment or change of inner mental systems (in fact
these may be strengthened in the opposite direction).
• Context: A changed behavior may be constrained to limited context.
• Plurality: You can persuade one person or many people. You can even
persuade just yourself.
• Presence: You can be physically with the other person (allowing
maximum communication) or communicating via such as the telephone or
written words.
• Media: Communication may be done via a range of media.

Inner systems are often held as networks of connected beliefs, etc. Persuasion often acts
to break and redirect those interconnections.

Priming
Explanations > Theories > Priming
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
Priming is providing a stimulus that influences their near-term future thoughts and
actions, even though they may not seem to be connected.
Priming also increases the speed at which the second, related item is recognized.
In effect, priming either introduces new things or brings old thoughts close to the
surface of the subconscious, thus making them more accessible and more likely to be
used over less accessible (and possibly more relevant) thoughts.
Priming has a limited effect as the thoughts fade back to the deeper subconscious.
Typically, primed ideas are effective for around 24 hours.

Conceptual priming occurs where related ideas are used to prime the response, for
example 'hat' may prime for 'head'.
Semantic priming occurs where the meaning created influences later thoughts. Semantic
and conceptual priming are very similar and the terms may be used interchangeably.
Non-associative semantic priming refers to related concepts but where one is less likely
to trigger thoughts of the other, for example 'Sun' and 'Venus'.
Perceptual priming, is based on the form of the stimulus, for example where a part-
picture is completed based on a picture seen earlier.
Associative priming happens when a linked idea is primed, for example when 'bread'
primes the thought of 'butter'. This particularly applies to 'free association' word pairs.
Masked priming occurs where a word or image is presented for a very short time but is
not consciously recognized.
Repetitive priming occurs where the repetition of something leads to it influencing later
thoughts.

Research
Bargh and Pietromonaco showed some people neutral words whilst others were shown
hostile words, very briefly flashed up on a computer screen. Both groups then read

126
about a character with ambiguous behavior. Those who had been primed with hostile
words interpreted the behavior as being more hostile.

Example
I take one bite from a chocolate bar. I now desire another bite even more than before I
took the first bite.
A stage magician says 'try' and 'cycle' in separate sentences in priming a person to think
later of the word 'tricycle'.
I start noticing other cars just like the one I bought.

So What?
Using it
Use a prime subtly so the person does not realize they are being primed, thus
influencing them towards a desired outcome.
Defending
When you seem to think of something in conversation with someone else, think back to
what may have triggered that thought.

Reciprocity Norm
Explanations > Theories > Reciprocity Norm
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
This is a very common social norm which says that if I give something to you or help
you in any way, then you are obliged to return the favor.
This norm is so powerful, it allows the initial giver to:

• Ask for something in return, rather than having to wait for a voluntary
reciprocal act.
• Ask for more than was given. You can even exchange a smile for
money.

Reciprocity also works at the level of liking. We like people who like us, and dislike
those who dislike us. This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Research
Kunz and Woolcott sent Christmas cards to a number of people he did not know. Most
sent a card back (and they got onto the permanent Christmas list of some).

Example
Hari Krishna people have used this by giving passers-by a small plastic flower and then
asking for a donation in return.

So what?
Using it

127
Give people things, whether it is your time or money. It helps if you give them
something they truly appreciate. Do not give them too much, lest they feel oppressed by
their obligation. Ask for something in return.
Defending
If people give you something, say thank you (which is giving them something back in
return!). When they ask for something in return, say no. Be polite (giving them
something else). Or turn the tables, giving them something you don’t want, then ask
them for something.
Always be aware of trickery when people you hardly know offer you something,
especially if they ask for something from you in return.

Scarcity Principle
Explanations > Theories > Scarcity Principle
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
In our need to control our world, being able to choose is an important freedom. If
something becomes scarce, we anticipate possible regret that we did not acquire it, and
so we desire it more. This desire is increased further if we think that someone else
might get it and hence gain social position that we might have had.

Research
Stephen Worchel and colleagues offered subjects cookies in a jar. One jar had ten
cookies in and the other jar had two. Subjects preferred the cookies from the jar with
two in, even though they were the same cookies.

Example
The scarcity principle is used in sales, with ‘sale ends today’ (scarcity of time), ‘whilst
stock last’ (scarcity of product) and so on.

So what?
Using it
Intimate that what you want the other person to choose is only going to available for a
limited time and that there may not be many left in any case. Hint of other people
waiting in the wings to for the chance to get it.
In romance and in business, play hard to get. Make it seem like your time is precious.
Defending
When something is scarce, thing about whether you really want it. If you keep buying
things you do not want, you money will be scarce instead, which is probably worse

Sleeper Effect
Explanations > Theories > Sleeper Effect
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

128
Description
The impact of a persuasive message will generally tend to decrease over time. However,
under the right circumstances the sleeper effect predicts that a message from a low-
credibility source can actually increase in persuasiveness.
Low credibility may be caused by a discounting cue, such as when a prediction of
improving economic conditions is given by a government spokesperson (who is
presumed to be biased). However, when the message eventually gets separated from its
source (by dissociation), the message may gain more credibility.

Research
Evidence for the sleeper effect is limited and inconsistent. One of the findings is that if
the impact of a persuasive message does not increase with time, if it is given with a
low-credibility source with a discounting cue, then the impact decline is at least slowed.

Example
I was going to the races and a work friend (who knows little about horses) wrote down
the name of three horses of which he had heard. When I pulled out the piece of paper I
had forgotten who wrote it, but noticed that one of the horses had won. I consequently
bet on all of the other horses. I did not win.

So what?
Using it
Make the message more dramatic than the deliverer. Once the message catches on, the
source may be safely (and desirably) forgotten.
Defending
When making a decision based on specific evidence, deliberately recall the source and
hence credibility of the data.

Social Influence
Explanations > Theories > Social Influence
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
Social influence is the change in behavior that one person causes in another,
intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of the way the changed person perceives
themselves in relationship to the influencer, other people and society in general.
Three areas of social influence are conformity, compliance and obedience.
Conformity is changing how you behave to be more like others. This plays to belonging
and esteem needs as we seek the approval and friendship of others. Conformity can run
very deep, as we will even change our beliefs and values to be like those of our peers
and admired superiors.
Compliance is where a person does something that they are asked to do by another.
They may choose to comply or not to comply, although the thoughts of social reward
and punishment may lead them to compliance when they really do not want to comply.

129
Obedience is different from compliance in that it is obeying an order from someone that
you accept as an authority figure. In compliance, you have some choice. In obedience,
you believe that you do not have a choice. Many military officers and commercial
managers are interested only in obedience.

Research
Solomon Asch showed how a person could be influenced by others in a group to claim
that a clearly shorter line in a group of lines was, in fact, the longest.
Stanley Milgram did classic experiments in obedience, where people off the street
obeyed orders to give (what they thought were) life-threatening electric shocks to other
people.

Example
You ask me to pass the salt. I comply by giving it to you.
You tell me to pass the salt. I obey by giving it to you.
I notice that people are using salt and passing it to the person on their left without
comment. I conform by doing likewise.

So what?
Using it
Social Psychology includes a large domain of knowledge around Social Influence
(much of which is on this site). This provides a powerful basis through which to
persuade others.
Defending
Understand the psychology of social influence and how you respond to it. Notice
yourself in social situations. Also notice how others are deliberately or unconsciously
influencing you. Then choose how you will respond

Subliminal Messages
Explanations > Theories > Subliminal Messages
Description | So What? | See also | References

Description
In the late 1950s, James Vicary’s marketing business was on the rocks, so he made up
the idea of subliminal advertising. He claimed that putting a very short message in a
film, ‘drink Coca-Cola’ resulted in increased sales of Coke. It was very successful for
him and fooled a whole generation and maybe more.
Thus the field of subliminal persuasion was born, with the promise that a message that
is not consciously noticed will have a significant effect on the subconscious.
Although some experiments got limited success, the big claims came from improperly
conducted experiments, for example with no controls.
What is interesting is how many people still believe in them, and the 'big brother'
paranoia that they feel as a result.

130
So what?
Using it
Don’t bother.

Ultimate Terms
Explanations > Theories > Ultimate Terms
Description | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
There are words which have special meaning within each culture and carry power
where they are used.

• God terms carry blessings, demand sacrifice and obedience. E.g.


progress, value.
• Devil terms are reviled and evoke disgust. E.g. fascist, pedophile.
• Charismatic Terms are not like God and Devil terms, which are
associated with observable things. These terms are more intangible. E.g.
freedom, contribution.

These terms can change, and God or Charisma terms that are over-used can turn into
Devil terms.
They are also sometimes called power words, especially by sales people. Words used in
sales often appeal to basic needs, such as:

• Safety: guarantee, proven


• Control: powerful, strong
• Understanding: because, as, so, truth, real
• Greed: money, cash, save, win, free, more
• Health: safe, healthy, well
• Belonging: belong, happy, good, feel
• Esteem: exclusive, only, admired
• Identity: you, (their name), we
• Novelty: new, discover

Negative words are also used in this context to scare people into action. These often
address those self-same needs, but now from the opposite direction:

• Safety: dangerous,
• Control: uncertain, scarce
• Understanding: change, complicated
• Greed: lose, stolen
• Health: unhealthy, sick, old
• Belonging: wrong, alone, rejected
• Esteem: ridicule, laughed at
• Identity: they, he
• Novelty: outdated, unfashionable

Example
‘Quality’ was a God term in many companies during the TQM era of the early 1990s.
Then it became a Devil term as those companies got it wrong and needed to blame
something.

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So what?
Using it
Know the terms, and employ them well. Misuse them at your peril. There are many
crass advertisements that beat ultimate terms to death. To be effective, they must be
subtle, and done with a light touch. If the listener/reader realizes what you are trying to
do, not only will this take the effectiveness out of the words, it will also cause a
negative reaction.
Defending
Listen to the use of ultimate terms. Where people are abusing them, let them know you
know. If necessary, expose their trickery.

Weak Ties Theory


Explanations > Theories > Weak Ties Theory
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
We have both friends and acquaintances. Our friends are often a part of a close-knit
group who largely know one another. Our acquaintances are far less likely to know one
another.
In terms of connection with general society and staying in touch with what is going on
in the wider world, the weak ties with our acquaintances are paradoxically much more
important than the inwardly-focused conversations with our closer friends. Indeed, the
information we discuss with our friends often comes from wider sources.
In the familiarity of strong ties we use simple restricted codes, where much is implicit
and taken for granted. In communicating through the weak ties, we need more explicit
elaborated codes for meaning to be fully communicated. When elaborating, we have
more scope for creativity and the thought that it stimulates makes innovation more
likely.
The more weak ties we have, the more connected to the world we are and are more
likely to receive important information about ideas, threats and opportunities in time to
respond to them.
Societies and social systems that have more weak ties are more likely to be dynamic
and innovative. If the system is mostly made up of strong ties, then it will be
fragmented and uncoordinated.
Some weak ties are better than others. Weak ties to friends of your friends are not as
useful as weak ties elsewhere as the information and further connections are likely to be
similar to those of your friends. Weak ties that join separate social groups are called
bridges.
You can also find absent ties, where you might expect a tie but it does not exist, for
example in a group of friends where two people are still distant from one another.
As there are usually more people in lower classes, they have greater choice of friends
and greater chance of finding similar 'people like me' and so compensate by having
more strong ties. Economic uncertainty also leads to the search for contingencies and

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poorer people invest far more in building multiple strong ties who will directly help
them if they are in difficulty. However this may serve to anchor their status further and
reduce the chance of upward social mobility.
Upper class people are more relaxed about weak ties and so tend to have more.
However, they have to resort to expensive clubs and other filtering mechanisms to find
'people like them' with whom they can build stronger ties.
The modern approach to business networking is based on the principle of weak ties:
having a wide range of acquaintances can be far more helpful than having just a few
good friends. Weak ties are also useful for activists who need to mobilize large protest
or action groups.
Weak ties are the channels of culture and are woven into successful organisations where
many know many others on first-name terms. Three types of weak ties that may be
found in towns and cities are social (casual friendship), community (eg. neighbors) and
profesional (job-related).

Research
Granovetter's original 1973 research into the subject looked at how people find jobs. He
discovered that information about jobs that led to employment was more likely to come
from the weak ties with acquaintances than from closer friends.
There were several moderators of this finding, for example that this 'weak ties finds
jobs' was more common in higher status individuals, and that people who had been out
of work for longer were more likely to find jobs via their stronger ties.

Example
I have a wide circle of people I know, including many on the internet I have never met.
I hear from one of these about a new communications system. I introduce this at my
workplace and get many plaudits for my innovation and ability to be 'at the leading
edge'.

So What?
Using it
Balance the comfort of close friends with the stimulation of external connection and
exploration. Build a network of people you connect with occasionally. Keep tabs on
them and feed them with useful information from time to time. Listen to them and ask
for ideas and help with problem-solving.
You can also help change in organizations by encouraging weak ties between groups.
One bridge can lead to a lot more harmony. Leaders and innovators in particular can
make great use of weak ties.
Defending
Watch for casual friends who are becoming somewhat of a drain on you. Back off if the
social balance is upset too much

Yale Attitude Change Approach


Explanations > Theories > Yale Attitude Change Approach

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Description | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
A Yale University multi-year, multi-project research into persuasive communication
showed (amongst other things):
Who (source of communication):

• The speaker should be credible and attractive to the audience.

Says what (nature of communication):

• Messages should not appear to be designed to persuade.


• Present two-sided arguments (refuting the ‘wrong’ argument, of
course).
• If two people are speaking one after the other, it is best to go first
(primacy effect).
• If two people are speaking with a delay between them, it is best to go
last (recency effect).

To whom (the nature of the audience)

• Distract them during the persuasion


• Lower intelligence and moderate self-esteem helps.
• The best age range is 18-25.

Example
Watch politicians. They do this wonderfully well. They look great. They talk through
the other side's argument, making it first seem reasonable then highlighting all their
problems. It all seems to be just common sense spoken by a really nice person...

So what?
Using it
So use the advice. And note the point about 'not appearing to be designed to persuade'.
People with new understanding about persuasion can get too enthusiastic about using it,
quickly getting to the point where the other people know what they are doing.

See also
Persuasion

Persuasion principles
Much of persuasion and other forms of changing minds is based on a relatively small
number of principles. If you can understand the principles, then you can invent your
own techniques. It thus makes sense to spend time to understand these principles
(persuaded yet?).

• Alignment: When everything lines up, there are no contradictions to


cause disagreement.
• Amplification: Make the important bits bigger and other bits smaller.

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• Appeal: If asked nicely, we will follow the rules we have made for
ourselves.
• Arousal: When I am aroused I am full engaged and hence more likely
to pay attention.
• Association: Our thoughts are connected. Think one thing and the
next is automatic.
• Assumption: Acting as if something is true often makes it true.
• Attention: Make sure they are listening before you try to sell them
something.
• Authority: Use your authority and others will obey.
• Bonding: I will usually do what my friends ask of me, without
negotiation.
• Closure: Close the door of thinking and the deal is done.
• Completion: We need to complete that which is started.
• Confidence: If I am confident, then you can be confident.
• Confusion: A drowning person will clutch at a straw. So will a confused
one.
• Consistency: We like to maintain consistency between what we think,
say and do.
• Contrast: We notice and decide by difference between two things, not
absolute measures.
• Daring: If you dare me to do something, I daren't not do it.
• Deception: Convincing by trickery.
• Dependence: If you are dependent on me, I can use this as a lever to
persuade you.
• Distraction: If I distract your attention, I can then slip around your
guard.
• Evidence: I cannot deny what I see with my own eyes.
• Exchange: if I do something for you, then you are obliged to do
something for me.
• Experience: I cannot deny what I experience for myself.
• Fragmentation: Break up the problem into agreeable parts.
• Framing: Meaning depends on context. So control the context.
• Harmony: Go with the flow to build trust and create subtle shifts.
• Hurt and Rescue: Make them uncomfortable then throw them a rope.
• Interest: If I am interested then I will pay attention.
• Investment: If I have invested in something, I do not want to waste
that investment.
• Involvement: Action leads to commitment.
• Logic: What makes sense must be true.
• Objectivity: Standing back decreases emotion and increases logic.
• Obligation: Creating a duty that must be discharged.
• Ownership: I am committed to that which I own.
• Passion: Enthusiasm is catching.
• Perception: Perception is reality. So manage it.
• Persistence: In all things, persistence pays.
• Pull: Create attraction that pulls people in.
• Push: I give you no option but to obey.
• Repetition: If something happens often enough, I will eventually be
persuaded.
• Scarcity: I want now what I may not be able to get in the future.
• Similarity: We trust people who are like us or who are similar to
people we like.
• Social Proof: When uncertain we take cues other people.
• Specificity: People fill in the gaps in vague statements.
• Substitution: Put them into the story.
• Surprise: When what happens is not what I expect, I must rethink my
understanding.
• Tension: I will act to reduce the tension gaps I feel.

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• Threat: If my deep needs are threatened, I will act to protect them.
• Trust: If I trust you, I will accept your truth and expose my
vulnerabilities.
• Uncertainty: When I am not sure, I will seek to become more certain.
• Understanding: If I understand you, then I can interact more
accurately with you.
• Unthinking: Go by the subconscious route

Arousal principle Principles > Arousal principle


Principle | How it works | So what?

Principle
When I am aroused I am full engaged and hence more likely to pay attention.
When my emotions are stimulated, my ability to make rational decisions is reduced,
making me easier to influence.

How it works
Arousal occurs when the mind spots something that is important, often as a threat to
basic needs although it can also be something that could help us achieve our goals.
Physiology of arousal
Arousal is a physical state which can range from a gentle increase in interest to full-on
fight-or-flight reaction, where the whole biology of the body is changed. Think of a
time when you were aroused by something. You probably experienced bodily
sensations of some kind. There may have been a powerful tingling shooting up your
spine. Your might have had a hot flush rushing up you neck and around your face. You
toes or fingers may have twitched.
Physical arousal happens when you hear a sudden loud noise or something or someone
makes you feel threatened. It also happens when you interest is piqued or an attractive
other person flirts with you (or even just walks by).
Emotional arousal
When needs or goals are affected, either by threat or opportunity, we become
emotionally engaged. When emotionally aroused, our rationality reduces, making us
more likely to make rash decisions. Hence emotionally aroused people are more open to
carefully-placed persuasive methods.
Emotional arousal often happens alongside physical arousal (and it is not always clear
which comes first).
Ready for action
When a person is aroused, their whole body is poised for action and they are very easy
to tip into doing things, possibly with relatively little thought about the consequences.
Think about the motivating speeches of leaders. Consider the threats of competitors.
Remember when you were last in an auction. When you were aroused, you were ready
to act at a moment's notice.

So what?
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If you want somebody to act quickly, wind them up with direct or indirect threats or
other immediate things that lead to them to a heightened state of arousal. Beware in
doing this that you do not wind them up so much they go in the opposite direction.
To manage your own arousal and those you seek to help, consider building aspects of
Emotional Intelligence.

Theories about lies


Explanations > Theories > Theories about lies

Here are academic theories about how we tell lies to other people.

• Four-factor Model: there are four underlying things happening when


people lie.
• Information Manipulation Theory: Breaking one of the four
conversational maxims to persuade.
• Interpersonal Deception Theory: lying is a dynamic dance of liar and
listener

Information Manipulation Theory


Explanations > Theories > Information Manipulation Theory
Description | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
In order to persuade or deceive, a person deliberately breaks one of the four
conversational maxims:

• Quantity: Information given will be full (as per expected by the


listener) and without omission.
• Quality: information given will be truthful and correct.
• Relation: information will be relevant to the subject matter of the
conversation in hand.
• Manner: things will be presented in a way that enables others to
understand and with aligned non-verbal language.

Example
A student is late handing in an essay. They approach the lecture trembling and weeping,
saying how they have just been dumped by their long-term partner and forgot to hand in
the essay (they had done it in time, honestly!).

So what?
Using it
Persuade by omitting information, telling untruths, going off the subject and confusing
the other person. Use excuses. Be economical with the truth. Woffle.
Defending
Question what you are told, especially you find yourself changing your mind as a result.
Probe for detail. Seek corroborating evidence. Watch the body language.

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See also
Persuasion, Non-Verbal Behavior, Theories about trust, Expectancy Violations Theory

Non-Verbal Behavior
Explanations > Theories > Non-Verbal Behavior
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
The communication without words. The face is used a great deal. Hand signals, shrugs,
head movements, etc. also are used. It is often subconscious. It can be used for:

• Expressing emotion (e.g. smiling to show happiness)


• Conveying attitudes (e.g. staring to show aggression)
• Demonstrating personality traits (e.g. open palms to show accepting
qualities)
• Supporting verbal communication

Non-verbal behavior also varies across cultures (such as the ‘ok’ finger O), although the
six major emotions (anger, fear, disgust, sadness, happiness and surprise) are common
across the world.
Non-verbal behavior is commonly called body language.

Research
Mehrabian (1971) found that non-verbal aspects were a significant part of
communication, particularly when mixed messages are sent.
Later studies showed the situation to be more complex, with percentages varying with
the situation or even with individual things being said. For example, if a person is not
moving, then words and tone take far greater proportion.

Example
Try the difference between listening to someone with your eyes closed and
listening/watching with your eyes open. It is much easier to understand when you are
watching them.

So what?
Using it
Read the other person’s non-verbal behavior. Watch for changes in response to your
communications. Also spot mixed messages for when the voice says one thing body
says another—this can be a sign of attempted deception.
Beware of popular myths about body language (such as crossing arms signifying
defensiveness). Many such anecdotes are at best dangerous half-truths. Body language
is most significant when they appear in clusters, at the same time as a significant event
(such as being asked an embarrassing question) and when it is unlikely that the other
person is trying to control their non-verbal behavior.
Watch your own body language too for signs of what your subconscious is thinking. Be
careful when controlling it, as this can lead perceived mixed messages from you.

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Defending
Watch your own and other’s non-verbal behavior. Use it to improve your understanding
of what is going on, especially at the subconscious level. Make conscious decisions.

See also
Expectancy Violations Theory, Body language
Mehrabian's communication study

Four-factor Model
Explanations > Theories > Four-factor Model
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
When people tell lies, there are four underlying mechanisms at work:

• Arousal: Lying causes anxiety and arousal, either because of


dissonance at conflicting values and behavior, or due to fear of getting
caught. This can be detected via lie detectors, speech errors and hesitations,
repetitions, fidgeting and displacement activity, blinking, higher vocal pitch
and pupil dilation.
• Behavior control: We try to control body language that might give us
away. In fact this is impossible and leakage often occurs, for example where
we are controlling our face and our legs give us away.
• Emotion: Our emotions change when we are lying. For example,
duping delight, where the liar is secretly pleased at their perceived success.
Guilt may also appear. Micro-motions in facial muscles can betray hidden
emotions.
• Thinking: To lie, we usually have to think a lot harder, such as to
ensure coherence in our arguments. This leads us to take longer in speaking
with more pauses. We also tend to use more generalities to avoid getting
trapped by specific detail.

Research
Zuckerman et al. found pupil dilation to be a fairly good indicator of deception. Many
other indicators have been found, such as fidgeting, blinking, vocal pitch, etc. Like non-
verbal behavior, however, no single method is guaranteed to work each time.

Example
Poker players often wear dark glasses to hide the dilation of their pupils when they are
aroused that they cannot control. Otherwise, they are often masters of controlling their
non-verbal behavior.

So what?
Using it
Do not lie, especially in front of someone (like the police) who are trained to spot lies.
Use the above pointers to detect when others are lying.

See also
Interpersonal Deception Theory, Non-Verbal Behavior

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Interpersonal Deception Theory
Explanations > Theories > Interpersonal Deception Theory
Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
Lying happens in a dynamic interaction where liar and listener dance around one
another, changing their thoughts in response to each other’s moves. Liar behavior
includes:

• Manipulating information: to distance themselves from the message,


so if the message is found to be false, they can extricate themselves. Thus
they use vague generalities and talk about other people.
• Strategically control behavior: to suppress signals that might indicate
that they are lying. For example their face may be more impassive and body
more rigid.
• Image management: for example by smiling and nodding more.

Example
Watch small children who have found out about lying. They point at their siblings, put
on their best 'innocent' expression, hold their hands behind their backs. At that age they
are very flexible and learn fast. Before long they can pull the wool very well over their
parent's eyes.

So what?
Using it
To detect liars, watch for the above behavioral patterns. People who are liars themselves
tend to be better at detecting lying because they know the techniques better.

See also
Four-factor Model

Disciplines
Above explanations, principles and general techniques lies the many professions in
which changing minds is a core discipline. This section digs directly into the literature
of these subjects to bring you some of the key aspects of the major disciplines of
changing minds.

• The disciplines list: A long list of disciplines that seek to change


minds.
• Argument: Classical argumentation, critical thinking and logic.
• Brand management: Includes subtle changing of minds from a
distance.
• Coaching: Helping people develop.
• Communication: Connecting with one another.
• Change Management: Creating change in organizations.
• Human Resources: Providing the right people for organizations.
• Job-finding: One of the most critical skills you may need.
• Leadership: Leading people requires much influencing of what people

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think.
• Negotiation: Request, concession and exchange.
• Politics: Power and influence in the large.
• Propaganda: covert persuasion of populations.
• Psychoanalysis: Freud and beyond.
• Rhetoric: The art of persuasive language.
• Sales: Perhaps the most direct and obvious discipline for changing
minds.
• Sociology: Understanding and supporting society.
• Storytelling: Using stories to change minds.
• Teaching: Educating others (mostly young people).
• Warfare: Fighting the enemy.

• Workplace design: The places where we work affect how we feel.

Explanations
Underpinning all of these are many sound academic researches and theories which form
the deeper explanations for how persuasions work.

Explanations include:

• Academic Theories: Lots of academic theories:


o In an alphabetic list
o And also in clusters of similar theories.
• Motivation: The overall subject of what drives us (and where changing
minds often needs to be). Including:
o Needs: Details and models about these pre-programmed
systems.
o Emotions: How we feel the way we do (and are drive to
action).
o Beliefs: The bedrock of our assumptions.
o Values: The rules we live by (in order to live with others).
o Goals: The things we try to achieve to meet our needs
o Memory: How we store, recognize and recall.
• Processing: The thinking that leads to action.
o Our unique SIFT Model that provides a simple model for
understanding what goes on inside our heads.
o Decisions: The processes by which we weigh up choices and
build intent.
o Meaning: The meaning we make from our experiences.
o Trust: The social glue that is the gateway to persuasion.
o Preferences: The biases that we apply to our choices.
o Brain stuff: Deeper stuff about how the brain works.
• Other stuff:
o Behaviors: That result from our decisions, including lots on:
 Addiction: Getting hooked.
 Body language: Basic non-verbals.
 Conditioning: Pavlov's dogs.
 Coping Mechanisms: How we handle stress (includes
Freudian Defense Mechanisms).
 Games: The games we play to handle life.
 Lying: Telling fibs.
o Understanding body language: Non-verbal communication.
o Critical Theory: Deep challenge.
o Culture: How we socially act together.
o Gender: Differences between men and women.

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o Identity: Complexities of the self.
o Learning Theory: How we get to make sense.
o Personality: What makes us who we are.
o Power: Our capability to act. Where we get it and how we use
it.
o Psychoanalysis: From the early years.
o Groups: How groups and teams of people behave.
o Social Research: philosophers, philosophies and the search for
meaning.
o Stress: What winds us up.

Gender
Explanations > Gender

Men and women are not the same and gender differences are at the root of many
communication and influencing issues, often where men deliberately or accidentally
undermine women.

• Dysfunctional Communication: Problem male behavioral patterns.


• Feminism: Truth is not androcentric
• Feminism and Identity: When does gender identity start?
• Genderlect: Seeking connection vs. status causes different styles.
• Women's Language: Lakoff's analysis of female verbage.

Dysfunctional Communication
Explanations > Gender > Dysfunctional Communication
Dismissing | Retaliation | Patronizing | Exclusion | Undermining | See also

In her book 'They Don't Get It, do they?', Kathleen Reardon describes how men damage
women's confidence, often in the workplace. She calls these 'Dysfunctional
Communication Patterns', or 'DCP's. Here are the basic patterns plus some thoughts
about how women can respond.

Dismissing
This is where men ignore, interrupt or talk over women. It says 'you are unimportant'
and 'I, as a man, am superior'. Men also do this to other men in their particular game of
hierarchy and dominance.
A simple response is to smile and say sweetly, 'I'm sorry, can I finish?' If necessary,
touch them gently on the arm. A woman can disarm a man quickly by calling on his
chivalrous nature. To refuse such a request would paint him as a cad and few will
decline.
Another approach is to approach the man offline, where you can be more assertive.
Describe the behavior and how it makes you feel. Maybe also indicate how it makes
him look.

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Retaliation
Sometimes men act toward one woman as if she is a combination of all the women who
have ever slighted him, from his mother onwards. Men who have been unlucky in love
can become like this (and maybe it is why they have been unlucky in love). This
behavior is likely to more openly rude and aggressive.
Depending on the situation and your preferences, you can respond directly, commenting
on his rudeness and rebutting what is likely to be a weak argument. You can also raise
your eyebrows and look at other men, who may come to your rescue. Other women are
also likely to support you, although this may depend on how they have been affected by
the bully.
In the workplace, this may also offer a case for formal complaint. If you take this route,
be careful to follow the rules.

Patronizing
Men who patronize women frame them internally in 'women's roles' such as a
'housewife' or daughter, and talk to them as if they are inferior, stupid or both. Men who
cannot see a woman as a colleague or an equal human will casually flirt or trivialize in
sometimes shocking ways.
An angry response can shock them out of this, although it may also dig you deeper into
the 'emotional incompetent' frame. A better approach is often to do something that the
'little woman' would not do, such as out-arguing him with cold logic.

Exclusion
One of the problems of a mostly-male environment is that women can get excluded as
meetings and decisions get made without consulting or involving them. This can take
subtle forms, such as meeting after work when you have to go home to manage the
family. A typical sign of exclusion thinking is when a man says something to another
man then turns and apologizes to the woman.
A way of getting around this is to sniff around to find out where exclusive meetings are
happening (for example online calendars may be openly visible) and then just turning
up. You may also be able to get yourself into a gatekeeper or veto position where you
are able to block decisions that are not made without consulting you.

Undermining
Men will sometimes undermine women, either individually or as a whole group. A
single word or just a raised eyebrow can be terribly destructive and very depressing.
Comments may even seem positive, such as offering supportive thoughts about other
family duties (with the implication that, you poor thing, you can never give your all to
your employer, like men can).
This can be very subtle and very difficult to counter. Making verbal comment may
easily make things worse. You may want to discuss this with other women to see if they
are having similar experiences. Getting advice from outside the team may also help,
such as consulting your local HR specialist.

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See also
Assertiveness

Feminism
Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Feminism
Principle | Discussion | See also

Principle
Much research has an androcentric (male) bias, which leads to misperceptions about
women.

Discussion
Research tries to maintain an unbiased, factual, value-free position. Yet values and bias
creep in unnoticed, as we live our life through our schema and scripts.
Feminist Empiricists focus on the science and empiricism, noting the bias and male
values that is inherent in this. The fact that many scientists, especially in past centuries,
were male did not help this blindness.
Feminist standpoints take particular positions, for example criticizing the subjugation of
women in the family home.
Feminist postmodernists take the usual postmodern position of deconstructing and
negating all other methods but without putting much in their place. Indeed, it is part of
the nature of postmodernism to view confusion as a normal state.
Variations on Feminism include:

• Feminist empiricism: which sees androcentric science just as 'bad


science'.
• Feminist standpoint: takes various positions, including radical and
socialist.
• Postmodern feminist: criticizes standpoints and see no perfect answer.

Feminism falls down when it seeks to counterbalance rather than equalize. Thus
feminists may take an aggressive oppositional stance, but in doing so adopt androcentric
methods. By creating an opposite, they perpetuate what they are trying to eradicate,
both in copying the methods and in the counter-counteraction that they create (e.g. in
Bly's 'Iron John').
Feminism is also the tip of the iceberg and any form of bias can take similar positions,
including racism, ageism, etc.

See also
Positivism

Feminism and Identity


Explanations > Identity > Feminism and Identity
Description | Discussion | See also

144
Description
Feminism in identity seeks to understand the separation of sexual and gender identities,
explaining how men and women become separated and different.
Rose
Jaqueline Rose uses Lacan to argue that:

• Sexual identity is acquired in the Oedipal crisis, rather than being


innate.
• Sexual differentiation is symbolically valued in patriarchy, rather than
being biological.
• The phallus is a symbol, not a penis.
• Women are subjected by symbolic relations of power rather than
being naturally inferior.
• Sexual identities are always unfinished. Women do not 'fit' the subject
positions into which they are interpellated. Their unconscious 'unpicks' such
positions.

She equate women with the jouissance that men desire.


Men are seen to fantasize themselves as 'sutured' into the position of the all-powerful
phallus. Women, to men, symbolize the 'lost object', the significant 'Other' and are
positioned as subordinate in the 'phallic economy'.
Women still, for men, have something unobtainable beyond the phallic power
relationship. This is jouissance, which gives women the power to resist the subject
position put upon them.
French feminism
French feminism rejects the Lacanian/Rose view that there is 'no feminine outside
language', that it comes only from the patriarchal relations of the symbolic order. They
suggest the pre-Oedipal phase as a basis for femininity, rather being that which escapes
or is left over from the phallic economy of the symbolic.
Julia Kristeva's notion of 'chora' indicates the infant sensation of the mother as a basis
for identity, prior to the Oedipus complex and languaging in symbolic register.
Luce Irirgaray uses the girl's many fluid and subversive experiences of her own body as
a basis for identity, thus breaking away from Lacan's 'phallic logic' interpretations.

Discussion
Feminism has particularly tried to escape the Freudian/Lacanian version of infant
sexuality that is dominated by the power of the phallus and the father. Rather than
completely revoking this theory, feminists have sought a space in which feminine
identity might develop separately. The pre-Oedipal stage provides this space. Being
earlier, it also may be claimed as having superiority and equipping the female with the
power to handle the Law of the father without being subjugated within the symbolic
order.
From a feminist perspective, Laura Mulvey (1975) described the 'male gaze' in movies,
where the camera and hence the viewer is invited to view women in voyeuristic and
objectifying terms.

145
See also
Infant sexuality, The Chora, Movies and identity

Genderlect
Explanations > Gender > Genderlect
Connection and status | Emotion and rapport | Private and public | Listening and interrupting | Jokes
and stories | Conflict | See also

Deborah Tannen coined the term 'Genderlect' to describe the way that the conversation
of men and women are not right and wrong, superior and inferior -- they are just
different.
A useful way of viewing this that she uses is that they are as different cultures. Thus, as
a Japanese and French person conversing would take account of each others different
cultural styles, so also should men and women understand and take account of the very
real differences of the other.

Connection and status


The fundamental difference that drives much other behavior is that women have a deep
drive to seek connection, whilst men have a deep drive to seek status.
Of course there are other goals that men and women seek. Nevertheless, these are a
significant source of difference.

Emotion and rapport


In seeking connection, In seeking status, men will avoid intangibles that may be
challenged and prefer 'solid' facts.
To create rapport and connection, women will talk more about feelings, relationships
and people. They will include more emotional elements in their talk and will encourage
others to do the same. For example, they will use emphasized intensifiers such as 'so'
and 'such' ('I was so happy', 'He is such an idiot').
In seeking status, men will tend avoid emotion as a sign of weakness, unless they are
using in an way that does not expose them to attack. They prefer facts and taking
objective positions and will tend to 'tell' others, taking an authoritative or expert stance
that puts them above others and discourages interruption.

Private and public


Women talk more in private conversations, using talk as a way of gaining rapport and
connection with others. In public, there is less opportunity for creating individual
relationships and so they may talk less. They may also be drowned out by the men.
Men talk more when in a public forum, where their audience has the power to recognize
them and give them the status they seek. The public stage brings out their competitive
instinct and they will vie with other men to be top dog.

Listening and interrupting


Women will listen just to create empathy as well as to find hooks by which to connect
better to the other person. They will listen carefully and attentively for a long period

146
without interrupting. Where they do interrupt it is to show support or to ask questions to
better understand the other person.
Men, on the other hand use interruption as a power play by which they can grab
attention and demonstrate status. In a male-dominated business meeting, when the boss
interrupts, others will immediately allow this to happen. Men will avoid asking
questions as this exposes their limitations and hands back control to the other person.
Men's conversations will thus tend to jump around different topics as they compete to
take the lead, whilst women will allow a conversation to go on for a long time in order
to achieve greater relationship depth.

Jokes and stories


A way of talking about people whilst avoiding emotional embroilment is to either tell
detached stories or to use humor that trivializes and/or separates. Men thus tend to use
jokes more and use stories, particularly in a third-person objective style. When they put
themselves in their stories, they are the heroes and intellectuals, solving complex
problems, leading the charge and saving the day. In jokes, they can put others down and
hence raise their own status.
In women's stories, they are more often the victims. They will tell about how they and
others have been emotionally hurt. This creates more empathetic connection with their
audience.

Conflict
Conflict, for a woman, is a process whereby connections are reduced, and so they will
work hard to avoid them.
Men, on the other hand, will use conflict as a short-cut to gaining status. A short, sharp
fight quickly establishes the hierarchical order that they prefer, establishing who has
more status and position.
Thus, when given an order, women will be more likely to comply than a man, who
(especially if status levels are unclear) may well challenge back. Men thus initiate far
more conflict than women.

See also

Women's Language
Explanations > Gender > Women's Language

These are ten elements of the language that women use, as identified by Robin Lakoff
in 1975. Of course, not all women use all of this language all of the time, and some may
question the whole. It would be also do do a duplicate study now and see how much of
this has changed since the 1970s.
1. Hedging
Hedging provides a way out, should disagreement occur, qualifying statements with
non-absolute language, such as 'sort of', 'I guess', etc.
Well, I sort of looked at him, and then he kind of looked back. Then I
guess I kept looking.

147
2. Politeness
Politeness is taken to more extreme forms, either putting the speaker in an inferior
position or seeking to be thoughtful and non-threatening towards the other person.
Do excuse me, but I really appreciate it if if you could take a little time to
help me.

3. Tag questions
Tag questions added to the end of a statement do not change the statement, although
they do seek agreement.
You would do that, wouldn't you?

4. Emotional emphasis
The emotional content of sentences are increased through the use of intonation that
emphasizes and exaggerates emotional.
You are so very kind. I really want you to know I am so grateful.

5. Empty adjectives
Adjectives are applied to soften and add friendly elements to the sentence, although
they are do not add any particularly meaningful content.
What a charming and sweet young man you are!

6. Correct grammar and pronunciation


Care is taken to be correct with language and speech. Colloquialisms and slang are used
far less than men.
I would be very appreciative if you could show me the way.

7. Lack of humor
Humor is not used very much and jokes are very seldom told.
8. Direct quotations
The words that people said are often quoted, even quoting people who quote other
people.
Then she said that he said, "I won't do it." So I said, "Why not?"

9. Extended vocabulary
Rather than simple language, vocabulary is extended to use descriptive language. Thus,
for example a precise language is used to describe colors.
The walls should be cerise, with a royal blue tracer.

10. Declarations with interrogative intonation


Statements are made, but using the intonation used for questions, rising at the end of the
statement.
That sounds like a good thing to do?

Deception principle
Principles > Deception principle
Principle | How it works | So what?

148
Principle
Alter the other person's perception by tricks, untruths and other forms of deception.

How it works
In order to live with one another, most people largely trust other people for most of the
time. This lays them open to untruths, illusions and downright lies.
The golden rule of deception is management of the other person's perception such that
they do not know any deception is happening.
Telling lies
Lies are very difficult to tell face-to-face, as much communication is through body
language and voice tone. The results of such lying is that the other person receives a
mixed message and may well detect the deception.
To successfully tell lies, you need first to be able to lie to yourself. If you totally
believe what you are saying, then you will be able to tell any lie with complete
conviction. This is how actors are able to successfully assimilate other characters and
draw you into the story plot.
Economy with the truth
A variant of lying which is not really lying is to tell the truth but leave out those things
that are inconvenient. The result is that the overall message is some way from the
whole truth and may persuade people to do things they would not do if they knew
everything.
Elaborate deception
More elaborate deceptions can be used that include factors such as:

• Collaborative lying: many people telling the same story.


• Manipulating evidence: changing what people see/experience.
• Confidence tricks: highly elaborate deceptions.

So what?
Be very careful with deception: if the other person finds out then they may well act in
a betrayed manner, taking revenge on you in ways that far outweigh the damage you
have done with your deception.

See also
Lying

Confidence tricks
Techniques > Confidence tricks
Articles | Examples | So what

There is, according to legend, a sucker born every day, and of course there are many
confidence tricksters around who are all too ready to relieve them of their wealth.
Two main levers of confidence tricksters are gullibility and greed. They will exploit the
incautious and naive and offer something for nothing as an appeal to our natural desires.

149
Articles
• Gullibility: Are there easy targets?

Examples
There are more con tricks than days in the year. There are but a sample that illustrate
the ingenuity of confidence tricksters -- and the gullibility of Joe Public.

• The Antique Toy: Cheating the cheater.


• ATM Security: Fraud at the bank machine.
• Bootleg video: Sell bootleg DVDs that are actually blank.
• Charity collection: Collecting for fake charity.
• Movie auditions: for aspiring stars.
• Valet parking: by car thieves.

So what
So for goodness sake be careful where you place your trust. Don't be greedy and be
especially careful where you seem to be getting something very cheaply or for nothing.
Don't collaborate in anything illegal, especially with people you don't know.
And of course don't stoop to harming others in such ways as these. Con tricks are at best
immoral and at worst highly illegal.

See also
Confidence tricks links

Four Factors in Facial


Expression
Explanations > Behaviors > Lying > Four Factors in Facial Expression
Morphology | Timing | Symmetry | Cohesion | So what?

When reviewing facial expressions there are four factors you can use, particularly when
considering the possibility that the person is telling lies.

Morphology
The shape of the facial expression is different when emotion is felt as compared with
when the expression is faked.
Darwin described the 'inhibition hypothesis' where emotions involuntarily leak out.
Similarly, Duchenne identified a genuine smile as using the orbicularis oculi muscle
around the eyes which cannot easily be consciously manipulated.

Timing
We do not normally hold some facial expressions for long periods and natural
expressions (notably smiles) have definable durations, typically between about half a
second and four seconds. When people fake expressions they seldom get the timing
right, typically holding the expression for too long.

150
Paul Ekman has also identified 'micro-expressions' as very brief flashes that betray
inner feelings, such as when the corners of the mouth momentarily turn down in
showing disgust. Most people miss this although recognizing these short displays is a
learnable skill.

Symmetry
It has been noted that faked emotional displays can be asymmetrical, with emotional
components being displayed more intensely on the left side of the face (although brain
hemisphere dominance could possibly reverse this), whilst spontaneous emotional
displays are more symmetrical.

Cohesion
When people tell the truth, their whole speech and non-verbal language are cohesive,
each agreeing with the other.
When language is that which is not normally used, it can indicate lying. This includes
hesitations, changes in emphasis, speech errors and indirect or distancing language (eg.
Bill Clinton's 'that woman' remark). Other indicators include slips of the tongue,
implausible statements, contradictions between what is said at different times and
statements that contradict known facts.
There may also be misalignment between words, tone and body language, such as
gestural slips which are physical equivalents of speech errors and indicate internal
conflicting thoughts.

So what?
So use these four areas as guides when watching the other person, particularly in their
facial expressions as well as their speech and broader body language.

See also
Using Body Language

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Facial expression
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be
challenged and removed. (January 2009)

179
Photographs from the 1862 book Mécanisme de la Physionomie Humaine by Guillaume
Duchenne. Through electric stimulation, Duchenne determined which muscles were
responsible for different facial expressions. Charles Darwin would later republish some
of these photographs in his own work on the subject, which compared facial expressions
in humans to those in animals.
A facial expression results from one or more motions or positions of the muscles of the
face. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial
expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of
conveying social information among humans, but also occur in most other mammals and
some other animal species. Facial expressions and their significance in the perceiver can,
to some extent, vary between cultures.[1][verification needed]
Humans can adopt a facial expression as a voluntary action. However, because
expressions are closely tied to emotion, they are more often involuntary. It can be nearly
impossible to avoid expressions for certain emotions, even when it would be strongly
desirable to do so;[citation needed] a person who is trying to avoid insult to an individual he or
she finds highly unattractive might nevertheless show a brief expression of disgust before
being able to reassume a neutral expression.[citation needed] The close link between emotion
and expression can also work in the other direction; it has been observed that voluntarily
assuming an expression can actually cause the associated emotion.[citation needed]
Some expressions can be accurately interpreted even between members of different
species- anger and extreme contentment being the primary examples. Others, however,
are difficult to interpret even in familiar individuals. For instance, disgust and fear can be
tough to tell apart.[citation needed]
Because faces have only a limited range of movement, expressions rely upon fairly
minuscule differences in the proportion and relative position of facial features, and
reading them requires considerable sensitivity to same. Some faces are often falsely read
as expressing some emotion, even when they are neutral, because their proportions
naturally resemble those another face would temporarily assume when emoting.[citation needed]

180
Contents
[hide]

• 1 Universality debate
• 2 Communication
o 2.1 Eye contact
o 2.2 Face overall
• 3 Facial expressions
• 4 The muscles of facial expression
• 5 See also
• 6 References

• 7 External links

[edit] Universality debate


This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be
challenged and removed. (March 2010)

Charles Darwin noted in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals:
...the young and the old of widely different races, both with man and animals,
express the same state of mind by the same movements.[citation needed]
Still, up to the mid-20th century most anthropologists believed that facial expressions
were entirely learned and could therefore differ among cultures. Studies conducted in the
1960s by Paul Ekman eventually supported Darwin's belief to a large degree.
Ekman's work on facial expressions had its starting point in the work of psychologist
Silvan Tomkins.[2] Ekman showed that contrary to the belief of some anthropologists
including Margaret Mead, facial expressions of emotion are not culturally determined,
but universal across human cultures.
The South Fore people of New Guinea were chosen as subjects for one such survey. The
study consisted of 189 adults and 130 children from among a very isolated population, as
well as twenty three members of the culture who lived a less isolated lifestyle as a control
group. Participants were told a story that described one particular emotion; they were
then shown three pictures (two for children) of facial expressions and asked to match the
picture which expressed the story's emotion.
While the isolated South Fore people could identify emotions with the same accuracy as
the non-isolated control group, problems associated with the study include the fact that
both fear and surprise were constantly misidentified. The study concluded that certain
facial expressions correspond to particular emotions, regardless of cultural background,
and regardless of whether or not the culture has been isolated or exposed to the
mainstream.
Expressions Ekman found to be universal included those indicating anger, disgust, fear,
joy, sadness, and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least
some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally
recognized.[3]
More recent studies in 2009 show that people from different cultures are likely to
interpret facial expressions in different ways.[1][verification needed]

181
[edit] Communication
[edit] Eye contact
See also: Eye contact
A person's face, especially their eyes, creates the most obvious and immediate cues that
lead to the formation of impressions.[4] This article discusses eyes and facial expressions
and the effect they have on interpersonal communication.
A person's eyes reveal much about how they are feeling, or what they are thinking. Blink
rate can reveal how nervous or at ease a person may be. Research by Boston College
professor Joe Tecce suggests that stress levels are revealed by blink rates. He supports his
data with statistics on the relation between the blink rates of presidential candidates and
their success in their races. Tecce claims that the faster blinker in the presidential debates
has lost every election since 1980.[5] Though Tecce's data is interesting, it is important to
recognize that non-verbal communication is multi-channeled, and focusing on only one
aspect is reckless. Nervousness can also be measured by examining each candidates'
perspiration, eye contact and stiffness.[6]
Eye contact is another major aspect of facial communication. Some have hypothesized
that this is due to infancy, as humans are one of the few mammals who maintain regular
eye contact with their mother while nursing.[7] Eye contact serves a variety of purposes. It
regulates conversations, shows interest or involvement, and establishes a connection with
others.
Eye contact regulates conversational turn taking, communicates involvement and
interest, manifests warmth, and establishes connections with others…[and] it can
command attention, be flirtatious, or seem cold and intimidating… [it] invites
conversation. Lack of eye contact is usually perceived to be rude or inattentive.[6]
But different cultures have different rules for eye contact. Certain Asian cultures can
perceive direct eye contact as a way to signal competitiveness, which in many situations
may prove to be inappropriate. Others lower their eyes to signal respect, and similarly eye
contact is avoided in Nigeria, and between men and women in Islam;[8] however, in
western cultures this could be misinterpreted as lacking self-confidence.
Even beyond the idea of eye contact, eyes communicate more data than a person even
consciously expresses. Pupil dilation is a significant cue to a level of excitement,
pleasure, or attraction. Dilated pupils indicate greater affection or attraction, while
constricted pupils send a colder signal.
[edit] Face overall
The face as a whole indicates much about human moods as well. Specific emotional
states, such as happiness or sadness, are expressed through a smile or a frown,
respectively. There are seven universally recognized emotions shown through facial
expressions: fear, anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness, and sadness. Regardless
of culture, these expressions are the same. However, the same emotion from a specific
facial expression may be recognized by a culture, but the same intensity of emotion may
not be perceived. For example, studies have shown that Asian cultures tend to rate images
of facial emotions as less intense than non-Asian cultures surveyed. This difference can
be explained by display rules, which are culture-specific guidelines for behavior
appropriateness. In some countries, it may be more rude to display an emotion than in
another. Showing anger toward another member in a group may create problems and

182
disharmony, but if displayed towards a competitive rival, it could create in-group
cohesion.[citation needed]

[edit] Facial expressions


Some examples of feelings that can be expressed are:

• Anger
• Concentration
• Confusion
• Contempt
• Desire
• Disgust
• Excitement
• Fear
• Frustration
• Glare
• Happiness
• Sadness
• Snarl, mainly involving the levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle
• Surprise

[edit] The muscles of facial expression


See also: facial muscles.

• Auricularis anterior muscle


• Buccinator muscle
• Corrugator supercilii muscle
• Depressor anguli oris muscle
• Depressor labii inferioris muscle
• Depressor septi nasi muscle
• Frontalis muscle
• Levator anguli oris muscle
• Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle
• Levator labii superioris muscle
• Mentalis muscle
• Modiolus muscle
• Nasalis muscle
• Orbicularis oculi muscle
• Orbicularis oris muscle
• Platysma muscle
• Procerus muscle
• Risorius muscle
• Zygomaticus major muscle
• Zygomaticus minor muscle

Contempt
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the legal term, see Contempt of court.
For other uses, see Contempt (disambiguation).
Contempt is an intense feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior,
base, or worthless—it is similar to scorn. It is also used when people are being sarcastic.
Contempt is also defined as the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace, and an

183
open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative
body.[1] One example of contempt could be seen in the character Ebenezer Scrooge from
the Charles Dickens' book A Christmas Carol, who was cold-hearted, hating Christmas
and poor people. The word originated in 1393, from the Latin word contemptus meaning
"scorn." It is the past participle of contemnere and from com- intens. prefix + temnere "to
slight, scorn." The origin is uncertain. Contemptuous appeared in 1529.[2]
Robert C. Solomon places contempt on the same continuum as resentment and anger, and
he argues that the differences between the three emotions are that resentment is directed
toward a higher status individual; anger is directed toward an equal status individual; and
contempt is directed toward a lower status individual.[3] Contempt is often brought about
by a combination of anger and disgust.[4]

Deception principle
Principles > Deception principle
Principle | How it works | So what?

Principle
Alter the other person's perception by tricks, untruths and other forms of deception.

How it works
In order to live with one another, most people largely trust other people for most of the
time. This lays them open to untruths, illusions and downright lies.
The golden rule of deception is management of the other person's perception such that
they do not know any deception is happening.
Telling lies
Lies are very difficult to tell face-to-face, as much communication is through body
language and voice tone. The results of such lying is that the other person receives a
mixed message and may well detect the deception.
To successfully tell lies, you need first to be able to lie to yourself. If you totally believe
what you are saying, then you will be able to tell any lie with complete conviction. This
is how actors are able to successfully assimilate other characters and draw you into the
story plot.
Economy with the truth
A variant of lying which is not really lying is to tell the truth but leave out those things
that are inconvenient. The result is that the overall message is some way from the whole
truth and may persuade people to do things they would not do if they knew everything.
Elaborate deception
More elaborate deceptions can be used that include factors such as:

• Collaborative lying: many people telling the same story.


• Manipulating evidence: changing what people see/experience.
• Confidence tricks: highly elaborate deceptions.

So what?
184
Be very careful with deception: if the other person finds out then they may well act in a
betrayed manner, taking revenge on you in ways that far outweigh the damage you have
done with your deception.

See also
Lying

Confidence tricks
Techniques > Confidence tricks
Articles | Examples | So what

There is, according to legend, a sucker born every day, and of course there are many
confidence tricksters around who are all too ready to relieve them of their wealth.
Two main levers of confidence tricksters are gullibility and greed. They will exploit the
incautious and naive and offer something for nothing as an appeal to our natural desires.

Articles
• Gullibility: Are there easy targets?

Examples
There are more con tricks than days in the year. There are but a sample that illustrate
the ingenuity of confidence tricksters -- and the gullibility of Joe Public.

• The Antique Toy: Cheating the cheater.


• ATM Security: Fraud at the bank machine.
• Bootleg video: Sell bootleg DVDs that are actually blank.
• Charity collection: Collecting for fake charity.
• Movie auditions: for aspiring stars.
• Valet parking: by car thieves.

So what
So for goodness sake be careful where you place your trust. Don't be greedy and be
especially careful where you seem to be getting something very cheaply or for nothing.
Don't collaborate in anything illegal, especially with people you don't know.
And of course don't stoop to harming others in such ways as these. Con tricks are at best
immoral and at worst highly illegal.

See also
Confidence tricks links

Gullibility
Techniques > Confidence tricks > Gullibility
Description | Discussion | See also

185
Description
Gullibility is the tendency some people have to trust people too easily and hence be
open to deception.

Discussion
'Guile', the use of tricks to deceive someone, is the opposite of gullibility. A person who
is gullible is open to guile.
Gullibility can come from several sources:
Lack of experience
Young people and those who have lived a relatively sheltered life may well be more
gullible. If all you have known is trustworthiness then you will give trust without
question or suspicion. If people have been largely trustworthy, you will be largely
trusting.
Lack of education
You do not have to experience bad people to limit your trust. There is plenty of
information on the TV and in other media to indicate the need for caution. Yet
somehow some people do not seem to take this in and cling to a more trusting position
that is wise.
Need to be liked
Many people want to fit in with others, to be accepted and admired. If they have a
higher need for this then they may well be less judging of others and more ready to
accept whatever they are told.
Need to obey
There are many rules, values, norms and so on within our lives that we are supposed to
obey. Some people will blindly follow all such rules whilst others may be more
cautious.
Those who follow rules are more easily deceived by others who utilize existing rules or
explain that rules they propose must be followed.
Personality
In addition to the points above, there are other personality factors which may lead
people to be more gullible. These may include:

• Openness in being ready to listen and accept what others say.


• Warmth in accepting and caring for others as they come.
• Those who decide by a relatively immature 'gut feel'.
• Those who are shy and deferential rather than seeking to lead.
• Those who are less apprehensive or worry about the future.

See also
Trust

The Antique Toy


Techniques > Confidence tricks > The Antique Toy
Description | Discussion | See also

186
Description
Buy an old and worn toy from a second-hand shop. The odder-looking the better. Go
into a bar and plonk it down beside you. Buy a drink Don't talk much to the barman,
and don't be that nice to him (just act neutral). Take a fake phone call which calls you
away. Exit, leaving the toy behind mentioning that you won't be long.
Now a couple of your accomplices come in. When the barman is there, they 'notice' the
toy and ask where it came from. Declaring it as a rare antique with particular value in
another part of the world. Ask the barman to tell the owner when they come back that
they'll give him $500 for it. They leave, declaring they'll be back later.
Now you go back into the bar. With luck the barman will offer to buy the toy off you
for well under $500, but far more than you paid for it!

Discussion
Aside from good old-fashioned greed, the barman is being hooked by a variant of the
scarcity principle, whereby they think they know something you don't--at least for the
moment.

See also
Greed, Scarcity principle

ATM Security
Techniques > Confidence tricks > ATM Security
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Put a fake 'out of order' notice on a bank ATM deposit machine. Stand nearby in a
guard's uniform. Offer to take people's deposits--giving them an official receipt, of
course. You can also ask for other personal details, even PIN numbers.

Discussion
This may seem outrageous and that nobody would fall for such a trick--yet it has been
proven in practice that people are gullible enough to hand over their cash, sometimes in
the thousands.
The con works because the uniform and forms are symbols of authority, which people
will obey unquestioningly.
As many other scams, this is of course illegal. Being bank-related fraud, this one is
particularly hazardous and anyone caught doing this would likely be locked up for a
long time!

See also
Authority principle

Bootleg video
Techniques > Confidence tricks > Bootleg video

187
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Set up a market stall with a cardboard box full of DVDs or videos of the latest movies.
They are actually blank, but they do have nice covers which you have printed up. A
poster or two of the movies can also help. Dress casually. Act in a shifty way, like
you're worried that the police may be along soon.
Sell the movies for a bargain price, because you're 'in a hurry' to get rid of them. If
anyone gets home and back before you have legged it, apologize and offer to give them
a replacement or their money back. They will usually take the replacement. Then you
leave.

Discussion
Several principles are at work in this simple scam. The fact that you can't get it
elsewhere uses the scarcity principle. Your friends don't have it, so their envy will boost
your sense of identity. There's also the frisson that comes from cheating or breaking the
law, where you seem to be have complete control over your environment.
Variants of this scam include selling in bars and street corners. Pretty much anything
can be sold. The nice touch is that by giving the person the impression that they are
buying something illegally, they are dissuaded from going to the police about the
situation.

See also
Greed, Scarcity principle

Charity collection
Techniques > Confidence tricks > Charity collection
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Get a collection box. Get stickers printed for a fake animal charity. Go collecting.
It multiplies the returns if you take a cute and strokeable little animal with you, such as
a furry puppy or rabbit. Tell them of the horrible things that happen to such animals,
and how many their money will save.

Discussion
The animal is a double-whammy as it both attracts people who come to talk with it and
also reminds them of the charity. Having touched the animal, they are extending their
sensory experience and making it a part of their identity. They feel good from the
stroking. They feel bad from the nasty things that can happen to the animal. They want
to protect it. So they give you money. Children and animals--they always work.
This scam is surprisingly common as a petty crime that, unless they are out looking for
an arrest, the police may treat as little more than begging.

188
See also
Identity

Movie auditions
Techniques > Confidence tricks > Movie auditions
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Put an advert in the paper saying that a movie is being made locally and local actors are
wanted for small parts. Set up at a local hotel and hold 'interviews'. Get people doing
some acting. Tell them they are wonderful. Then start the line of requests for money.
The first request is small-ish, but significant enough to get them on the hook. Tell them
that they need to join an actor's union or guild and charge them around $50 (have the
forms smartly printed). Having made this commitment, they can now be sold on the
need to do photo-shoots, buy clothing, and so on.

Discussion
Everyone wants to be in the movies as it boosts their sense of identity. The small
payment hook gives them evidence of their commitment and consequently they will
behave consistently with this social proof.

See also
Identity, Consistency principle

Valet parking
Techniques > Confidence tricks > Valet parking
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Get a nice uniform and a badge with your name on it. Get a sign made up. Stand outside
a posh venue and offer to park people's cars. then drive away with them.
An extension to this is to offer to put them into a draw for a holiday. All you need is
their home address on the nicely printed forms you have. Their home key is likely to be
on the same ring as the car keys.

Discussion
The uniform, badge and sign are symbols of your authority, even as a lowly valet
parker.
This again is a horrifying example of how people will unthinkingly hand over the keys
to their kingdom. Although a confidence trick, it is also, of course, highly criminal.

See also
Authority principle

189
Deception in Negotiation
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation articles > Deception in Negotiation
Misrepresentation | Bluffing | Deception | Falsification | See also

There are many different negative methods used during negotiation and some are
generally more acceptable than others. Anton (1990) describes four strategies that are
used. In order of acceptability these are: misrepresentation, bluffing, deception and
falsification.

Misrepresentation
Misrepresentation occurs in negotiation where a person deliberately takes a position on
something which is not true in some way.
Examples
A buyer takes a poverty position, saying they only have a certain amount
of money on them (and shows this in their wallet) but actually they have
more money in another pocket.

A trade union negotiator takes a hard-line position in pay negotiations,


saying the membership are ready to strike when there is actually dissent
about this in the ranks.

Bluffing
Bluffing is stating or indicating an intention to commit some action, but then not
fulfilling that commitment or never intending to take this action.
Examples
A person buying a car says he will bring in an expert to assess the car in
order to get the seller to disclose known problems with it.

A parent says they will make a child sleep in the garage when they would
not do this.

Deception
What Anton called 'deception' is the use of false arguments that leads the other person
to an incorrect conclusion.
Examples
A hostage negotiator argues that the hostage-taker has been very clever
and is clearly in control of the situation (whilst special forces are creeping
up towards the house).

A car sales person tells a person trading in a car that there is little
demand for this model, leading them to accept a lower trade-in value.

Falsification
Falsification is the simple telling of lies or otherwise providing false information with
the assumption that it is complete and true.
Examples
In a job interview a person says they have an MBA when they do not.

A sales person tells a potential customer that there have been no major
problems with a product when there has been several significant failures

190
Negotiation tactics
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics

In negotiation, there are many tactics that you may meet or use. They can be fair, foul
or something in between, depending on the competitive or collaborative style of the
people involved and the seriousness of the outcomes.

• Auction: Set sellers or buyers against one another.


• Bad publicity: Indicate bad publicity of not agreeing.
• Better offer: indicate a better offer from the competition.
• Better than that: Just say 'You'll have to do better than that...'
• Biased choice: Offering choices that already include your biases.
• Big fish: Show you're the big fish and they could get eaten.
• Bluff: Assert things that are not true.
• Breaking it off: Walking away from the negotiation.
• Brooklyn optician: price or negotiate each item.
• Call girl: Ask to be paid up front.
• Cards on the table: State your case, clearly and completely.
• Change the negotiator: New person can reset the rules.
• Changing standards: Change the benchmarks of good and bad.
• Check the facts: Bring up new information you have found.
• Control the agenda: And hence what is discussed.
• Credentials: Show how clever you are.
• Deadlines: Push them up against the wall of time.
• Delays: Buying time and building tension.
• Divide and conquer: Get them arguing with one another.
• Doomsday: paint an overly black picture.
• Double agent: Get one of their people on your side.
• Dry well: Show you've nothing left to exchange.
• Empty pockets: say you can't afford it, don't have it, etc.
• Empty promises: Make promises that you know you will not keep.
• Escalating demand: the more you get the more you require.
• Expanding the Pie: Ensuring there's more for everyone.
• Fair criteria: Set decisions criteria such that is is perceived as fair.
• False deadline: Time limitation on their action.
• Faking: Letting them believe something about you that is not true.
• Fame: Appeal to their need for esteem from others.
• Flattery: Make them look good and then ask for concession.
• Forced choice: Subtly nudging them toward your choice.
• Funny money: Financial games, percentages, increments, etc.
• Fragmentation: Breaking big things into lots of little things.
• Good guy/bad guy: Hurt and rescue by people.
• Highball: Sellers--start high and you can always go down.
• Hire an expert: Get an expert negotiator or subject expert on your
team.
• Incremental conversion: Persuade one person at a time. Then use
them as allies.
• Interim trade: Make an exchange during negotiation that will not get
into the final contract.
• Lawyer: use survey results, facts, logic, leading question.
• Leaking: Let them find out 'secret' information.
• Linking: Connect benefit and cost, strong and weak.
• Log-rolling: Concede on low-priority items.
• Lowball: Buyers--start low and you can always go up.

191
• New issue: Introduce a new key issue during the negotiation.
• New player: Another person who wants what you have appears on the
scene.
• Nibbling: constant adding of small requirements.
• No authority: refuse to agree because you are not allowed to.
• Non-negotiable: Things that cannot be negotiated.
• Overwhelm: Cover them in requests or information.
• Padding: Make unimportant things 'essential' then concede them.
• Phasing: Offer to phase in/out the unpleasant bits.
• Plant: A 'neutral' person who is really working for you.
• Quivering quill: ask for concession just before signing.
• Red herring: leave a false trail.
• Russian Front: Two alternatives, one intimidating.
• Reducing choice: Offering a limited set of options.
• See you in court: Threatening to go to a higher or public forum.
• Shotgun: Refusal to continue until a concession is gained.
• Side Payments: Add a cash balance.
• Slicing: Break one deal down into multiple smaller deals.
• Split the difference: Offer to agree on a half-way position.
• Take it or leave it: give only one option.
• Trial balloon: Suggest a final solution and see if they bite.
• Undiscussable: Things that cannot even be discussed.
• War: Threaten extreme action.
• Widows and orphans: show the effect on the weak and innocent.
• Wince: repeat price loudly, then silence.

See also
Sequential requests, Resistance to change, Defensive body language, Questioning,
Fallacies

Auction
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Auction
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When many parties want one thing, set them against one another.
Bring them all together and let them know that only one will get what they want.
This can be used to make both sellers and buyers compete.

Example
A normal auction is one in which bidders offer increasing prices until
nobody else makes an offer.

A Dutch Auction is one in which an initially high price is lowered until the
first bid, which secured the deal.

Discussion
When people know that they may lose out on something, then they will want it even
more.
We are also naturally competitive animals, and when faced with others who want the
same thing, the goal can move from possession to simply winning the competition.

192
See also
Scarcity principle

Bad publicity
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Bad publicity
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Point out that if the other person gets what they are asking for, then they will be
criticized by others.
Show how knowledge of their actions will spread to a wide range of people.
Show the people who will know are the people who the other person particularly
respects.

Example
If your parents find out about that they will not be happy.

Well, we could do that, but I don't think that the neighbors would be very
pleased.

You know that this is something that the newspapers would love to
cover? I don't think you'd look very good if that's all you did.

Discussion
It is surprising how important the opinions and esteem of others about us is, and we
often seek to ensure that
Esteem

See also
Esteem, Belonging, Identity

Better offer
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Better offer
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When the other person makes an offer, say that you have already received a better offer
from somebody else.
If they ask what that offer is, then you may or may not choose to tell them. If you do,
then you have the opportunity to set a lower limit that the other person knows that they
cannot go below.

Example
Sorry, I've already had a better offer that.

I was offered twice that price only last week.

193
Discussion
A better offer from elsewhere is a walk-away alternative that you can deploy at any
time. The other person does not know whether you actually do have a better offer or
whether you are bluffing. The problem for them is that if they call your bluff then you
might actually have such an offer.
If you actually do have a better offer, you are indeed in a stronger position if you do
need to conclude the deal. As a part of developing your walk-away, you would have
also better understood the overall situation and built your own confidence -- which
alone is worth the effort of looking elsewhere beforehand.

Better than that


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Better than that
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When the other person makes an offer, say 'You'll have to do better than that!'.
You can accompany this with a saddened, shocked or disgusted look.
Then be quiet and wait for the to do better.

Example
A person buying a car asks for the price. The sales person says it. The
buyer raises an eyebrow and mutters 'You'll have to do better than that.'
and looks, appraisingly at the sales person.

Oh, come one. I'm not a fool. You'll have to do better than that.

Discussion
When you say 'You'll have to do better than that', you are actually implying that you
know that the other person is trying to deceive you, for example with an exorbitantly
high price.
Having been 'found out' (although you actually may not know what a fair price is), this
puts them under social pressure to conform to norms of decency and fair pricing.

See also
The wince, Social Norms

Biased choice
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Biased choice
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Offer the other person a set of choices, but bias the set of choices towards those things
that you want and away from the things that you do not want.
Ways of doing this:

194
• Remove and do not mention the things that you particularly do not
want.
• Offer them a set of options such that any choice they make will be
acceptable to you.
• Paint your choice in glowing words (and others in dull shades).
• Create a forced choice that utilizes their natural biases.

Example
We could go to that really nice new restaurant or maybe back to Tony's
(though I hear their chef just left).

Well, going to Winchester, Salisbury or Bath all sound like safe choices.

You could study accountancy, law or medicine. The choice is yours.

Discussion
We all have natural biases and preferences often do not realize that we have them.
These appear in our choices, including when we are short-listing options for other
people to choose. In a negotiation, we can deliberately bias towards those things we
want. When you reduce choice in negotiations, you can thus eliminate those things that
you do not want and focus on the things you do want.
Bias is often not noticed by other people unless they are looking for it. This is likely in
a 'professional' negotiation but may well go unnoticed in less formal situations.
When playing to their biases, first understand their preferences, so you can customize
what you offer them.

See also
Reducing choice, Forced choice, Preferences

Big Fish
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Big Fish
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Act as if you are Big Fish who can swallow whole any small fry at a whim. Cast the
other person as a small fry.
Show how you you are Big Fish. Act as if you can Wave money around. Arrive in a
big fast car. Dress expensively. Name-drop.
Talk confidently. Act confidently, as if you are lord of all you survey. You can even
appear arrogant, but beware of overdoing this. The idea is to make the other person feel
small in your presence, not to annoy them.

Example
A businessperson in talks about working with another company talks
expansively about other deals and plans for the future that include
several acquisitions.

A real estate agent arrives late at a house that he is selling in a new


BMW. The buyer, partly put off and partly impressed the way the agent
talks so nicely, is drawn into the web...

195
A young woman walks confidently into a bar and calls to the barman,
slightly impatiently, giving her order without waiting to be asked. She is
served before many others.

Discussion
By acting big and important, you are standing on a pedestal, inviting the other person to
admire and look up to you and seeking to please you.
By acting superior to them, you are inviting them to act inferior to you, conceding to
your wishes.

See also
Authority principle, Confidence principle

Bluff
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Bluff
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Tell the other person something that will impress them, and get what you want, but
which is not true.
Act confidently. Do not hesitate or otherwise indicate that you are lying.
When selling, say that you have already had a good offer, or that someone else is
arriving soon.
When buying, say that you know you can get the item much cheaper elsewhere (and ask
them to match the price).
When asking someone to do something, say that you can easily get another person to do
it.
Take small truths and exaggerate them. Talk of dire consequences should you not get
what you want.
And so on.

Example
Well, I like this place but I've just had an offer of a similar house at a
much lower price.

Yes, Dad, I've done my school work. Can I go out now?

If I don't get the day off work I'll lose my apartment and have nowhere
to live!

Discussion
Bluffs work when the other person believes what is said and feels that they must act or
concede in order to achieve goals.
Bluffing is of course a dangerous game, as the other person may call your bluff. If you
are found out, then you will be suspected for a long time into the future and will hence
most likely fail in attempted other negotiations.

196
See also
Confidence principle, Lying, Trust

Breaking it off
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Breaking it off
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Threaten to break off the negotiation.
You can also threaten to break off relationships. When you have a relationship with the
other person, this can be particularly effective.
Do this in a dramatic way. You can even rant and rave and storm out (hopefully, they
will call out to stop you or run after you).

Example
Right! That's it. I'm off.

I'm sorry. If you will not move then I can't continue.

I'm sick up to here with your intransigence and bloody-mindedness! If


you can be like that, then so can I! Goodbye.

Discussion
When people do not have a walk-away alternative, which people do not, then
threatening to leave makes them face up to the possibility of getting nothing. The
contrast between a solution that includes them making concessions and a solution that
contains nothing can resulting in the thought of making concessions something that is
more acceptable.
If you have a walkaway alternative, then you can use this approach more effectively.
The danger if you do not is that the other person may call your bluff.
When relationships are involved, the issue then becomes a lot more social. Ostracizing
is a punishment that feared by many, and the threat of becoming a social pariah is
enough to make many people cave in.

See also
The walk-away alternative, Belonging

Brooklyn optician
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Brooklyn optician
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Break everything down into small packages and then negotiate them one at a time. If
you are selling things, price them individually.

197
Focus first on selling or negotiating the main item. Then show that extra parts are
needed. Avoid talking about the total cost until you have agreed each item.

Example
The computer, sir, will cost three hundred. You'll take that -- good. Will
you be needing a keyboard with that -- only twenty. And we've a good
deal on an optical mouse...

Will you take the kids to school -- thanks. Whilst you're out, can you get
some things for me.

A restaurant prices its main course without any vegetables, which are
each priced separately.

Discussion
The name of this tactic comes from a (probably politically incorrect) archetype of an
optician who sells you a pair of glasses one lens at a time.
When people are buying something or otherwise getting something in a negotiation,
they will start with a rough price in mind. When they see the offered price, they will be
impressed by the contrast and will rapidly reach closure on it. Once closed, they will
unwilling (or maybe unable) to re-open the negotiation. They are thus trapped, and are
forced to pay the extra amount for the other items that they now need.

See also
Closure principle, The personal-closure trap

Call girl
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Call girl
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Demand payment up-front, particularly where you are offering cannot be taken back if
they do not fulfill their part of the deal.
Where any exchange is taking place, get the other side to go first.

Example
I've got to buy a lot of materials so I really need to be paid before I
begin.

Tell me your name, then I'll tell you mine.

Discussion
Prostitutes work in a shady environment where they have very low trust of their clients
who may 'do a runner' or argue about the price after the deed is done. There are many
other situations where
In an exchange, getting the other person to go first makes it safe for you. It also creates
a little anxiety as the other person then has to hope you will complete your part of the
bargain. When you do, you will have built a certain amount of trust, on which you can
call at a latter date.

198
See also
Exchange principle

Cards on the table


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Cards on the table
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Tell the other side exactly what you want or give them information that they did not
know before.
Explain why you are doing this, for example is because you trust them or because you
are in a hurry.

Example
Look, I'll put my cards on the table. What I really want is...

I think I can trust you. The full story of why I need the ticket is that...

Sorry, the truth of the matter is that Mike says I have to do this.

Discussion
In card games, putting your cards on the table is showing others exactly what you have.
When a person 'puts their cards on the table' they are asking the other person to believe
them. By using such a gesture and also talking about why they are doing it, they are
asking the other person to accept that they are being trustworthy. Which they may not
be, of course.

See also
Trust

Change the negotiator


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Change the negotiator
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Change the person who is doing the negotiation for your side. Explain that the previous
negotiator has been called away.
The new negotiator then goes over all the decisions and agreements with a fine-toothed
comb, weeding out all the exchanges that he or she does not like.
Or maybe starts rebuilding a relationship that has turned sour.
In fact, the new negotiator can, if they choose, start the negotiation from scratch.

Example
I'm sorry, to do this properly we have to start from the beginning.

Hmm. Before we continue I'd like to review what has been agreed so far.

199
I hear things got rather heated yesterday. Can we start afresh?

Discussion
Negotiations and exchanges are often considered to be done at the personal level, even
though one person may be negotiating on behalf of and entire corporation. Changing the
negotiator can be very much like starting over again.
Particularly when the negotiation is stuck or not going to plan, a new person can bring
new ideas to the table.
When relationships have soured, a new person can apologize for the previous person or
otherwise renew the relationship.

See also

Changing the standard


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Changing the standard
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Find the standard
A trick with negotiation is to understand the comparisons that are being made in
people's heads. What are the benchmarks against which people are deciding? What are
their actual or constructed standards?
To find the standard, ask them about their ideals. Get them to describe their best
experiences or perfect ideals. Be enthusiastic and they will tell you more...
Change the standard
If you can change the comparison standard by which they judge all others, you can
make what you are offering look wonderful. You can change the entire standard or just
one part of it.

Example
Could you describe your perfect house?
...
Imagine a beautiful little house in the country with roses around the
door... (change the standard)
You know, wooden windows are considered rather old fashioned now.
(change an element)

Tell me about the best holiday you have had.


...
You've not seen the Maldives, have you? Let me show you a picture of
paradise...

Discussion
We make many decisions by making contrasting comparisons between two items. To
decide whether something is good or bad, we fix one of these as a standard (which can
be a standard for bad things as well as good).
Comparisons may be against fixed standards or ideals. Thus, if I am buying a house, I
may have an actual house in mind I have seen against which I compare all others.

200
Alternatively, I may have built one mentally, perhaps as a composite of desirable
elements I have seen.

See also
Fair criteria

Check the facts


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Check the facts
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Bring out some actual data to confirm your point, discredit the other person's facts or
discredit the person's character.
Add emotion to your statement, for example being shocked that the other person has
done something reprehensible. Highlight their guilt in some way.
Research well beforehand to allow you to drop such killer comments into the
conversation. The higher the stakes, the more time you should spend on digging for
powerful information.

Example
Hmm. Let's just check the facts about that.

If I look at what you have actually done, I can't say I'm impressed.

Well, I actually went to see myself and I found that it has not been
completed. Why are you claiming that it is completed when it has not?

Discussion
Facts act as unchallengeable evidence, in the manner of a courtroom, and are far more
powerful at persuading than wants or opinions.
Bringing up facts that the other person does not know about or which they think you do
not know will surprise them and cause the uncertainty of confusion.
If you can make them feel shame, then they may concede to you as an act of contrition.

See also
Evidence principle

Control the agenda


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Control the agenda
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are holding a meeting in which negotiation takes place, you can control what
is being discussed by deciding what will and will not be on the agenda.

201
The order of things on the agenda also is important: Carefully consider about how
people will thinking and feeling at each point during the meeting. It is often best to put
items where you want attention near the beginning (an innocuous item first can be
helpful as a warm up). When you do not want people to think too much, put the item
near the end.
You can also control the meeting whilst it is running, particularly if you are chairing it,
by encouraging talk about an item or closing it down quickly.
When you are not running the meeting, you still have certain control of the agenda,
especially if the person running the meeting is relatively lax about what is discussed.
You can request that certain items be added, you can control where they are on the
agenda (for example by saying you have to leave early you can get items in at the
beginning of the meeting). You can bring up new items in the meeting as 'Any Other
Business (AOB). You can also control the agenda during the meeting by what you say
and what you propose.

Example
In a salary-decision meeting, a manager makes sure his people are
discussed first and then talks a lot about how good they are. There is less
time then for discussing other people. His people get the best pay rises.

In a meeting to select a new supplier, a manager ensures that the


supplier she prefers is on second and that only four suppliers are
discussed.

In a high school parents meeting, one person brings up the controversial


subject of sports fees right at the end. The result is that sub-committee is
set up and they are elected to chair it.

Discussion
Meetings are quite public decision environments. If a person makes a commitment
there, it is difficult for them to retract it. Meetings are also social environments and
group pressure can be brought to bear on individuals.
When you control what is being discussed, you can control what is decided and agreed.
Meetings do vary in formality, from meetings that are run with strict control and
detailed minutes to a relatively loose discussion. You can control both of these but need
different approaches.
The chairperson of a meeting has particular power in deciding who speaks and how
long things are discussed. Where appropriate, you may need to spend time getting them
onside beforehand or otherwise knowing how you will control them.
Do remember that many meetings are not actually decision bodies but largely ratify
what has been discussed in more private meetings beforehand.

See also
Authority principle, Theories about groups, Theories about conforming

Credentials
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Credentials
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

202
Description
Show how you are qualified to say the things you will say.
Put your qualifications on your business card.
Talk about your experience. Show how you have practiced what you preach.
Name-drop. Show how you are friends with the rich, famous and influential.
If appropriate, compare their credentials with yours.

Example
When I was talking with the CEO the other day, he though my ideas for
new products were, as usual, quite outstanding.

You know, I've been doing projects like this for twenty years, and I've
always found that building the plan with all stakeholders an essential
activity.

I have a Ph.D. in the subject. What about you?

Discussion
In negotiation you are often selling yourself as well as the idea that you want to get
across to the other person. If they believe in you, then they are more likely to believe in
your ideas.
When we know that another person is well-qualified in one area, we may assume that
they are generally intelligent and able to pronounce on things in completely unrelated
areas. Thus, for example, a doctorate in anthropology will be seen first as a doctorate.
The letters 'Ph.D.' after your name will often impress others and prevent them from
questioning what you assert.
Demonstrating how you are qualified or experienced lets the other person know that
what you say is true. In a collaborative situation, this will build the relationship and
create confidence. In a competitive situation, it effectively says 'I know more than you.
What I say is true and what you say is false.'

See also
Assertiveness, Intelligence testing

Deadlines
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Deadlines
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Set a deadline by which the other person has to decide or act. Make it clear that this is
an absolute time by which they must do what you want them to do.
As the deadline approaches, increase the emotional atmosphere, talking more about
what will happen if the deadline is missed. This may be specific and threatening actions
or vague and disturbing hints.

203
Use things which cannot be challenged, such as contract completion dates, demands
made by senior people and so on.

Example
I must have your answer before we leave today.

I am talking to Steve later. He will want to know what we have agreed.

The product will be released at the end of the week. If you can't deliver
by Thursday, it will be too late.

Discussion
A deadline creates tension in the scarcity of time that it gives and the imagined
consequences of not reaching the deadline.
Hurrying people up reduces the time they have for reflection and considered thought. If
you can occupy them with worries about what may happen if the deadline is not met,
then they will spend less time thinking of objections and counter-arguments to your
suggestions.
Deadlines can easily be challenged, but it is surprising how often they are not
questioned.

See also
Scarcity principle

Delays
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Delays
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Use time to stretch out the negotiation, especially at critical moments.
When you feel you are being pressured or hurried, take a break or otherwise put off
making any decisions until you have thought things through.
When the other person is constrained by deadlines, delay right up to the wire.
Dangle something under their noses that makes them salivate and then do not talk about
it until later.

Example
Excuse me, I just need to go the to the bathroom.

Well, we could look at the things you want. But it's time to stop for
today.

John will be very unhappy if this does not happen. I think I will call him in
later.

Discussion
Introducing delays can be helpful for you to regroup and rethink.

204
When you have increased tension of some sort in the other person, whether it is desire
for something you may give them or some negative consequence of not agreeing, then a
delay can serve to heighten that tension as they focus on the good and bad possibilities.
The tension of delay is increased with uncertainty, when the other person cannot predict
what will happen.

See also
Breaking it off, Deadlines, Tension principle

Divide and conquer


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Divide and conquer
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Cause confusion in the enemy camp. Get them at each other's throats so they pay less
attention to fighting you, for example by paying more attention to one person or one
group than another or sowing false information.
When they are arguing amongst themselves, propose solutions that the key people will
accept and which will support their internal negotiations.

Example
A side member of a negotiating team spends time with some of the
younger members of the other side whilst the main negotiations are
going on elsewhere. In their discussions, they touch on how the ideas
from these bright young people are being ignored by their superiors.

A negotiator and a colleague talk about how one person on the other side
is more successful than another. They know that they are being
overheard and their talk is designed for the listener.

A negotiator hints in an aside to the other person how one solution will
allow them to win some of their internal battles.

Discussion
If you can get the other side to take their eye off the ball then you can consequently gain
control of the proceedings.
When others disagree with one another, then one may well take your side in order to
win points against their internal opponents.
This, of course, is a hazardous strategy which can backfire if they discover what you are
doing. To succeed, it must be executed with great care and finesse.

See also
Confusion principle

Doomsday
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Doomsday
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

205
Description
Paint an overly black picture. Describe the outcome of any suggestion in negative
terms. Be pessimistic and gloomy.
When they make a suggestion, suck through your teeth and describe how bad this is.
When you are describing your own situation, show how badly-off you are and how you
cannot afford what the other person is asking.
Of course, you describe only the things you do not want in this negative way.
Against this, you can describe the things you want as a ray of light that relieves the
gloom of alternative solutions.

Example
I suppose we could go out, but it looks like rain and the car is having
problems.

It's a nice house, but it needs decorating, the area is going downhill and
it's a long way to drive to work.

It may look like a good investment now, but the markets may go down
next year.

Discussion
Painting something black often is playing with percentages, suggesting that something
that has a probability of X actually has a probability of Y. Where things are uncertain,
then it is easy to argue the percentage points.
Against this pessimistic description, an optimistic alternative provides a welcome
contrast.

See also
Contrast principle

Double agent
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Double agent
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Persuade someone on the other side of the table to act on your behalf.
Give them information and materials to help them persuade their colleagues to your
point of view.
Protect their position, ensuring that they do not get into trouble for their views and
actions.
Beware also of double agents on your side. Watch for people who seem over-zealous in
taking up the cause of the other side.

Example
A computer salesperson convinces the IT department of the need to
upgrade their systems. Now all they need to do is to also convince the
purchasing, finance and general managers.

206
A man wants to buy a particular new house and enlists the help of the
selling agent in persuading his family of the benefits of the house and the
area.

Discussion
This situation legitimately occurs when a person on the other side genuinely is
persuaded and seeks to help others on their side also see the benefits of the deal.
In a less salubrious variant, deliberate actions are taken to bribe, blackmail or otherwise
subvert an individual to your cause.

See also

Dry well
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Dry well
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When the other person demands more from you, say that 'the well is dry' and that you
do not have anything else to give.
Plead poverty or other constraint on your ability to exchange more than you have
already offered.

Example
Sorry, I can't afford any more.

I'd like to increase my offer, but I'm afraid I've come to the end of my
resources.

Discussion
When you show that you have no more to give, the other person cannot demand more
without inferring that you are lying.
If they still refuse to agree to a deal, then this puts you in a difficult position of possibly
showing that you were not telling the truth. One way around this is to find other
variables to use.

See also

Empty pockets
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Empty pockets
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When the other person makes a demand on you, say that you cannot afford it, you have
not got it, cannot do it, or otherwise are unable to give them what they want.
Show that it is a lack of ability, not lack of desire, that leads you to refuse them.

207
Example
Sorry, that's just too much. I really cannot afford that on my salary.

I'd love to help, but I don't know much about that.

If I had it, I'd give it to you.

Discussion
Showing that you cannot fulfill a request is a good way of refusing, as the other person
then cannot persist.
Pleading poverty may also get you sympathy and give reason for the other person to ask
less of you.

See also
Appeal to Pity

Empty promises
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Empty promises
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Make promises that you know that you will not have to keep.
Or make what sounds like a promise by adding a qualifier (e.g. 'could') or making the
statement vague.
Use this to get things moving when the negotiation is stuck and the item being
requested seems relatively minor.

Example
I don't see why I can't come back some time.

I guess I could spend extra time with you.

Why not? I'm sure I can find the time.

Discussion
When the other person is fixated on getting something, particularly if it is minor, then
they may well be more trapped by the wanting rather than really want it. Suggesting
that you will give it to them gives them closure for now and lets you move on with the
rest of the negotiation.
This works better for things that will be delivered at an uncertain time in the future.
When asked, you can then delay delivery. If pressed, you may actually have to deliver.
As any deceptive method, this holds the danger that it will cause betrayal response.

See also
Trust

Escalating demand
208
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Escalating demand
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Ask for something from the other person. When you have gained this, ask for
something else, even larger. Then something bigger still, and so on until they refuse
(then take the biggest offer).
This may be done in exchange for nothing, just asking for concessions (and perhaps
rewarding only with thanks or other non-substantial exchange). It may also be done
when the other person asks

Example
Can I go out with my friends Dad? Can I have money for the cinema?
And we're going to the Pizza House afterwards...

Can I come in? Can I stay the night?

Will you do this extra work? And keep going until it's done?

Discussion
When you ask for something from another person, and they comply, as Ben Franklin
knew, they have to justify it to themselves, for example by concluding that you are a
nice person and they wanted to give it to you all along. This frames you as a friend who
can ask for other things. A small concession thus creates bonding and also the
obligations of friendship.

See also
Nibbling, Ben Franklin Effect

Expanding the Pie


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Expanding the Pie
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Change the frame of the negotiation from a zero-sum, win-lose game to a win-win
scenario where both sides can benefit more by working together on mutual benefits.

Example
Two business competitors on an industry standards committee agree to
settle differences and promote the standard as this will help increase the
number of total customers, thereby giving each a greater market value.

A husband and wife who are negotiating about holidays and the ability to
take time off work reframe the situation as 'getting away together' and
end up with a decision that when one goes away on business the other
will go along too.

209
Discussion
In many negotiations there is an assumption that it is win-lose, and with every gain that
one person makes the other person will lose an equal amount. In a worst-case scenario
(which is surprisingly common), it becomes personal and the sense of fair play (or even
getting what I need) goes out of the window as each player seeks to harm the other
before they get harmed themself.
This is a limiting perception and it is often possible for both people to gain, especially if
they collaborate.
'Expanding the Pie' comes from the metaphor where people are negotiating about a
single pie, such that where one person gets more of the pie it is clear that the other
person gets less. If both parties work together to get a bigger pie, then both can have
more.

See also
Collaborative negotiation

Fair criteria
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Fair criteria
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When decisions are being made, be deliberate about finding and selecting criteria that
the other person can accept as being fair.
You can deliberately engage the other person in a search for fair criteria, asking them
'what is fair'. You can also bring along something that is, by definition, fair.
A good way of ensuring criteria are fair is by seeking the advice of an expert and clearly
impartial third party.
You can also reject criteria that the other person is using on the grounds that it is not
fair.
In a worst case, you can also use third parties such as mediators or arbitrators to resolve
negotiation breakdown.

Example
Now, how can we be sure that we each get a fair share?

I've brought along Parker's Price guide -- it gives industry-standard


prices.

Let's ask the minister what he thinks...

Discussion
We have a basic need for fairness, and feel out of control when others can be unfair
without our knowing. In negotiations in particular, we fear that others will try to
deceive us by using comparisons and criteria which are not fair.
Fairness can be asserted, but it is best if it is agreed by both people. This also implies
that any one person has right of veto.

210
Engaging the other person in the search for fairness is itself an act of fairness and will
help to engender trust.
External standards are difficult to argue against and can include price guides, industrial
standards, company policy and even social norms.

See also
Fairness, Fair exchange, Finding fair criteria, Changing standards, The Third Side

False deadline
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > False deadline
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Say that something must be done by a certain deadline or else the deal is off.
Make the deadline in the near future and such that the other person will panic.
Explain how, due to circumstances beyond your control, if agreement is not reached
within this short timescale, you will be unable to find a satisfactory conclusion.
Show them what will happen if the deadline is not met.

Example
The project milestone is next week. If this report is not ready by then, it
will slip at least a month and it will be your responsibility.

Prices go up at the end of the week, sir. You haven't got long.

If you're not in bed by ten, you will not wake up in time tomorrow.

Discussion
Constraining the time in which people have to make a decision forces them to consider
the other side of the deadline and what would happen if it is not met.
When there is some action to be completed, the other person will be focused on all the
things that have to be done between now and the deadline.
Hurrying people, especially if it panics them, has the effect of reducing the rational and
reflective thought that they put into the process and thus makes them more likely to
agree with you.

See also
Hurry Close, Scarcity principle

Faking
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Faking
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Dress well and pretend to be affluent. Or dress down and pretend to be poor.

211
Mention qualifications that you do not have. Talk about experiences that you have not
had.
Name-drop about people you have not met. Mention your membership of exclusive
clubs.
Or otherwise pretend to be someone you are not.

Example
When I was working on my doctorate, I proved that this is the hardest
substance with the required flexibility coefficient.

I was talking with Brad at the Oscars ceremony and he said that celebrity
interest in these is going up.

No, I've been doing this for ten years and I can tell you that would cost a
mint and take at least a year to get going.

Discussion
Credibility is often very important in negotiation, for example when you need to be
seen to be expert about something you are selling or buying. Faking credentials or
experience gives you that credibility.
Many of us would like to be famous and linking your name to someone famous gets
you some of that fame and perhaps makes the other person a bit envious and wanting to
be like you. Similarly, faking affluence or other desirable attribute can help.
When you are buying something, the reverse may be true and it might be more effective
to plead poverty.
As ever with deception, if you get caught out, you can expect disproportionate
punishment.

See also
Trust

Fame
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Fame
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Show how something you are offering will make the other person famous or otherwise
more highly regarded by other people.
Show how, if they agree with you, they will gain the esteem of others.
Do make sure the others who will admire the person are those who the person would
like to admire them.
Fame does not have to be national in scope -- just the admiration of a few peers (or
oeven a complete stranger) is remarkably desirable.
You can also use the reverse effect: showing how not complying will reduce how much
the person will be admired.

212
Example
I know this is extra work, but the CEO really appreciates how much you
are helping her.

If you let me stay out tonight, I'll tell my friends what a great Dad you
are.

People who let down their comrades around here are not well liked, I can
tell you.

Everyone is looking at you! Speak a little quieter.

Discussion
One of our most fundamental needs is for a sense of identity, which we typically gain
through our interactions with others. What others think about us, even those we don't
know, is thus immensely important to us. Fame, as well as fortune is highly desirable.
This makes our sense of identity a negotiable, and you can offer to boost it in exchange
for something you want.
Fame is also a variable. The more people people who like you, the better you feel. This
is amplified if the people who like you are themselves famous, as you also gain their
reflected glory.

See also
Finding variables, Identity needs, Esteem needs

Flattery
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Flattery
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Make the other person look good. Tell them how clever, intelligent, attractive (etc) they
are.
Be impressed by what they have done. Listen attentively. Ask them to tell you more.
Use romantic body language as appropriate, or otherwise ensure your body aligns with
your words.

Example
That was amazing! How did you do that?

You're very young to be in such a senior position. You must be very good
at this.

You look absolutely fantastic. Can I be your slave?

Discussion
Flattery makes the other person feel good about themselves and, by association you. It
creates a bond with them.
Flattery also creates a sense of exchange, where the other person will want to repay
your kindness to them. When you act like a friend, it puts them into a position where
they will want to act as a friend to you.

213
See also
Exchange principle, Bonding principle

Forced choice
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Forced choice
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When offering a set of options, make it easy for them to choose the one you want them
to choose and hard for them to choose the ones you do not want them to choose.
Methods you can use for this include:

• Off the thing you want them to take first or last.


• Make the thing you want them to take memorable (and other things
not memorable).
• Make the thing you want them to choose more desirable.
• Make the choice you want them to make easier.
• Create contrast to highlight and polarize the desirable and
undesirable.
• Offer things that may normally be acceptable but which you know are
unacceptable to the the person (leaving the obvious choice...).

Example
Do you want this one, the other one or that one. (using emphasis and
primacy).

You can have a brown one, a blue one, a bright yellow shiny one, a grey
one or a purple one (emphasis memorable).

There's suet pudding, chocolate ice-cream or heavy fudge cake.


(desirability)

This house is far away, that house is expensive and the other house is a
real bargain and it's nearby. (contrast and desirability)

We could get a rat, a snake or a dog. Which would you prefer?

Discussion
One of the tricks that magicians use in doing card tricks is known as 'forcing', where
they get the target person to pick the card they want them to pick, whilst the target
person thinks that they have selected from their own volition.
Choosing the first or last thing offered utilizes the primacy effect or recency effect.
Making things more noticeable may use emphasis of some kind. This also helps make
them easier to remember.
You can also push the option toward the person in some way. You can also try to take it
away and let them jealously grab it back.

See also
Reducing choice, Biased choice
Primacy effect, Recency effect, Emphasis, Contrast principle

214
Funny money
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Funny money
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are selling, offer financial arrangements that makes it appear that the price is
lower than it actually is. Spread the cost over time. Use complex investment options.
Hide future costs.
When you are buying, offer to pay by different means, for example by paying in kind,
offering goods and services rather than cash.
Play with risk and valuations of it. Deal in future value. Consider depreciation.
Talk about savings and opportunity. Discuss tax avoidance. Hint at the effects of
inflation.

Example
Well, we can double down the future reversal and save you at least 29%
for you next 12 months of payment.

Hmm. Well if inflation is at 5% and base rate increase by two points per
month, then we'll be able to double your income and avoid the setup
charge for the third year.

Well, sir, I know you have said you can't afford it, but if I can show you a
way that you could manage the payments, would you like to drive away
in this wonderful vehicle today?

Discussion
Most people become quickly lost when financial arrangements start be discussed. All
they want to know is what they have to pay, in particularly in the short term. It is thus
easy to bamboozle them with relatively simple (or even fake) financial wording.
Various financial services, from investments to pensions have surprised investors by
losing their money, when they have been told that they 'couldn't lose'.

See also
Faking

Fragmentation
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Fragmentation
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Break down what is being negotiated up into small pieces and negotiate for each one.
When the other person seeks to get something from you, break it down and talk about
each item as if it is really important. Go into detail about the benefits that it gives (even
if these are the same benefits as other items).

215
You can also apply the same approach when describing the down-side of what they are
offering. Break down the big bad things into lots of bad things.
When you have a hierarchy of things, you can make them seem like even more by
talking not only about the bottom-level 'child' items, but also the 'parent' items at each
level of the tree.
Make a big thing about each item, negotiating hard for something in exchange for each
one.

Example
You have been so naughty. You've broken your tractor, you've scratched
your best toy car and you've broken your new toy that you got last week.

This is a great computer. It's got Windows XY, that includes


SquidgyOffice Word, SquidgyOffice Spreadsheet, SquidgyOffice Data and
SquidgyOffice Presentation, as well as a whole host of utility programs
such as...

Now, if I cancel my meetings and come home on time, I want you to


ensure everything else is ready. I could bring some wine -- can you make
sure dinner is made?

Discussion
When we want to assess size, we often use the size heuristic, whereby we mistake
quantity for overall size. This gives the negotiator a method of making something that is
actually quite small seem really quite big.
By breaking down a large item you have more negotiables. In this way, you can turn a
small opportunity into a larger advantage.

See also
The size heuristic

Good guy/bad guy


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Good guy/bad guy
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
One person acts in an aggressive and pushy way, making unreasonable demands and
requiring compliance.
The other person then acts in a kind and friendly way, asking nicely -- and getting
compliance.
The good guy (or gal, of course) may apologize for the bad guy, or plead for
compliance because the bad guy is being horrible to the good guy too.
You can even do it as one person: be unpleasant and then apologize (you are under such
stress) and ask nicely for what you want.

Example
A husband and wife go out to buy some hi-fi speakers. He acts in an
aggressive and dominant way, complaining about the price and the sales

216
person's 'condescending' manner. She takes the sales person aside and
apologizes for her husband and whispers a price at which she thinks he
will buy.

A senior manager makes a presentation in an unpleasant and aggressive


way, demanding that tough goals are met. A liked line manager meets
with her people afterwards and says that if the goals are not met then
she will be punished.

Discussion
This is a classic implementation of the Hurt and Rescue principle, which is a core
element of many persuasion methods. The bad guy acts to cause discomfort and
tension, after which the good guy offers escape and closure.
This is often seen on TV in the good-cop/bad-cop routine that is often seen in police
dramas. It can also be a subconscious pattern for parents, where one parent tries to
impose discipline by demanding compliance after which the other seems to get it easily
by gentle request.
What the good guy says often gives the target person an excuse to comply, allowing
them to rationalize their action and retain dignity. Sometimes the person complies with
the good guy as an act of revenge to 'teach the bad guy manners'.

See also
Hurt and Rescue principle, The Drama Triangle

Highball
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Highball
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
This is a tactic for sellers, where you make your first offer as high as you dare.
This can be helped by determining what constitutes a reasonable range of prices, so do
your research beforehand to find the buyer's zone of acceptability, then start at, or even
above the top of their range.
Be careful about asking the other person what they will offer, as their first bid anchors
the discussion, quite possibly on the low side (although if they seem particularly keen to
settle, asking them might give you a pleasant surprise).

Example
A child who wants a parent to fund a night out starts by asking for about
three times as much as they really want.

When selling goods, a market trader starts with a high price. He then
reduces the price without being bargained with, using excuses about
being kind, needing to sell everything today and so on.

An estate agent takes buyers to houses that they cannot afford. This,
however, raises their desires and the house they eventually buy is more
expensive than they had anticipated.

217
Discussion
Where you start sets expectations for the other person. When you start high, you can
always go down. When you start low, you can never go up.
Starting high creates an anchor for the other person, whereby they may well assume that
this is in a reasonable range. If their counter-bid is also high, then you will end up with
a high price. Even if they are above what you expected, do not settle immediately -- at
best split the difference and you may be able to nudge them even higher.
A high start may well take longer to reach resolution, giving you more opportunity to
find out more about the other person and to build effective tension.
If the other person starts low, then it may be socially difficult for you to counter with a
high bid, although this can actually be a good move. Responding to a low bid with a
high bid indicates that you know they are low and may be seeking
If the other person counters with a low bid (or starts to walk away), this may be a signal
that they know what you are doing. Hold your nerve! If you collapse your position, they
may well take advantage and seek to pull you even further down.
Be careful about starting too high, as this may cause a betrayal response whereby they
leave without further ado, ignoring anything you may say. Extreme positions outside of
a range that may be considered fair can also be damaging to relationships (which may
be important).
The difference between your start position and your end position is a signal to the other
person about how much you have conceded to them. A significant difference will make
them believe they have got a bargain (a view you can encourage with sighs and
supporting words).

See also
Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic

Hire an expert
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Hire an expert
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
If the stakes are high, do not try to do it all yourself. Get in the professionals.
Hire a subject expert to give you advice on the substance of the deal.
Hire an expert negotiator to do the actual deal.
Discuss things with them beforehand so they know what you really want. Also take
breaks during the negotiation to confer with them about what you might be really
getting and the costs and real value involved.

Example
I am buying a second-hand car, so take along a mechanic to thoroughly
examine the car before I start negotiating and also to give advice on such
as cost of repairs.

218
An entrepreneur is selling her company. She hires a professional
negotiator to do the negotiation and a lawyer to check details of the
contract.

Before selling an antique, I talk to an auctioneer friend.

Discussion
Experts are not usually cheap. You can expect to pay top prices for a top-class expert in
the field.
The basic reason for hiring an expert is that, although they are expensive, they will save
or make you much more money than they cost, or at very least reduce the risk of being
deceived.
Negotiators will often take a percentage of the sale price that they get for you (or, if
buying, a cut of what they save). Remember that a good negotiator will also negotiate
with you for their percentage!

Incremental conversion
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Incremental conversion
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are seeking to convince a group of people, rather than trying to convert them
all at once, pick them off one at a time.
Focus on the individual, finding their separate needs.
Listen to many different people, putting together the jigsaw of understanding to get the
bigger picture of their organization.
If you are using team negotiation, match people up one-on-one with the task of wooing
them over.
When you have converted individual people, then you can also use them as allies,
getting them to subvert and convert others.

Example
A negotiation team 'shares out' the people on the other side and get.

A negotiator uses breaks to catch people in informal situations, build


trust and nudge them towards conversion.

A sales person makes an ally of the technical expert in the company and
feeds them with material to help them do internal selling.

Discussion
Incremental conversion uses a 'divide and conquer' approach and helps break down
group effects in the other side, for example where they may cluster around a polar
position even when individually they are more open to persuasion.
It also allows for individual one-on-one relationships to be built that develop trust and
hence move overall towards agreement.

219
See also
Fragmentation principle, Theories about groups, Theories about conforming

Interim trade
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Interim trade
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are stuck in a negotiation because something is wanted by the other side but
which you do not want to give (or are unable to obtain), indicate that they will be able
to get what they want, in order to get them moving.
Then, later, remove or otherwise minimize that thing which was 'conceded'. For
example:

• Try ignoring it in the final agreement.


• Claim to have misunderstood the original request.
• Give less that what might have been originally expected.
• Reinterpret the commitment and give something else.
• Negotiate the point away in a trade for something else.
• Include the item in the agreement, but just do not deliver it.

Example
Yes, I'm sure I can get that for you. I'll look into it when I get back home
(where you call back and apologize that it just isn't possible now).

Of course -- let's include it in the final agreement (where it gets


conveniently forgotten).

I don't see why not. Now, let's move on to the main agenda. (later -- oh,
I'm sorry, I thought you meant...)

Discussion
Sometimes people get stuck on a demand that actually is not that important. They
become personally invested in it to the point where they feel they will lose face if they
concede. Your concession on this point thus lets them move on to the next topic. If the
point was not really important, then they will not notice or object to its later removal or
minimization.
When there are a lot of sub-items in the negotiated item, for example a construction
contract then you can often quietly drop in convenient things without them being
noticed.

See also
Attention principle, Distraction principle

Lawyer
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Lawyer
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

220
Description
Be like a lawyer, cross-examining the witness and postulating probabilities.
Draw them out and let them hang themselves.
Use logical arguments that are rational and show cause-and-effect.
Quote chapter and verse of laws and regulations. Or just name the rules.
Ask searching and direct questions that surprises them into 'confessions'.
Be passionate about legitimate and correct causes.
Follow the law, either in the letter or the spirit (or maybe both).

Example
So, Mr Jones, tell me more about what you want to gain from this, and
why this is a legitimate goal.

Yesterday, Jeffery, you said you have not been to see anyone else, yet I
have it on good authority that you were seen leaving Alco's offices last
week.

Does this product conform with all Federal and European emissions
regulations, including the recent reduction targets?

Discussion
Lawyers succeed by preparing long before the show begins. They are also very well
qualified and usually extremely sharp and intelligent. You do not need to be as clever as
a lawyer -- just acting like one will make many people think you are as clever as one.
Lawyers also succeed by confusing and dominating their subjects, asking a barrage of
questions and not letting the other person finish or letting them talk themselves into
trouble.

See also
Questioning techniques, Argument

Leaking
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Leaking
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Let misleading information 'leak' out from your side.
Let them overhear you talking about particular (but false) needs or strategies that you
have.
Leave documents on the table that they might read or copy.
Let something 'slip out' during conversation.
Have a person on your side 'sympathetically' tell them something.

Example
In a negotiation I have my papers flat on the table with a highlighted
section that can be easily read upside down.

We have a corridor conversation near where they are having coffee -- we


get excited and voices get raised...

221
Discussion
When people receive 'leaked' information, it can be very exciting for them as they
believe they have a significant advantage over you. This leads them to focus largely on
these areas -- and consequently avoid other areas (where perhaps you do not want them
to go).
When the leak proves eventually to be false (if they ever find out this), then they are
unable to complain, for to do so would be to admit deceptive and possibly criminal
behavior.

See also
Distraction principle, Evidence principle

Linking
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Linking
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are building agreements, link items together, building a web of commitment.
Use the word 'if...' a lot. Say 'If you...then I...'.
In particular link the things they want with the things that you want.
Link in consequences as well. Use words such as 'otherwise'.
Also link in things that are not wanted. Make agreements conditional upon things being
achieved. If they fail to deliver, then you can choose to call the whole deal off.
You can link weak issues with strong ones, making it conditional that gaining the main
item means also gaining a number of other smaller items.

Example
In a performance-related agreement with staff, a pay rise is agreed to be
given only if employee productivity increases to a given level.

If you give me a 25% discount, then I will buy today, with cash,
otherwise I might come back next week with a credit card.

I will only go where you want if I can bring my mother. If you go where I
want, then we can go alone, just the two of us.

Governments will add small items to larger bills, such that as the main
item gets voted into law, a few small but very useful extras get towed
along as well.

Discussion
Linking shows cause and effect, answering the question 'why' and allowing the other
person to predict.
Linking shows them the route to what they want, linking benefit and method. By
highlighting their needs, they may be so focused on these that your needs seem less
significant.
Linking strong and weak items, the contrast between them makes the weak item seem
insignificant and so it gets a free ride.

222
See also
Cause-and-effect reasoning

Log-rolling
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Log-rolling
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Make a range of requests, some of which are less important as well as those which are
critical for you. When pressed or making an exchange, concede on items which are
lower priority in order to get those which are higher priority.

Example
A person buying a car says that low cost and high performance are both
important.
When offered a lower performance car they use their stated priorities to
help reduce the price.

In a contract negotiation, the buyer tries to put in a number of strict


sections about timescales and product features. Later, they concede on
some of the features a little but keep the timescale which is more
important.

Discussion
Negotiations often include concessions and exchanges as the players seek to find
agreement. In order to exchange you have to have something give away. If all you have
is things that are important to you, then you will lose out in any exchange. If, however,
you have items that you would like but which are less important, you can gain by
exchanging low value items for high value items.
The best way of doing this is to have items that are lf lower priority for you but which
are higher priority for the other party. Such low-for-high exchanges are often called
'elegant variables'.

See also
Highball, High-Low

Lowball
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Lowball
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
This is a method for buyers, where you start your bidding particularly low.
When negotiating a price on something, for example, it can help to know what
constitutes a reasonable range of prices, so do your research beforehand to find the
seller's zone of acceptability, then start at, or even below the bottom of their range. This
may be justified with an argument about why you are offering so little.

223
Be careful about starting out asking the other person what their price is, as this will
anchor the discussion (and their expectations) at a higher price.

Example
My son wants to stay out late, coming back at 3am. I start by saying that
I want him back at 10pm. We settle on midnight.

Sorry, sir, there's no call for these thing nowadays. It's damaged, too.
The best I can offer is...

A car dealer phones around personal adverts of individual selling cars,


making very low offers. If they are not immediately rejected, they follow
up to see how low a price they can get.

Discussion
Where you start sets expectations for the other person. When you start low, you can
always go up. When you start high, you can never go down.
Starting low creates an anchor for the other person, whereby they may well assume that
this is in a reasonable range. If their counter-bid is lower than you expected, then you
will end up with a good price. Even if they are below what you expected, do not settle
immediately -- at best split the difference and you may be able to nudge them even
higher.
A low start may well take longer to reach resolution, giving you more opportunity to
find out more about the other person and to build effective tension.
If the other person counters with a highball (or starts to walk away), this may be a
signal that they know what you are doing. Hold your nerve! If you collapse your
position, they may well take advantage and seek to pull you even further down.
Be careful about starting too low, as this may cause a betrayal response whereby they
leave without further ado, ignoring anything you may say. Extreme positions outside of
a range that may be considered fair can also be damaging to relationships (which may
be important).
The difference between your start position and your end position is a signal to the other
person about how much you have conceded to them. A significant difference will make
them believe they have got a bargain (a view you can encourage with sighs and
supporting words).

See also
Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic, Highball

New issue
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > New issue
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Bring up a new issue in the middle of the negotiation.

• Use this when things are getting sticky and you need to get them
thinking about something else.

224
• Use it when you think you have conceded too much and they are
getting more than their fair share.
• Use it to cause delays when you need time to think or take other
action.

You can later drop the issue as appropriate (perhaps negotiating this for another
concession).

Example
I've just had a call from the boss -- he now needs to do this in half the
time.

I've been looking at the design and I think we'll need an extra safety
system.

...You know, I know I added this, but I think we may be able to do


without it...

Discussion
When the other side is struggling to handle the complexities of the negotiation, adding
extra things can overload them, thus creating pressure for them to make concessions in
order to reduce the pressure.
When the other side is having things too easy, a new issue can cause them to pause,
breaking the flow of their progress.
Adding the issue late into the session will make it less likely that they will respond by
pulling out.

See also
Quivering quill, Confusion principle, Distraction principle

New player
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > New player
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When a negotiation that is taking a number of meetings is getting stuck or things are
turning for the worse (for you), bring a new person from your side to the table.
Add a new member or change a person in a negotiation team.
Change the person doing the negotiation.
Bring in a subject expert to give advice.
Bring in an observer to watch body language and add a fresh eye.

Example
I am getting nowhere in persuading my son, so I ask my wife to talk with
him.

A person is unsuccessful at asking the boss for a raise, so they bring in


their trade union representative.

A buying team wants to shake up a negotiation with a sales team and so


changes several members of its team.

225
Discussion
As negotiations progress, relationships start to build between the two sides. This creates
an inter-group social pattern of which the other side can be taken advantage, for
example by incremental conversion. Changing your team make-up breaks this pattern
and allows you to remove any suspect people
A new person on your team will disrupt and distract the other side as they seek to figure
out what this person is like and what part they will play.
A new negotiator is often able to sweep away commitments made by the previous
negotiator.
A new expert can help you challenge claims from the other side, identify that which has
not been mentioned. They can counter arguments or create your own new arguments.

See also
Distraction principle

Nibbling
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Nibbling
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Ask for small things, one at a time. Get agreement on each.
Frame the request as being very easy for the other person to give. Be appreciative when
they give. Reward them with kind words and thanks.
You can leave a delay between each one. You can also ask a short sequence of nibbles
and then give it a rest before asking for more.
This can be particularly effective near the end of the negotiation, when the other person
is seeking to reach a final agreement. It can also work near the beginning, to get the ball
rolling.

Example
Oh, just one more thing -- it's not much really -- could I have one more
seat?

Can I have that table there? And please send the waiter over
immediately. I also want water for everyone, now.

This window system is just what I want. The stained glass is included, of
course?...The hardwood surrounds as well, I know?

Discussion
In the way that a rabbit nibble at a lettuce leaf with small bites, so also is 'nibbling' a
way of getting a lot.
Asking for a small thing makes it seem mean for the other person to refuse. It can also
make them feel good by giving you something that seems small to them and makes you
so happy.

226
At the start of the negotiation, getting a small concession sets the tone of the negotiation
(that you get something for nothing).
When the other person believes the deal has been agreed (or nearly agreed), then they
will give in on a small detail very easily.

See also
The personal-closure trap, Escalating demand, Foot In The Door (FITD

No authority
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > No authority
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Refuse to give in on items based on the fact that you have not been given authority to
do what is being requested by the other person.
You can, if you wish, offer to take the request back to that authority for consideration
(and, at the next meeting, tell them that the request has been turned down).
You can name the authority, particularly if the person named is known and has a high
position.

Example
Sorry, I only have the authority to spend up to a thousand.

I'll have to ask your mother about that.

I'd love to give you that, but I don't think I'd get away with it.

Discussion
When you claim that you do not have authority to make a decision, then this effectively
prevents the other person from disputing your decision, as the authority person is not
there.
If you use the name of a person in particularly high authority, then you gain by proxy a
certain amount of that authority, and can make more demands than you might
otherwise.
Claiming no authority can cause problems when the other person asks to deal with the
person in authority. For this, you will have to be able say no (you do have authority for
this!).

See also
Non-negotiable, Mandate

Non-negotiable
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Non-negotiable
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

227
Description
Make one or more items that you need or want to be things on which you will not
concede at all.
When the other person tries to bargain with you on a non-negotiable, state that you are
not prepared to negotiate on this thing. If they persist, just use a broken record response.
You can distract them from any persistence by offering a concession on something else.

Example
I'm sorry, I cannot include the carpets. They were my parents.

I must have four wheel drive. That's a nice car, but I must have four
wheel drive.

Sorry, son, homework comes first. It may be your best friend's party, but
you can't go until homework is done -- to my satisfaction, too.

Discussion
When the other person believes that you are not going to concede on a particular item,
then they have the choice of terminating the negotiation or giving in on that point.
Unless they have a walk-away alternative, then the thought of terminating relationship
will not be a good option for them.

See also
Needs, wants and likes, The walk-away alternative, Mandate

Overwhelm
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Overwhelm
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Give the other side so much information that they become overwhelmed and unable to
cope.
When they ask for details about your company, give them sheafs of history, financial
analyses, market information.
When they ask you for information verbally, go on at great length, talking about all the
exceptions and variations in the area they are asking about.
Snow them under with a blizzard of information. Hide the needle that they are seeking
in a haystack of irrelevant data.
You can also overwhelm them with requests. Keep asking for information. Probe for
more and more answers.

Example
You wanted to see our customer results for the SB04 product line. I've
had my secretary send you all the customer results we have. I'm sure it's
in there somewhere.

School numbers? Yes, well there's 2000 special educational units, 24 of


those with under-fives, six within this in this very city...then there's the

228
educational units in hospitals, of course, I don't know if you want to
include these but they are sometimes important...

How many are you looking for? What type? What variant? Which year?

We want to see all your financial records for the past ten years, including
divisional results and internal analyses.

Discussion
When you snow another person you cannot be accused of being unhelpful or failing to
comply with their requests.
This is also an opportunity to show them how busy you are, how much work you do and
how really complex and difficult it really is.

See also
Data dump

Padding
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Padding
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Add in requirements to your initial position that you do not really need. Then later,
when you need to concede in order to get something you want, give away this 'padding'.
Do not do this lightly. Act in the same way as if you were conceding something you
really want.
You can pad on any variables or individual items or even some combination.
Be ready to justify why you want these things. Beware of including what you cannot
reasonably justify.

Example
I must have this done by the end of the week...well, ok, I'll accept it next
Friday if you include a full specification.

My wife said it must be red...Well, I'll take the green one, but only if you
include the full insurance package. I guess I'll have to think about what
to say to Jean...

I need a meeting room for twenty people...Well, I guess I'll have to stop
Jim and Mary from coming. Coffee is included in that price, isn't it?

Discussion
Your initial position is often taken as what you really want, and that its entire contents
are at least very desirable to you. When you concede from this, then is is assumed that
you are giving away something that you would rather have.
In order to work, padding has to be credible. If it is suspected that you are deliberately
padding then all of your requirements will be suspect and open to challenge.

See also
Bluff

229
Phasing
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Phasing
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you are introducing something that is unpalatable or unpleasant in some way,
offer to phase it in over time.
The reverse may also be done: phasing out something that is desirable.
Sometimes you can do this in one go. Announce it at one point and then delay the
introduction.

Example
A salesperson makes an offer to phase payments over time in return for
signing the deal today.

A change manager phases in difficult changes over time, whilst phasing


out some of the benefits that can no longer be afforded.

A government announces a tax increase, but defers it for six months.


This results in a muted response from the general public.

Discussion
When something painful happens, there is a double blow in the pain of the
announcement and the pain of it actually happening. If the occurrence is delayed, then
by the time the event occurs the people involved will have adjusted and be emotionally
ready for the event.
Phasing a thing over time makes the pain more frequent, but also more tolerable each
time. This may range from financial pain (whereby the person simply could not afford it
in a single go) to emotional pain, where the pain of loss (for example) can be
particularly upsetting.

See also
Slicing

Plant
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Plant
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Have another person upset the applecart by saying something controversial or otherwise
putting the other person off their stride. For example:

• Criticizing the other person's argument.


• Introducing a new consideration that changes the whole situation.
• Asking irrelevant questions.
• Talking for a long time.

230
• Using contradictory or negative body language.

This person can be someone on your side who acts like a 'loose cannon' or may be an
apparently neutral bystander.
Be careful that the plant is not so annoying that they completely dissuade the other
person from wanting to negotiate with you. Also, of course, make sure that the other
person does not guess that the plant is acting deliberately. It is thus

Example
When telling my son to go to bed, my daughter makes a comment about
it being childish to argue like that (which I asked her to say beforehand,
knowing how the argument would proceed).

In a team negotiation, a person on one side brought in as a subject


expert keeps talking about things that are not relevant, wandering off-
topic when they are talking.

A primed bystander looks shocked at the other side's position. They


shake their head and frown at many of the things the other side says.

Discussion
A 'plant' is a person who is deliberately 'planted' into a situation for a particular purpose.
A Plant is also Belbin's team role, where the person is creative and comes up with good
ideas, but may well not be focused achieving closure on the best answer (and thus, in
teams, needs to be controlled).

See also
Belbin's Team Roles

Quivering quill
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Quivering quill
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Wait until you are just about to sign the deal and then pause. You may even have the
pen in your hand (the 'quivering quill'). Look at the other person and ask for some extra
concession. It may even be something quite significant.

Example
Mmm. Before I sign, I want one more thing to be included in this. If you
give me an upgrade to the next model for the same price, then the deal
is yours today.

Whoops. I forgot to ask. I can bring the children as well, can't I?

Oh yes, before I go, you will ask Bill, won't you?

Discussion
When the deal is just about to close, then the other person may well have already
emotionally closed and assumed that the deal is complete. The thought of you pulling

231
out is thus so painful for them that they will make significant concessions just to get the
agreement complete (and the pain of re-opening relieved).

See also
The personal-closure trap

Red herring
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Red herring
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Lay a false trail that the other person will follow.
Make sure the trail goes away from the things you do not want them to discover.
If you want them to waste time, make the trail long.
If you want them to expend effort, make the trail difficult to follow (but with enough
interesting clues to keep them sniffing.
You can highlight 'problems' which turn out not to be problems (after a degree of
examination).
Be careful to retain credibility, for example by referencing the trail through other
people.

Example
A company shows some interesting, but minor problems to an auditor,
distracting them from the really serious issues that may be found
elsewhere.
There might be a problem with the paintwork, let's look...No! The
paintwork is, in fact, perfect.

Discussion
Laying a false trail leads people away from areas that you do not want them to see. To
do this, the trail must be of sufficient interest that the other person misses any clues to
other areas.
Red herrings are particularly useful when the activity is time-bound -- that is, time spent
following the red herring is time that can not be spent in other areas.
Talking about problems that are not really problems has effects beyond distraction. For
example, it may show you in a positive light as willing to highlight issues that may
count against you. Also, the relief that problems are not problems creates a sense of
closure that easily becomes agreement to the deal.
If the other person realizes that it is a deliberate red herring, they may be very unhappy
about this, so it should either be cloaked carefully or you must be protected from any
anger.

See also
Confusion principle

232
Russian Front
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Russian Front
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Offer them something that they will never choose. Dress it up so that it seems more
reasonable (at least that it is reasonable that you might offer it to them).
Make it seem inevitable. Show how it is going to happen. Paint the picture of pain.
Then offer them the alternative that you really want them to choose.

Example
Well, I do hear they need people with your talents down in Sewage
Maintenance, and there are openings there -- the last guy ended up in
hospital. Though I've also got contacts in reception -- would you like me
to ask them?

You can go to bed now ... or you can clean up this mess.

Uh oh. You've done it now. Michael will not like that. And he's coming
down in ten minutes. Tell you what: there is something I can do...

Discussion
One of the things that many German soldiers feared in the second world war was being
sent to the Russian front, where you was as likely to die from the cold as from a
Russian bullet (and the Russians were pretty mad at being invaded, just as they were
when Napoleon tried the same trick).
Offering something that is clearly undesirable creates panic and discomfort. This causes
people anxious to get away from this -- to the point where they are looking more at
what they are avoiding than what they are getting instead.
This is an application of the Hurt and Rescue principle and also the Contrast principle.
The Russian front provides the pain, against which any alternative sounds wonderful.

See also
Hurt and Rescue principle

Reducing choice
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Reducing choice
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Reduce the choices that the other person has to a limited number -- two or three is often
good. Four or five may be ok but can be too much. Ten is way too many.
In offering choices, you can of course provide biased choice, making the things you
want the best or only things that they choose.

233
Avoid offering too many choices at once. Too many options will either lead to
confusion or happy mulling over all the options (but no decision).
You can get through many options by revealing new choices or descending a
hierarchical tree of choices.

Example
We can visit your family next week or the week after -- I'm away for a
while then. (limited choice)

Do you want fries with that?...and salad?...green or mixed? ...what


dressing would you like?... (revealing choice)

Do you want a large or small car?...is is for family or just you?...how


many doors?... (hierarchical choice)

Discussion
When you reduce choice in negotiations, you can eliminate those things that you do not
want and focus on the things you do want.
If you give a person no choice, they will feel as if you are controlling them. If you give
them too much choice, they will be confused. Judging vs. perceiving preferences will
affect choice, as perceivers prefer more options (so give them more).

See also
Alternative Close, Biased choice, Fair criteria

See you in court


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > See you in court
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Threaten to take the whole thing to a higher authority or some public forum.
Suggest that some third party be brought in to mediate or arbitrate.
You can accompany this with either cool rationality or emotion and drama. Each will
have a different effect.

Example
Right! I'm telling Mum on you!

If we can't agree here, then we'll need to involve the whole team in the
decision.

That is just too much. I think we should ask Michael what he thinks.

Hmm. I think I am going to have to get the Union involved.

Discussion
In court, control is taken away from the negotiators, with a judge or jury making the
decisions. If you believe you are more likely to win the case in this kind of
environment, then moving to this will gain you advantage. If the other person knows
this, then the threat of doing this will get them to concede more.

234
Court is a very public place where people's dirty washing gets aired. The thought of this
loss of face can be very persuasive in getting people to think again about the agreements
they are making.

See also
Review: The Third Side, Threat principle

Shotgun
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Shotgun
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Refuse to continue until a concession is gained.
Make it clear that nothing is going to happen until they give in on a single, named item.

Example
I let you use the car yesterday. I'm not doing that again until you clear
up your room.

I want a much better discount...Sorry, I'm not interested in talking about


add-ons or finance deals until we agree the discount.

Discussion
Use this method particularly when you have conceded to the other person, but they have
not given enough back in return.
Generally, people concede in turn. When you have the upper hand in that the other
person wants what you have more than you want what they have, then you may be able
to demand several concessions before you concede on one thing.

See also
Breaking it off

Side Payments
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Side Payments
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When what one side wants is more than what the other side wants, balance the
difference with a cash payment.
This will need a valuation of the items being exchanged. An independent agent may be
used for this or it can just be included in the negotiation.

Example
In a house exchange, where an older couple are swapping their big house
with a young family who have a smaller bungalow, the difference in value
is negotiated and the family pay this in cash.

235
Look, I'll give you this Honda and five hundred extra for your Ford, which
I know is a bit newer.

Discussion
Where the negotiation is not about buying something, there is often an unspoken
assumption that the exchange is goods-for-goods or some other non-financial
interaction. Bringing in a compensatory balance can help to make things more
acceptable.
The same principle can be used in other ways, for example where a sales person 'throws
in' additional products to make their price more tempting.

See also
Exchange principle

Slicing
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Slicing
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Slice a larger deal up into a number of smaller complete deals.
Build smaller packages on which you can gain agreement.
You can take out the items that are difficult to agree and agree on the things on which
you can get a good agreement. The difficult items may then be negotiated one at a time.
Gain clear agreement on each one before moving on to the next, possibly at another
time.

Example
Right, so you'll spend tomorrow digging the hole. Let's get back together
when that's complete.

Look, we are not agreeing on the location, so let's first agree on the
timescales.

If we sign the contract as is, we can add a contract variation later.

Discussion
Slicing allows you to gain agreement in a situation where there may be a sticking point
over which agreement cannot yet be gained.
Sometimes slicing a deal up just into two parts can be very helpful in achieving focus.
By breaking down the negotiation into lots of smaller negotiations, you may be able to
get more for your money.

See also
The size heuristic

Split the difference

236
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Split the difference
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you have offered one amount (often, but not necessarily, money) and the other
person has named another amount, then offer to 'split the difference', to agree on a price
that is half-way between what you want and what the other person wants.

Example
It's lower than I really wanted, but I'd be prepared to split the difference.

You are offering 200. I want 300. For a quick sale, I'll accept 250.

Discussion
Splitting the difference, agreeing a solution that is half-way between two positions,
appears to be fair, and hence can be difficult to refuse.
The trick with this is to maneuver the situation such that a half-way position is actually
still a very agreeable solution for you.

See also
The Need for Fairness

Take it or leave it
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Take it or leave it
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
When you make an offer to the other person, say 'take it or leave it'.
Leave a long pause after this, just looking expectantly at them (or maybe leaving them
to stew for a while by themselves).
Show that if they leave it, then this is not important to you, for example by
demonstrating your walk-away beforehand, or by acting in a casual manner.

Example
That's all I've got. Take it or leave it.

That's the best offer I can make. I've done as much as I can for you now,
so you're going to have to take it or leave it.

Well, you can take it now, or you can leave it forever. If you don't take it,
I really think you'll regret that decision for a long time.

Discussion
Saying 'take it or leave it' is a form of Alternative Close, that offers two choices, but
where one is intended as being unacceptable, thus forcing the actual choice.
If the other person has a walk-away alternative, then leaving it may be a very real
option, so be careful about using this method in such circumstances (for example by
making sure your walk-away is better).

237
See also
The walk-away alternative, Using pauses

Trial balloon
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Trial balloon
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Suggest a final solution and see if the other side bites. Float out an idea and see if they
run with it or away from it. Explore possibilities that will lead to closure.
For example:

• Ask 'what if?' and wait for 'how?'


• Use 'If I...will you...'
• Use 'Let's...' and see if they agree.
• Say 'Are you ready to agree now?'

Example
How about going to the restaurant tonight?

If we can agree on the final numbers, are you ready to sign today?

Right. We've agreed on the date and price. Is that it?

Discussion
It is easy to assume that the other person will not accept an idea or is not ready for
closure. The fear of their refusal can thus prevent you from exploring or trying
something out.
All you need to do to use a trial balloon is to add some form of qualifier or otherwise
ask questions that will lead them to consider moving forward with you.

See also
Assumption principle

Undiscussable
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Undiscussable
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Make a subject that is particularly embarrassing undiscussable. If the other person
brings it up, refuse to talk about it.
This can be applied to individual negotiables also.
Distract them by moving quickly on to a separate and different subject -- preferably one
that they will find interesting.

238
If they persist, a way to prevent them continuing is to give some detail that embarrasses
them into giving up.

Example
Sorry, I don't talk about my private life. Would you like to hear about
what happened at the party last week?

No, it has to be green...I just want green, ok!!

I can't be at the meeting tomorrow because it's my grandmother's


funeral. Ok? Happy now??

Discussion
Making something undiscussable puts it off the agenda. A flat refusal
This is a typical method that is used for things that are particularly embarrassing. In
groups, it is not uncommon for people to have unspoken agreements that 'I will not talk
about your failings if you do not talk about mine'. When a new member enters the
group, they quickly learn what not to talk about.
The 'Emperor's New Clothes' is a parable that shows how even obvious things become
undiscussable.

See also
The wince

War
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > War
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Threaten them with extreme action that will cause them significant discomfort.
If they do not comply with your demands, threaten to do something that will cause them
significant trouble and pain, even if it also would cause you pain.
There are two dimensions that you can apply: the level of pain and how long it goes on
for. If you cannot cause significant pain, a long war of attrition may be enough. A
dripping tap wears away even the hardest stone.

Example
If you don't give me what I want right now, the next thing you hear will
be from my lawyer. I'm not kidding here: I'll sue you for everything
you've got.

If we cannot agree on the right price for your company, I may just set up
in competition with you and drive you out of business.

I won't! I won't!! I won't!!! And if you try to make me, I'll scream and
scream and scream!!

Discussion
When you threaten war or some other extreme action, you are demonstrating that you
are prepared to go to any lengths to get your way. This lack of consistency with 'normal

239
behavior' makes it difficult for the other person to predict what you will do and their
consequent fear leads them to capitulate.
It is particularly scary when they realize that you are prepared to do battle even if the
cost to you is high. This lack of rationality again makes you difficult to predict.
The notion of extreme action also gives a contrast between the loss of capitulation and
the loss that the extreme actions would cause. In this case, even total capitulation may
seem like a better option.

See also
Contrast principle, Threat principle

Widows and orphans


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > Widows and orphans
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

Description
Get the sympathy vote by showing how you are helping those less fortunate than
yourself.
Alternatively, show how what the other person is suggesting will hurt those innocents.
Play to the crowd: Add some drama. If there are others there, play to them as well.

Example
Nice idea, but have you thought about the effect it will have on the
children??

I thought that as we go to London, we could stop off to see my father. He


is rather unwell and would be cheered up by the visit.

Excuse me Mike, do you agree with Sally? She wants to get rid of
Jennifer, who is, as we all know, a struggling single parent.

A woman begging takes a child with her.

Discussion
Using the 'widows and orphans' approach is an appeal to the values of the other person,
in particular the broad social moral which says that we should not harm those who are
weaker than ourselves.
In normal use, this is a highly effective value for creating social cohesion and support
for the needy. In negotiation, it can be a coercive and effective bind.

See also
Appeal to Emotion

The wince
Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation tactics > The wince
Description | Example | Discussion | See also

240
Description
When they name their price or what they want in exchange for what you are offering,
visibly wince.
Look startled and shocked. Look at them in disbelief.
Say nothing, as if you are shocked into silence. And then wait for them to make another
offer.
If they say nothing (give them plenty of time), you can ask them to repeat it or ask if
they are sure.

Example
I am buying a car on a private sale. The seller names his price. I jump a
little take a sharp intake of breath and look alarmed. I take a few paces
back from the car and shake my head. Then I look at him and raise my
eyebrows. He reduces his price. I incline my head and step forward
again...

Discussion
When you wince and look shocked at a named price, you are sending a signal that the
other person that they are breaking social norms. Most people are very fearful of the
consequences of such an act and, even in a negotiation, will back down rather than
thought of in this way.
When you show shock, it is also a signal that you may well back out of the negotiation
(a physical movement backwards emphasizes this). To keep you in the negotiation, the
other person will believe they have to act fast, perhaps by making a substantially
revised offer (if you are thinking of leaving, a small change may not be enough).

See also
Social Norms, Better than that, The wince

Defense Mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Defense Mechanisms
Anxiety and tension | Defense Mechanisms | So what?

Sigmund Freud describes how the Ego uses a range of mechanisms to handle the
conflict between the Id, the Ego and the Super ego, which is why these mechanisms are
often called 'Ego defense mechanisms'.

Anxiety and tension


Freud noted that a major drive for most people is the reduction in tension, and that a
major cause of tension was anxiety. He identified three different types of anxiety.
Reality Anxiety
This is the most basic form of anxiety and is typically based on fears of real and
possible events, such as being bitten by a dog or falling from a ladder.
The most common way of reducing tension from Reality Anxiety is taking oneself
away from the situation, running away from the dog or simply refusing to go up the
ladder.

241
Neurotic Anxiety
This is a form of anxiety which comes from an unconscious fear that the basic impulses
of the ID (the primitive part of our personality) will take control of the person, leading
to eventual punishment (this is thus a form of Moral Anxiety).
Moral Anxiety
This form of anxiety comes from a fear of violating values and moral codes, and
appears as feelings of guilt or shame.

Defense Mechanisms
When anxiety occurs, the mind first responds by an increase in problem-solving
thinking, seeking rational ways of escaping the situation. If this is not fruitful (and
maybe anyway), a range of defense mechanisms may be triggered. In Freud's language,
these are tactics which the Ego develops to help deal with the Id and the Super Ego.
All Defense Mechanisms share two common properties :

• They often appear unconsciously.


• They tend to distort, transform, or otherwise falsify reality.

In distorting reality, there is a change in perception which allows for a lessening of


anxiety, with a corresponding reduction in felt tension.
Freud's Defense Mechanisms include:

• Denial: claiming/believing that what is true to be actually false.


• Displacement: redirecting emotions to a substitute target.
• Intellectualization: taking an objective viewpoint.
• Projection: attributing uncomfortable feelings to others.
• Rationalization: creating false but credible justifications.
• Reaction Formation: overacting in the opposite way to the fear.
• Regression: going back to acting as a child.
• Repression: pushing uncomfortable thoughts into the subconscious.
• Sublimation: redirecting 'wrong' urges into socially acceptable actions.

So what?
Psychoanalysis often involves a long series of sessions with the client in which original
causes are sought out (often searching through childhood relationships) and cathartic
experiences of realization are used to teach the client how these mechanisms are no
longer appropriate.
For Freud, the purpose of psychoanalysis was to bring repressed memories, fears and
thoughts back to the conscious level of awareness. Two techniques he used are free
association and dream analysis. He considered dreams as the "royal road" to the
unconscious. He also analyzed and interpreted the various defense mechanisms.
In persuasion, you can watch for these dysfunctional mechanisms in people and either
work around them or with them as appropriate.
You should also watch for these mechanisms in yourself, and either learn to handle
them or get professional help in doing so.

242
See also
Coping Mechanisms, Cognitive Dissonance, Freud's Personality Factors, Concepts in
psychoanalysis

Denial
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping mechanisms > Denial
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Denial is simply refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred. The person
affected simply acts as if nothing has happened, behaving in ways that others may see
as bizarre.
In its full form, it is totally subconscious, and sufferers may be as mystified by the
behavior of people around them as those people are by the behavior of the sufferers. It
may also have a significant conscious element, where the sufferer is simply 'turning a
blind eye' to an uncomfortable situation.

Example
A man hears that his wife has been killed, and yet refuses to believe it,
still setting the table for her and keeping her clothes and other
accoutrements in the bedroom.

A person having an affair does not think about pregnancy or sexually


transmitted diseases.

People take credit for their successes and find 'good reason' for their
failures, blaming the situation, other people, etc.

Alcoholics vigorously deny that they have a problem.

Optimists deny that things may go wrong. Pessimists deny they may
succeed.

Discussion
Denial is a form of repression, where stressful thoughts are banned from memory. If I
do not think about it, then I do not suffer the associated stress have to deal with it.
However, people engaging in Denial can pay a high cost in terms of the psychic energy
needed to maintain the denial state.
Repression and Denial are two primary defense mechanisms which everybody uses.
Children find denial easier, as with age, the ego matures and understands more about
the "objective reality" it must operate within.
Denial is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
When you appear to deny a situation, then the other person may join you in the denial
or may have to handle it in a way that is not as direct as they otherwise might.

See also
Avoidance, Compartmentalization, Idealization, Rationalization, Repression

243
Displacement
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Displacement
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Displacement is the shifting of actions from a desired target to a substitute target when
there is some reason why the first target is not permitted or not available.
Displacement may involve retaining the action and simply shifting the target of that
action. Where this is not feasible, the action itself may also change. Where possible the
second target will resemble the original target in some way.
Phobias may also use displacement as a mechanism for releasing energy that is caused
in other ways.

Example
The boss gets angry and shouts at me. I go home and shout at my wife.
She then shouts at our son. With nobody left to displace anger onto, he
goes and kicks the dog.

A man wins the lottery. He turns to the person next to him and gives the
person a big kiss.
A boy is afraid of horses. It turns out to be a displaced fear of his father.

I want to speak at a meeting but cannot get a word in edgeways.


Instead, I start scribbling furiously.

A religious person who is sexually frustrated focuses their attention on


food, becoming a gourmet.

A woman, rejected by her boyfriend, goes out with another man 'on the
rebound'.

Discussion
Displacement occurs when the Id wants to do something of which the Super ego does
not permit. The Ego thus finds some other way of releasing the psychic energy of the
Id. Thus there is a transfer of energy from a repressed object-cathexis to a more
acceptable object.
Displaced actions tend to be to into related areas or subjects. If I want to shout at a
person but feel that I cannot, then shouting at somebody else is preferred to going to
play the piano, although this may still be used if there is no other way I can release my
anger.
Displacements are often quite satisfactory and workable mechanisms for releasing
energy more safely.
Dreams can be interpreted as the displacement of stored tensions into other forms
(dreams are often highly metaphoric).
Displacement is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?

244
When people do strange things, work with them to find if there are other places from
which they are displacing their energy - then deal with the real reason, not the displaced
reason.
Attend to your own displacements. You probably have quite a few, as do most of us.

See also
Avoidance, Fantasy, Projection, Somatization

Intellectualization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Intellectualization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Intellectualization is a 'flight into reason', where the person avoids uncomfortable
emotions by focusing on facts and logic. The situation is treated as an interesting
problem that engages the person on a rational basis, whilst the emotional aspects are
completely ignored as being irrelevant.
Jargon is often used as a device of intellectualization. By using complex terminology,
the focus becomes on the words and finer definitions rather than the human effects.

Example
A person told they have cancer asks for details on the probability of
survival and the success rates of various drugs. The doctor may join in,
using 'carcinoma' instead of 'cancer' and 'terminal' instead of 'fatal'.

A woman who has been raped seeks out information on other cases and
the psychology of rapists and victims. She takes self-defense classes in
order to feel better (rather than more directly addressing the
psychological and emotional issues).

A person who is in heavily debt builds a complex spreadsheet of how long


it would take to repay using different payment options and interest rates.

Discussion
Intellectualization protects against anxiety by repressing the emotions connected with
an event. It is also known as 'Isolation of affect' as the affective elements are removed
from the situation.
Freud believed that memories have both conscious and unconscious aspects, and that
intellectualization allows for the conscious analysis of an event in a way that does not
provoke anxiety.
Intellectualization is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
When people treat emotionally difficult situations in cold and logical ways, it often does
not mean that they are emotionally stunted, only that they are unable to handle the
emotion at this time. You can decide to give them space now so they can maintain their
dignity, although you may also decide to challenge them in a more appropriate time and
setting.

245
When you challenge a person who is intellectualizing, they may fight back (which is
attack, another form of defense) or switch to other forms of defense.

See also
Denial, Dissociation, Rationalization, Repression

Projection
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Projection
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When a person has uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, they may project these onto
other people, assigning the thoughts or feelings that they need to repress to a convenient
alternative target.
Projection may also happen to obliterate attributes of other people with which we are
uncomfortable. We assume that they are like us, and in doing so we allow ourselves to
ignore those attributes they have with which we are uncomfortable.

• Neurotic projection is perceiving others as operating in ways one


unconsciously finds objectionable in yourself.
• Complementary projection is assuming that others do, think and feel
in the same way as you.
• Complimentary projection is assuming that others can do things as
well as you.

Projection also appears where we see our own traits in other people, as in the false
consensus effect. Thus we see our friends as being more like us than they really are.

Example
I do not like another person. But I have a value that says I should like
everyone. So I project onto them that they do not like me. This allows
me to avoid them and also to handle my own feelings of dislike.

An unfaithful husband suspects his wife of infidelity.

A woman who is attracted to a fellow worker accuses the person of sexual


advances.

Discussion
Projecting thoughts or emotions onto others allows the person to consider them and
how dysfunctional they are, but without feeling the attendant discomfort of knowing
that these thoughts and emotions are their own. We can thus criticize the other person,
distancing ourselves from our own dysfunction.
One explanation is that the ego perceives dysfunction from 'somewhere' and then seeks
to locate that somewhere. The super ego warns of punishment if that somewhere is
internal, so the ego places it in a more acceptable external place - often in convenient
other people.

246
Projection turns neurotic or moral anxiety into reality anxiety, which is easier to deal
with.
Projection is a common attribute of paranoia, where people project dislike of
themselves onto others such that they believe that most other people dislike them.
Projection helps justify unacceptable behavior, for example where a person claims that
they are sticking up for themselves amongst a group of aggressive other people.
Empathy, where a person experiences the perceived emotions of others, may be
considered as a 'reverse' form of projection, where a person projects other people onto
themselves. Identification may also be a form of reverse projection.
Projection is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
To work authentically with other people, avoid projecting your woes onto them. When
you see others in a negative light, think: are you projecting? Also understand that when
others criticizing you, they may well be criticizing a projection of themselves.
When others are using projection, you can hold up a mirror to show them what they are
doing. As usual, this may well be met with other forms of resistance.

See also
Projection and Introjection, Projective identification
Displacement, Fantasy, False Consensus

Rationalization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Rationalization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When something happens that we find difficult to accept, then we will make up a
logical reason why it has happened.
The target of rationalization is usually something that we have done, such as being
unkind to another person. It may also be used when something happens independent of
us which causes us discomfort, such as when a friend is unkind to us.
We rationalize to ourselves. We also find it very important to rationalize to other
people, even those we do not know.

Example
A person evades paying taxes and then rationalizes it by talking about
how the government wastes money (and how it is better for people to
keep what they can).

A man buys a expensive car and then tells people his old car was very
unreliable, very unsafe, etc.

A person fails to get good enough results to get into a chosen university
and then says that they didn't want to go there anyway.

A parent punishes a child and says that it is for the child's 'own good'.

247
I trip and fall over in the street. I tell a passer-by that I have recently
been ill.

Discussion
When a person does something of which the moral super ego disapproves, then the ego
seeks to defend itself by adding reasons that make the action acceptable to the super
ego. Thus we are able to do something that is outside our values and get away with it
without feeling too guilty.
This is related to our need to explain what happens. Our need for esteem also leads us to
rationalize to others.
Rationalization happens with bullies and victims. The bully rationalizes what they have
done by saying that their victim 'deserved it'.
Self-Serving Bias uses rationalization when it leads to taking more credit for success
than we deserve and blame others for our failures.
Rationalization is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
Watch for your own rationalizations. If you can be honest with yourself and with other
people, you can gain esteem for your courage and integrity.
In persuasion, offer people logical reasons that people can use to rationalize their
compliance with your arguments. Sometimes people disagree simply because they do
not want to agree with you, such as with teenagers and parents, or perhaps do not like to
feel persuaded, so give them reasons to focus on the substance rather than the
persuader.

See also
Esteem, Explain, Intellectualization, Self-Serving Bias

Reaction Formation
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Reaction Formation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Reaction Formation occurs when a person feels an urge to do or say something and then
actually does or says something that is effectively the opposite of what they really want.
It also appears as a defense against a feared social punishment. If I fear that I will be
criticized for something, I very visibly act in a way that shows I am personally a long
way from the feared position.
A common pattern in Reaction Formation is where the person uses ‘excessive
behavior’, for example using exaggerated friendliness when the person is actually
feeling unfriendly.

Example
A person who is angry with a colleague actually ends up being particularly
courteous and friendly towards them.

248
A man who is gay has a number of conspicuous heterosexual affairs and
openly criticizes gays.

A mother who has a child she does not want becomes very protective of
the child.

An alcoholic extols the virtues of abstinence.

Discussion
A cause of Reaction Formation is when a person seeks to cover up something
unacceptable by adopting an opposite stance. For example the gay person who has
heterosexually promiscuous may be concealing their homosexual reality. This may be a
conscious concealment but also may well occur at the subconscious level such that they
do not realize the real cause of their behavior. Reaction Formation thus can turn
homosexual tendencies (love men) to homophobic ones (hate men).
Freud called the exaggerated compensation that can appear in Reaction Formation
‘overboarding’ as the person is going overboard in one direction to distract from and
cover up something unwanted in the other direction, such as a person who fears war
becoming a pacifist, convincing themselves that war is wrong (rather than the
‘cowardly’ position that war is scary).
Reaction Formation goes further than projection such that unwanted impulses and
thoughts are not acknowledged.
Extreme patterns of Reaction Formation are found in paranoia and obsessive-
compulsive disorder (OCD), where the person becomes trapped in a cycle of repeating a
behavior that they know (at least at a deep level) is somehow wrong.
Reaction formation is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
When a person takes a position or stance on something, and particularly if that position
is extreme, consider the possibility that their real views are opposite to this. This offers
you two options in persuasion. You can either support their current position or carefully
expose how their underlying tendencies are opposite (and how it is ok to admit this).
To cause a Reaction Formation pattern, show the other person that a particular behavior
is socially unacceptable. Then give them the space and ideas to react against this
undesirable pattern and create their own way of showing how they are actually very far
away from the undesirable behavior.
In a therapeutic situation, help a person who is dysfunctionally forming contrary
reactions by first create a supportive environment where they can admit and accept what
is happening to themselves. Then support their changing of position to somewhere that
is more acceptable and appropriate for them.
Remember that defense mechanisms are usually symptoms of deeper problems and
addressing them directly can be ineffective or even counter-productive. Simply showing
the person that their position is opposed to their real feelings can just cause deeper
entrenchment. Before this, you should first work on their primary conflict.

See also
Projection, Reactance Theory

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Regression
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Regression
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Regression involves taking the position of a child in some problematic situation, rather
than acting in a more adult way. This is usually in response to stressful situations, with
greater levels of stress potentially leading to more overt regressive acts.
Regressive behavior can be simple and harmless, such as a person who is sucking a pen
(as a Freudian regression to oral fixation), or may be more dysfunctional, such as crying
or using petulant arguments..

Example
A wife refuses to drive a car even though it causes the family much
disorganization. A result of her refusal is that her husband has to take her
everywhere.

A person who suffers a mental breakdown assumes a fetal position,


rocking and crying.

A child suddenly starts to wet the bed after years of not doing so (this is
a typical response to the arrival of a new sibling).

A college student carefully takes their teddy-bear with them (and goes to
sleep cuddling it).

Discussion
Regression is a form of retreat, going back to a time when the person felt safer and
where the stresses in question were not known, or where an all-powerful parent would
take them away.
In a Freudian view, the stress of fixations caused by frustrations of the person’s past
psychosexual development may be used to explain a range of regressive behaviors,
including:

• Oral fixation can lead to increase smoking or eating, or vocal actions


including verbal abuse.
• Anal fixation can lead to anal retentive behaviors such as tidying and
fastidiousness. Obsessive-compulsive disorders can occur including those
that lead to cruelty, extreme orderliness, or miserliness
• Phallic fixation can lead to conversion hysteria (the transformation of
psychic energy into physical symptoms) which is disguised sexual impulses.

Regression is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
If the person with whom you are working is showing regressive symptoms, you can
respond to their child state in several ways, including taking a parent position of
authority (nurturing or controlling) or join them in their child place (thus building
alignment).

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See also
Transactional Analysis, The Drama Triangle

Repression
Explanations > Behaviours > Coping > Repression
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Repression involves placing uncomfortable thoughts in relatively inaccessible areas of
the subconscious mind. Thus when things occur that we are unable to cope with now,
we push them away, either planning to deal with them at another time or hoping that
they will fade away on their own accord.
The level of 'forgetting' in repression can vary from a temporary abolition of
uncomfortable thoughts to a high level of amnesia, where events that caused the anxiety
are buried very deep.
Repressed memories do not disappear. They can have an accumulative effect and
reappear as unattributable anxiety or dysfunctional behavior. A high level of repression
can cause a high level of anxiety or dysfunction, although this may also be caused by
the repression of one particularly traumatic incident.
Repressed memories may appear through subconscious means and in altered forms,
such as dreams or slips of the tongue ('Freudian slips').

Example
A child who is abused by a parent later has no recollection of the events,
but has trouble forming relationships.

A woman who found childbirth particularly painful continues to have


children (and each time the level of pain is surprising).

An optimist remembers the past with a rosy glow and constantly repeats
mistakes.

A man has a phobia of spiders but cannot remember the first time he was
afraid of them.

A person greets another with 'pleased to beat you' (the repressed idea of
violence toward the other person creeping through).

Discussion
Repression (sometimes called motivated forgetting) is a primary ego defense
mechanism since the other ego mechanisms use it in tandem with other methods. Thus
defense is often 'repression + ....'.
Repression is unconscious. When we deliberately and consciously try to push away
thoughts, this is suppression.
In Freudian terminology, repression is the restraining of a cathexis by an anti-cathexis.
It is not all bad. If all uncomfortable memories were easily brought to mind we would
be faced with a non-stop pain of reliving them.

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Repression is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms and, to him, the goal of
treatment, i.e., of psychoanalysis, was to bring repressed memories, fears and thoughts
back to the conscious level of awareness.

So what?
When a person is being defensive in some way, think about the repressions that may be
at the root of their problem. Also listen for speech errors and other signals from the
subconscious. You can even start a conversation about recent weird dreams and then
listen for further symbols, though be careful with this, as dreams can be very symbolic.
Help a person recover from the discomfort and dysfunction that repression brings by
digging out the original memory. Be very careful with this, of course - done wrong, it
may only cause more pain.
If you have caused a person stress and they feel unable to respond, you may find that
they act as if nothing had happened. This is a surprisingly common attribute of
persuasive situations. It can gain compliance in the shorter term, but can build up
problems for later.

See also
Defense Mechanisms

Sublimation
Explanations > Behaviours > Coping > Sublimation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Sublimation is the transformation of unwanted impulses into something less harmful.
This can simply be a distracting release or may be a constructive and valuable piece of
work.
When we are faced with the dissonance of uncomfortable thoughts, we create psychic
energy. This has to go somewhere. Sublimation channels this energy away from
destructive acts and into something that is socially acceptable and/or creatively
effective.
Many sports and games are sublimations of aggressive urges, as we sublimate the desire
to fight into the ritualistic activities of formal competition.

Example
I am angry. I go out and chop wood. I end up with a useful pile of
firewood. I am also fitter and nobody is harmed.

A person who has an obsessive need for control and order becomes a
successful business entrepreneur.

A person with strong sexual urges becomes an artist.

A man who has extra-marital desires takes up household repairs when his
wife is out of town.

252
A surgeon turns aggressive energies and deep desires to cut people into
life-saving acts.

Discussion
Sublimation is probably the most useful and constructive of the defense mechanisms as
it takes the energy of something that is potentially harmful and turns it to doing
something good and useful.
Freud believed that the greatest achievements in civilization were due to the effective
sublimation of our sexual and aggressive urges that are sourced in the Id and then
channeled by the Ego as directed by the Super ego. In his more basic musings, he
considered such as painting as a potentially sublimated desire to smear one's own
faeces.
Sublimation is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
Help others who are causing themselves and others problems, for example by their
sexual advances or aggressive outbursts, to re-channel their energies into more
constructive activities.
Beware of 'on the boundary' activities (including your own) where sublimated energy
may switch back into unwanted or anti-social activities or other, less constructive,
coping mechanisms.

See also
Repression, Fantasy

Freud's Personality Factors


Explanations > Personality > Freud's Personality Factors
Three levels of awareness | Three components of personality | Energy and Cathexis | So what?

Sigmund Freud described several components which have been very influential in
understanding personality.

Three levels of awareness


Freud identified three different parts of the mind, based on our level of awareness.
Conscious mind
The conscious mind is where we are paying attention at the moment. It includes only
our current thinking processes and objects of attention, and hence constitutes a very
large part of our current awareness.
Preconscious mind
The preconscious includes those things of which we are aware, but where we are not
paying attention. We can choose to pay attention to these and deliberately bring them
into the conscious mind.
We can control our awareness to a certain extent, from focusing in very closely on one
conscious act to a wider awareness that seeks to expand consciousness to include as
much of preconscious information as possible.

253
Subconscious mind
At the subconscious level, the process and content are out of direct reach of the
conscious mind. The subconscious thus thinks and acts independently.
One of Freud's key findings was that much behavior is driven directly from the
subconscious mind. This has the alarming consequence that we are largely unable to
control our behavior, and in particular that which we would sometimes prefer to avoid.
More recent research has shown that the subconscious mind is probably even more in
charge of our actions than even Freud had realized.

Three components of personality


Clinical psychologist Don Bannister has described Freud's position on the human
personality as being:
"...basically a battlefield. He is a dark-cellar in which a well-bred spinster
lady (the superego) and a sex-crazed monkey (the id) are forever
engaged in mortal combat, the struggle being refereed by a rather
nervous bank clerk (the ego)."

Thus an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are the result of the interaction of
the id, the superego, and the ego. This creates conflict, which creates anxiety, which
leads to Defense Mechanisms.
Id
The Id contains our primitive drives and operates largely according to the pleasure
principle, whereby its two main goals are the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of
pain.
It has no real perception of reality and seeks to satisfy its needs through what Freud
called the primary processes that dominate the existence of infants, including hunger
and self-protection.
The energy for the Id's actions come from libido, which is the energy storehouse.
The id has 2 major instincts:

• Eros: the life instinct that motivates people to focus on pleasure-


seeking tendencies (e.g., sexual urges).
• Thanatos: the death instinct that motivates people to use aggressive
urges to destroy.

Ego
Unlike the Id, the Ego is aware of reality and hence operates via the reality principle,
whereby it recognizes what is real and understands that behaviors have consequences.
This includes the effects of social rules that are necessary in order to live and socialize
with other people. It uses secondary processes (perception, recognition, judgment and
memory) that are developed during childhood.
The dilemma of the Ego is that it has to somehow balance the demands of the Id and
Super ego with the constraints of reality.
The Ego controls higher mental processes such as reasoning and problem-solving,
which it uses to solve the Id-Super ego dilemma, creatively finding ways to safely
satisfy the Id's basic urges within the constraints of the Super ego.
Super ego

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The Super ego contains our values and social morals, which often come from the rules
of right and wrong that we learned in childhood from our parents (this is Freud,
remember) and are contained in the conscience.
The Super ego has a model of an ego ideal and which it uses as a prototype against
which to compare the ego (and towards which it encourages the ego to move).
The Super ego is a counterbalance to the Id, and seeks to inhibit the Id's pleasure-
seeking demands, particularly those for sex and aggression.

Energy and Cathexis


Freud viewed the forces on us as a form of energy, with energy from the senses being
converted into psychic energy in the personality through a topographic model that takes
sensed energy, filters it through various associative metaphors, then passes it through
the unconscious and preconscious before it finally reaches the conscious mind.
Object-cathexis
This is the investment of energy in the image of an object, or the expenditure of energy
in discharge action upon such an object. It occurs in the Id.
Ego-cathexis
This is the investment of energy in mental representations of reality through
associations and metaphors, which is needed for the Ego's secondary processes. It
occurs in the Ego.
Anti-cathexis
This is energy used to block object-cathexes of the Id. Repression occurs in the battle
between cathexis and anti-cathexis. It occurs in the Ego and Super Ego.

So what?
Although later theories have improved understanding, Freud's ideas still provide a
useful model for the more complex actions that are really going on.
To persuade, you can appeal either to the basic urges of the Id or the higher morals of
the Super ego. Then encourage the Ego to make the 'right choice'.

See also
Defense Mechanisms, Freud's Psychosexual Stage Theory

Freud's Psychosexual Stage


Theory
Explanations > Learning Theory > Freud's Psychosexual Stage Theory
The stages | Fixation | So what

Sigmund Freud developed a theory of how our sexuality starts from a very young ages
and develops through various fixations. If these stages are not psychologically
completed and released, we can be trapped by them and they may lead to various
defense mechanisms to avoid the anxiety produced from the conflict in and leaving of
the stage.

255
The stages

Age Name Pleasure source Conflict

Weaning away
Mouth: sucking, biting,
0-2 Oral from mother's
swallowing
breast

Anus: defecating or
2-4 Anal Toilet training
retaining faeces

Oedipus (boys),
4-5 Phallic Genitals
Electra (girls)

Sexual urges sublimated


6- into sports and hobbies.
Latency
puberty Same-sex friends also
help avoid sexual feelings.

Physical sexual changes


reawaken repressed
needs.
puberty
Genital Direct sexual feelings Social rules
onward
towards others lead to
sexual gratification.

Fixation
Strong conflict can fixate people at early stages.
Oral fixation
Oral fixation has two possible outcomes.

• The Oral receptive personality is preoccupied with eating/drinking and


reduces tension through oral activity such as eating, drinking, smoking,
biting nails. They are generally passive, needy and sensitive to rejection.
They will easily 'swallow' other people's ideas.
• The Oral aggressive personality is hostile and verbally abusive to
others, using mouth-based aggression.

Anal fixation
Anal fixation, which may be caused by too much punishment during toilet training, has
two possible outcomes.

• The Anal retentive personality is stingy, with a compulsive seeking of


order and tidiness. The person is generally stubborn and perfectionist.
• The Anal expulsive personality is an opposite of the Anal retentive
personality, and has a lack of self control, being generally messy and
careless.

Phallic fixation
At the age of 5 or 6, near the end of the phallic stage, boys experience the Oedipus
Complex whilst girls experience the Electra conflict, which is a process through which
they learn to identify with the same gender parent by acting as much like that parent as
possible.

256
Boys suffer a castration anxiety, where the son believes his father knows about his
desire for his mother and hence fears his father will castrate him. He thus represses his
desire and defensively identifies with his father.
Girls suffer a penis envy, where the daughter is initially attached to her mother, but then
a shift of attachment occurs when she realizes she lacks a penis. She desires her father
whom she sees as a means to obtain a penis substitute (a child). She then represses her
desire for her father and incorporates the values of her mother and accepts her inherent
'inferiority' in society.
This is Freud, remember. He later also recanted, noting that perhaps he had placed too
much emphasis on sexual connotations.

So what?
Freud's theories are largely criticized now as lacking in substantial corroborative data.
He was, however, using a model to describe observed behavior. His ideas may thus still
be used as metaphors for actual developmental issues.

See also
Sigmund Freud, Defense Mechanisms

Freud
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Theorists > Freud
Description | Discussion | See also

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the oft-misunderstood founder of modern psychotherapy


as well as introducing such important concepts as the unconscious mind and the ego.

• Early and Late Freud: How he changed his mind.


• Freud's Personality Factors: Ego, id, super-ego and cathexis.
• Defense Mechanisms: Many ways we cope with stress.
• Transference: projecting one person onto another.
• Freud's Psychosexual Stage Theory: sex images in early life.
• Identification: Associating with others.
• Internalization: Adopting objects into the personality.
• Incorporation: Primitive ingestion of things into the body.
• Introjective identification: Introjecting good parts of others into the
ego.
• Life and death drives: Eros (libido) and Thanatos.
• Narcissism: Primary self-love.
• Oedipus Complex: Inter-gender jealousies.
• Pleasure-pain principle: seeking immediate gratification, avoiding
discomfort.
• Reality principle: Pragmatic deferral of pleasure.

See also
Klein, Lacan

Early and late Freud


Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Articles > Early and late Freud

257
Early Freud | Later Freud | See also

Freud went through two main phases of thought.

Early Freud
In his early work of the 1880s, he had many patients with hysterical symptoms such as
fits obsessions who reported early sexual traumas that ranged from unpleasant to
shocking. From this, he theorized that later trauma was caused by re-awakening of those
early experiences and that hysterical symptoms were displaced sexual desires.
Psychoanalysis included catharsis, whereby regression to the event to allow the
repressed energy to be released.

Later Freud
By the late 1890s, he concluded that many of these reported experiences had not
actually happened and were actually memories that were based in early phantasy. Like
False Memory Syndrome, what is genuinely experienced as a memory is actually a
construction. He called the mix of perception and emotion 'psychical reality'.
He also discovered transference where the patient replaces an earlier loved person with
the analyst. Refusal to reciprocate becomes a part of the treatment.

The two Freudian phases are summarized in this table:

Early Freud Later Freud

Mechanical,
Model unconscious fantasy
neurophysiological

Repression Memories Phantasies and conflicts

Translation of events into


Emphasis External events
inner world

Technique Catharsis Free association

Understanding Of presenting symptoms Of transference

See also
Freud, Transference

Transference
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Transference
Transference is... | Three types of transference | So what?

Transference was identified by Sigmund Freud when he noticed that his patients often
seemed to fall in love with him - including the men. Fortunately, he realized that this
was caused by something other than his magnetic personality...

258
Transference is...
Transference occurs when a person takes the perceptions and expectations of one
person and projects them onto another person. They then interact with the other person
as if the other person is that transferred pattern.
In the way we tend to become the person that others assume we are, the person who has
patterns transferred onto them may collaborate play the game, especially if the
transference gives them power or makes them feel good in some way.
Typically, the pattern projected onto the other person comes from a childhood
relationship. This may be from an actual person, such a parent, or an idealized figure or
prototype. This transfers both power and also expectation. If you treat me as a parent, I
can tell you what to do, but you will also expect me to love and care for you. This can
have both positive and negative outcomes.

Types of transference
Paternal transference
When we create paternal transference, we turn the other person into either our father or
an idealized father-figure. Fathers are powerful, authoritative and wise. They protect us
and tell us what to do. They know many things. They provide a sense of control in our
lives. They make us feel safe.
We often transfer as a four- or five-year old child, where 'father knows best' and the
pattern is one of trust and compliance. When we regard higher-level leaders (e.g. a
company CEO, the transference may be as a baby, where the father is distant, powerful
and protective.
Male managers in companies often encourage paternal transference by taking on the
mantle and behaviors of classic fathers. They assume wisdom. They speak with
authority. They reassure us that all will be well if we do as they tell us.
Maternal transference
We develop relationships with our mothers at much earlier dates, and so take on roles of
babies more than children.
In our early years in particular, mothers are the source of unconditional love. After the
separation of birth, they recreate unity by holding us and making us feel as one.
Mothers also are the source of ultimate authority, and the threat of separation is very
powerful.
Mothers appear in myth as both the fairy godmother and also the wicked witch, and we
often have ambiguous relationships with them. We can also become Oedipal in our
desire to be the sole focus of attention of our mothers.
Maternal transference is thus often deeper, with more primitive and emotional elements
than paternal transference. Women managers often have excessive expectation put on
them that they will nurture their staff, who then become disillusioned when this does
not happen (hence the manager becomes cast as a witch).
Sibling transference
When parents are absent in our childhood, we may substitute these with sibling
relationships, either with brothers/sisters or with friends. This is an increasingly

259
significant pattern as families fracture and mothers spend long hours at work and are
often away from the child during the critical early years.
People with preferences for sibling transference work well in horizontal, team-based
organizations, as they do not fall into the leader-seeking behaviors of parental
transference. This can also lead to greater anarchy as we ignore leaders and work
through networks rather than needing a controlling authoritarian hierarchy.
A note: Bill Clinton was the subject of sibling transference more than other US
Presidents. He could thus get away with being the 'naughty older brother' that is secretly
admired for his boldness.
Other transference
We also transfer non-familial patterns onto other people. In fact we invariably treat
others not as they are but as we think they are, and often as we think they should be.
Thus we form stereotypes, and transfer these patterns onto others. We also form
idealized prototypes, for example of policemen, priests, doctors and teachers, and
project these onto people when we need the appropriate roles. Thus when a person is
hurt in the street and another stops to help, they may have a doctor pattern transferred
onto them.

So what?
First, of course, notice the patterns of transference in yourself. Who do you want others
to be? How are you thus interacting with people?
Then decide what transference you want others to put on you. Do you want to be a
father, mother or sibling? Start behaving in the pattern and you are likely to create the
relevant transference. Remember the reciprocal nature of this: if you want to appear as a
father who is unquestioningly obeyed, you also need to show that you are wise and
protective.
You can promote sibling transference by creating a common enemy. When they see that
you are threatened by the same things that they are, they will identify with you more as
a peer than as a leader. Don't, however, make the enemy too scary, or they will seek the
protection of a parent (unless, of course, that is what you are seeking).

See also
Freud's Personality Factors, Conditioning, Defense Mechanisms, Looking-glass Self

Identification
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Identification
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
When I 'identify with' other people, I find something attractive about them and seek to
join with them in some way.

260
When I identify with another, I seek to change myself to be like the other either in some
limited way or in all ways. This change may range from changing a single view to dress
like them and trying to change all aspects of my life.

Discussion
Freud used 'identification' to describe how his patients related to other people, from
brothers to prostitutes.
A significant difference from such joining forms as incorporation and introjection is
that identification is practiced by moving the self towards a desirable object rather than
drawing the object towards them. If there is introjection, it is benevolent and does not
change the admired other.

See also
Freud, Internalization, Incorporation, Introjection

Internalization
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Internalization
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Internalization occurs when objects are 'installed' into the ego, such that they are both
integral to sense of self and also experienced as separate and concrete internal objects.
In this way, the external world is brought into the internal world and incorporated with
it. When fully internalized, an item is fully 'owned' and considered as normal.
This is the process whereby the personality is created.
Of the various notions of how we take in the internal world, internalization is one of the
highest-level concepts. incorporation, introjection and identification are three more
detailed methods.

Discussion
When internalized, objects may feel that they are physically located within the body.
Melanie Klein related this to early experiences and phantasies of introjection.
These objects may be considered as being good or bad.
These objects may have active relations with one another, for example attacking and
rescuing one another.
Internalization implies a transformation of object cathexis (the investment of libidinal
energy in the object) into narcissistic cathexis (investment of energy in the self ), and
hence generating intrapsychic coherence and integration.
Internalization effectively turns object into personal subject, converting separate into
self.
This bringing into the self resonates with the neonatal phase and its integrated
wholeness.
With the resolution of the Oedipal complex, the ego ‘assimilates’ it to itself rather than
repressing or turning away from the complex and confusing outer world.

261
Historically, the original idea of internalization has been attributed to Shakespeare.
More recently, Nietzsche, in his Genealogy of Morals ([1887] 1956: 217) said ‘All
instincts that do not discharge outwardly turn inward. This is what I call man’s
internalization; with it begins to grow in man what later is called his “soul”.’

See also
Klein, Freud, Introjection, Identification, Incorporation, Object Relations Theory

Incorporation
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Incorporation
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Incorporation is derived from the Latin incorporare, meaning ‘to form into a body'.
It is perhaps the most basic form of taking the outside world into the inner world, being
focused on bodily sensation and ingestion.
Although this need not mean actual bodily ingestion, this term is used to explain the
way that incorporation is experienced and conceived. By bringing something into the
body, I make it undeniably a part of the physical, solid and real me. Once incorporated,
it cannot be separated from me, but I can choose what to do with it, including
destroying or expelling it.

Discussion
Freud used incorporation to refer to a primitive wish to unite with or cannibalistically
destroy an object. It is a a mechanism of the oral phase and a template for later
identifications. In Totem and Taboo (1913), he described identification as accomplished
through the murder and devouring the primal father.
Jung, who considered deeper factors, identified many myths and monsters by which the
ego is orally devoured and consumed.

See also
Klein, Freud, Internalization, Introjection, Identification
Freud, S., Totem and taboo, In J. Strachey (Ed. And Trans.), The standard edition of the
complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (vol. 13), London: Hogarth Pres

Introjective identification
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Introjective identification
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Where a person finds another person attractive in some way, then they will often take a
part of that other person and introject that part into their own ego.
In this way, they become more like the admired person. Also, having a part of that
person in them, they feel closer to them and usually like to be physically and

262
emotionally closer to them, perhaps for fear of distance leading to the introjected part
(particularly if it is not fully internalized) being lost.

Discussion
Introjection by followers may occur as a response to projection by would-be leaders. If
the part being projected is acceptable, then the projection-introjection bond is
completed.
In some sense, it is form of 'psychic theft', although the other person does not lose
anything (and may gain our friendship).
Introjective identification is an opposite of projective identification, where unwanted
parts of the ego are projected into another person.
Freud used introjective identification to describe how Christians introject Christ into
themselves in order to be more like Him. This is made viscerally explicit through the
process of Mass or Communion, where they symbolically eat Christ's body and drink
his blood.
Within groups, introjective identification with the leader also allows group members to
more easily identify with one another (perhaps as 'identification by proxy').

See also
Freud, Projective identification, Projection and Introjection

Life and death drives


Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Life and death drives
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Freud identified ‘instincts’ or ‘drives’ (Triebe) that he viewed as innate, universal and
constantly felt.
An instinct differs from a stimulus in that it arises from sources of
stimulation within the body, operates as a constant force and is such that
the subject cannot escape from it by flight as he can from an external
stimulus. An instinct may be described as having a source, an object and
an aim. The source is a state of excitation within the body and its aim is
to remove that excitation. (Freud, 1938)

Life is hence seen as largely about dealing with these conflicts, seeking to maximize
gratification whilst minimizing guilt and punishment.
Eros
Eros (the life drive/instinct, libido) is concerned with the preservation of life and the
preservation of the species, It thus appears as basic needs for health, safety and
sustenance and through sexual drives. It seeks both to preserve life and to create life.
Eros is associated with positive emotions of love, and hence pro-social behavior,
cooperation, collaboration and other behaviors that support harmonious societies.
Thanatos
Thanatos (the death drive/instinct, mortido, aggression) appears in opposition and
balance to Eros and pushes a person towards extinction and an 'inanimate state'.

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Freud saw drives as moving towards earlier states, including non-existence.
‘The aim of all life is death...inanimate things existed before living ones’
(Freud 1920)

Thanatos is associated with negative emotions such as fear, hate and anger, which lead
to anti-social acts from bullying to murder (perhaps as projection of the death drive).
Repetition
Freud also noted that we have a strong drive to repeat things, even to the point where is
is harmful to us. This is at the root of several disorders, in particular Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Rocking helps a baby sleep and traumatized adults will return to foetal position and
rock frenetically.
Fixation is a particular effect that leads to repetition where the person is unable to
remove their attention from something or someone.

Discussion
In defining these drives, Freud is using a dualist approach, whereby the identification of
Eros automatically defines an opposite. Eros and Thanatos both help define one
another, in that one is 'not the other'.
Eros and Thanatos interact and one can turn into the other, such a flipping of love and
hate, crying and laughter. Eating preserves life but destroys that which is eaten.
Perhaps repetition is due to drives that are only partially satisfied. It is important in
early activities such as suckling and crying for attention. Perhaps also it is an attempt to
completely fulfil all needs. Or maybe when an action fails to fully satisfy, the resulting
frustration and indignity increases tension to the point where we seek the nearest
potential gratification, which is to attempt the act again.
Freud's drives are often misunderstood. Eros is seen as simple sexuality and hence as
morally perverse, casting the human as base and primitive. The death drive is also
unacceptable as it opposes the idea of the sanctity of life and can be seen as excusing or
even encouraging suicide.
Melanie Klein disagreed with Freud in that she believed that we are born with a fragile,
brittle, weak and unintegrated Ego, and that the most basic human fear is that of
disintegration and death.

See also
Freud, Death

Narcissism
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Narcissism
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Narcissus
In Ovid's tale, Narcissus is the handsome and proud son of the river god Cephissus and
the nymph Liriope. The nymph, Echo, falls in love with him but is rejected and

264
withdraws into a lonely spot and fades away, leaving behind her voice. The goddess
Nemesis hears her prayers for vengeance and makes Narcissus fall in love with his own
reflection, which he cannot embrace. He sits by the pool, watching it until he dies and
turns into the narcissus flower.
Primary narcissism
Primary narcissism is the initial focus on the self with which all infants start and
happens from around six month up to around six years. It is a defense mechanism that is
used to protect the child from psychic damage during the formation of the individual
self.
Secondary narcissism
Secondary narcissism is the more 'normal' form, where older children and adults seek
personal gratification over the achievement of social goals and conformance to social
values.
A degree of narcissism is is common in many people. It becomes pathological when the
narcissist lacks normal empathy and uses others ruthlessly to their own ends.
Cerebral narcissists derive their self-adoration from their intellectual abilities and
achievements.
Somatic narcissists focus on the body, seeking beauty, physique and sexual conquests.
Narcissist characteristics
Narcissists interact socially with others, but do not form relational social bonds with
others. In order avoid being 'owned' by others, the narcissist reduces them to non-
human objects.
Narcissists often need to feel that they are the only good objects in the world and
consequently harbor great envy, which appears as narcissistic rage that seeks to destroy
the good objects of others. This leaves bad objects intact.
The fear of extinction is very significant for narcissists. They often age badly and the
signs of aging infuriate them. They envy the young and will avoid or denigrate them.
Faced with damning external evidence, they may retreat further inside.
Narcissists will deliberately harm themselves in order to frustrate others, failing exams,
rejecting advice and taking drugs.
Inverted narcissism
Inverted narcissists projects their narcissism onto another narcissist, using projective
identification to keep the narcissistic state both distant and close. They experience
narcissism vicariously but are still narcissists.
Symptoms
Symptoms of narcissism include:

• Self-aggrandizement to the point of exaggeration, deception and


outright lying.
• Seeking and requiring excessive attention, admiration and rewards
from others.
• Fantasies of fame, power and success. Belief in their superiority over
others.
• Exploitation of others without feelings of guilt.
• Envy of others. Belief that the perception is reciprocated.
• Given to frustration, anger and irrationality when they do not get what
they want.

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Cause
There are several schools of thought about what leads to narcissism. A common theme
is that early transition into the 'real world' fails in some way, leading the person to
remain, at least in part, in the early self-focused primary narcissistic stage.
Narcissism appears across families, perhaps through some genetic causes, but also in
the way that a narcissistic parent is unable to bond with its children and thus causes it,
too, to become a narcissist.
Narcissus and Oedipus
Narcissism is related to the Oedipus Complex in that Oedipus often follows narcissism
and is a method by which narcissism is quelled.
Narcissism is about love of the self; Oedipus is about separating and externalizing love
of another (the mother) from the self.

Discussion
Freud
For Freud, narcissism is basically the investment of libidinal energy in the ego.
Secondary narcissism is regression to primary narcissism and is practiced because it
provides gratification. Fantasy generally is nicer than reality.
People make anaclitic object choices in the hope that others will fulfil narcissistic needs
in the manner of their parents (and especially the nurturing mother). Others who make
narcissistic object choice invest their libidinal energy in aspects of themselves.
Freud described homosexuals and clinging parents as making narcissistic object
choices. When a narcissist loves another, it is because they are like the self in some
way.
Lacan
For Lacan, narcissism starts in the mirror phase, where the misrecognized 'perfect'
image is loved. Narcissism becomes problematic when this stage is not fully navigated
and the image is not realized as such and seeking after this impossible perfection
becomes an obsessive and unending goal.
Klein
Klein rejected Freud's idea of primal narcissism. In Object Relations Theory narcissism
is a type of object choice in which the self plays a more important part than the real
aspects of the object. In narcissists, the ego is split and never fully re-integrated.
Winnicott
For Winnicott, Narcissism is a form of false self. A goal of the good-enough mother is
to enable the child to form an integrated and healthy false self through steady
disillusionment and use of a transition object.
Kohut
Heinz Kohut notes that the subject-love of narcissism coexists with object-love of
others in most people, and identifies a whole class of self disorders that stem from a
damaged development of this normal balance. In particular, these come from a lack of
attention from parents or when the child is treated as an extension of a parent's ego.
Kernberg

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Otto Kernberg views anaclitic and narcissistic object divisions as irrelevant and has a
Self, which is devalued or fixated on aggression. Pathological object relations are
detached from the real objects because they are uncomfortable. He sees pathological
narcissism as being more than regression to an earlier stage but requiring active
investment in a deformed self.
Lasch
Lasch (1979) attributes increasing narcissism to permissive culture, where the strict
super-ego is superseded by the mores of the ego. Capitalism encourages a focus on
gratification and social approval and hence also encourages more open narcissism.
Absent fathers are also seen as a cause, which links with Lacan's need for successful
transitions and the role of the father in the symbolic register.
Narcissism may also contribute to the break-up of capitalist systems as a focus on the
self ultimately leads to increased transaction cost and diseconomies of scale.
Interestingly, narcissism is a far more common condition addressed by psychoanalysts
today. In Freudian times the more common condition was more in id-based sexually-
based repression.
Managing narcissists
When you are confronted with a narcissist in a work situation or where you do not want
to arouse them, be impressed with them and avoid arguments. Never become dependent
on them as they will use and abuse you, then discard you.
To persuade a narcissist, use flattery and recognition. Ensure you have something
unique that they want for as long as you need their attention and compliance.
To help a narcissist, show them their condition without accusation or blame. Do not
expect to be able to cure them. Avoid arguments, especially where they can support
their ego through anger that is directed at you.

See also
Freud, Defense Mechanisms

Oedipus Complex
Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Oedipus Complex
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
In the Oedipus complex, a boy is fixated on his mother and competes with his father for
maternal attention.
The opposite, the attraction of a girl to her father and rivalry with her mother, is
sometimes called the Electra complex.
Sexual awakening
At some point, the child realizes that there is a difference between their mother and
their father. Around the same time they realize that they are more alike to one than the
other. Thus the child acquires gender.

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The child may also form some kind of erotic attachment to the parent of the opposite
sex. Whilst their understanding of the full sexual act may be questioned, some kind of
primitive physical sensations are felt when they regard and think about the parent in
question.
Jealousies
The primitive desire for the one parent may also awaken in the child a jealous
motivation to exclude the other parent.
Transferring of affections may also occur as the child seeks to become independent and
escape a perceived 'engulfing mother'.
A critical point of awakening is where the child realizes that the mother has affections
for others besides itself.
Primitive jealousies are not necessarily constrained to the child and and both parents
may join in the game, both in terms of competing with each other for the child's
affections and also competing with the child for the affection of the other parent.
Note that opposition to parents may not necessarily be sexually based -- this can also be
a part of the struggle to assert one's identity and rebellion against parental control.
The process of transitioning
A critical aspect of the Oedipal stage is loosening of the ties to the mother of
vulnerability, dependence and intimacy. This is a natural part of the child becoming
more independent and is facilitated by the realization that the mother desires more than
just the child.
The Oedipal move blocks the routes of sexual and identification love back to the
mother. She becomes a separate object, removed from his ideal self. Thus she can be
the subject of object love.
This separation and externalization of love allows a transition away from narcissism of
earlier stages.
The father's role in this is much debated. In a number of accounts, such as Lacan's
symbolic register, the child transitions their attentions from mother to father.
The father effectively says 'You must be like me -- you may not be like the mother --
you must wait to love her, as I do.' The child thus also learns to wait and share attention.
Separation
The boy thus returns to the mother as a separate individual. That separation may be
emphasized with scorn and a sense of mastery over women. that can also be seen in the
long separation of boys and girls in play and social relationships. This is a source of
male denigration of women.
Women become separated reminders of lost and forbidden unity. Their unique
attributes, from softness to general femininity are, in consequence, also lost and must be
given up as a part of the distancing process. Women become thus both desired and
feared. The symbolic phallus becomes a means of protection for the boy and the rituals
of mastery used to cover up feelings of loss.
Separation leads to unavailability and hence the scarcity principle takes effect,
increasing desire. Women thus create a tension in boys between a lost paradise and
dangerous sirens.

268
Excessive separation leads to a sense of helplessness that can in turn lead to patterns of
idealized control and self-sufficiency.
Whilst the boy becomes separated from the mother, it is a long time before he can be
independent of her and hence must develop a working relationship that may reflect the
tension of love and difference he feels.
The relationship thus may return to a closer mother-son tie, where the point of healthy
distance is a dynamically negotiated position, such that comforting is available but is
required only upon occasion.
What about the girls?
Most writings about the Oedipal stage focus largely or exclusively on boys, who are
seen to have a particular problem as they start with an attachment to the Mother that
they have to relinquish both from the point of view of individual independence and
especially as a result of the social incest taboo which forbids excessively-close in-
family relationships.
The Electra complex, identified by Carl Jung, occurs where a triangle of mother-father-
daughter plays out is not a part of traditional psychoanalysis. It is neither a direct mirror
image of Oedipus, as the start position is female-female connection.
Jung suggested that when the girl discovers she lacks penis that her father possesses,
she imagines she will gain one if he makes her pregnant, and so moves emotionally
closer to him. She thus resents her mother who she believe castrated her.
The father symbolizes attractive power and a potentially hazardous male-female
relationship is formed, with predictable jealousies and envy as the mother completes the
triangle. The dangers of incestuous abuse add, and perhaps develop, the female position
of siren temptation.
Girls, as well as boys, need to find independence and their separation from the mother is
a matter of creating a separate femininity. This is not as strong a separation as boys and
girls can sustain a closer female-female relationships with the mothers. This perhaps
explains something of why relationships with others is a more important part of a
female life than it is for a male.
The father does provide a haven from female-female jealousies, and so a healthy father-
daughter relationship may be built, that also includes appropriate distance. As with
mother-son, once the incest taboos are established, a uniquely satisfying opposite-sex
relationship can be built, although secret desires for the father can result in the girl
feeling some guilt about the relationship.

Discussion
There are three common threads in the Oedipus complex: The primacy of the desire for
one-ness, the maternal embodiment of this and the necessity of paternal intervention.
Historical Oedipus
In the Greek play by Sophocles, Laius, king of Thebes, is told by an oracle that he
would be killed by his son and so leaves Oedipus out on the mountainside to die.
Oedipus is rescued by a shepherd and taken to the king of Corinth who raises him as a
son.

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Oedipus, in turn, is told by the Delphic oracle that he will kill his father and marry his
mother. Horrified by this, he flees Corinth. At a crossroads he meets Laius, quarrels and
kills him. At Thebes, he correctly answers the sphinx's question and hence wins the
hand of Jocasta, his real mother, with whom he had two sons and two daughters. When
at last the truth comes out, Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus, finding her, blinds
himself with her golden brooch.
Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon who helped plan the murder of her mother.
Freud
Freud puts the Oedipal stage as occurring between 3-5 years. He considers it a stage
where the child experiences an erotic attachment to one parent and hostility toward the
other parent. The ensuing triangular tension is seen as being the root of most mental
disorders.
Freud cites the incest taboo as as at the root of many other prohibitions. He sees the
struggle against this as a core part of this development period with transgressions in
practice and phantasy.
'We cannot get away from the assumption that man's sense of guilt
springs from the Oedipus complex and was acquired at the killing of the
father by the brothers banned together'. (Freud, 1930)

Freud links the Oedipus complex with development the superego, which uses guilt to
prevent continuation of incestuously oriented relationships.
Failure to get past this trigger point and into the symbolic order is considered to be a
classic cause of lasting neurosis.
Lacan
For Lacan, the mother is characterized by 'lack' of a phallus. The pre-Oedipal child tries
to make good the lack. But the mother desires the phallus that will cover over her
division in language. The child then realizes its own lack, or 'castration' and seeks to
speak or use words such that it can stand in for that which is missing.
The child can hence either speak itself from the position of 'having the phallus' or
lacking it. Having a penis, boys are more likely to take the former position. However,
taking this position requires living up to the god-like status of having the phallus.
Note that Lacan considered that the Oedipal stage can be successfully navigated without
the father, as long as cultural norms and prohibitions can be met, as it is these, rather
than the father himself which facilitates the way through
Rose
Jacqueline Rose uses Lacan to show how sexual identity is acquired through the
Oedipus crisis, rather than being something innate.
Klein
Melanie Klein, through her work with young children, saw Oedipal conflict occurring
much earlier than Freud and involving part-objects rather than whole parent-figures,
and including infantile sadism. How early this starts has been questioned including a
consideration that some version of the Oedipal stage occurring almost from the very
beginning, at least in phantasy. She see emotional and sexual development occurring:
'...from early infancy onwards includes genital sensations and trends,
which constitute the first stages of the inverted [desire toward the same-

270
sex parent and aggression toward opposite sex one] and positive Oedipus
complex.' (Klein, 1945)

She places the Oedipal complex as occurring in the paranoid-schizoid position, where
the infant's world is largely split and relations are mainly to part-objects. Thus the
Oedipal stage involves working through the paranoid-schizoid position to the
depressive position.
As well as the classic early Oedipus complex, Klein also identifies the Oedipal
situation which occurs throughout life.
She saw how children realizes a sexual link between parents at an early age, but
perceives it through the infantile experience, thus conceiving of feeding one another,
devouring one another, or even exchanging bodily excretions.
Bion
Wilfred Bion placed the Oedipus complex even earlier than Klein, hypothesizing an
innate oedipal preconception.
He related pairing to the Oedipal stage and the importance of the family group. Early
group setting are familial or kinship and these are used as later templates for group
activity, and early anxieties may reappear.
Other notes
A common experience in families is that the opposite gender relationships of mother-
son and father-daughter are stronger than same-sex relationships, where there may be
intra-gender rivalries, for example where the daughter continues to compete with the
mother for the father's attention. In most cases, the incest taboo holds and this is a
relatively harmless attachment.
Oedipus represents responsibility and guilt, in contrast to Narcissus, who represents
self-involvement and denial of reality. Oedipus is an escape from early fantasy of
omnipotence.
The gender polarity that Oedipus creates is echoed in modern feminist concerns and
male confusion as rights issues erode instinctive positions.
Moving away from the mother, for the boy, is also a part of instilling the incest taboo.

See also
Freud, S. (1930). Civilization and Its Discontents, Standard Edition, XXI

Pleasure-pain principle
Explanations > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Pleasure-pain principle
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
We are born with a pleasure principle, that we will seek immediate gratification of
needs, for which our bodies reward us with feelings of pleasure.
The reverse is also true, and the pain principle says that, whilst seeking pleasure people
will also seek to avoid pain.

271
Discussion
The pleasure-pain principle was originated by Sigmund Freud in modern
psychoanalysis, although Aristotle noted their significance in his 'Rhetoric', more than
300 years BC.
'We may lay it down that Pleasure is a movement, a movement by which
the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being;
and that Pain is the opposite.'

The pleasure principle is at the base on hedonism, the idea that life is to be lived to the
full and pleasure sought as a primary goal. Hedonists in the extreme will be self-
destructive in their use of sex, drugs, rock and roll and other methods of gratification.
Pleasure is also related to Jeremy Benham's notions in Utilitarianism, where the 'felcific
calculus' is used to calculate the maximum utilitarian gain in happiness.
Pleasure and pain are basic principles in Conditioning, where you get more of what you
reward and less of what you punish.
Pain can be more immediate than pleasure, leading us to become more concerned with
avoidance of pain and hence paying more attention to it. This can develop into a general
preference in life towards avoidance.
Anticipated pleasure and anticipated pain are almost as powerful a motivator as the
feelings themselves as we think about the pleasure and pain that may occur in the
future. It is arguable that these have had a significant effect on human evolution as they
move us towards a more sustainable life.
Pleasure and pain are at the root of the principles of Pull and Push.
When pleasure and pain occur together, a certain amount of confusion may occur,
which itself may be pleasant or painful and hence determine what happens.
Simultaneous pain and pleasure is a basis for masochism.

See also
Utilitarianism, Pull, Push principle

Reality principle
Explanations > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Reality principle
Description | Discussion | See also

Description
Demanding immediate gratification, as in the Pleasure-pain principle, is not always a
good move and we have to learn to wait. This is particularly difficult for an infant who
is driven by primitive needs and lacks sophisticated reasoning.
The reality principle says that we learn how deferring pleasure and enduring pain can
result in an overall improvement in pleasure.

Discussion
The reality principle was originated by Sigmund Freud.
Deferrment of pleasure is related to Jeremy Benham's notions in Utilitarianism, where
the 'felcific calculus' is used to calculate the maximum utilitarian gain in happiness.

272
Deferred pleasure also allows an ongoing anticipated pleasure, that adds to the overall
pleasure of delay.
The reality principle also explains such as religiously-motivated suicide bombers, who
endure the pain of corporal annihilation in the belief in eternal pleasure in heaven.

See also
Pleasure-pain principle, Sigmund Freud

Coping Mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping Mechanisms

We are complex animals living complex lives in which we are not always able to cope
with the difficulties that we face. As a result, we are subject to feelings of tension and
stress, for example the cognitive dissonance and potential shame of doing something
outside our values. To handle this discomfort we use various coping methods.

Here are coping mechanisms by type:

• Adaptive mechanisms: That offer positive help.


• Attack mechanisms: That push discomfort onto others.
• Avoidance mechanisms: That avoid the issue.
• Behavioral mechanisms: That change what we do.
• Cognitive mechanisms: That change what we think.
• Conversion mechanisms: That change one thing into another.
• Defense mechanisms: Freud's original set.
• Self-harm mechanisms: That hurt our selves.

Here is a full list of coping mechanisms:

• Acting out: not coping - giving in to the pressure to misbehave.


• Aim inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.
• Altruism: Helping others to help self.
• Attack: trying to beat down that which is threatening you.
• Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes
distress.
• Compartmentalization: separating conflicting thoughts into separated
compartments.
• Compensation: making up for a weakness in one area by gain
strength in another.
• Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical
symptoms.
• Denial: refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Dissociation: separating oneself from parts of your life.
• Emotionality: Outbursts and extreme emotion.
• Fantasy: escaping reality into a world of possibility.
• Help-rejecting complaining: Ask for help then reject it.
• Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of
things desired.
• Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.
• Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.
• Introjection: Bringing things from the outer world into the inner world.
• Passive aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.

273
• Performing rituals: Patterns that delay.
• Post-traumatic growth: Using the energy of trauma for good.
• Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.
• Provocation: Get others to act so you can retaliate.
• Rationalization: creating logical reasons for bad behavior.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.
• Repression: subconsciously hiding uncomfortable thoughts.
• Self-harming: physically damaging the body.
• Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical symptoms.
• Sublimation: channeling psychic energy into acceptable activities.
• Substitution: Replacing one thing with another.
• Suppression: consciously holding back unwanted urges.
• Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.
• Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.
• Undoing: actions that psychologically 'undo' wrongdoings for the
wrongdoer.

Other articles on coping:

• Positive coping: Coping can be done well!

So what?
To help people cope, find ways to let them safely let go of the stress that they
experience or gain a greater understanding of the situation.
Remember that coping actions are usually symptoms of deeper problems and addressing
them directly can be ineffective or even counter-productive. The best approach is to
discover the deeper cause and address this, which will hopefully then result in the
coping mechanism disappearing.
Be aware of your own coping mechanisms and move to more functional means of
managing stress.
If you are using deliberate theatrical methods during persuasion, feigning a coping
mechanism makes it harder for the other person to broach an apparently stressful
situation for you.

See also
Defense Mechanisms, Theories about how we handle discomfort, Theories about
resistance, Concepts in psychoanalysis, The Kübler-Ross grief cycle, Games, Resisting
persuasion

Adaptive mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Adaptive mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways, many of them negative and uncomfortable as
we try to repel or hide from uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes we manage to act in
more positive and helpful ways. Here are some of these:

274
• Compartmentalization: separating conflicting thoughts into separated
compartments.
• Compensation: Over-doing one thing to compensate for another
weakness.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of
things desired.
• Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.
• Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.
• Performing rituals: Getting time to think.
• Post-traumatic growth: Using the energy of trauma for good.
• Sublimation: Channel psychic energy into acceptable activities.
• Substitution: Replacing bad things with good things.
• Undoing: actions that psychologically 'undo' wrongdoings for the
wrongdoer.

These are some of the more positive mechanisms or methods that can be used
positively. In practice, a number of other coping methods work well enough without
doing any harm.

So what?
Try to use some of these more positive methods rather than falling into the more
destructive mechanisms. If you are helping others adapt, encourage them to use these
rather than other defenses.
Remember that coping is not curing. It is an adaptation in any form. Eventually, the best
approach is to address the underlying issue.

Compartmentalization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Compartmentalization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Compartmentalization is a 'divide and conquer' process for separating thoughts that will
conflict with one another. This may happen when they are different beliefs or even
when there are conflicting values.

Example
A person who is very religious and also a scientist holds the opposing
beliefs in different cognitive compartments, such that when they are in
church, they can have blind faith, whist when they are in the laboratory,
they question everything.

There is sometimes honor amongst thieves, where together they act as


honest people. Thieves also may be very honest in their family lives.

My son is an angel in school and a demon at home.

Discussion
Compartmentalizing is building walls to prevent inner conflict. To some extent, we all
compartmentalize our lives, living different value sets in the different groups to which

275
we belong. Thus we may be ruthless at work but loving at home. We rationalize this by
explaining that 'that's just the way it is'.

So what?
To help someone become more integrated as a person, one therapeutic technique is to
take two chairs and have the person alternate between the two seats as they have a
conversation with themselves, seeking to understand the other 'persona' and hence build
passageways between them and become better friends with themselves (or at least gain
greater acceptance and understanding). In time, the walls may crumble.
Where there are split personalities and there is a desire to extinguish one of them, then
take the person to a higher level where they can see the common intent of both sides of
the wall and how one side has mistakenly adopted the wrong path.
To get someone to do something that they would not normally do, help them build a
new compartment in which to do it. Make as much different in this compartment as
possible, including location, clothing, language, etc.

See also
Avoidance, Dissociation, Intellectualization

Compensation
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Compensation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Where a person has a weakness in one area, they may compensate by accentuating or
building up strengths in another area. Thus when they are faced with their weakness,
they can say 'ah, but I am good at...', and hence feel reasonably good about the situation.
Compensation may also occur in ad hoc situations, for example where a person does not
get a joke, they may compensate by hearty laughter or by feigning disinterest.

Example
People who feel inferior because they are short may train hard to be very
strong.

People who are not intellectually gifted may turn their attention to social
skills.

Discussion
Compensation lets us avoid the discomfort of feeling inferior by counterbalancing this
with a feeling of superiority in an area which is close enough to the uncomfortable
situation such that where it appears, the compensation automatically is accessed.
Compensation is usually relatively harmless unless the area of compensation is harmful
in some way, for example where a person who is socially limited compensates with
aggression.

276
So what?
See the compensation that others are using to identify their areas of weakness, then
(depending on your intent), either support them or take advantage of the weakness.

See also
Avoidance

Idealization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Idealization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Idealization is the over-estimation of the desirable qualities and underestimation of the
limitations of a desired thing. We also tend to idealize those things that we have chosen
or acquired.
The opposite of Idealization is Demonization, where something that is not desired or
disliked has its weak points exaggerated and its strong points played down.

Example
A teenager in awe of a rock star idealizes their idol, imagining them to
have a perfect life, to be kind and thoughtful, and so on. They ignore the
star's grosser habits and rough background.

A person has bought an exotic foreign holiday. They dream about how
perfect their vacation will be, not thinking about insects, heat, crime etc.
I buy a sports car and look admiringly at its sleek lines. I ignore the fact
that it drinks fuel and is rather uncomfortable.

A person in a religious cult idealizes the cult and its leader, assuming
they are perfect and that the outside world is very poor in comparison.

Discussion
Idealizing allows us to confirm our decisions as being wise and intelligent as we play
up the good things we have chosen and downplay detracting factors. We thus cope with
potentially dissonant thoughts that we have made a wrong decision.
It also makes us feel better to pay attention to things we desire that spend our time
thinking about less pleasant things.
Playing up the good things and pushing down the bad things also creates a contrast that
makes the good things seem even better.

So what?
When selling something, focus on the good things, idealizing what you are selling and
the benefits that it will bring. Note, however, that if this sales talk goes too far, it may
lead to disappointment that result in betrayal effects.
To persuade someone away from something they are idealizing, show them lots of
unavoidable hard evidence that breaks the idealized perceptions.

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See also
Fantasy, Attribution Theory

Identification
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Identification
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Identification occurs when a person changes apparent facets of their personality such
that they appear to be more like other people. This process may be to be copy specific
people or it may be to change to an idealized prototype.
This generally happens as a subconscious process, as opposed to being a more
conscious mimicking, although these processes may occur together, as the person
consciously as well as subconsciously wants to be like the other person.
Areas of identification may include external elements, such as clothing and hair styles
(which may be chosen without consciously realizing the influences that are at play) as
well as internal factors such as beliefs, values and attitudes.

Example
A girl dresses like her friends, as much because she likes the garb as any
conscious desire to be like them.

A person in a meeting adopts similar body language to their manager,


and tend to take the same viewpoint.

Two people in a party meet and each finds the other very attractive.
Between them they both adjust their views and postures to be more
similar to one another.

Discussion
Identification with another person has a number of benefits. By 'becoming another
person', I am effectively escaping myself and my woes. If I believe that person to be
superior to me, I both escape my inferiority and move more towards my ideal.
Identification thus helps preserve the ego whilst concealing inadequacies.
It is said that 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' and identifying with another
person is likely to make that person find me more attractive, not only from the flattery
viewpoint but also because we generally trust people who are like us.
The reverse is also true, and I will tend to avoid the beliefs, values, body language and
dress of people that I dislike.

So what?
Notice how others are acting like you or seem to agree with your viewpoints. This may
be that they actually agree with you. It may also be because they are identifying with
you on one point and hence following you on others. This, of course, may be what you
are trying to achieve.
They may also be falsely identifying with you, of course, in order to try to get you to
identify with them...

278
In therapeutic situations, identification may be harmful where the person is either
escaping serious personal problems or where the identification they take on is harmful
to themselves or others. In such cases, you may need to bring the person back to
themselves to discover and address the root causes of the problem.

See also
Using Body Language, Alignment principle, Idealization

Intellectualization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Intellectualization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Intellectualization is a 'flight into reason', where the person avoids uncomfortable
emotions by focusing on facts and logic. The situation is treated as an interesting
problem that engages the person on a rational basis, whilst the emotional aspects are
completely ignored as being irrelevant.
Jargon is often used as a device of intellectualization. By using complex terminology,
the focus becomes on the words and finer definitions rather than the human effects.

Example
A person told they have cancer asks for details on the probability of
survival and the success rates of various drugs. The doctor may join in,
using 'carcinoma' instead of 'cancer' and 'terminal' instead of 'fatal'.

A woman who has been raped seeks out information on other cases and
the psychology of rapists and victims. She takes self-defense classes in
order to feel better (rather than more directly addressing the
psychological and emotional issues).

A person who is in heavily debt builds a complex spreadsheet of how long


it would take to repay using different payment options and interest rates.

Discussion
Intellectualization protects against anxiety by repressing the emotions connected with
an event. It is also known as 'Isolation of affect' as the affective elements are removed
from the situation.
Freud believed that memories have both conscious and unconscious aspects, and that
intellectualization allows for the conscious analysis of an event in a way that does not
provoke anxiety.
Intellectualization is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
When people treat emotionally difficult situations in cold and logical ways, it often does
not mean that they are emotionally stunted, only that they are unable to handle the
emotion at this time. You can decide to give them space now so they can maintain their
dignity, although you may also decide to challenge them in a more appropriate time and
setting.

279
When you challenge a person who is intellectualizing, they may fight back (which is
attack, another form of defense) or switch to other forms of defense.

See also
Denial, Dissociation, Rationalization, Repression

Performing rituals
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Performing rituals
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Rituals are pre-defined sequences of activity. When faced with a difficult situation we
may indulge in some form of ritualized activity rather than face the situation just now.
In this way, we may avoid the problem for a few seconds and sometimes for much
longer.
These rituals can be small physical actions, long scripts of speech or more complex
combinations of behavior.

Example
When faced with being dismissed from a job, a person wrings their hands
and talks about how hard they work and how events conspire against
them. It is an excuse they have used a number of times before (and
repeated in their heads many more times again).

When asked a question for which I do not have an immediate answer, I


clear my throat and say something like 'I'm glad you asked that
question...'.

Discussion
Rituals take time to perform. This puts off an uncomfortable immediate future. This
may give us enough time to gather our thoughts and calm down a little. It may also be a
desperate act to try and put off the inevitable, even for just a few moments more.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often takes this pattern to extreme, endlessly
and needlessly repeating a ritualized behavior such as washing or counting things. In
paying detailed attention to these actions, the person with OCD manages to put off
anxious thoughts or actions indefinitely.

So what?
Notice the ritual actions you are performing and notice the anxiety that may have
triggered this. Wonder whether you should act in other ways.
You can also prepare a number of harmless small rituals to give yourself time to think
when faced with tricky situations where a few seconds to gather your thoughts will be
useful.

See also
Avoidance, Substitution, Displacement

280
Post-traumatic growth
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Post-traumatic growth
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
In post-traumatic growth, an individual who has suffered a traumatic experience
somehow finds ways to turn it into something good. Typically:

• Interpersonal relationships are improved, with friends and family


valued more, and more time being spent in helping others.
• Self-perception changes through the increase in resiliency gained from
realizing you can cope with hardship.
• Life philosophy changes, for example with acceptance of mortality and
appreciation of each day.

Example
A mother who has lost a child to cancer raises significant money for
cancer charities.

After a terrorist attack, people are friendlier with others nearby and help
out.

Discussion
This is often a form of sublimation, where the energy created by the trauma is turned to
something positive.
This helps people cope and make meaning in trauma in that they can say 'at least
something good came of it'.

So what?
So when bad things happen, find ways of turning them to your advantage, making them
good. Help others to do likewise.

See also
Positive coping, Sublimation

Substitution
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Substitution
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Take something that leads to discomfort and replace it with something that does not
lead to discomfort.
This 'something' may be range of items, including a behavior, a context or a physical
item.

Example
Rather than making a difficult phone call, I call my daughter for a chat.

281
Instead of putting up a mirror, I put up a photograph of myself when I
was younger.

Discussion
Substitution is a form of avoidance, as we avoid difficulty by substitution comfort. It is
not the same as displacement, which moves a behavior from one target to another.
We often use this simple replacement strategy to put off things we would rather not do.
It often appears something like two similar magnetic poles approaching -- the close they
come to one another, the stronger is the force to push them apart.

So what?
Watch out for procrastination and other forms of avoidance through substitution. Ask
yourself why you are doing things. Deliberately will yourself to the necessary, but
uncomfortable action. You will likely feel better afterwards.
In helping others, watch for them avoiding one thing by doing another. Bring this gently
to their attention and discuss ways forward or why they are doing this.

See also
Avoidance, Displacement

Sublimation
Explanations > Behaviours > Coping > Sublimation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Sublimation is the transformation of unwanted impulses into something less harmful.
This can simply be a distracting release or may be a constructive and valuable piece of
work.
When we are faced with the dissonance of uncomfortable thoughts, we create psychic
energy. This has to go somewhere. Sublimation channels this energy away from
destructive acts and into something that is socially acceptable and/or creatively
effective.
Many sports and games are sublimations of aggressive urges, as we sublimate the desire
to fight into the ritualistic activities of formal competition.

Example
I am angry. I go out and chop wood. I end up with a useful pile of
firewood. I am also fitter and nobody is harmed.

A person who has an obsessive need for control and order becomes a
successful business entrepreneur.

A person with strong sexual urges becomes an artist.

A man who has extra-marital desires takes up household repairs when his
wife is out of town.

A surgeon turns aggressive energies and deep desires to cut people into
life-saving acts.

282
Discussion
Sublimation is probably the most useful and constructive of the defense mechanisms as
it takes the energy of something that is potentially harmful and turns it to doing
something good and useful.
Freud believed that the greatest achievements in civilization were due to the effective
sublimation of our sexual and aggressive urges that are sourced in the Id and then
channeled by the Ego as directed by the Super ego. In his more basic musings, he
considered such as painting as a potentially sublimated desire to smear one's own
faeces.
Sublimation is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
Help others who are causing themselves and others problems, for example by their
sexual advances or aggressive outbursts, to re-channel their energies into more
constructive activities.
Beware of 'on the boundary' activities (including your own) where sublimated energy
may switch back into unwanted or anti-social activities or other, less constructive,
coping mechanisms.

See also
Repression, Fantasy

Undoing
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Undoing
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Undoing is performing an act to 'undo' a previous unacceptable act or thought.
It is often a form of apology, although it may not include the actual act of saying that
you are sorry.
Confession is a form of undoing, including that done in a church to a priest or a secret
admission to a close friend.

An act or communication which partially negates a previous one. Examples: (1) two
close friends have a violent argument; when they next meet, each act as if the
disagreement had never occurred. (2) when asked to recommend a friend for a job, a
man makes derogatory comments which prevent the friend's getting the position; a few
days later, the man drops in to see his friend and brings him a small gift.

Example
Lady Macbeth compulsively washes her hands after committing murder.

A man who has been unkind to his wife buys her flowers (but does not
apologize).

283
A person who has barged in front of others in a queue holds the door
open for them.

A teenager who has been rather noisy tidies the room without having to
be asked.

Discussion
When we do (or even think) something that is outside our values we feel shame and
hence a need to make right what we have done that is wrong.
Undoing can be a form of apology. By reversing former actions the person is tacitly
admitting they were wrong.

So what?
Help people to undo the wrongs they have done to you by showing you forgive them,
especially when they perform 'undoing' actions.
You can also help them to undo wrongs, suggesting things they can do as much to
alleviate their own anxieties as to repair relationships with others.
In persuasion, a wrong done to a person is an opportunity for that person to request
something in return. If the wrongdoer realizes their wrong, they will jump at the chance
to undo it.

See also
Confession, Symbolization

Attack mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Attack mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways. Some are more positive than others. Perhaps
the worst kind is where we may attack others. Arguably, all attacks on others are forms
of coping with our own internal troubles.

• Acting out: not coping - giving in to the pressure to misbehave.


• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Fight-or-Flight reaction: Reacting by attacking.
• Passive aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.
• Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

Not all of these lead to harm of others, but they all have the potential to do so.

So what?
Guard against negative behavior that can harm others and lead you into trouble. Try
converting these into adaptive mechanisms.
When you are working with others, beware of them attacking you! Sometimes, when
you take the cork out of a pressurized bottle, there is a significant explosion.

284
See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Acting out
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Acting out
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
'Acting out' means literally means acting out the desires that are forbidden by the Super
ego and yet desired by the Id. We thus cope with the pressure to do what we believe is
wrong by giving in to the desire.
A person who is acting out desires may do it in spite of their conscience or may do it
with relatively little thought. Thus the act may be being deliberately bad or may be
thoughtless wrongdoing.
Where the person knows that they are doing wrong, they may seek to protect
themselves from society's eyes by hiding their action. They may also later fall into
using other coping mechanisms such as Denial to protect themselves from feelings of
shame.

Example
An addict gives in to their desire for alcohol or drugs. A person who
dislikes another person seeks to cause actual harm to them.

Discussion
Acting out may be considered as actually not coping, although it is handling the
pressure by giving in to one side, whereas most other coping mechanisms seek to
handle the pressure of not giving in.
A person who is acting out may decide to 'repent at leisure', seeking the pleasure of the
now by mortgaging future contentment. This may be caused by cognitive short-
sightedness or by contrarian tendencies.
Acting out is an opposite of sublimation, whereby a desired behavior is displaced into
an acceptable activity.

So what?
Help people who are acting out by highlighting how ashamed they will be later, such
that when they consider acting out in future, the later shame is significant enough to
prevent their acting out now.
If the behavior you want is outside the other person's values, you can encourage them to
act out, for example by promising to keep their behavior secret. However, this will not
stop them (and you) from using other defense mechanisms later to suppress feelings of
shame.

See also
Values, Sublimation

285
Displacement
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Displacement
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Displacement is the shifting of actions from a desired target to a substitute target when
there is some reason why the first target is not permitted or not available.
Displacement may involve retaining the action and simply shifting the target of that
action. Where this is not feasible, the action itself may also change. Where possible the
second target will resemble the original target in some way.
Phobias may also use displacement as a mechanism for releasing energy that is caused
in other ways.

Example
The boss gets angry and shouts at me. I go home and shout at my wife.
She then shouts at our son. With nobody left to displace anger onto, he
goes and kicks the dog.

A man wins the lottery. He turns to the person next to him and gives the
person a big kiss.
A boy is afraid of horses. It turns out to be a displaced fear of his father.

I want to speak at a meeting but cannot get a word in edgeways.


Instead, I start scribbling furiously.

A religious person who is sexually frustrated focuses their attention on


food, becoming a gourmet.

A woman, rejected by her boyfriend, goes out with another man 'on the
rebound'.

Discussion
Displacement occurs when the Id wants to do something of which the Super ego does
not permit. The Ego thus finds some other way of releasing the psychic energy of the
Id. Thus there is a transfer of energy from a repressed object-cathexis to a more
acceptable object.
Displaced actions tend to be to into related areas or subjects. If I want to shout at a
person but feel that I cannot, then shouting at somebody else is preferred to going to
play the piano, although this may still be used if there is no other way I can release my
anger.
Displacements are often quite satisfactory and workable mechanisms for releasing
energy more safely.
Dreams can be interpreted as the displacement of stored tensions into other forms
(dreams are often highly metaphoric).
Displacement is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?

286
When people do strange things, work with them to find if there are other places from
which they are displacing their energy - then deal with the real reason, not the displaced
reason.
Attend to your own displacements. You probably have quite a few, as do most of us.

See also
Avoidance, Fantasy, Projection, Somatization

Fight-or-Flight Reaction
Explanations > Brain > Fight-or-Flight Reaction
Physical changes | Modern effects | So what?

When we perceive a significant threat to us, then our bodies get ready either for a fight
to the death or a desperate flight from certain defeat by a clearly superior adversary.

Physical changes
Fight or flight effects include:

• Our senses sharpening. Pupils dilate (open out) so we can see more
clearly, even in darkness. Our hairs stand on end, making us more sensitive
to our environment (and also making us appear larger, hopefully intimidating
our opponent).
• The cardio-vascular system leaping into action, with the heart pump
rate going from one up to five gallons per minutes and our arteries
constricting to maximize pressure around the system whilst the veins open
out to ease return of blood to the heart.
• The respiratory system joining in as the lungs, throat and nostrils
open up and breathing speeding up to get more air in the system so the
increased blood flow can be re-oxygenated. The blood carries oxygen to the
muscles, allowing them to work harder. Deeper breathing also helps us to
scream more loudly!
• Fat from fatty cells and glucose from the liver being metabolized to
create instant energy.
• Blood vessels to the kidney and digestive system being constricted,
effectively shutting down systems that are not essential. A part of this effect
is reduction of saliva in the mouth. The bowels and bladder may also open
out to reduce the need for other internal actions (this might also dissuade
our attackers!).
• Blood vessels to the skin being constricted reducing any potential
blood loss. Sweat glands also open, providing an external cooling liquid to
our over-worked system. (this makes the skin look pale and clammy).
• Endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers, are released
(when you are fighting, you do not want be bothered with pain–-that can be
put off until later.)
• The natural judgment system is also turned down and more primitive
responses take over–this is a time for action rather than deep thought.

Modern effects
Unfortunately, we are historically too close to the original value of this primitive
response for our systems to have evolved to a more appropriate use of it, and many of
life’s stresses trigger this response. The surprises and shocks of modern living leave us
in a permanent state of arousal that takes its toll on our bodies, as described by Hans
Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome.

287
It also happens when a creative new idea makes us feel uncertain about things of which
we previously were sure. The biochemical changes in our brain make us aggressive,
fighting the new idea, or make us timid, fleeing from it.

Freezing
A third alternative response which often comes before fight or flight is freezing. This is
often used by prey as they seek not to be noticed by predators.
Humans also will pause at signs of danger. By freezing, you also cut down on noise and
visual change and so may hear or see things around you more clearly.

So What?
Watch out for angry red faces, cold and clammy skin, signs of a dry mouth, increased
breathing rates and jitteriness from activated muscles (in yourself, as well as others).
Also watch out for the various forms of coping that can be dysfunctional and contrary
to behavior you are seeking to create.
When others are thus aroused, they are not thinking straight and can be manipulated.
You may even want to provoke them into this state. They also may become aggressive
and unpredictable, so on the other hand you may want to avoid getting them into this
state!
If you get wound up yourself, stop. Get out. Use any excuse to go somewhere and calm
down.

See also
General Adaptation Syndrome, Safety, Control, Threat forecast, The dog temperaments,
Coping Mechanisms

Passive aggression
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Passive aggression
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
A person who uses passive-aggressive method to cope with stresses on them does this
by 'attacking' others through passive means. Thus the aggressive intent is cloaked by the
passive method.
Passive aggression often appears when a person is asked to do something which they
want to avoid for some reason (such as priority of other work). By appearing to agree
but not making any real commitment, they can avoid the action. A more severe form of
passive aggression is to agree to commitments and then not do anything to fulfill them.
A toned down version is to do the minimum possible whilst putting on a grand show of
appearing to be fully engaged.

Example
A person at a meeting is asked to complete a task with which they feel
unable to comply. They talk at great length about it, discussing how

288
important it is and all the various complexities that would be involved. At
the end of the meeting, they still have not agreed to do anything.

A sales person uses a persuasive sales patter. The customer agrees that
this is just what they want, but when it comes to signing the order, they
find reasons why they cannot buy today.

A change manager asks people to change what they do. They agree but
do not actually do what they agreed to do.

Discussion
Passive aggression is a method often used by subordinates who are unable to directly
oppose their superiors, and so need to resort to subtle and indirect means. It is also used
with peers who can only ask (but not tell) them what to do, particularly where there is a
false culture of supporting one team mates but the realities are that the day job takes a
strong priority over helping one another.
This can also happen in a culture where it is impolite to say 'no' to a person's face. So
people say yes, even when they mean no. 'Yes' in some cultures can mean 'I understand'
but not 'I will comply with your request for action'.
Passive aggression may be rooted in childhood, where the impotent child cannot fight
back against parents, teachers and other authority figures, and so resorts to truculence
and withdrawal of commitment.

So what?
When someone keeps avoiding making commitments or appears to make a commitment
to you but somehow does not comply, then you need to change the situation, otherwise
you will not get anything done.
One way of handling this is to state very clearly what you want from them and then ask
them directly (and repeatedly as necessary) whether they agree to do this (and by
when).
Another approach is to 'name the game', pointing out to them what you are seeing in
their behavior (do not accuse them -- just describe what you are seeing).

See also
Attack, Avoidance, Intellectualization, Objection-handling

Reaction Formation
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Reaction Formation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Reaction Formation occurs when a person feels an urge to do or say something and then
actually does or says something that is effectively the opposite of what they really want.
It also appears as a defense against a feared social punishment. If I fear that I will be
criticized for something, I very visibly act in a way that shows I am personally a long
way from the feared position.

289
A common pattern in Reaction Formation is where the person uses ‘excessive
behavior’, for example using exaggerated friendliness when the person is actually
feeling unfriendly.

Example
A person who is angry with a colleague actually ends up being particularly
courteous and friendly towards them.

A man who is gay has a number of conspicuous heterosexual affairs and


openly criticizes gays.

A mother who has a child she does not want becomes very protective of
the child.

An alcoholic extols the virtues of abstinence.

Discussion
A cause of Reaction Formation is when a person seeks to cover up something
unacceptable by adopting an opposite stance. For example the gay person who has
heterosexually promiscuous may be concealing their homosexual reality. This may be a
conscious concealment but also may well occur at the subconscious level such that they
do not realize the real cause of their behavior. Reaction Formation thus can turn
homosexual tendencies (love men) to homophobic ones (hate men).
Freud called the exaggerated compensation that can appear in Reaction Formation
‘overboarding’ as the person is going overboard in one direction to distract from and
cover up something unwanted in the other direction, such as a person who fears war
becoming a pacifist, convincing themselves that war is wrong (rather than the
‘cowardly’ position that war is scary).
Reaction Formation goes further than projection such that unwanted impulses and
thoughts are not acknowledged.
Extreme patterns of Reaction Formation are found in paranoia and obsessive-
compulsive disorder (OCD), where the person becomes trapped in a cycle of repeating a
behavior that they know (at least at a deep level) is somehow wrong.
Reaction formation is one of Freud's original defense mechanisms.

So what?
When a person takes a position or stance on something, and particularly if that position
is extreme, consider the possibility that their real views are opposite to this. This offers
you two options in persuasion. You can either support their current position or carefully
expose how their underlying tendencies are opposite (and how it is ok to admit this).
To cause a Reaction Formation pattern, show the other person that a particular behavior
is socially unacceptable. Then give them the space and ideas to react against this
undesirable pattern and create their own way of showing how they are actually very far
away from the undesirable behavior.
In a therapeutic situation, help a person who is dysfunctionally forming contrary
reactions by first create a supportive environment where they can admit and accept what

290
is happening to themselves. Then support their changing of position to somewhere that
is more acceptable and appropriate for them.
Remember that defense mechanisms are usually symptoms of deeper problems and
addressing them directly can be ineffective or even counter-productive. Simply showing
the person that their position is opposed to their real feelings can just cause deeper
entrenchment. Before this, you should first work on their primary conflict.

See also
Projection, Reactance Theory

Trivializing
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Trivializing
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When we are faced with a disappointment over something that is important to us, we
are faced with the problem of having our expectations and predictions dashed. We may
even have told other people about it beforehand, making it doubly embarrassing that we
have not gained what we expected.
As a response, we make light of the situation, telling ourselves (and often other people)
that it is not that important anyway, thus trivializing what was previously important.
One way that we trivialize is to make something a joke, laughing it off.

Example
A girl rejects the advances of a boy. He tells his friends that she isn't that
pretty anyway.

A friend trips up and falls on his face. He gets up laughing.

A person in a meeting is faced with a powerful counter-argument. They


trivialize it by saying that it is nothing new.

I lose a lot of money gambling. I tell myself that I didn't need it anyway.

Discussion
The size of discomfort is proportional to the size of the problem. Trivializing makes
small something that is really big, and hence allows me to ignore it.
This is a common mechanism that is socially acceptable in many situations, particularly
when we are applying it to ourselves, where it may appear to be modesty or not taking
oneself too seriously.
Trivializing may also be used as an attack, making small something that others find
important. This is used when that something makes us feel uncomfortable in some way
such that we feel unable to cope with it just now.

So what?
Help others to cope by making light of problems -- though beware of this appearing that
you are using trivialization to attack rather than help them.

291
If you are helping them develop, you can question and probe why they made light of the
situation. You can also encourage a person to do something that they previously thought
difficult by making light of it.

See also
Attack

Avoidance mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Avoidance mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways. Some are more positive than others. Whilst
avoidance and denial is a relatively harmless method that can be useful in the short
term, it can still result in significant internal damage and may end up coming out in
other ways.

• Acting out: not coping - giving in to the pressure to misbehave.


• Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes
distress.
• Denial: refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Fantasy: escaping reality into a world of possibility.
• Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of
things desired.
• Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.
• Passive aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.
• Performing rituals: Patterns that delay.
• Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.
• Rationalization: creating logical reasons for bad behavior.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.
• Repression: subconsciously hiding uncomfortable thoughts.
• Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.
• Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

In some ways, most forms of coping include denial as the person avoids the real issue.

So what?
Guard against negative behavior that can harm others and lead you into trouble. Try
converting these into adaptive mechanisms.
When you are working with others, beware of them Denialing you! Sometimes, when
you take the cork out of a pressurized bottle, there is a significant explosion.

See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Avoidance
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Avoidance

292
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
In avoidance, we simply find ways of avoiding having to face uncomfortable situations,
things or activities. The discomfort, for example, may come from unconscious sexual or
aggressive impulses.
Avoidance may include removing oneself physically from a situation. It may also
involve finding ways not to discuss or even think about the topic in question.

Example
I dislike another person at work. I avoid walking past their desk. When
people talk about them, I say nothing.

My son does not like doing homework. Whenever the subject of school
comes up, he changes the topic. He also avoids looking directly at me.

Discussion
Avoidance is a simple way of coping by not having to cope. When feelings of
discomfort appear, we find ways of not experiencing them.
According to the dynamic theory, avoidance is a major defense mechanism in phobias.
Procrastination is another form of avoidance where we put off to tomorrow those things
that we can avoid today.

So what?
To get someone to face what they are avoiding, you may have to corner them or
otherwise present them with a situation where they are unable to avoid the situation. If
the discomfort is very strong, they may fight back hard, so be careful.
You can also use avoidance to persuade a person to do something. Give them a choice
of two actions, one of which is something you know that they tend to avoid or which is
likely to be less desirable. They will pick the path you want in order to avoid the less
desirable way.

See also
Denial, Displacement, Intellectualization, Push principle

Fantasy
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Fantasy
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When we cannot achieve or do something that we want, we channel the energy created
by the desire into fantastic imaginings.
Fantasy also provides temporary relief from the general stresses of everyday living.

293
Example
A man who is attracted to a beautiful woman but who realizes that she is
unattainable fantasizes about seducing her (or being seduced by her).

A boy who is punished by a teacher creates fantasies of shooting the


teacher (remember the movie 'If').

A student who flunks university exams imagines that they could have
passed the exams 'if they really wanted to'.

We go to movies or read books to escape into the prepared fantasies that


they offer us.

Discussion
Fantasy can range from harmless imaginings to delusional obsessions, where a person
loses track of reality as they switch for long periods into their fantasy world. For most
of us, however, it is a welcome and temporary relief and adds harmless spice to our
everyday worlds.

So what?
Persuade by drawing people into imagined possibilities. Say 'What if' (with
enthusiasm!) to send them into a world of excitement and potential.
Help people escape from damaging fantasies by moving them gradually to less harmful
ones. Teach them to put their dreams on hold and switch back and forth at will between
reality and fantasy.
In your own life, enjoy your fantasies, but know them as such.

See also
Displacement, Idealization, Escape Theory

Symbolization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Symbolization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Symbolization is a way of handling inner conflicts by turning them into distinct
symbols.
Symbols are often physical items, although there may also be symbolic acts and
metaphoric ideas.

Example
A soldier explains his decision to join the army as 'defending the flag'.

A man asks for the woman's hand, symbolizing the 'hand in marriage'.

Discussion
Symbols are often displacements of deeper desires, where the person has turned an
unwanted or stressful thought into a concrete or metaphoric thing.

294
Dreams are highly symbolic, and Freud made significant efforts to interpret them,
believing that understanding the symbols would lead him and his patients to uncover
the original root causes of their problems.

So what?
People leave streams of symbols through their lives, from the furniture in their houses
to the minutiae of the words that they use and the actions they perform. If you can read
these, you can learn a great deal about what is in their subconscious mind - and perhaps
surprise them with how well you understand them.

See also
Displacement, Intellectualization, Rationalization

Behavioral mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Behavioral mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways. Some are more positive than others. Here are
various mechanisms that change how we behave.

• Acting out: not coping - giving in to the pressure to misbehave.


• Aim inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.
• Altruism: Helping others to help self.
• Attack: trying to beat down that which is threatening you.
• Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes
distress.
• Compensation: making up for a weakness in one area by gain
strength in another.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.
• Undoing: actions that psychologically 'undo' wrongdoings for the
wrongdoer.

So what?
Behavior is easy to see and hence is a strong signal that you can read in others and that
they can read in you.
When people act in certain ways that seem strange to you or seem to be directed against
you, pause to think. These are often coping mechanisms and are not about you.

See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Aim inhibition
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Aim inhibition
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

295
Description
Sometimes we have desires and goals that we believe or realize that we are unable to
achieve. In aim inhibition, we lower our sights, reducing our goals to something that we
believe is actually more possible or realistic.
Aim inhibition may well include elements of rationalization and displacement, although
the prime force is the creation of achievable goals.

Example
A person who sexually desires another person but is unable to fulfill that
desire (for example the other person is married) convinces themselves
that all they really want is to be friends.

A person who wants to be a veterinarian does not get sufficient exam


grades, so becomes a vet's assistant instead.

Discussion
The gap between wanting and not having causes the tension that aim inhibition seeks to
relieve.
Aim inhibition is generally not particularly harmful and can be quite helpful in enabling
us to live lives that would otherwise feel unfulfilled. It can also lead us to accept less
than we might potentially otherwise gain.

So what?
To help a person raise their sights, show them others who have done so and then show
how those others are like the person in question.
Where you want a person to lower their sights, show how what they want is
unattainable.

See also
Rationalization, Displacement

Altruism
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Altruism
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Avoid your own pains by concentrating on the pains of others. Maybe you can heal
yourself and feel good by healing them and helping them to feel good.

Example
A self-made millionaire who grew up in poverty sets up a charitable
foundation and gains great pleasure from how it helps others get out of
the poverty trap. She receives social accolade and public recognition for
her good deeds, which she carefully and modestly grateful.

296
Discussion
Altruism and other pro-social action may seem rather strange as a 'coping' behavior.
According to the dictionary it is 'unselfish concern for the welfare of others'. Yet
beneath the surface we all have our ills and seek to cope with them as best we can. If we
have strong values about being unselfish and putting others first, altruism is a perfect
mechanism for avoiding, and perhaps even curing our own problems.
Direct altruism may be found when a person seeks to help others with the same problem
that the person has, thus seeking an indirect way of effecting a direct cure on oneself.
Altruism may also be less direct and aimed at helping others in a range of
circumstances. This may appear when the more direct approach would still be too
painful.

So what?
So if you have been hurt in the past, help others in the same situation rather than taking
revenge on those who hurt you or falling into worse dysfunction.
Likewise, you can help others choose altruism over more destructive coping
mechanisms.

See also
Sublimation

Attack
Explanations > Behaviours > Coping > Attack
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
'The best form of defense is attack' is a common saying and is also a common action,
and when we feel threatened or attacked (even psychologically), we will attack back.
When a person feels stressed in some way, they may lash out at whoever is in the way,
whether the other person is a real cause or not. They may also attack inanimate objects.

Example
Someone criticizes me in a discussion. I angrily criticize them back.

A person is having problems with their computer. They angrily bang the
keyboard.

Discussion
Attack appears as a subconscious response in the fight-or-flight reaction, where we
unthinkingly respond to a sudden threat with an aggressive response.
Attack is often also used in displacement, where aggressive feelings are redirected onto
a substitute target.

So what?

297
When the other person is angry or attacks you, seek the underlying internal conflict they
are feeling rather than believe that they are attacking you because you are bad in some
way. In this way, you can help them recover (and also gain credibility).

See also
Anger, Fight-or-Flight reaction, Trivializing, Displacement

Cognitive mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Cognitive mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways. Some are more positive than others. Here are
various mental mechanisms that help us cope.

• Aim inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.


• Altruism: Helping others to help self.
• Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes
distress.
• Compartmentalization: separating conflicting thoughts into separated
compartments.
• Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical
symptoms.
• Denial: refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Dissociation: separating oneself from parts of your life.
• Fantasy: escaping reality into a world of possibility.
• Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of
things desired.
• Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.
• Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.
• Introjection: Bringing things from the outer world into the inner world.
• Passive aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.
• Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.
• Rationalization: creating logical reasons for bad behavior.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.
• Repression: subconsciously hiding uncomfortable thoughts.
• Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical symptoms.
• Suppression: consciously holding back unwanted urges.
• Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.
• Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

So what?
Mental mechanisms like this are sometimes deliberate and conscious and sometimes
invisible to the person so they do not realize what is really happening. In the latter case
it is difficult for a person to even begin to understand what is happening. A therapist or
counsellor may be able to help them understand the inner processes and hence
deliberately change how they think.

298
See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Conversion
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Conversion
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Conversion as a defense mechanism occurs where cognitive tensions manifest
themselves in physical symptoms. The symptom may well be symbolic and dramatic
and it often acts as a communication about the situation. Extreme symptoms may
include paralysis, blindness, deafness, becoming mute or having a seizure. Lesser
symptoms include tiredness, headaches and twitches.

Example
A person's arm becomes suddenly paralyzed after they have been
threatening to hit someone else.

Discussion
Conversion is a subconscious effect that can be as scary for the person as it is for those
around them. It is different from psychosomatic disorders where real health changes
are seen (such as the appearance of ulcers). It also is more than malingering, where
conscious exaggeration of reported symptoms are used to gain attention.

So what?
When a stressed person suddenly becomes paralyzed or otherwise physically
handicapped, consider the possibility that it may be a case of conversion. With time,
the symptom will go away, so act to reduce their stress, for example taking them away
from the initial situation. Explaining conversion to them may help.

Dissociation
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Dissociation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Dissociation involves separating a set of thoughts or activities from the main area of
conscious mind, in order to avoid the conflict that this would cause.
Dissociation can also appear as taking an objective, third-person perspective, where you
'go to the balcony' and look down on the situation in order to remove emotion from
your perspective (this is sometimes called 'dissociation of affect').

Example
A religious person preaches kindness to all, yet is cruelly strict to
children, without realizing that there is a conflict between the two.

299
A politician seeks legislation on government integrity, yet also has some
shady private dealings. When challenged, they seem surprised that these
are conflicting interests.

Discussion
Dissociation is of practical value where it keeps separate different parts of your life.
However, as with the examples above, it can lead to moral dilemmas and professional
suicide.
Dissociation occurs in conditions such as hysteria and schizophrenia. In hysteria, a large
piece of the conscious mind is separated, whilst in schizophrenia there are a number of
smaller portions separated from one another.
Dissociation is very close to compartmentalization.

So what?
Where you can see a person dissociating, talk to them in their current value set in order
to be accepted in the moment.
Telling the person that they have another persona may well lead to denial or some other
defense.
Taking an objective 'out of the body' perspective has the effect of leaving emotions in
the body. This is used in therapy to help a person review a situation without revisiting
the emotions involved. You can also use it conversationally, with such as 'Let's stand
back from this...' or 'looking down on the situation...'.

See also
Compartmentalization

Introjection
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Introjection
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Introjection occurs as a coping mechanism when we take on attributes of other people
who seem better able to cope with the situation than we do.

Example
I have to give a presentation but feel scared. I put on the hat of Abraham
Lincoln and imagine I am confidently giving an important address to the
nation.

A child is threatened at school. They take on the strong-defender


attributes that they perceive in their father and push away the bully.

A business leader sets high moral standards within the company. Many
others follow her lead.

Discussion
We often use admired and respected others for the models from which to draw out
introjected qualities.

300
When we introject aspects of another person, it is possible that we also bring in
attributes that are less helpful as we take on their persona. Thus a person taking on the
strength of a more senior manager may also take on unwanted aggression and distain.

So what?
When you feel threatened, think about a person who is able to cope well with the
situation. Put yourself in their shoes. Get inside their body. Think like them. Be them.
Then manage the situation like a pro.
And then realize that you can do it.

See also
Projection

Somatization
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Somatization
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
Somatization occurs where a psychological problem turns into physical and
subconscious symptoms.
This can range from simple twitching to skin rashes, heart problems and worse.

Example
A policeman, who has to be very restricted in his professional behavior,
develops hypertension.

A worried actor develops a twitch.

Discussion
When the subconscious mind is suffering from a problem which is not addressed and
cannot be considered, it grabs attention by attacking the physical body.
This can have useful consequences, for example, a person who is overstressing
themselves may get a physical problem that forces them to slow down.
The symptoms created can be a problem for normal doctors, as there is no physical
cause of the problem.
The reverse effect can happen where a placebo actually causes a person to recover.

So what?
When people have physical symptoms, consider the possibility of psychological causes.
Of course you should get medical opinion first to determine whether there really is a
medical cause (and perhaps to help them get physical relief). If symptoms persist, you
may be able to effect a 'miracle cure'.

See also
Regression

301
Suppression
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping mechanisms > Suppression
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
This is where the person consciously and deliberately pushes down any thoughts that
leads to feelings of anxiety. Actions that take the person into anxiety-creating situations
may also be avoided.
This approach is also used to suppress desires and urges that the person considers to be
unworthy of them. This may range from sexual desires to feelings of anger towards
other people for whatever reason.

Example
An older man has sexual feelings towards a teenager and quickly
suppresses the thought.

I want to kick the living **** out of an idiot at the office. Instead, I smile
at them and try to feel sorry for their Freudian plight.

I am about to take a short-cut down an alleyway. There are some people


down there. I decide to take the longer, but more 'interesting' route.

Discussion
By avoiding situations or thoughts that lead to anxiety, the person minimizes their
discomfort. However, as the feelings are still held in the subconscious, they continue to
gnaw and create a sense of underlying and wearying low-level discomfort.
For example, a person has been unkind to another and then avoids thinking about it, as
this would lead to uncomfortable feelings of shame and the dissonance of knowing they
had acted outside of common human values. Suppression is conscious. Repression is
subconscious.

So what?
To help a person deal with suppressed feelings, first create an open and accepting
environment where there is no external reasons to remain suppressed. Then seek to
trigger their release - which can be in a huge torrent, for example of anger and crying
(although more gentle release may also occur).
One way of doing this is to regress them to incidents where the feelings were originally
suppressed and then use therapeutic methods to enable them to re-experience the
situation more appropriately.

See also
Repression, Denial, Intellectualization

Conversion mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Cognitive mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

302
We cope with difficulties in various ways. One family of coping mechanisms acts to
transform the difficulty in some way.

• Aim inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.


• Altruism: Helping others to help self.
• Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical
symptoms.
• Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
• Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of
things desired.
• Post-traumatic growth: Using the energy of trauma for good.
• Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite
position.
• Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical symptoms.
• Sublimation: channeling psychic energy into acceptable activities.
• Substitution: Replacing one thing with another.
• Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.
• Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

So what?
Conversion coping can be confusing as the real problem is hidden behind a different
mask. The reasons and route of conversion is not always clear and some exploration can
be needed to help understand what is going on.
When people are acting strangely, ask whether this is authentic or whether it is a
problem being acted out in some different way.

See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Self-harm mechanisms
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Self-harm mechanisms
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

We cope with difficulties in various ways. One family of coping mechanisms is to


attack ourselves in some way, doing actual or psychological harm.

• Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical


symptoms.
• Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical
symptoms.
• Self-harming: Conscious physical self-harm.

So what?
Conversion coping can be confusing as the real problem is hidden behind a different
mask. The reasons and route of conversion is not always clear and some exploration
can be needed to help understand what is going on.
When people are acting strangely, ask whether this is authentic or whether it is a
problem being acted out in some different way.

303
See also
Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

Self-harming
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Self-harming
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
The person physically deliberately hurts themself in some way or otherwise puts
themselves at high risk of harm.
There is a whole spectrum of actions that can appear here, from harmlessly tapping
one's head ('I'm so stupid') to drawing one's own blood and acting in reckless, near-
suicidal ways. Self-harm is generally considered to be more about the more extreme end
of this spectrum, where sustained bodily harm is caused.
This can be a one-shot activity, taken in anger or frustration. It can also be an obsessive
activity that can lead to life-threatening damage.

Example
• Slapping oneself
• Banging one's head against a table
• Punching a hard wall
• Picking at wounds
• Cutting oneself with a knife or sharp object
• Burning oneself
• Biting oneself
• Picking fights with others (especially tough people)
• Reckless driving
• Body piercing or tattoos (painful!)
• Taking narcotic drugs or medicine overdoses

Discussion
Self-harm is a remarkably common activity, particularly amongst young people
(particularly teenagers), that can have many different causes. Common causes include
bullying, death of a loved one, neglect, abuse and debilitating illness. Many of these can
lead to low self-esteem, which has a particular causal link with self-harm.
It can be scary for others when they find out the person is self-harming. Parents fear
suicide. Others fear the rage being projected outwards.
Self-harm can be an attention-seeking activity but mostly is not. Many hide their
injuries and do not seek help.
When you harm yourself, you feel pain. When you are numbed by depression, this can,
paradoxically, be life-affirming.
People who self-harm may be punishing themselves, perhaps because they believe they
have done wrong or often because others have told them they are bad.

304
Self-harm can have a strong control aspect. I feel I cannot control the world around me,
but at least I can do this. If I cannot attack others at least I can attack myself as a
substitute for the intended target.
It can also be a displacement. I want to harm someone else, but I cannot, so I will harm
myself instead.
Releasing blood can, strangely, seem like letting out bad feelings.
In psychoanalysis, the death drive may help to explain this oft-baffling activity. Freud
discussed this as the opposite of eros, or libido, the life drive.
Self-harm is also known as self-abuse, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence or self-
injury.

So what?
Watch those you know who are unhappy or who have low self-respect. Watch for
covering up of skin and excuses for bruises and other signs harm.
In helping others, first find out when the behavior started. This may give a clue to the
original cause.
Give them harmless displacement activities that may reduce stress, such as running,
dancing or listening to music. Counting down from ten and just focusing on a nearby
object can also be helpful when other activities are not available.
Otherwise helping them to increase their confidence is likely to help. Find doable
challenges for them and help them succeed. Praise them for things well done. Help
them to socialize with caring others.
If you have any doubt or concern, it is often a good idea to get professional advice.

See also
Life and death drives, stress

Emotionality
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Emotionality
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When we become stressed or tension is caused, a number of negative emotions may
start to build, including anger, frustration, fear, jealousy and so on.
When we display these emotions it can affect others around us, arousing similar or
polar feelings. A common social value is that we should not distress others, so many
people hold the emotion in, 'bottling up' the stress. This in itself can trigger other
coping mechanisms. It can also result in explosive outbursts as we are unable to
contain the emotion further.
Some people are either not good at restraining their emotions or are less concerned
about the effect on others and more about the personal benefits of emotional outbursts.
As a result, they regularly and habitually display extreme emotions.

305
Example
Teenagers often cannot contain the emotions caused by physiological
and temporal development. As a result, they can be very emotional and
can contribute significantly to family problems.

A man who has had long relationship problems is given to angry


outbursts that both give temporary respite and yet add to the cycle of
relational failures.

Discussion
Emotional outbursts start very young and many infants know little other way to get
attention. If they do not learn to manage their emotions as they grow older, they may
become an over-emotional adult, still using emotion as an attention-gaining device.
Negative emotions such as anger and hate let us projection our problems onto others.
They also make us feel powerful, as if we can control a frightening and uncontrollable
world.
People who do control their emotions can also have problems as the emotions do not
go away and can explode, leak or otherwise appear in confusing and embarrassing
ways.

So what?
When people are often emotional, you might wonder about deep causes and
unresolved traumas. People who seem anal and uptight are not free from emotion.
Watch out for their outbursts (and subsequent denial of such).
To help people, show them the effect they are having on themselves and others. Help
them find ways of harmlessly releasing pent-up emotion and resolve deeper issues.

See also
Emotions

Help-rejecting complaining
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Help-rejecting complaining
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
A person becomes upset or otherwise elicits supporting actions from other people.
When helpful suggestions or other comfort is offered, however, they reject this and
return to their complaint.

Example
A person complains to their partner about problems at work. When the
partner suggests ways of resolving the problems the solutions are
rejected out of hand and the person continues to complain.

306
Discussion
If a person who is distressed accepts help, then they also accept the notion that the help
will lead to their distress being alleviated. However, if they find the distressful state
somehow comforting, or believe that they cannot be helped, then accepting any support
puts them into a tricky situation.
Asking for a solution to a problem may also be less about the problem and more about
gaining attention. Resolving the problem means losing attention, and so is avoided.
This situation can become a double-bind for the other person, who is required to offer
solutions, but who soon finds that no solution will be accepted.

So what?
If others complain to you and do not consider any solutions you offer, then there is little
value in continuing to offer solutions. Also consider if you must stay with them at this
time.
If you want to help them, sometimes it is enough just to quietly accept them whilst
repelling their demands for solution. A way of doing this is to ask them for more detail
about the issue, ideally in a way that will lead them towards resolving the issue
themselves.

See also
Games, Socratic questioning

Provocation
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Provocation
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
When a person feels stressed, one way they avoid dealing with the real issues is to
provoke others into some kind of reaction. The attention can then be put on the other
person and away from the originator's stress.
This is a common response when a person feels guilty about something. By provoking
another person, the guilt can then be transferred to that person.

Example
A very common context for provocation is between teenagers and their
parents, siblings and teachers. The teenager deliberately does something
reprehensible, gets told off, then blames the other person. The pattern
also continues in dysfunctional adult relationships.

Provocation is also a common causes of fights, both verbal and physical.


A person who needs to affirm their power will provoke a weaker other in
order to escalate into a conflict they are confident they can win.

307
Discussion
Provocation is a great way of avoiding one's own issues by creating more immediate
issues for others. The hapless victim is thus distracted from provocateur and into a
defensive position.

So what?
When others provoke you, do not rise to the bait!
When you find yourself in an argument, pause to think about how it started. Perhaps it
was you doing the provoking. Perhaps it is unclear who started it. But once you know
that it is a game, you can decide to de-escalate.

See also
Avoidance, Displacement, Games

Positive coping
Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Positive coping
Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

Description
There are a number of approaches that we can take to cope in a positive way with
problems, including:

• Immediate problem-solving: Seeking to fix the problem that is the


immediate cause of our difficulty.
• Root-cause solving: Seeking to fix the underlying cause such that the
problem will never recur.
• Benefit-finding: Looking for the good things amongst the bad.
• Spiritual growth: Finding ways of turning the problem into a way to
grow 'spiritually' or emotionally.

Example
A student fails and exam. They view it as an opportunity to deepen their
learning and study hard for their re-sit.

A person misses a train several times. By self-inquiry they realize they


are trying to avoid going to a job they do not like. So they change their
job.

Discussion
Positive coping generally means framing the issue in a positive light that enables use to
see an adversity as an opportunity.
This is a position that needs a certain amount of maturity in being able to accept one's
own failings without excessive self-blame.

So what?
So learn to turn bad things into good, to see the silver lining to the clouds. Be positive
and find how this can benefit your life. Teach others to do it too.

308
See also
Sublimation, Post-traumatic growth

Personality
Explanations > Personality
Personality models | So what?

One of the enduring questions in our attempts to understand people is how we can
simplify our understanding of people and also how we can categorise them, putting
them into neat boxes so we can predict what they will (or at least believe that we can)
and hence know how to interact with them.

• Personality is: Various definitions.

Personality models
There are a range of models relating to personality. although some are more about
preferences and typing than inherent personality. These include:

• 16PF: Cattell's sixteen basic personality factors.


• Big Five factors: A simplification to five factors from the 16PF.
• DISC Types: Four simple types.
• Freud's Personality Factors: Id, Ego, cathexis and other classic stuff.
• MMPI: Clinical psychiatric conditions.
• Jungian Type Inventory: The oldest modern typing system.
• Sheldon's Body Personality: You are what your shape is.
• Satir's Stress Responders: Five types in response to stress.
• Type A and Type B personalities: Prone to heart attacks or not?

So what?
Assessing personality of people is very useful as it helps understand them, their traits,
biases and their preferences, and hence how they may be convinced (play to their
preferences and traits).
The only trap of playing the personality card is if you assume that people are nothing
but their assessed personality. Their preferences do change with circumstance and as
people we are particularly complex animals, so you should also be flexible to handle the
other person when they climb out of the box into which you have put them.
The bottom line is to always remember that this psychology stuff is just a numbers
game. Understanding personality helps, but does not allow 100% predictions.

See also
Nature vs. Nurture, Preferences, Identity

16PF factors
Explanations > Preferences > 16PF
The 16 Primary Factors | The 5 Global Factors | So what?

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16PF stands for the 16 Personality Factors or 'source traits' that were identified by
Raymond Cattell in the 1930s as being the main set of factors whereby a person can be
classified. These were derived from an analysis of personality-describing words
(initially 18,000, then whittled down to 4500, then about 171 and eventually 16).
There are 16 Primary Factors, which have also been grouped into five global factors.
Unlike some other systems, the focus of the 16PF is to identify innate characteristics
without immediate concern for how they are applied.

The 16 Primary Factors


These are Cattells' original personality factors.

Primary Factor Ref Low High


Reserved,
Warm, outgoing,
impersonal,
attentive to
distant, cool,
others, kindly,
Warmth A reserved,
easygoing,
impersonal,
participating,
detached,
likes people
formal, aloof

Concrete-
Abstract-
thinking, lower
thinking, more
general mental
intelligent,
capacity, less
Reasoning B
intelligent,
bright, higher
general mental
unable to handle
capacity, fast
abstract
learner
problems

Reactive,
emotionally
changeable, Emotionally
Emotional C
affected by stable, adaptive,
Stability feelings, mature, faces
emotionally less reality, calm
stable, easily
upset

Deferential,
cooperative, Dominant,
avoids conflict, forceful,
submissive, assertive,
Dominance E
humble, aggressive,
obedient, easily competitive,
led, docile, stubborn, bossy
accommodating

Lively, animated,
Serious,
spontaneous,
restrained,
enthusiastic,
prudent,
Liveliness F
taciturn,
happy-go-lucky,
cheerful,
introspective,
expressive,
silent
impulsive

Rule- G Expedient, Rule-conscious,


nonconforming, dutiful,
Consciousness disregards rules, conscientious,
self-indulgent conforming,

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moralistic, staid,
rule-bound

Socially bold,
Shy, threat-
Social venturesome,
sensitive, timid,
H thick-skinned,
Boldness hesitant,
uninhibited, can
intimidated
take stress

Utilitarian,
Sensitive,
objective,
aesthetic,
unsentimental,
Sensitivity I
tough-minded,
sentimental,
tender-minded,
self-reliant, no-
intuitive, refined
nonsense, rough

Trusting, Vigilant,
unsuspecting, suspicious,
Vigilance L accepting, skeptical, wary,
unconditional, distrustful,
easy oppositional

Abstracted,
Grounded,
imaginative,
practical,
absent-minded,
Abstractedness M prosaic, solution-
impractical,
oriented, steady,
absorbed in
conventional
ideas

Private, discreet,
Forthright,
non-disclosing,
genuine, artless,
shrewd,
open, guileless,
Privateness N
naive,
polished,
worldly, astute,
unpretentious,
astute,
involved
diplomatic

Self-assured, Apprehensive,
unworried, self-doubting,
complacent, worried, guilt-
Apprehension O
secure, free of prone, insecure,
guilt, confident, worrying, self-
self-satisfied blaming

Open to change,
Traditional,
experimenting,
attached to
Openness to liberal,
familiar,
Q1 analytical,
Change conservative,
critical, free-
respecting
thinking,
traditional ideas
flexibility

Group-oriented, Self-reliant,
affiliative, a solitary,
Self-Reliance Q2 joiner and resourceful,
follower, individualistic,
dependent self-sufficient

Perfectionism Q3 Tolerates Perfectionist,


disorder, organized,
unexacting, compulsive, self-
flexible, disciplined,
undisciplined, socially precise,
lax, self-conflict, exacting will
impulsive, power, control,
careless of social self-sentimental

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rules,
uncontrolled

Tense, high
energy,
Relaxed, placid,
impatient,
tranquil, torpid,
driven,
Tension Q4 patient,
frustrated, over-
composed, low
wrought, has
drive
high drive, time-
driven

The single reference letters indicate the order in which the factors emerged from the
statistical factor analysis used to derive them. This means that the earlier factors are
more significant (so 'warmth' had a very significant effect and will moderate other
factors). The 'Q' factors emerged later when the initial factors were being tested.
Missing letters indicate

The Five Global Factors (16PF5)


This is a grouping and simplification from the above 16 factors, which are sometimes
also called the 16PF5. These are not a simple grouping of the 16PF - some of the
sixteen appear in more than one of the five.

Global Factors Low High 16PF


A+,
Extraverted,
Introverted, F+,
Extraversion socially inhibited
social
H+, N-,
participant
Q2-

Low anxiety, High anxiety,


C-, L+,
relaxed, tense,
Anxiety imperturbable, perturbable,
O+,
Q4+
well-adjusted histrionic

Receptive,
Tough- open-minded,
Tough-minded,
resolute, non- A-, I-,
Mindedness / intuitive,
empathetic, M-, Q1-
emotionality,
Willpower feeling
determined

Accommodating,
Independence, E+,
agreeable,
Independence selfless,
persuasive, H+, L
wilful +, Q1+
subdued

Unrestrained, Self-controlled, F-, G+,


Self-Control impulsive, inhibiting M-,
uncontrolled impulses Q3+

Note that these are similar to the Big Five factors, which were developed later.

So what?

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Assess people either roughly using the above table as a guide or more fully using the
standard questionnaire. The general principle is that these factors are pretty fixed, so
you can then project them onto other situations.

Big five factors


Explanations > Preferences > Big five factors
The Big Five | Discussion | So what?

The 'Big Five' were derived as a simplified set of personality indicators. They are
similar to the 16PF and were identified later.

The Big Five


When working with other people five characteristics/traits/preferences are a lot easier to
remember than sixteen. This also leads to the obvious criticism that we are much more
than 'five traits'.
Using the first letters of the first three factors, the term NEO often appears in
descriptions. The initial letters are also sometimes arranged to spell OCEAN (or
CANOE).

Big Five Factor


Describes
(16PF equivalent)
• Anxiety
• Angry Hostility
• Depression
Neuroticism • Self-Consciousness
(Anxiety) • Impulsiveness

• Vulnerability
• Warmth
• Gregariousness
• Assertiveness
Extraversion • Activity
(Extraversion) • Excitement-Seeking

• Positive Emotions
• Fantasy
• Aesthetics
• Feelings
Openness • Actions
(Tough-minded) • Ideas

• Values
• Trust
• Straightforwardness
• Altruism
Agreeableness • Compliance
(Independence) • Modesty

• Tender-mindedness

Conscientiousness • Competence
• Order

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• Dutifulness
• Achievement
• Striving
(Self-control) • Self-Discipline

• Deliberation

Discussion
Four of the big five are widely agreed, but there has been debate about Openness, with
alternatives including Culture, Intellect, Imagination, and Openness to experience.
Compared to later-borns, first borns tend to be:

• Higher on Conscientiousness & Neuroticism.


• Lower on Agreeableness & Openness to experience.
• Higher on assertive and dominance aspects of Extraversion, lower on
sociability aspects.

Also compared to men, women tend to be:

• Much higher on Agreeableness.


• Slightly higher on Conscientiousness.
• Lower on assertiveness and dominance aspects of Extraversion,
higher on sociability.

So what?
So memorize these and use them to assess people as you meet them and hence
generalize to other situations.
You can also use one of the assessments tests available for more formal exploration.

See also
16PF

DISC types
Explanations > Preferences > DISC types
DISC types | Preferences | So what?

DISC types
This is a popular system originating in the 1920's by an American psychologist called
William Moulton Marston. It measures four preferences, in which you are scored in
each preference (thus resulting in a profile score across each type).
The meanings of the DISC letters vary, according to whom you talk. Known variants
are included in the table below:

DISC type Description


Dominant Independent, persistent, direct.

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(Direct, Driver, Energetic, busy, fearless.
Demanding, Focus on own goals rather than people.
Determined, Tell rather than ask.
Decisive, Doer) Ask 'What?'
Social, persuasive, friendly.
Influential
Energetic, busy, optimistic, distractible.
(Inducement,
Imaginative, focus on the new and future.
Inspiring,
Poor time managers. Focused on people than
Impressive,
tasks.
Interacting,
Tell rather than ask.
Interesting)
Ask 'Who?'
Consistent, like stability.
Steady
Accommodating, peace-seeking.
(Submissive,
Like helping and supporting others. Good
Stable,
listeners and counselors.
Supportive, Shy,
Close relationships with few friends.
Status quo,
Ask, rather than tell.
Specialist)
Ask 'How?' and 'When?'
Conscientious
(Cautious, Slow and critical thinker, perfectionist.
Compliant, Logical, fact-based, organized, follows rules.
Correct, Don't show feelings. Private. Few, but good
Calculating, friends.
Concerned, Big-picture, outlines.
Careful, Ask 'Why?' and 'How?'
Contemplative)

When compared to the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, it is more behaviorally focused


(Myers Briggs focuses more on the thinking processes).

Preferences
Just by looking closely at this, a number of preferences can be seen within the DISC
types, including:

Preference Dominant Influential Steady Cautious

Focus on other
X X
people

Independent,
X X
internal

Energetic and
X X
busy

Tell rather than X X


ask (vs.

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opposite)

Imaginative,
big-picture, X X
future-focused

Like stability
and X X
predictability

Like change
X X
(vs. stability)

Task-oriented
X X
(vs. people)

Flexible to
X X
changing world

The DISC can be simplified in a 2x2 grid:

People-focused Task-focused

Active, Outgoing Influential Dominant

Passive, Internal Steady Conscientious

So what?
Understand the DISC type. They are quite simple and thus easy to use. Then play to the
person's preferences and overall type.
With Dominant people
• Build respect to avoid conflict
• Focus on facts and ideas rather than the people
• Have evidence to support your argument
• Be quick, focused, and to the point
• Ask what not how
• Talk about how problems will hinder accomplishments
• Show them how they can succeed

With Influential people


• Be social and friendly with them, building the relationship
• Listen to them talk about their ideas
• Help them find ways to translate the talk into useful action
• Don’t spend much time on the details
• Motivate them to follow through to complete tasks
• Recognize their accomplishments

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With Steady people
• Be genuinely interest in them as a person
• Create a human working environment for them
• Give them time to adjust to change
• Clearly define goals for them and provide ongoing support
• Recognize and appreciate their achievements
• Avoid hurry and pressure
• Present new ideas carefully

With Conscientious people


• Warn them in time and generally avoid surprises
• Be prepared. Don't ad-lib with them if you can
• Be logical, accurate and use clear data
• Show how things fit into the bigger picture
• Be specific in disagreement and focus on the facts
• Be patient, persistent and diplomatic

See also
Four Types
http://www.discprofile.com/whatisdisc.htm

Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory (MMPI)
Explanations > Preferences > Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
MMPI History | MMPI Scales | So what?

The MMPI system is not really a preference system of real interest here. A brief
introduction is included just for completeness, so you can at least understand what it is
when you bump into it.

MMPI History
The MMPI was developed in the 1930s at Minnesota University as a serious and
comprehensive personality test that can be used to detect psychiatric problems. It was
revised in 1989 as MMPI-2 and a version for adolescents developed (MMPI-A). There
is also an abbreviated version (MMPI-3).
It has ten clinical scales to indicate different psychiatric conditions, although these are
not 'pure' and hence the scales are often referred to by their number, to avoid confusion
and argument.
Due to its clinical use, there is a lot of concern that people taking it may fake results and
hence there are three 'validity' scales to guard against this.

MMPI Scales
Scale 1 - hypochondriasis
Neurotic concern over bodily functioning.
Scale 2 - depression

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Poor morale, lack of hope in the future, and a general dissatisfaction with one's own life
situation. High scores are clinical depression whilst lower scores are more general
unhappiness with life.
Scale 3 - hysteria
Hysterical reaction to stressful situations. Often have 'normal' facade and then go to
pieces when faced with a 'trigger' level of stress.
People who tend to score higher include brighter, better educated and from higher social
classes. Women score higher too.
Scale 4 - psychopathic deviate
Measures social deviation, lack of acceptance of authority, amorality. Adolescents tend
to score higher.
Scale 5 - masculinity-femininity
Tests for homosexual tendencies. Men tend to get higher scores. It is also related to
intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status.
Scale 6 - paranoia
Paranoid symptoms such as ideas of reference, feelings of persecution, grandiose self-
concepts, suspiciousness, excessive sensitivity, and rigid opinions and attitudes.
Scale 7 - psychasthenia
Originally characterized by excessive doubts, compulsions, obsessions, and
unreasonable fears, it now indicates conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
(OCD). It also shows abnormal fears, self-criticism, difficulties in concentration, and
guilt feelings.
Scale 8 - schizophrenia
Assesses a wide variety of content areas, including bizarre thought processes and
peculiar perceptions, social alienation, poor familial relationships, difficulties in
concentration and impulse control, lack of deep interests, disturbing questions of self-
worth and self-identity, and sexual difficulties.
Scale 9 - hypomania
Tests for elevated mood, accelerated speech and motor activity, irritability, flight of
ideas, and brief periods of depression.
Scale 0 - social introversion
Tests for a person's tendency to withdraw from social contacts and responsibilities.

So what?
So when they take you away in a white, padded van and ask you questions, you'll be
able to bluff your way out again...

See also
http://www.mmpi-info.com/mmpistart.html
http://www.falseallegations.com/

Jungian Type Inventory


Explanations > Preferences > Jungian Type Inventory
MBTI history | Preferences | Types | So what?

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History
The Jungian Type Inventory is based on the types and preferences of Carl Gustav Jung,
who wrote 'Psychological Types' in 1921.
Katherine Briggs and Isobel Briggs Myers are a mother and daughter team who build
the modern system that is probably the most popular typing system in the world today.
In particular, they devised a written test (The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, or MBTI ) ®

to identify the person's type.


Other variants have been evolved that are also based on the Jung typology. The most
well-known of these is David Keirsey's Temperament Sorter. The test for this is freely
available in his book 'Please Understand Me II' and used to be free on the web, though
they have started charging for it in 2003. Another modern variant is Socionics.

Preferences
The Jungian inventory measures on four preference scales, giving a variable score to
show the strength of each one. In the table below, the standard terms are shown first,
with alternatives shown in parentheses.

Preference From... ...To

E = Extraversion
Energising I = Introversion
(Expressive,
(Motivation) (Reserved, Internal)
External)

Attending
(Acquiring S = Sensing N = Intuiting
information, (Observant, Facts) (Introspective, Ideas)
Inferring meaning)

T = Thinking
Deciding F = Feeling
(Tough-minded,
(Formulating intent) (Friendly, Emotion)
Logic)

J = Judging P = Perceiving
Living (Scheduling, (Probing, Flexible,
Structured) Open)

Types
The four preferences thus lead to sixteen types which use the E/I, S/N, T/F and J/P.
Below is a table with types, the percentage of the population and a one-liner description
of their major characteristics.

INTJ (6%)
ISTJ (12%) ISFJ (8%) INFJ (4%)
Everything has
Doing what A high sense of An inspiration to
room for
should be done duty others
improvement

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INFP (4%)
ISTP (4%) ISFP (4%) INTP (4%)
Performing noble
Ready to try Sees much but A love of
service to help
anything once shares little problem-solving
society
ESFP (5%) ENTP (5%)
ESTP (3%) ENFP (8%)
You only go One exciting
The ultimate Giving life an
around once in challenge after
realists extra squeeze
life another
ESFJ (8%)
ESTJ (12%) ENFJ (5%) ENTJ (6%)
Hosts and
Life's Smooth-talking Life's natural
hostesses of the
administrators persuaders leaders
world

You might notice that STJs are 24% of the population. This 'Left-side bias' is
unsurprising, as our schools are workplaces tend very much to encourage logic and
structure. This makes life particularly difficult for the NFPs of the world, but like left-
handed tennis players, those that can handle the other side tend to excel.

And finally, for your illuminated entertainment, here's the Jungian Type Prayers.

So what?
Use the system in teams and groups to share information with one another and hence
become more open.

Sheldon's Body Personality


Explanations > Personality > Sheldon's Body Personality
Endomorph | Ectomorph | Mesomorph | So what?

Sheldon noted three personalities based on their physical make-up.

Endomorph
The Endomorph is physically quite 'round', and is typified as the 'barrel of fun' person.
They tend to have:

• Wide hips and narrow shoulders, which makes them rather pear-
shaped.
• Quite a lot of fat spread across the body, including upper arms and
thighs.
• They have quite slim ankles and wrists, which only serves to
accentuate the fatter other parts.

Psychologically, the endomorph is:

• Sociable
• Fun-loving
• Love of food
• Tolerant

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• Even-tempered
• Good humored
• Relaxed
• With a love of comfort
• And has a need for affection

Ectomorph
The Ectomorph is a form of opposite of the Endomorph. Physically, they tend to have:

• Narrow shoulders and hips


• A thin and narrow face, with a high forehead
• A thin and narrow chest and abdomen
• Thin legs and arms
• Very little body fat

Even though they may eat as much as the endomorph, they never seem to put on weight
(much to the endomorph's chagrin). Psychologically they are:

• Self-conscious
• Private
• Introverted
• Inhibited
• Socially anxious
• Artistic
• Intense
• Emotionally restrained
• Thoughtful

Mesomorph
The mesomorph is somewhere between the round endomorph and the thin ectomorph.
Physically, they have the more 'desirable' body, and have:

• Large head, broad shoulders and narrow waist (wedge-shaped).


• Muscular body, with strong forearms and and thighs
• Very little body fat

They are generally considered as 'well-proportioned'. Psychologically, they are:

• Adventurous
• Courageous
• Indifferent to what others think or want
• Assertive/bold
• Zest for physical activity
• Competitive
• With a desire for power/dominance
• And a love of risk/chance

So what?
Psychological profiling based on anatomical features is generally not considered to be
reliable these days. Nevertheless, such patterns do have some level of interest, and old
theories are often ingrained in society, as well as being based on some form of
observation.

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The best approach is to use this as a test. When you meet a person who seems to fit in
with the physical characteristics above, be curious to see if they also fit into the
psychological profile. If it all works as predicted, then well and good (it may be that
they are actually in a self-fulfilling prophesy, where they fit themselves to the
appropriate model). Otherwise, look elsewhere for ways to understand the person.
Sheldon's original work included attempts to characterize criminals (in the style of
Lombroso's original work in this area). Unsurprisingly, he found that a number were
muscular mesomorphs, as violent crimes are likely to be carried out by strong men. The
trap beyond this is to assume that all mesomorphs are criminal in nature. This is not
unlike the work that 'proved' women to be less intelligent than men because they have
smaller brains!

Satir's Stress Responders


Explanations > Personality > Satir's Stress Responders
Placater | Blamer | Computer | Distracter | Leveler | So what?

Family therapist Virginia Satir identified five personality types in situations of stress.

Placater
The Placater is first of all concerned about how they will be perceived. Their center of
attention is on themselves and particularly on their perception of how others see them.
Their response to stress is largely to avoid it. If there are any 'uncomfortable truths',
then they will generally try to avoid talking about them (and may in fact go to
extraordinary lengths to avoid any such confrontation).

Blamer
The Blamer feels powerless and uncared-for. All alone in the world, they feel that
nobody will ever do anything for them.
When they feel stressed, their feelings of isolation increase further. As a result, they
compensate by trying to take charge, bluffing their way out, hiding their aloneness in
attempted leadership.

Computer
The Computer feels exposed when showing emotions, perhaps because they have
difficulty controlling them or they may have been criticized as a child for showing
emotion. Men, in particular, tend to be Computers.
To avoid having to confront emotion, when faced with stress, the Computer resorts to
logic, becoming super-rational about the situation and working hard to appear super-
cool on the outside (although they may be churning like mad on the inside).

Distracter
The Distracter easily becomes confused by stressful situations. Instead of taking some
positive action, they are not sure what they should do and so grasp at straws.

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In practice, they may well respond to the stress by shifting between the three previous
types of Placater, Blamer and Computer. In doing so, they are trying in vain to find
some solace in different practices.

Leveller
The ideal respondent to stress accepts it as normal. They are comfortable with
ambiguous and uncertain situations and even engage with threats rather than fighting
them or running away.
They thus 'tell it as it is', without exaggerating or minimizing the situation. They are
comfortable with their own feelings and are able to discuss them.

So what?
So when confronted with stress, know your own situation and seek to become a
Leveller.
When working with other people, spot their stress response and react accordingly.

Type A and Type B


Explanations > Preferences > Type A and Type B
Type A | Type B | So what?

A simple division of preference or personality type is into Type A and Type B, which is
based broadly on anxiety and stress levels.

Type A
The Type A personality generally lives at a higher stress level. This is driven by

• They enjoy achievement of goals, with greater enjoyment in achieving


of more difficult goals. They are thus constantly working hard to achieve
these.
• They find it difficult to stop, even when they have achieved goals.
• They feel the pressure of time, constantly working flat out.
• They are highly competitive and will, if necessary create competition.
• They hate failure and will work hard to avoid it.
• They are generally pretty fit and often well-educated (a result of their
anxiety).

Type B
The Type B personality generally lives at a lower stress level and are typically:

• They work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed


when they are not achieved.
• When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either
enjoy the game or back down.
• They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.
• They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.

Discussion
This typing was first described in relation heart disease in the 1950s by cardiologists
Meyer Friedman and R. H. Rosenham. It subsequently appeared in the Jenkins Activity

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Survey, which was originated to detect behaviors which lead to heart attacks (Jenkins,
Ayzanski, Rosenman, 1971).
Dr. Redford Williams, a cardiologist at Duke University, later showed that the main
hazard in this is when the Type A person has a tendency to anger and hostility
A subsequent study has challenged even this, throwing the whole validity of this typing
as a predictor of heart attacks into doubt.
Nevertheless, it is a simple typing difference and perhaps aligns with the Big Five
factor of 'neuroticism', or tendency to anxiety.
In the Jungian Type Inventory, Type A looks more left-side STJ whilst Type B might
be more right-side NFP.

So what?
In use, you might notice your own tendencies towards anxiety and stress which, whilst
not necessarily leading to heart attacks, can still lead to many stress-related disorders.
In persuading others the tendency towards A or B will affect your strategy. Whilst
challenging a Type A would likely be very effective, it would not with Type B (where a
more reflective conversation could be a better approach).

See also
Jungian Type Inventory, Big Five factors

The need for: a sense of Identity


Explanations > Needs > Identity
Identity Formation | Group identity | Social comparison | Identity paradoxes | Identity statements | So
what?

Beyond the basic need for a sense of control, we are deeply driven by our sense of
identity, of who we are. ‘I’ is a capital letter, denoting the importance we place on our
sense of individual self. As Descartes said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Many social
theories are to do with creating or preserving our sense of identity.

Identity formation
The sense of identity appears early on in life as the infant begins to separate themselves
from an undifferentiated unity with their mother. A mirror image of themselves can
provide the sudden shock of realizing that they are separate beings.
Young children typically cling to a single teddy bear or doll, through which they know
their own identity (I am not my teddy). When this ‘transition object,’ as psychoanalyst
Donald Winnicott called it, is removed, a part of their identity is lost, causing distress
and tears. This pattern continues through our lives as we identify with our possessions
and the things around us and feel bad when they are changed or lost.

Group Identity
We categorize ourselves in terms of other people and groups. Evolution has taught us
that it is beneficial to live in tribes, where we can share out the work of daily survival.
When asked about yourself, you may well describe yourself in terms of your work and

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family relationships: ‘I work for AB Corporation.’ or ‘I am married to Steve and have
three children.’
If we lost our job, it would not just be the loss of money (affecting our sense of control)
that hurt us, but also the loss of relationships and feelings of being outside the company
with which we have identified ourselves for so long.
The fear of rejection from the groups with which we identify is a powerful force and
just the thought of this is enough to dissuade many people from ever taking their
creative ability out of the cupboard where they have locked it for fear of its potential
social effects.

Social comparison
Although we define our selves by our membership of groups, we also define ourselves
by comparison and contrast with others. If we have more than others, we feel superior.
If everyone has the same as us, we feel equal.
The size of gaps also matters. If I have a lot more than others, then I probably feel a lot
more superior. I may also feel more isolated as I realize that they may feel envious of
me.
This social comparison often appears in forms of status, which is one reason we are
driven to purchase status symbols that signals to others (and particularly to ourselves)
that we are better in some way - richer or more tasteful, for example.
Social comparison is often along some measure of success, which is itself a social
construction. Our sense of identity degrades when we fail - which we often do as we
accept constant social escalation of what 'success' means.

Identity paradoxes
There are several paradoxes we have to navigate in our search for our selves, including:
Me vs. Us
In order to be allowed to join a group (and hence satisfy belonging and esteem needs),
we have to give up prioritizing everything for ourselves and be ready to put the group
ahead of our own interests. In doing this, we have to change our sense of identify from
always 'me' to thinking about 'us'. This includes taking on group values and beliefs,
even if we do not particularly agree with them.
Perfect me vs. real me
We like to think we're perfect. In fact we're not that great, and regularly break our
values (Are you law-abiding? Yes? So when did you last exceed the speed limit? Are
you thoughtful and kind? So when did you last criticize a friend?). In practice, we
manage to mentally separate these two personas. When they are forced together, we
instantly find justification and excuse for our misdemeanors.

Identity statements
How can you understand how a person derives their sense of identity? A good way is to
watch for 'I' statements.
I can...

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Statements of ability show how a person identifies themself in terms of what they can
do. This can be anything from assertion of rights to skills and career item.
I have...
Possessions say a lot about a person. Some possessions in particular are strongly related
to how people define themselves, such as cars, clothes and cameras. Another very
strong 'have' item is about family and people will talk in particular about their children.
I like...
We associate our identity with the things and people we like. This when a person says
they like flying or like a particular rock group, they are connecting their self with these
and including associated concepts into their identity.
I am...
The verb to be associates any concept very closely with identity and this can be used to
connect other types of identification item.
This can include emotions (I am happy), career (I am an accountant), religion (I am
Buddhist), social position (I am popular) and so on.
I remember....
We also identify ourselves through our memories and any form or recall, especially of
personal and emotionally significant events, younger days and other nostalgia offers
further clues to a person's sense of identity.

So what?
Act either to support or threaten their sense of identity.
Help them join groups. Tell them they are good and attractive. Thank them. Give them
recognition and reward for what they do.
Or hint that they are not that perfect. Whisper how others might not approve of what
they are doing. Criticize them. Ignore them.

See also
Clusters, Control, Contrast principle, Control-Identity types
Belonging, Esteem, Identity

Nature vs. nurture


Explanations > Preferences > Nature vs. nurture
Freud vs. Darwin | Separated Twins | Traits | So what?

To what extent do we get our skills, attitudes, and so on directly through our genes from
our parents vs. acquiring them from our experience.

Freud vs. Darwin


Freudian analysts will look first to childhood experiences, whilst evolutionary
biologists pay more attention to what has been stored in our genes.
The surprising findings over recent years is that there is far more than we had expected
in the nature argument. It seems we get a lot more than the color of our hair and eyes
from our parents--in fact at least half our traits are inherited.

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Separated Twins
A neat way of studying the question is to take identical twins, who will have the same
genes, separate them at birth, and then watch how develop differently (supporting the
nurture argument) or similarly (supporting the nature argument).
A famous study did just this. Well--almost. Rather than cruelly separate the twins, they
went out and found twins that had already been separated through such as different
adoptions.

Preferences vs. traits


There can be something of a debate as to whether you talk about Preferences or Traits.
Traits is probably an older and hence more established term, but it either assumes a
100% nature argument or a (rather Freudian) fixed-in-childhood pattern. Many prefer
(!) the term 'preferences' as it indicates choice, which we always have, even if nature is
prodding us in the opposite direction.

So what?
See if you can meet others from the other person's family, or maybe talk with them
about it. Are there any 'family traits'?
The bottom line of the nature/nurture debate is that it is far harder (if not impossible) to
change anything in a person which is hard-wired into their brains.

Preferences Explanations > Preferences


Discussions about preferences | Preference scales | Typing systems | So what?

What makes us different? One way of classifying people that appears in many systems
of personality profiling is to determine a person's preferences in terms of how they
perceive and respond to the world.

Discussions about preferences


Preferences are more than just making decisions

• Nature vs. Nurture: Are we born with preferences or do we learn


them?
• The Context Effect: Our preferences change with the environmental
context.
• Types and typing: Combining preferences into character types.
• Culture: Cultural models here are often based on shared preferences.
• Four Types: Four classifications that have appeared through history.
• Control-Identity types: Based on two key needs.

Preference scales
There are many scales of preference. Note that there are two styles that are commonly
used. The first is an absolute score on a single scale ('How happy are you?') and the
second is a position along a spectrum between (usually two) alternatives ('How happy
or sad are you?').
Here are just a few (also see beliefs about people).

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• Attraction vs. Avoidance: We may be driven more by fears or desires.
• Blame vs. Explain: When things go wrong, we blame others or the
context.
• Contrarian vs. Conformist: Go against what is asked or follow all the
rules.
• Extraversion vs. Introversion: Motivation that comes from either
people or thinking.
• Head, Hands and Heart: We are driven cognitively, behaviorally or
affectively.
• Imperative: Response to command may be conformance,
independence or contrariness.
• Instant vs. Delayed Gratification: When to get rewards.
• Judging vs. Perceiving: Living a structured or unstructured lifestyle.
• Maximizing vs. Minimizing: Making the most of life or simple living.
• Optimism and Pessimism: Ways of seeing the world.
• Risk Bias: preference to take or avoid risks.
• Pain Thresholds: Where action is triggered.
• Sensing vs. Intuiting: Attention and meaning based on immediate
data or deeper thought.
• Similarity vs. Difference: Focusing on what is the same about things
or what is different.
• Subjectivity vs. Objectivity: Viewpoint when perceiving the world may
be engaged subjectivity or detached objectivity.
• Task vs. Person: Getting the job done by task or person focus.
• Thinking vs. Feeling: Deciding based on logic or consideration of
others.
• Threat Forecast: We may predict the future as negative and
threatening or positive and hopeful.

Typing systems
There have been typing systems going back to the Greeks and probably before. Here are
some of the better-known ones:

• 16PF: Cattell's sixteen basic personality factors.


• Belbin Team Roles: Nine roles people play in teams.
• Margerison-McCann Team Performance Wheel: Eight roles that people
take on in teams.
• Big Five factors: A simplification to five factors from the 16PF.
• DISC Types: Four simple types.
• Jungian Type Inventory: The oldest modern system.
• Kolb's Learning Styles: Four learning styles based on two preference
dimensions.
• MMPI: Clinical psychiatric conditions.
• Type A and Type B personalities: Prone to heart attacks or not?

Also:

• Blevins' family roles: As played in family groups.

So what?
Don't push rope. Find the other person's preferences and play to these, rather than
messing about at the other end of the spectrum.

See also
Learning Channel Preferences

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Beliefs, Beliefs about people, Culture, Stereotypes
Theories about how we understand people
Theories about how we think about ourselves

The Context Effect


Explanations > Preferences > The Context Effect
Inference and context | Decision and context | So what?

We do not always behave in the same way in different situations because our current
context is a significant part of the inference and decision process.

Inference and context


What does a gun mean? By itself, it is a shaped piece of metal. In the hands of another
person it becomes a threat, such as when you meet someone in a dark alley. But what if
you were in the bank and someone had a gun? Would you dive for cover? Not if it was
a security guard. When we are inferring meaning, we first recognize individual things
and then place them in their context to get a broader understanding.
We thus have whole sets of meaning that are used for different contexts. In work we
watch out for the bosses and focus on achieving defined objectives. Other people are
seen as colleagues or threats. At home, the meaning is more about relaxation, eating and
hobbies. Other people are not threats and there is generally more love around the place
(and love at work may seem rather odd).

Decision and context


The decisions we make and the preferences we apply when making them are also very
context-dependent.
At work, I may be very risk sensitive and plan my days carefully, whilst in my sports I
may take significant risks. A person may be quiet and introspective at work, they might
be exuberant and bouncy when out with their friends. Parents know this: a child who is
naughty at home is often as good as gold in school (the reverse can be true, too!).

Contextual conditioning
Conditioning theories point out how repeated actions lead to triggered behaviors. The
context in which these things happen may also be a part of that triggering sequence.
When I pick up my dog's bowl in the kitchen, she gets a lot more excited than if I walk
around the garden with it.
Preferences may also thus be learned within a context and hence be associated with that
context. When out clubbing with friends, my risk preference increases significantly as
they reward me with laughter and respect when I 'make a fool of myself' on the dance-
floor.

So what?

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Just because someone is introverted at work, it doesn't mean they are introverted at
home or elsewhere. Before you appeal to their preferences, calibrate them for the
context in which you are working.

See also
Inferring meaning, Formulating intent
Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning

Type and typing


Explanations > Preferences > Type and typing
Categorization | Typing systems | Plusses and minuses | So what?

Typing as discussed here is nothing to do with keyboards or printing. It is about


classifying people into different types.

Categorization
One of our deep needs is to understand, and the way we do this is by classifying and
categorizing the world around us, putting things neatly into boxes. We use this
approach for one another as well. When we meet a person, we desperately try to find
which box to shove them into. Are they the nurturing 'mother nature' type or and
aggressive 'dominator'?

Typing systems
There are a wide range of systems that have been developed to identify preferences and
type, either for general 'personality' understanding (such as Myers-Briggs) or as focus in
specific areas (such as the Kirton Adaptor-Innovator Index in creativity).
Some of these systems are fairly open whilst many are proprietary and secretive.
Generally speaking they are commercial items that are used to make money is made by
selling courses, examinations, consulting and the questionnaires ('instruments') that are
used to determine your preferences.
The common approach to sharing information on these is that descriptions of the types
and their underlying preferences are widely available, but you have to pay to get your
hands on the instruments (thus creating a tidy revenue stream). More money is made
and the integrity of the system protected by ensuring that only accredited people can
administer the instruments.

Preferences in type
A common way of creating types is to group preferences together. Myers-Briggs does
this by using four two-ended scales and hence creating sixteen different types.
As preferences change, so also can types change. Preferences may change as you learn -
even by considering types and preferences themselves, you can decide that a preference
you have is not what you really want.

Plusses and minuses


The value of typing

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When we type people, it gives us a simple classification that helps them and us to
understand why they behave the way that the do. It helps improve communication as
well as general human understanding.
People working in teams often use them to understand one another and compensate for
missing types. There are typing systems that are deliberately aimed at teams, such as the
Belbin system.
The dangers of typing
One of the things that we tend to do when we are categorizing people is that, even
though this typing may be based on an analogue scale, is to put them into one of a
limited number of typed boxes. We are effectively saying 'the world is made up of 16
(or however many) types of people and no others.
Typing systems do not always get it right. How you answer the questions may depend
on the context in which they are asked. You may not be able to answer some questions,
so make up an answer (a 'neutral' middle score could mean 'I have no opinion' or 'I am
equally balanced').
Not everyone agrees with their types - typically around three quarters. This may be due
to a limited instrument, people being unsure about questions, subconscious bias in
questions (although a good test will compensate for this) and contextual factors.

So what?
Use typing systems to help understand people and hence interact and influence them,
but beware of the stereotyping that can occur.
You can use instruments for the best accuracy of assessment (although these are still not
perfect) and you can also make rough assessments by observing people in action and
guessing their type from your knowledge of the system.
Just by showing someone their type, you can have a significant effect on their
understanding of themselves and hence how they think and act.

See also
Stereotypes

Stereotypes
Explanations > Theories > Stereotypes
Description | Example | So What? | See also | References

Description
Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people whereby we attribute a defined
set of characteristics to this group. These classifications can be positive or negative,
such as when various nationalities are stereotyped as friendly or unfriendly.
It is easier to create stereotypes when there is a clearly visible and consistent attribute
that can easily be recognized. This is why people of color, police and women are so
easily stereotyped.

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People from stereotyped groups can find this very disturbing as they experience an
apprehension (stereotype threat) of being treated unfairly.
We change our stereotypes infrequently. Even in the face of disconfirming evidence, we
often cling to our obviously-wrong beliefs. When we do change the stereotypes, we do
so in one of three ways:

• Bookkeeping model: As we learn new contradictory information, we


incrementally adjust the stereotype to adapt to the new information. We
usually need quite a lot of repeated information for each incremental change.
Individual evidence is taken as the exception that proves the rule.
• Conversion model: We throw away the old stereotype and start again.
This is often used when there is significant disconfirming evidence.
• Subtyping model: We create a new stereotype that is a sub-
classification of the existing stereotype, particularly when we can draw a
boundary around the sub-class. Thus if we have a stereotype for Americans,
a visit to New York may result in us having a ‘New Yorkers are different’ sub-
type.

We often store stereotypes in two parts. First there is the generalized descriptions and
attributes. To this we may add exemplars to prove the case, such as 'the policeman next
door'. We may also store them hierarchically, such as 'black people', 'Africans',
'Ugandans', 'Ugandan military', etc., with each lower order inheriting the characteristics
of the higher order, with additional characteristics added.
Stereotyping can go around in circles. Men stereotype women and women stereotype
men. In certain societies this is intensified as the stereotyping of women pushes them
together more and they create men as more of an out-group. The same thing happens
with different racial groups, such as 'white/black' (an artificial system of opposites,
which in origin seems to be more like 'European/non-European').
Stereotyping can be subconscious, where it subtly biases our decisions and actions,
even in people who consciously do not want to be biased.
Stereotyping often happens not so much because of aggressive or unkind thoughts. It is
more often a simplification to speed conversation on what is not considered to be an
important topic.

Example
Stereotyping goes way beyond race and gender. Consider conversations you have had
about people from the next town, another department in your company, supporters of
other football teams, and so on.

So what?
Using it
Find how others stereotype you (if possible, getting them to stereotype you positively).
They will have a blind spot to non-stereotyped behaviors, so you can do these and they
will often ignore it. Thus if you are stereotyped as a ‘kind old man’, you can do
moderately unkind things which may be ignored.
Defending
To change a person’s view of your stereotype, be consistently different from it. Beware
of your own stereotyping blinding you to the true nature of other individuals.

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Stereotyping can be reduced by bringing people together. When they discover the other
people are not as the stereotype, the immediate evidence creates dissonance that leads to
improved thoughts about the other group.

See also
Contact Hypothesis, Dilution Effect, Out-Group Homogeneity, Representativeness
Heuristic, Schema, Ultimate Attribution Error

References
Lippmann (1922), Allport (1954)

Culture
Explanations > Culture

Culture is what happens when people get together. It tells us how to behave and agree.
Understanding the culture of a team, organization or country can make a lot of
difference when you want to change minds.
Articles on culture:

• What is Culture defines the term.


• Elements of Culture shows things you can change to change the
culture.
• Hall's Cultural factors: Time, context and space.
• Hofstede's cultural factors describes a set of factors that appear at
national level and the differing priorities that different countries place upon
them.
• Trompenaars' and Hampden-Turner's cultural factors are another
national-level system for looking at international differences.
• Trompenaars' four cultures model, which plots a 2 x 2 grid of task-
people focus vs. centralized-decentralized style.
• Deal and Kennedy's model looks at the level of risk vs. the speed of
feedback and reward and again comes up with four cultures.
• The Competing Values Framework: In/out vs. stability/flexibility for
another four-culture model.
• Grid-group cultural theory: Bonding and differences.
• Kluckholn and Strodtbeck's Dimensions of Culture: Based on basic
beliefs and values.
• Creating a Positive Culture: ways to make culture organizationally
helpful.
• Four American Fears: that are embedded in US culture.

So what?
So take time to understand the culture of the person or people you are working with.
Find how they and their peers share a world-view. Find their shared values, mental
models etc. Doing this will significantly reduce the time you need to understand every
person from the ground up.
If you can adopt their cultural approaches, you will appear to come from a similar
culture and will more easily be accepted.

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Cultures also have blind spots where they are vulnerable and hot spots where you
should fear to tread.

See also

Four Types
Explanations > Preferences > Four Types
History | Type 1 | Type 2 | Type 3 | Type 4 | So what?

History
Since the days of the Greek civilization, philosophers and scholars have been
classifying people into four categories which, perhaps unsurprisingly, have remarkable
similarities.

System Date Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 4

Empedocles Fire Air Water Earth

Yellow
Hippocrates Blood Phlegm Black bile
bile

Galen Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Melancholy

Handy 1990s Apollo Dionysus Athena Zeus

Kiersey 1960s Idealist Artisan Rational Guardian

Jungian 1940s NF SP NT SJ

DISC 1920s Dominant Influential Steady Cautious

Type 1
Achieves sense of control through direct action that aligns things to create harmony and
reduce dissonance. Looks out to the future to seek necessary actions.
Achieves sense of identity through inspiring others to align with their beliefs.
Critical values include alignment, harmony, perfection.

Type 2
Achieves sense of control through exploration and problem-solving.
Achieves sense of identity through independence and standing out.
Critical values include freedom, innovation, risk-taking.

Type 3
Achieves sense of control through analysis and understanding.
Achieves sense of identity through designing and creating.
Critical values include rationality and originality.

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Type 4
Achieves sense of control through making changes that affects others.
Achieves sense of identity through expression and inspiring others.
Critical values include harmony, vision.

So what?
Use the system in teams and groups to share information with one another and hence
become more open.

See also
Jungian Type Inventory, DISC Types

The need for: Control


Explanations > Needs > Control
Control is a deep, deep need | The control trap | So what?

No, this is not so much about how to control people as about their needs for control.
The real secret is the deep, deep need that people have for a sense of control. By
managing their sense of control, you can achieve far greater actual control. If you
ignore this, you will soon fall into a power battle for control of the conversation and the
agenda.

Control is a deep, deep need


Perhaps the deepest need people have is for control. When we feel out of control, we
experience a powerful and uncomfortable tension between the need for control and the
evidence of inadequate control.
One of the most disturbing things about having a terminal illness, as those who
unfortunately suffer from such afflictions will tell you, is the feeling of powerlessness,
of being unable to do anything about it. Being unable to control the illness can be even
more painful than impending death.
From an evolutionary standpoint, if we are in control of our environment, then we have
a far better chance of survival. Our deep subconscious mind thus gives us strong
biochemical prods when we face some kind of danger (see Fight-or-Flight reaction).
Other needs that lead to a sense of control include:
• A sense of certainty.
• Completion of outstanding things, so we don't have to worry about them..
• Understanding of how things work.
• Being able to predict what will happen.
• That people (including ourselves) and things are consistent.
Maslow revisited
Psychologist Abraham Maslow defined a hierarchy of needs, with the particular
revelation that when lower level needs are not met, then higher-level needs will be
abandoned in favor of shoring up the deeper needs.
Take a look at the needs:

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Notice how control is important within this, and especially how, the lower you go, the
more important control is. We work hard to control disease and our susceptibility to it.
Being ill gives a terrible sense of being out of control. Likewise for having a roof over
our head (or not), and even in our social environments.
Not control, just the sense
In fact, we don't actually need to be in control all of the time. What we really seek is a
sense of control.
When our parents or our managers are controlling us, we can still be happy because we
trust them to provide the control we seek in our lives. In fact many people actively seek
parent-figures in all walks of their life who will provide this control. When seek the
advice of experts and obey those in authority, we are depending on them for our sense
of control.
Control is embedded in much of what we do
Look around and watch what people do. A significant portion of our everyday activity
is related to achieving our much-needed sense of control.
Rituals, for example, are everywhere. Why do we have them? They exist to reassure
people everything is as it was and to provide a familiar framework for our daily lives.
Social norms and values tell us what to do, what is right and wrong, what is good and
bad. When everyone in the group follows the rules, we feel a sense of control.
Power and trust
The sense of control is closely related in opposite ways to power and trust. You can get
a sense of control by taking control and acting, which is effectively using power. You
can also get a sense of control by ceding it to others, which requires trust.

The control trap


There is a trap into which many sales people and other would-be persuaders fall. This
pitfall is to try to hold tightly to the reins of control throughout the whole process.
Grabbing control causes resistance
When I grab control of the conversation, talking past the point when you want to reply,
you will get increasingly frustrated as you wait for a pause in which you can respond.

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Sales people do this when they insist on going through the whole sales pitch even when
the customer just wants to pay, take the product and leave.
Parents do it when they over-do the lectures to their children. A point which is initially
accepted is later rejected at what gets seen as unfair punishment.
Taking direct control of a conversation or situation does not persuade. It is possible that
you get temporary compliance, but you will not get true persuasion.
Fishing is a delicate game
The control game is much like fly fishing. Pull to hard and the fish will slip the hook.
Let it out too far and the line will snag or the fish will swim away.
It is only through a sometimes-long process of give and take, you steadily reel in your
fish.

So what?
So manage the other person's sense of control by changing those things that make them
certain, able to understand and predict the things around them. This can be done by
making things uncertain and inconsistent.

Giving control to get control


Giving up control gets control in two ways. First, by choosing when, where and how
you give control, you still have hold of the reins. You have defined the cage in which
the other person can play. Secondly, having allowed them to exercise control, you can
evoke the reciprocity principle, such that the other person will willingly give up control
of the conversation to redress the social balance.
As someone said long ago, 'Give, in order that ye shall receive'.
Give them choice
When people exercise choice, they are controlling their environment. So give them a
choice, ensuring that whatever they choose gives you an advantage.
One of the most common sales closes is the alternative close, where you assume the
other person is ready to buy, and give them a simple choice ('Do you want the red one
or the yellow one.').
Don't give them too much choice, because this makes the decision harder and can thus
lead to a reduced sense of control. Because we make our easiest decisions by
contrasting two things at one time, the best number of options to give is two.
Open questions
Closed questions do not give control. In fact they can seem very controlling. Open
questions give people the floor, letting them talk. This can be a scary step and can
indeed lose all control.
But you are the person who asked the question, so choose the question well to contain
their response and possibly even give you information.
Just having them talk is itself a great persuader. When people talk about something
themselves, they are far more likely to believe in it than if they just sit back and listen to
you.
Give them something to do

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The corollary of questioning is to give them something active to do. Just like when they
are talking, actively doing something, especially when they have choice, gives a sense
of control.
As with questioning, when you are directing the action, you are still in overall control.
Reflecting
People often keep talking because they are not sure that you have really understood
what they have said.
When you reflect back to people what they have told you, you show them that you have
heard, that they have been successful, that they have controlled their environment. This
will speed the point at which they will give you back the talking stick.

See also
Identity, Novelty, Control-Identity types

Values
Explanations > Values
About values | Historical values | Research on values | So what?

Values is a confusing word that often gets confused with 'value' as in the value you get
from buying a cheap, but well-built house. Values are, in fact powerful drivers of how
we think and behave.

About values
• Value categories: different spheres into which we place values.
• Values, Morals and Ethics: splits hairs between these three rule-sets.
• Value of values: what are they for?
• Values types: there are two types of values: instrumental and end-
state.
• Stress values: we use different values when we are under stress.
• Organismic valuing: Rogers' valuing process.

Historical values
• American values: A list of traditional US cultural values.
• Aristotle's Ethics: Values from the classical world.
• Franklin's Thirteen Virtues: Ben Franklin's advice for good people.
• Nicomachean Ethics: Aristotle's masterwork.
• Prudentius' seven virtues: Source of Christian virtues.
• The Seven Deadly Sins: Pope Gregory's anti-list.
• The Seven Virtues: The counterpoint to the sins.
• The Ten Commandments: Basic Christian values.

Research on values
• Career Anchors: identified by Edgar Schein as shapers of what we do.
• Governing Values: common modern values identified by Chris Argyris
at Harvard.
• Five Common Human Concerns: Kohl's beliefs/concerns.
• Schwartz's Value Inventory: research-based set of common values.
• Values in Action (VIA): Values from Positive Psychology.

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Values are also often a significant element of culture, where they form a part of the
shared ruleset of a group.
When I break my values, I will feel shame and guilt. If you break my values, I will feel
repulsed. If I maintain my values when tempted to break them, I will feel pride.

So what?
Know the the values to which the other person will subscribe (these are often common
sense) as well as the actual values they enact in practice (watch them for this). From
this:

• Beware of the values in practice which can be harmful to you (will


they betray you?).
• Know the values that if you transgress will lead to betrayal responses
from them.
• Find values that can act as persuasion levers.

If you act in a way which supports their values they will increase their trust in you.

See also
Social Norms, Guilt, Repulsion, Pride, Shame
Kohlberg's Stage Theory, Preferences
Theories about conforming
Theories about groups
Theories about trust
Blogs by subject: Values

Control-Identity types
Explanations > Preferences > Control-Identity types
Leader | Follower | Independent | Drifter | Balanced | So what?

People typically get their sense of control in one of two ways:

• Taking control, 'driving the car', being in charge.


• Ceding control, 'trusting the driver', letting others take control.

They may get their sense of identity in two ways:

• By themselves, from internal processes.


• From others, being recognized, belonging.

Depending on preferences for how people get their sense of control and sense of
identity, they may fall into four different types.

Dominating
(taking controlling)

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Independent Leader
Internal External

(I define (Others define


myself) me)
Drifter Follower

Submitting
(ceding control)

Leader
Leaders like others to look up to them and like to be in charge. At parties they are the
'life and soul' and are typically surrounded by others as they hold court. They may be
social leaders, work managers or both.

Follower
Followers need recognition from others, but do so by ceding control and trusting that
leaders will help them succeed. In parties, they circulate and chat, happily listening or
talking, enjoying the company of others. At work, they are good team players and
contribute to overall business success.

Independent
Independents are fiercely their own people. They go their own way and do their own
thing. At parties, they may listen and argue, not really caring whether people agree
with them. They may also stand confidently to the side watching the proceedings. At
work, they like to find the best work for them and succeed on their own terms. In
teams they can be argumentative or separate.

Drifters
Drifters withdraw from the world where they can, living in their own internal world.
In the real world, they generally do as they are told, though not from any desire to be
liked. At parties, they sit miserably in the corner and leave as soon as possible. At
work, they keep their heads down and do their jobs but do not really participate in
team activities.

Balanced
Someone whose comfort zone is fairly central may have a balanced position, giving or
taking control as seems appropriate, and being with others or sitting alone with ease.

So what?
Remember that this is not four types, but two axes along which a person can vary
infinitely. They may also be different in different contexts.
Understand where you are on this scale and either deliberate stretch your comfort zone
or find contentment where you are.

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With others, go to their zone. For example, with non-social people, you can email
them whilst for social people a face-face meeting is often better. Let those who need
control to make decisions, whilst telling others what needs doing.
You can also use their comfort position as a reward, perhaps taking them out of this
zone to create persuasive tension.

See also
Control, Identity

Attraction vs. Avoidance


Preferences
Explanations > Preferences > Attraction vs. Avoidance Preferences
Attraction | Avoidance | So what?

Some people are motivated more by doing things, whilst others are motivated more by
avoiding things.

Attraction
People who are driven towards doing things tend to have positive goals and seek to
achieve specific things. They are forward-looking and see the world as being full of
opportunity. They generally have a passion and desire to succeed in order to gain either
specific rewards or general recognition.
They focus is largely on the future and when they have achieved something they may
even forget about it in the headlong charge into further challenges.
Some people have problems with this in that they are attracted to too many things. They
dart from one opportunity to another, seeking gratification all o