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June 24, 2008

Talking with your body

When I was in college, I was always desperate for summer employment. I saw a sign advertising jobs earning over $250 a week, which was a small fortune in those days.

My friend and I went to the meeting where the jobs were discussed. To our chagrin, they turned out to be in sales, which neither of us had the slightest aptitude for, and not just sales but sales of encyclopedias. Door to door.

Yeah, I know, the same nonsense you've read about. Hire a gazillion college students and run 'em through the mill. A few will succeed, and that's all you need for your business. The other ones drop by the wayside.

Unfortunately, my friend and I were pretty naive. We figured we were already there, so why not go through the interviews? Astonishingly, or so I thought, they offered me a position. I spent a couple of hours ruminating about it before I turned them down.

My friend had a better story. When they offered him the job, he asked them how they could possibly have offered it to him before comparing notes with all the other interviewers. The response? "We could tell by your body language."

The two of us, both kind of dorky, later had a bunch of laughs over that answer.

But it turns out that body language is actually a science. And one of the scientists, a former FBI counter-intelligence agent, has written a piece in the Health section of the Post.

I'll give you the short version: Boy meets girl. Boy reads girl's body language. Girl slaps boy's face.

Well, maybe I should phrase it this way: The agent figured out from his friend's wife's body language that things were about to fall apart in his friend's marriage. They did. He (the agent) went on a cruise and watched people in various stages of relationships or attempted relationships show their body language. He wrote about it for the Post.

But there's also a series of drawings to illustrate the common forms of body language. I'll give you an example:

Here's the set, in case you can read it:

What I want to know is what the following body language indicates: