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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


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