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November 18, 2011

Understanding Body Language: Interested vs. Uninterested

The foundation of any behavioral analysis program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (DominantSubmissiveness, UncomfortableComfortable, Interested, Uninterested) are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

Once we make our observation, we are going to compare that conclusion to our baseline. I want to know if my conclusion fits my baseline, a FIT, or does not fit my baseline, a NO FIT. If the cluster is a NO FIT, I now have an anomaly that I want to investigate and attempt to figure out why that person does not fit in.

The following are gestures on the body that I would put into the “Interested vs. Uninterested” Cluster.

November 16, 2011

Understanding Body Language: Submissiveness

The foundation of any behavioral analysis program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (Dominant, Submissiveness, Uncomfortable, Comfortable, Interested, Uninterested) are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

The Submissive Cluster

The Submissive Cluster is the exact opposite of the Dominant Cluster and shows the absence of the “fight” response.  A submissive person may have decided that their best chance for survival is to not put up a fight and to not further anger the person who has asserted their dominance.  This cluster is identified by people who have unconsciously attempted to make themselves appear smaller, open, and non-threatening.  Seeing three of the indicators below can lead to make a determination of “Submissive.”

Lower Body

–       Seated – feet and legs crossed and tucked underneath chair (making themselves look smaller)

–       Seated – feet wrapped around legs of chair (seeking stability and security)

–       Legs will often not be used as barrier as it could offend the dominant person, unless person is in a self-protect mode

Upper Body

–       Leaning forward, making their body smaller and less threatening

–       Torso could be open and exposed if the submissiveness is in a non-threatening situation such as interacting with a boss

–       Arms pulled in (non-threatening, pulling arms in)

–       Wrists exposed in greeting (vulnerable) open palms show that there is no threat

–       Shoulders lowered (protecting carotid artery)

–       May show closed off indicators and protection indicators from uncomfortable cluster if trying to protect themselves

Other Indicators

–      Facial expressions of fear, sadness, or “fake” happiness

–       Forced smiles, movement only with the mouth and not the eyes

–       People will remain fairly motionless, to not attract any unnecessary attention and reduce the chances of being seen (elements of freeze response)

–       Gaze will be away from the person as to not offend them, staring is a sign of dominance

–       Eyes may be wide, signaling vulnerability while also showing cues of fear

–       Person may be pale

November 16, 2011

Understanding Body Language: Dominance

The foundation of any behavioral profiling program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (Dominant, Submissiveness, Uncomfortable, Comfortable, Interested, Uninterested)  are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

The Dominant Cluster

The Dominant Cluster is the manifestation of the limbic system’s “fight response.”  Even though we are rarely in situations that require an actual fight, the Dominant Cluster is how we use our body to intimidate someone else or when we want to be perceived as being in control of the situation.  The key driving force of the dominant cluster is an observation about how much space the person is taking up.  This will be seen when a person tries to show his authority by requiring a great deal larger of an area for his presence.  This is a form of territoriality.  Seeing three of the indicators below can lead to make a determination of “Dominant.”

Lower Body

–       Seated – Feet planted on floor, feet and legs splayed out (taking up space)

–       Seated – Legs crossed (if uninterested to block himself from the person)

–       Seated – Legs crossed with hands on ankle or lower calf – secure and confident in their position

–       Standing – legs shoulder width apart (taking up more space)

Torso

–       Seated – Leaning back with hands clasped behind head (taking up more space)

–       Standing – Hands on hips – authoritative (taking up more space)

–       Standing – leaning forwards – aggressive, making themselves look bigger

–       Standing – Stretching torso and making oneself look taller by standing upright and erect, this can be complemented with their chin up and the chest thrust out

Hands and Arms

–       Arms Spread out on an object (table, counter, etc.) – (taking up more space)

–       Hands clasped behind back – (judging or evaluating)

–       “Wrist Down” when shaking hands/greeting

–       While talking – lecturing (pointing with hands)

–       Steeple gesture with hands (perceived as intellectual and confident), if also touching the lips it may be evaluating

Other Indicators

–       The facial expressions of anger, contempt, disgust, and happiness

–       Maintain gaze for longer period of time, doesn’t avert their gaze

–       Dominant people may breach other’s “intimate” Proxemic zone, showing they feel they can go wherever they want

–       They may initiate touching with others to show they are in charge

–       They may try to break society’s accepted rules to show that they make the rules such as swearing in public

–       It isn’t the ownership of status symbols that show wealth or power, but the flaunting of them or attempts to draw your attention to them makes it dominant

–       They might walk down the direct middle of a path, forcing and expecting people to move out of their way by demonstrating that they are not going to move

–       Ignoring a “no” response from someone

–       Belittling and criticizing a person

–       Interrupting the conversation

–       Ignoring someone else’s presence or their part of the conversation

–       Face may be flushed if preparing to fight and nostrils may flare

–       If evaluating, may be looking over the top of their glasses, pursing their lips or holding their chin in their hands

November 11, 2011

What Are You Telling Me?

The goal of profiling is to create better intelligence, intelligence that we can use.  All of the profiling domains that we focus our instruction on are designed to help us in two areas.  The first and most important focus is on identifying threats before that action takes place.  The second is to help us collect information about the people and the area we are operating in.

November 6, 2011

Understanding Body Language: Comfortable

The foundation of any behavioral analysis program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (Dominant, Submissiveness, Uncomfortable, Comfortable, Interested, Uninterested) are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

The following are gestures on the body that I would put into the “Comfortable” Cluster.

The Comfortable Cluster

The Comfortable Cluster is the absence of the flight response and shows that the person does not perceive any threat.  This relaxed and open posture is what people likely display for most of the day and will shift out of it to Uncomfortable, Dominant, or Submissive as the area around them changes and they no longer feel safe.

Lower Body

–       Feet motionless and relaxed (no limbic system response causing them to distance themselves from the threat)

–       Feet oriented towards the person (no limbic system preparation to distance themselves from the threat)

–       Legs uncrossed or legs crossed with the inside of the thigh exposed to the person (no limbic system response to protect vital areas and the femoral artery on the inside of the thigh)

–       Standing with legs crossed (no threat perceived, body vulnerable while it is standing with all the weight on one foot, body not prepared to fight/flight)

Upper Body

–       Torso upright or leaning in (no threat perceived, not concerned about distancing)

–       Torso leaning away or splayed out (in a reclined or lounging type manner, body not prepared to defend itself)

–       Arms open – at the sides of the body, gesturing openly, or behind back (no immediate threat recognized and need to use hands/arms to protect the body)

–       Shoulders lowered and relaxed – no turtle effect (no threat recognized, no need to protect vial areas of neck)

–       No pacifying behaviors.

–       Illustrators likely used in speech, but are open and gentle, not sudden or tense

Other Indicators

–       If arms or legs are crossed, they are done so in a relaxed manner, different than being closed

–       Generally will not have any body tension as muscles should be relaxed and loose

–       Person should seem happy or unconcerned overall

–       Gaze will be relaxed with minimal blinking

–       Eyebrows stable, only moving with speech, showing a relaxed forehead

–       Breathing slow and steady

–       Skin is a normal color, not reddened or pale

November 6, 2011

Understanding Body Language: Uncomfortable

The foundation of any behavioral analysis program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (Dominant, Submissiveness, Uncomfortable, Comfortable, Interested, Uninterested) are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

The following are gestures on the body that I would put into the “Uncomfortable” Cluster. 

October 31, 2011

Why We Observe In Clusters

When it comes to observing body language and biometric cues, we want to stress the absolute imperative that we have as observers to put behavioral indicators together into clusters.  Because gestures have different meaning in different contexts, we have to be cautious in the conclusions that we come to.  One body language indicator alone does not tell us anything, but if you can identify a cluster of 3 kinesic or biometric cues all leading you to that same conclusion, you can increase the likelihood of your success.  In his book What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro talks about “the more pieces of the puzzle you posses, the better your chances of putting them all together and seeing the picture they portray” (pg 13).

Josh Arnett

October 26, 2011

Biometric Cues

Biometrics cues are uncontrollable bodily reactions to some type of external stimulus. These uncontrollable reactions are caused by the limbic system. When the limbic system perceives something as a threat it sends out a rush of hormones and chemicals that will have an affect on our body. As we get older we start to recognize some of these effects and associate them to emotions. If someone is mad you would expect to see flared nostrils and reddening of the face because that individual is preparing for the freeze, flight or fight response.  The more an individual has to hide their true emotions, the more that individual will stand out. Theses are just a few indicators you would see amongst others that would be very easy to see as well. To the trained observer you can pick up on not only body language but biometric cues as well.

October 13, 2011

When Emotions Don’t Fit the Baseline – What the Face Offers

When we teach our students to read body language during our course, I often encourage students to ignore the face of the person that they are observing.  Why? Because I believe that the face can deceive us more easily than what is shown below the shoulders, and focusing our observation on the body will create a more sound assessment of the meaning of the person’s gestures.  Because of social demands placed on us, we often put conscious effort into controlling our face, which may help a person conceal a true emotion from others not trained to identify the discrepancies.  That is the problem that most concerns me when reading body language, when it is being controlled consciously.

September 29, 2011

The 6 Domains of Tactical Analysis

There are 6 domains used in Tactical Analysis that provide us with 6 different ways to look at the world.  When you put these domains together, they allow you to predict what human beings are going to do.

For all of the following domains, a profiler has to establish a baseline (the norm for the area) and only then will he be able to hunt for the anomaly (those deviations from the baseline.)  The domains should be used to quantify and communicate what your baseline is as well as to let you pick out those anomalies that pose a threat.

Kinesics: The study of body language.  Being able to identify a person’s emotional state based off their body language provides an incredible insight into that person’s mind.  Are they dominant or submissive?  Are they comfortable or uncomfortable?  Are they interested or uninterested?  All of these cues will let us predict what a person is about to do. Kinesics does not merely involve the study of facial expressions, but rather takes into consideration the entire body.

Biometric Cues: Uncontrollable bodily reactions in response to the world around us.  Whether observing someone whose pupils are dilated or constricted, if they are blushing or pale, someone with a dry mouth, or someone with an increased blink rate are all cues that let us know how that person is perceiving people and objects around them.

Proxemics: The study of interpersonal relationships. By analyzing how people use the space around them, we can begin to understand their relationships with those people they are surrounded by.  Being able to assess what people are attracted to (proxemic pull) and what they avoid (proxemic push) will let us get into the collective mind of the group.  Proxemics can be observed up close to people during conversation or from hundreds of meters away using binoculars.  Proxemics can also be used to identify the key leader of any given group.

Geographics: The study of people’s relationship with their environment.  Understanding which areas of the neighborhood or the building you are in that everyone feels comfortable going to (habitual areas) and those areas that only a select group of people have access to (anchor points) can provide us with an anticipated baseline and pattern for the people who are visiting that area.  Identifying how people move through their terrain (natural lines of drift) will also let us identify those who are either familiar or unfamiliar with the area.

Iconography: The displays that people use to express what they believe in.  By observing the flags and colors that represent their groups, clothing choices, bumper stickers, graffiti, tattoos, and posters will give us a window into their motivations.  People who are willing to make a statement through a piece of iconography are often displaying their beliefs and ideals and are often times willing to fight for that belief.  Understanding what a person believes in will also assist us in predicting their future actions.

Atmospherics: The collective attitude and feel of an area.  Is it positive or negative?  By continually asking yourself if the behaviors, emotions, attitudes, and objects that you are observing match your baseline, you will be able to identify those individuals who don’t fit in.  Drastic changes and shifts in the baseline atmospherics will let you know when a threat is imminent.  Your intuition will very often perceive this threat well ahead of your conscious recognition of it.

When pieces to a few of the domains or all six come together, they are what are going to let us put a person’s behavior into the context of their environment and determine what they are going to do in the future.  Not only will it let us identify their intentions, but also let us communicate our predictions and observations to others.

To see why these domains are the ones we rely on, take a look at the article explaining the function and the framework that the domains provide

August 30, 2011

Kinesics – Simplified

As we break down each section of the body throughout our kinesics class, analyzing gestures, postures, and expressions, we are given a window into a person’s mind.  This analysis lets us figure out how you really feel in any given situation.  It is the domain that everyone is waiting for, the opportunity to learn how to read body language.  Being able to understand and predict a person’s intentions gives us the ability to tip the scales of any engagement in our favor.

Some people pick up how to read body language right away while other students look at all the different meanings that each gesture could have and become overwhelmed by the wealth of possibilities.  When I first started learning, I was that guy.  It took me some time to become comfortable and confident in my ability to read people.  There are so many different gestures and expressions out there, that it seemed overwhelming.  Then I learned how to make it easier.

When I am profiling and observing people, I break all kinesic cues into just a couple of different categories.  The first question that I ask myself is,