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Body Language

Communication is much more involved than actual words as it makes up only 7% of what we take in. It is interesting that 38% is vocal based on pitch, volume, tone and speed of speech, while 55% is visual based on body language and eye contact. Botoxed faces tell us not to trust the person because there are no micro expressions that give us visual cues that are consistence to what is being said.

Visual cues such as body language influence how people respond to us. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy nonverbal cues can also affect how we see ourselves. For example, standing in a posture of confidence, especially for men consisting of stand up straight and taking up space (even when we are not feeling that), can affect testosterone (hormone) and cortisol (stress) levels in the brain. This is seen as a Power Pose because it hold the space and displays a strong presence.

Cuddy, found in studies that when displaying the high power pose that they experienced 20% increase in testosterone levels while a 25% decrease in cortisol. While a pose to denote submission showed a 10% in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol levels. The more you practice a stance the more you are likely to feel it.

Body language and flirting tell us different stories between the sexes here are some interesting information.

For Women

The fine art of the ‘gaze’ in attracting men’s attention has been perfected through the centuries by women wearing make-up, perfume, hair styles and dress. Men respond to visual signs through her glance, as it is held for a second or two with her eyes and head averted slightly as she looks at him. Research claims that it takes three brief glances of this kind for the message of interest to be transmitted and the longer the glance the more interest.

A look that contains an ‘eye-flick’ where the eye lids are raised for a fraction of a second allowing the eyes to open, indicates that the woman is waiting for the next step.

Once she has the man’s attention flirting begins with subtle gestures, such as flicking the hair, tossing of her head, licking of lips or pouting all indicate attraction while a brief smile is an invitation to come closer.

Flirting using her body is the next step, she is seen as feminine and inviting if she shows movements that take up less space, for example crossing her legs. This becomes contrasted by her facial expressions that are animated with smiles and laughs. In a conversation it is the nodding of the head that lets him know she is interested and indicates she is an attentive listener. A behavior of trust is shown by a quick shoulder-lift in combination with the raise of the eyebrows and a smile.

A woman will often bring attention to parts of her body that she wishes a man to notice. Finger pointing is often used to draw the eye to a part of the body the woman wants to expose. The rolling of her hips, the turning of her arms in an outward motion as she walks as well as through the clothing she wears, will all be use to entice the gaze.  A women wearing a skirt or dress, uses her legs to bring attention to them by crossing and uncrossing them. A low cut or revealing neckline will accentuate her cleavage. The neck positioning as the chin is raised or the head is turned slightly to indicate vulnerability.  This is also shown when a woman lowers her head and looks up to make the eyes look bigger and in need of protection.

The ‘bedroom eyes’ are created by lowering the upper eyelids and raising the eyebrows slightly giving a greater distance between the eye and eye brow and is experienced as a submissive look or as Paul Ekman explains its seductive expression is seen on women just before orgasm.

There is not a lot of research on flirting between same sex couples and whether women act differently with other women they are sexually interested in. I would really like to know of any personal experiences to expand my understanding of the flirting rituals.

For Men

Eye contact and a smile are normally the first indicator that interest is at hand but research on attraction has shown that women are the first one to give a signal of interest. Women give off many non-verbal clues as ‘come-ons’ to encourage men’s attention. Often a man mistakenly believes this is directed at him, leading to misreading the signal which can cause a sense that they have been lead on.

If a man wants to impress he displays his masculinity by creating the impression that he needs lots of space. At the time of eye contact if he is standing he will change his posture to appear as tall as possible as he tightens his abdominal muscles and Altus style he pulls up his belly to expand his chest. This will also be expressed in a seated posture with legs apart, feet extending into a shared space as he leans his body forward showing he is trying to impress. He will shift his body often to change positions as he moves his hands away from his body to have the appearance of taking up more room to have a bigger presence. When he walks this is demonstrated by the swinging of the arms across his body and inward rotation of the wrists. All these postures and movements are meant to indicate to a woman that he is able to protect her because he is stronger and bigger than her. Other behavior, which can indicate that he is relaxing and wanting to be closer, is the tilt of his head to one side exposing the neck seen as an indication of trust. Like the woman he will high light an area of his body that he wishes to be noticed by pointing or touching it. Often this is a prompt to the woman that it is something he wants admired, for example running his fingers through his hair.

The way two people spatially flirt gives insight into their interest. Men will turn his body towards the woman and point his foot in her direction. The closer he moves towards her the more intimacy is created. This is also indicated through touch, as the man is usually the first to instigate this. Touch or playing with her possessions such as keys, mobile or her jewelry are strong indicators that he would like to become closer to her.

Eye contact is a key indicator that flirting has began, once a women makes contact the man can move closer. The eye also becomes an indicator of arousal as the pupils become larger when both men and women are turned on.

Flirting for male same sex couples is more direct where gestures are simplified and more overtly sexual. An example of this is when thumbs are placed in the pockets, hands pointing towards the genitals. Eyes are focused initially on the others eyes and then a look downwards to the others genitals and then returning to the eyes.

So be aware of the body language that you display as it can tell people a lot about what is happening internally. People watching teaches so many subtle cues and gives us great insight into our own and others behaviour.