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The daily Tar Heel. (Chapel Hill, N.C.) 1946-current, November 11, 1982, Page 14, Image 14

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MY I n ii ,0 M Z3 I aJ mi I II Nonverbal cues create conversations By DEB8I SYKES he didn't want him to walk her home from the xe, ; playfully brushed her hair from her face W sideways look. nit her smile didn't reach his eyes. neir words or their actions? pdy language as a valuable source of informa- jersedes what a person says. Through observa- n more about others and perhaps enhance the jive them. I studied body language for more than 30 years, absolute rules. Mannerisms vary widely, especi- es, and they do not fit into neat categories. Cir not be disregarded either. 'sses her arms? Some people might say she is be- t maybe she is chilly or that is a comfortable want i thp imnrpinn that wp pivp others. Peo " - O " - verbal cues subconsciously. Without realizing bout ourselves. ? researchers have observed rules common to lations, such as on buses and sidewalks and hd conversing. States, touching is not considered socially ap- bple in crowded buses tense their muscles and ainst other passengers. When people do touch v smile as if to apologize. plate their eyes as carefully as their arms and ing is taboo. They usually look at an advertise pr stare blindly out the windows never at pas bn does look at someone, he must do it furtively to look away quickly. tions have their own rules. approach one another they may look at one y are about eight feet apart Then they look aring is rude. When passing, people usually look are going. This way, they avoid the embarrassment of sidestep . ping the dance that takes pjace when two people can not decide which route to take around one another. When students stop to chat on a sidewalk, the area becomes their territory temporarily. Others seem to recognize this by low ering their heads as they walk by. Courting behaviors reveal interest in someone. Let us look at Mark and Jill again. When they smooth their hair, adjust their clothing and stand straighter, they are showing that they are attracted to one another. When they sit together to talk, they cross their legs toward one another and lean in the other's direction. Through observation we can team more about others and perhaps enhance the impressions we give them. What if Jill toys with her necklace while they are talking? Body language researchers. might say she is unconsciously using the necklace as a substitute for Mark. What does it mean if Mark shows his palms a lot in gesturing? These experts would say it is a sign of his attraction for Jill. Julius Fast an expert on body language, believes that attrac tion can even cause the glow that supposedly comes from love. During courting, people straighten their posture, tighten their muscles and their faces flush, making appear more attractive. Dr. Adam Kendon, a psychologist, notes a similarity between human and animal courtship. At first the partners flaunt their sexuality to attract the other and then, after succeeding, act coy ly like a child, or the young. Kendon thinks this may be a way to reassure the partner that he won't hurt him. But we must view these body language cues cautiously. Some-, times people seem to be courting in nonsexual situations such as with teachers or parents. Flora Davis, a journalist who has written t i they are walking, as if to signal which way they about body language, points out that people use disclaimers when they are truly courting. For example, a person may tap his wedding ring while talking or two people may turn slightly away when sitting together. The body language of conversation is fairly simple to detect When two people talk, the speaker usually looks away frequently while the listener looks at him. Fast thinks the speaker looks away to avoid being distracted and interrupted. But the speaker does glance at his listener occasionally to make sure he is listen ing. When he finishes talking, he looks at the listener to signal that it is his turn to talk. A good cue to follow when you want someone to talk is to look toward him frequently Eventually this should encourage him to say something. When you imitate the body language of a speaker while listening, you reassure him by showing your agree ment Conversely, you can also avoid interruptions by looking away, ' There are even gender differences in the body language of conversations. Davis mentions experiments conducted by Ralph Exline, a psychologist at the University of Delaware. Exline found that women do more looking at their listeners when talk ing, while men do more looking when they are listening. Davis speculates that it is more important for women to see the emo tional responses to what they say than it is for men. Women talk less when they can't see their partner, while men talk more, Davis says. Where you sit in classrooms also reveals something about you. Students feel possessive about their seats after the first days of classes. Students who sit at the back and the ends of a class room want to be anonymous. Fast says. These students may be shy or may resent having to take the course. Those sitting in the front center and back usually participate more. Students sitting in the front really are better students, he says. But classroom body language needs qualification, too. Just because the students in a small class are clustered near the door doesn't mean they are anxious to leave. They may have been too embarrassed to cross the room and spread out in the first days of class. Body language researchers also study the variations in space that people keep between themselves. This study, proxemics, has shown that everyone seems to have an imaginary bubble of space around him. Trespassers who intrude its boundaries make him feel uncomfortable. This bubble ranges tremendously in size. For example. Fast notes that Arabs generally enjoy be ing close to others, while Britons prefer to keep greater distances. People who don't understand these differences may be insulted. . ' Individuals within the same culture can vary as well. Women seem to enjoy crowding more than men do, Davis says. While men may become combative in a crowd, women become more friendly, she says. This space bubble also varies over time for each per son. Your need for space shrinks when you are in love or go to a bar or nightclub expecting to find crowds. Fast says. Alcohol can exaggerate these spatial needs. People also have different ways to order their space. While an Arab tends to withdraw into himself when he wants to be alone with his thoughts, a European often retreats into another room, Fast says. An American typically goes off by himself. Body language also varies with geography. For example, the South is a high-smile area compared with the Northeast Davis says. A Southerner who seldom smiles is as suspect as a North erner who smiles a great deal. Regions also affect the rate of learning body language. Research has shown that Southern chil dren learn gender signals about age 4, while those living in the Northeast learn them later. An example of a gender signal is sit ting positions. American girls learn to sit with their legs close to gether, while boys learn to sit with their legs farther apart often propping one leg on the other knee. It is important to remember these variations in one another and to be sensitive to what body language can convey. It can be an important tool for deciphering the unspoken messages be hind words. Body language can't tell us everything, but we may be missing a wealth of silent clues if we overlook them. Mark had watched Jill's body language, he would have known that Jill really was attracted to him. If Jill had watched Mark more closely, she would have realized that she needed to be direct With body language, maybe they could find a happy ending. Debbi Sykes is a staff writer for The Daily Tar Heel. mjl !" ii'i rrTTTrnWW,iiiiinrtw n 0MWmar-mimmimnmmmimwmnimvntwbmM0mmma - !mu.i lwiiiiniwmiiiwiTMf i mr i u JSi it . j .. . Weekend, November 11, 1982 5

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