Expression & Gesture

I was going to call this body language, a title perhaps more suited to last weekend’s imagery, but as someone whose work often focuses on communication and relationships the topic of non-verbal communication is never far away, and of course as I’ve dated a number of women in the last year I’ve had one eye to any indication of building rapport, or perhaps the lack of.  Indeed the two have often combined as I’ve recounted the tale of how I recognised a connection with my friend J almost immediately due to the potency of the mirrored expressions, posture and gestures on our first date even though we could not progress beyond friendship.

The topic has been on my mind again this week, partly because I couldn’t help but notice a fair degree of matching when I met P for the first time on Thursday, but more importantly because I wanted to talk to a board of directors on Friday about how they can use it to their advantage.

When talking about body language we very often do so in terms of its impact from one person to another, how we respond to the gestures, expressions, postures of those around us, and vice versa, but I watched a fascinating video this week on the TED website, part of which I shared with my clients on Friday morning.  Amy Cuddy, a Professor at Harvard Business School, describes how they have proved that our body language produces physical changes that affect our own performance.  People who adopt what are termed “high power” postures produce different hormones and even a period as short as two minutes doing so can create these physical changes, but also go on to enable the “poser” to perform better in scenarios such as a job interview or presentation.

Which is how I found myself in a room with 15 executives, all giving it their best Wonder Woman pose.

Browsing TED later I found a live performance by Eddi Reader, one of the artists that P and I had discussed on our date so had to stop for a closer look.  To be fair this live performance of her reminiscence about a lost love isn’t on a par with her recording of the same song or her beautiful contribution to Thomas Dolby‘s Oceanea, but as I read the comments left by others who had watched her TED performance I was struck by how many felt they had to comment on her hand gestures rather than her vocal performance.  Oceana’s melody and lyrics reflecting my own yearning for the sea can fill me with emotion, and P has felt the same about other Reader recordings, so if people are distracted by her hands then it only serves to underline how significant body language is in our communication.

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Today’s imagery was shot at the Durham Christmas Festival, where with markets, food, musicians, and craft stalls aplenty there were crowds beyond the numbers that the ancient infrastructure was ever designed for, but for me plenty of opportunity to shoot expression and gesture; especially when entertainment was provided Nat Lunatrick.

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