We’ve looked at how our words and our actions are designed to assert our control over others or avoid being controlled by others. Now, let’s look at our body language. Body language accounts for half of every attempt at communication. Only 7% is verbal while another 38% is through tone of voice. So, it stands to reason that paying attention to our bodies is a good way to understand how we use body language as a means of control.
So, think about a conversation you may have had recently with a person you disagreed with. How did your body react? Did you frown? Roll your eyes? Did you give them a big sigh? What message were you trying to convey with your body language? Were you saying “stop talking” or “go away” or “you’re full of it?” Your body language was most likely trying to convey to the other person that you would like it if they would stop doing what they are doing.
How about when we’re angry with someone else? How does your body react then? Do you point or stab your finger at them? Do you tap your foot? Do you wave your arms around?
What if you want someone’s attention? You probably wave at them or make the “come here” gesture with your finger. Maybe you extend your hand for a handshake or raise your eyebrows?
What if you are having an important phone conversation and someone else wants your attention? Do you give them a dismissive gesture with your hand? Put your finger to your lips to shush them? Give them a disapproving look?
Right now, the point is not to judge these movements, but just to be aware. To see just how pervasive this culture of control is in our society.
What other body signals can you think of that are meant to control another person’s behavior?