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Mind your language!

Body language expert Allan Pease helps you get a date, a job and catch a lie. It’s time to get fluent in bodyspeak.

brunch Updated: Apr 21, 2012 16:40 IST
Saudamini Jain
Saudamini Jain
Hindustan Times

Imagine meeting someone who can practically read your mind. Or worse: your body. So when I was told to go meet an internationally renowned body language expert, I was nervous, very nervous. Mainly because Mr Body Language (that’s what the world calls him) would probably know more about me in four minutes, than I would about him in forty.

And that is precisely what happened. Well, sort of.

Allan Pease, bestselling author and body language guru, is as charming as he is clairvoyant. When I (rather awkwardly) walked up to him, I kept thinking of my posture, my eyes, my hands and "what is he thinking?"

It took exactly four words to put me at ease. "What is your name?" he said. And voilà! I tilted my head to the right, gave him my best smile and the spell was broken. I even developed a mini crush on the man!

I later learnt, it wasn’t the four words. It was a less-than-three-second elbow touch by him which created a momentary bond. And the many more ‘inconsequential tilts and touches’ made that lasting impression.


Talking to Pease or reading any one of his books (The Definitive Book of Body Language, Why Men Don’t Listen and Why Women Can’t Read Maps to name a few) will make you realise what an amazing thing the human body is. And that deciphering its subtle signs is an art.

When you are attracted to someone, your chest goes out, your stomach tucks itself in and, if they really turn you on, your face pulls back the bags under your eyes (I found this one very hard to believe!). "You automatically start looking more attractive to the person you’re attracted to," says Pease.

But, you have to do something more to get them to like you. "This is politically incorrect but biologically correct: men have to highlight their masculinity and women need to highlight their femininity," he says. They’re wired differently. Women, for example, have a wider range of gestures. But "men can’t read most of them!"

And male brains can do only one thing at a time. "If you scan his brain when he’s watching TV, you’ll find he’s deaf," laughs Pease. He’s not ignoring you, but you’re white noise to him. To get him to listen, get in between the TV and him, cut off communication and then talk. For more advice, read on…

How to get your guy
Look good. Your clothes, body, make-up, all matter. So preen yourself!
Be approachable. Initiate eye contact. Don’t look away when he looks at you!
Keep yourself uncrossed. Don’t lock your fingers, don’t cross your arms. If you cross your legs, cross them towards him.
Show him your wrist. Talk with the inside part of your wrist visible; it’s a submissive gesture.
Touch the lower part of his arm. It’s more intimate. Men like it. Very much.
‘He doesn’t have to do much to get her’
Appearances matter. That’s how she decides if you’re a dud or a stud.
Sit with your legs apart. It highlights your masculinity.
Lightly touch her elbow. Do it for about three seconds. This one works. I can vouch for that!

Your job interview starts in the parking lot
Look confident in the car park. Somebody may be watching you.
Don’t sit down at the reception. You look confident standing up.
Work if you have to wait. Always carry an iPad or something productive with you. When the interviewer interrupts you, raise your head and say, “I’ll just wrap up what I’m doing in a minute and be right with you.”
Walk at a uniform speed. If you feel you’re shuffling, stop at the door for a moment and correct your pace.
Shake hands the right way: Start raising your arm while walking towards the interviewer. Don’t push out your hand when you’re right in front of them. Give the same pressure you receive. Keep your hand straight (facing down seems aggressive; facing up, submissive).
Face your interviewer at a 45-degree angle. Face-to-face feels aggressive and confrontational.
Handle your hands. Holding them together shows insecurity, crossing them will make you look closed off. Talk with your fingers pressed against each other, or with your palms facing up, it shows trust.

When you tell a lie…
You tend to touch your face.
Blood flows to your nose, it grows bigger and you start touching it.
Phrases like “To tell you the truth” are usually followed by a lie.
Women are three times better at catching a lie (They give birth and read babies’ signals. So if you must lie to her, do it over the phone!).
First impressions are made in four minutes, mostly under 10 seconds. Make yours last!

From HT Brunch, April 22

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