Spycatcher

An ex-FBI agent on deception, espionage, interrogation, and reading people.

What the Shoulders Say About Us

The shoulders are probably one of the most ignored areas of the body and yet when it comes to nonverbal communications, this is one area that truly reveals how we feel. Read More

Hi Joe ...

Hi Joe ...

Hi Joe ...

... love this post because it is something that was brought to my attention a while ago. Since then, I've been doing a lot of work on my body posture (weight training and stretching) and it makes a huge difference to my sense of well-being. I know people now respond to me differently because they have told me so. It doesn't take much work and the pay-offs are enormous.
There is a mind/body/feedback thing which creates a virtuous spiral. But, you do have to be very careful not to get too intoxicated with it.

so interesting thanks!

loved it

Standing Tall

I agree wholeheartedly with you Joe. In the martial arts we are taught to stand tall, shoulder's down and back. It is a way to generate power, both physically and spiritually.

Standing Tall

Yes definitely in martial arts but also ballet

Shoulders

Dr. David Givens, in his book "Love Signals" gives what I believe to be a more accurate report of shoulder language. Not that anything in this article is wrong, but Givens points out that the shoulder shrug is a hold-over from earlier days of our evolution. It is part of the "startle reflex" that can be seen across thousands of species, including reptiles and other species not closely related to humans. Of course, the shoulder part of it only occurs in closer relatives, generally in the great apes etc. While saying that a shoulder raise is indicative of lack of confidence, which can be true, Givens says that it is actually a defensive position, used to fizzle out an otherwise threatening situation. The shoulders raise because in one's mind they know there is a problem, so they automatically go into defense mode to ward off the encroaching "predator". Of course, with humans it is sometimes not helpful, because this body language betrays what we are not saying. I feel like I could have done a much better job explaining but oh well. Good article though! But seriously check out "Love Signals" which is in one part a huge discourse on body language, from the top of the head to the feet!

Shoulders

You are absolutely right, David Givens, who is a dear friend of mine, writes about the shoulder in Love Signals and elsewhere. However, no author had the final word on any subject, as Desmond Morris devotes a lot of material to the shoulder as does Paul Ekman or Joe Kulis. My article is a contribution to the literature, and that is all it is, not a final say on the shoulders. I am sure other authors would write something differently. It would not be much of a contribution if I wrote the same thing that David Givens wrote about. In court you can have experts disagree on the same evidence. My take on shoulder behaviors in this article is based on some of my observations, not all of them, it is not a final say, and if you asked David what he thought about my article, I think you would be surprised. Thank you.

My experience supports your

My experience supports your analysis.

In my early 40's I took up boxercise as a way of getting in shape. At the time, you could describe me as tall, average looking, balding, and generally ignored by most women. The workouts built up my shoulder muscles and straightened my posture.

Next thing I know, women are making eye contact and smiling. Every once in a while they'd turn after I passed to take another look. The only variable here was the workouts. No change in wardrobe, career, relationship status, or anything else to explain the change. 12 years on, I still find this astonishing.

My Experience

Yes it is remarkable how a change in posture can change attitudes and perceptions. Every time I walk by ballet students, I can't help myself, my respect and admiration for them increases and yet I don't know them, they are influencing me on the sidewalk in the same way they influence us on stage while they are merely standing.

Very interesting.

Wow. This is vey interesting. I am very sensitive and I can read body lenguage. I have never study for this. I am a very observant person. Sometimes is not good for me to be able to read body lenguage. So I can understand all this. Mr. Joe, you are a very intelligent man.

Very interesting.

Wow. This is vey interesting. I am very sensitive and I can read body lenguage. I have never study for this. I am a very observant person. Sometimes is not good for me to be able to read body lenguage. So I can understand all this. Mr. Joe, you are a very intelligent man.

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Joe Navarro is a former FBI Counterintelligence Agent and is the author of What Every Body is Saying. He is an expert on nonverbal communications and body language.

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