Think back to the Democratic nomination debates of 2008. Did you wonder why Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were so cordial to each other when they were positioned side by side, yet when they returned to the campaign trail they hurled verbal missiles at each other like bitter enemies?
Julius Fast knows the answer. When you want to challenge people you face them; when you want to disarm them, you position yourself next to them. Today, political television shows feature psychologists specializing in analysis of the body movements, facial indicators and speech patterns of candidates. These specialists may not be aware of the debt they owe to Fast. His groundbreaking Body Language expands on the concept that our posture and gestures, the angle of our shoulders and the tilt of our head, the unintended smile when one is supposed to be angry, or the faint scowl when one is supposed to be friendly, express truths in a code that belies what we are saying or contradicts the impression we are trying to communicate.
In politics body language is particularly important because confidence and other subtle indicators of dominance can win an election, and unconscious submissiveness can lose one. Sincerity is a politician’s stock in trade, but whatever he may promise at the podium, he may project hypocrisy if you know what to look for.
This is not just theory. Body Language can help anyone who reads it by making us aware of the signals we’re sending out and those that others are sending to us. Next time you book a business lunch, decide what will accomplish your goals more effectively – sitting next to your guests or opposite them.
After reading Fast’s book you’ll be a better reader of faces, bodies and tones of voice. Indeed, you may even be ready to run for public office!