Body Language


Ciro

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I came from a culture, where as a child, I was taught how people think and act, but most of my knowledge about understanding people, came from observing body signals , and face expressions. Based on these notions, I began to experiment my life as child. I remember that in presence of strangers, my mother could guide me to do things just by taking particular postures of her body, and also by looking at me in a way that only I, could pick up what she was comunicating to me. Later in life, I discovered that my mother's language, was in effect, an universal language, we can understand people the way they look at us and by the movements of their body. This helped me a lot in my personal life, and in business in general. Maybe this is what Ayn Rand meant, when she said : “Some people have my kind of face.”

She was able, I guess, to read people based on how they moved and looked, of course, in addition to what they were saying. Someone, can hardly foul a person with such quality. It usually takes me only a gleam of a person’s eyes to understand his/her intentions. This is one of the reasons why, I do not believe what people write about Barbara and Nathaniel of being exploiters of Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand was very intelligent and, could read people very well.

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Michael, that was funny!!! :)

Rereading my post, I thought that I could be misinterpreted as a social metaphysician because concerned so much about people.

It all comes down to, at the end, to share it with people, no?

CD

Ps.

what do you think, Michael?

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Michael,

I, being a science minded fellow, and a bit of a reductionist would look even deeper, and say in answer to your question about the anti-Brandenites;

"They are breathing"

;)

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Ciro,

There is an Objectivist flavor of Politically Correct - one which I do not do (which is why some people get very uncomfortable with me and others do not). It is not Politically Correct in Objectivism to say you are a member of the human race without qualifying that statement by saying you are an individual first. Thus it is not Politically Correct in Objectivism to say you like other people or have people skills. People with people skills are called Peter Keating in Objectivism. I say hogwash.

Being competent at handling people does not equate with being a second-hand manipulator or social metaphysician. It means that you competent at handling people and you should use that talent for productive ends.

For instance, try conducting an orchestra of 100 Brazilian civil servants in a Beethoven symphony without having any people skills. You get a train wreck instead of music. I know because I have observed it in poor conductors - and in my own concerts, when I was active as a conductor, learning the right people skills in order to make good music strained my efforts to the maximum. It was not enough to know the score by heart and conduct well.

How about this? Try running a restaurant without any people skills. Try making people buy food in an unpleasant place from someone who insults them. And try making employees be nice to cusomers by belittling them all the time. I think that's a great way to lose money - both customers and hired help.

I don't know if Rand was very successful at reading people's body language since there are many, many accounts of her insensitivity. I do agree that she saw wonderful qualities in people - especially the Brandens. But basically, I don't think she was a people person (whereas NB was a top-notch salesman).

Rand herself portrayed the needs for people skills by heroic creators in The Fountainhead through the assistant to Henry Cameron. He covered over the messes Henry Cameron made with clients - and that is exactly how he was portrayed. He was not portrayed as a second-hander (or social metaphysician).

(Jody - LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL... Got any ideas for scientific experiments? There are plenty of subjects...)

Michael

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Michael and Ciro,

(1) Howard Roark had a friend named Kent Lansing, without whose diplomatic skills he would not have landed a couple of corporate clients.

(2) Would judgments of people's motives based on their body language be considered "psychologizing"?

Tara Smith's new book endorses Rand's prohibition on psychologizing, though she relegates it to a footnote. TS's attempted definition is "judging a person's moral character on the basis of inferences about his subconscious that are not based on his actions, statements, and conscious convictions" (p. 153, n. 33).

So unless body language counts as an action...

Robert Campbell

PS. Is it always so easy to know another person's conscious convictions?

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Robert said:

So unless body language counts as an action...

I believe body language could indeed be counted as action and it also could be misconstrued at times.

Someone who invades our space while scowling, hunched forward, and with clenched fists will normally set off all kinds of warning bells with us. The fight or flight mechanism should be activated with most people in this circumstance before a word is ever uttered.

L W

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The eyes are the most powerful means by witch we communicate non verbally with people.

There is so much to say also about the face, the second most powerful way we use to communicate...and others rely on it for indications--to show how rewarding we are as individuals, to express our emotional state of the moment, to indicate our interest in others and things and so on. A smile, a downcast look, a head cocked on one side etc..., we can say quite a lot with our face.

This is how Barbara describes her first sight of Ayn Rand: When the door of her home opened that spring evening of 1950, I found myself facing the most astonishing human being I have ever encountered. It was the eyes...they seemed the eyes of a human being who was composed of the power of sight.

Michael, L W, and Robert thanks for your thoughts

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I agree, Ciro. When I talk with someone or meet for the first time, the first thing I look at are their eyes. It tells me volumes. I'll then look at their face, how happy they seem, how much strain may be there. This gives me an idea of what kind of life they lead. The more strain on their face the unhappier they seem to be. As I talk with somebody, I'm very aware of their demeanor, how they hold themselves, how much eye contact there is, their facial expressions when they talk, their body movements. But for me what is most telling and how comfortable they are is the avoidance of eye contact or fleeting eye contact I should say. It tells me they're uncomfortable for some reason. But talking with them more, I can get a pretty good idea as to why they are uncomfortable and unhappy.

Even in photos that I look at of people, the first thing I look at are their eyes, and then their face and how much strain there may be, etc. For me, it speaks volumes of who they are and what type of life they may lead. I've noticed the more strain there is it is indicative of their present life and what they might be going through. To what extent, I don't know. But the harder the strain it seems, the more there is evasion of reality amongst many others. I've known many people this way. My mom is one of them (evasion of reality, much strain on her face. My sister is the same way, much strain and complete evasion of reality at all costs, as well as many other people I've known and have been friends with.)

But I'm the same way.....very aware of people and watching them closely when I talk with someone. But it's difficult to "judge" someone by what they look like. Once I get to know them, then it speaks volumes of who they truly are.

Angie

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oh, yes, Ciro. I've seen these. Not this particular one but have watched many shows about facial expressions and the interesting one is how to tell when someone is lying to you. Involuntary muscle contractions in the face when people lie versus when they are telling the truth, they won't squint their nose or raise their eyebrows real quick, etc. Their new research into it. It was a very interesting program.

I came back on to clarify what I said in more detail about my post. What LW said about aggressive behavior, etc., before a word is even spoken, of course. But I'm talking for me overall the areas that I personally watch when talking with someone. But I'll go check out that site real quick.

Angie

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And of course, Ciro, I can't load the damn thing and don't have a lot of time now to do it. But I think I know who you are talking about because I've seen these types of shows before and I would agree with you, it is quite interesting.

I have a good example of what AR talks about and things I've seen as well...how can you tell if a man enjoys watching someone suffering by his facial expressions. There is a movie where I can seriously see it. I don't know about others but I personally can see it.

Mel Gibson's the Passion of Christ. I haven't seen it all but did see bits and pieces of it. If you want to know what it looks like to see a facial expression of a man "enjoying" watching another man suffering, go to the scene of the movie where Jesus is being beaten brutally by the 2 men with the whips. Watch their faces and you will be able to tell which one gets off on human suffering. And it is quite disturbing. Unfortunately, I have also seen this facial expression on my mom's face when talking to her about more private matters. And again, seriously disturbing. This is the stuff I am talking about when I posted my first response.

But when I get more time to load it, I'll go check it out but I think I know who he is.

Angie

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Since I have a spare minute now, if you would like me to I can try to find some pictures of people that have strain on their faces versus others that don't; such as, LP, NB, etc., where there is very little strain on their face. It is indicative of the life they lead versus the man that always looks stressed out. Or a good example of a show I watched lastnight about drug addicts, bums, etc., that were being followed around in their daily lives. The amount of strain on these people's face are very telling of what they value, extremely unhappy looking, evading reality, evading to make a choice, evading to take responsibility for their lives versus LP, NB's wonderful no strain on their faces look.

I'm sure you know what I'm saying but I can show photos of what I'm saying if you'd like me to. Haven't checked the link yet that you provided but will. I'm not at home now and don't want to load anything on this computer without their permission first.

Angie

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Ciro,

Thank you also for the link. As you said, about social meta stuff, for me, it has nothing to do with that. It helps me further my understanding and knowledge of my surroundings, especially of those I am close with and what their true intentions may be towards me, reading them, etc. For instance, the show I watched last night gave me a different perspective of the world and was quite disturbing to watch, very graphic. But their choice to live that way.

Even if someone does classify it as social meta, whatever, they can bite me because I really don't care. All I'm looking for is to help further my own understanding and that's it. So don't worry one bit if it came off as that. It's just our desire to help ourselves understand our surroundings better. :D

Angie

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inferences about his subconscious that are not based on his actions, statements, and conscious convictions

And the subconscious is part of what?

Folk psychology (sometimes called naive psychology or common sense psychology) is the set of background assumptions, socially-conditioned prejudices and convictions that are implicit in our everyday descriptions of others' behavior and in our ascriptions of their mental states. It includes concepts such as belief ("he thinks that Peter is wise"), desire ("she wants that piece of cake"), fear ("Alex is afraid of spiders") and hope ("she hopes that he is on time today"). --Wikipedia
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Jenna,

The notion of subconscious mental processes isn't all that old, at least in the Western tradition. When Leibniz challenged Locke (who had argued that any purported innate ideas would have to be conscious), his suggestion that there could be unconscious "ideas" was pretty shocking.

Since Freud, the notion of subconscious mental processes has been rather widely accepted (though you'll find a few holdouts--John Searle doesn't seem terribly comfortable with it).

So if it's part of "folk psychology" now, it's a relatively recent addition.

What I take to be your wider point, though, is our understanding of other people's actions (our manner of describing them, etc.) necessarily involves inferences or attributions of motives, including subconscious motives. So what Rand says we ought to do, in the conclusion to "The Psychology of Psychologizing"--"It is only with a person's conscious mind that one can deal, and it is only with his conscious mind that one can be concerned"--is advice that no one can follow. (For that matter, it is harder to judge people's conscious motives than Rand often seemed to think.)

I have some reservations about the notion of folk psychology. Philosophers talk about it much more often than psychologists do; the whole "belief-desire" thesis is more of an analytic philosopher's stylized version of everyday thinking about human cognition and motivation than a straight report of what people normally do. Also, some who talk about "folk psychology" (e.g., Paul Churchland, in his earlier work) see it as something that must be overthrown entirely, in some kind of "transvaluation of all values." (Churchland used to suggest that neuroscience would ultimately replace even such notions as truth and falsity.) I see everyday thinking about thinking and motivation as in need of revision and supplementation through scientific research, but as unlikely to be completely overthrown by it.

Robert Campbell

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What I take to be your wider point, though, is our understanding of other people's actions (our manner of describing them, etc.) necessarily involves inferences or attributions of motives, including subconscious motives. So what Rand says we ought to do, in the conclusion to "The Psychology of Psychologizing"--"It is only with a person's conscious mind that one can deal, and it is only with his conscious mind that one can be concerned"--is advice that no one can follow. (For that matter, it is harder to judge people's conscious motives than Rand often seemed to think.)

You got my point right there. I was trying to use the notion of "folk psychology" as something everyone does naturally. A naive notion of psychology is how we are able to interact with each other. In some cases, I think specific parts of Objectivism asked for the biologically impossible: emotions cannot be dictated to the extent that Rand seemed to express; and everyone does, at least, a rudimentary action called "psychologizing" in the form of hypothesizing about the mental states of another person in an interaction. If we cannot psychologize, then we cannot philosophize. As part of human nature, we do both, and many other things. Also, the concept of "sense of life" includes psychology. While humans are not monoliths, neither are we compartmentalized creatures with a divided mental life.

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Jenna:emotions cannot be dictated to the extent that Rand seemed to express; and everyone does, at least, a rudimentary action called "psychologizing" in the form of hypothesizing about the mental states of another person in an interaction. If we cannot psychologize, then we cannot philosophize. As part of human nature, we do both, and many other things

I Agree 100%, Jenna

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I think I'd be interested in reading this thread, but it's coming

through on my browser with an incredibly long line-width --

I suppose because of the very long URL Ciro posted in a

post Fri May 19, 2006 10:34 am. (I used hard-breaks in

posting this.)

Is it possible for Kat or Michael to "do something" about

the line-length?

Ellen

___

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Ciro, I'm worried about you- I sense pathology.

First, the disturbing urinal/weenie-looking incident (thank Galt for moral soldier MSK's totally understandable outing you via email exposure- clearly those from on high have established this practice as de riguer if not flat-out part of the creed; I suggest the possibility of developing something along the line of the Binswanger Oath that includes this mission-critical element). Now, this giant URL post. But these are things for another time and place- I'm thinking it's time to hold court for you, my misguided Italian friend. =;

Body language. I was provided a great deal of excellent professional training in this and related areas, for the main purpose of enhancing selling skills. Eyes, yes, of course; in addition to the obvious, one can also get a toehold on someone's sensory orientation by watching, when they are formulating a reply, whether the eyes go up, lateral, or down. This is useful because sometimes you can tune your words to the orientation, which enhances communication.

I don't put a lot of stock in the "classic" body language signs; you know- arms/legs crossed means defensive, etc. But, one thing that does seem to have some grit to it, if done subtly, undetected, is "mirroring," meaning just that in the form of matching positions, postures, and so on.

Some people have a very developed sense of reading folks, my boss is one. He goes down to the skin level, it seems he is able to do a great many things from his careful observation.

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