Tuesday, September 27, 2011

W.D.S.: Whispers & Subtle Movements

Haley Scholar Reading Groups

By Cindy Lyles

Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “What the Dog Saw” gives a glimpse into the life of “the dog whisperer,” skilled dog trainer Cesar Millan and his techniques for mollifying and molding even the most unruly of dogs. Experts who studied Millan’s interactions with dogs concluded that his success with animals was based on his calculated “phrasing” – his abilities to move in precise and deliberate ways in order to solicit particular responses and actions.

Every practice that Millan now uses, he gained as a child while intently studying and watching dogs on his grandfather’s farm; this was his schooling for the profession. In addition, Millan is described as having “that indefinable thing called presence,” which makes it possible for him to achieve desired outcomes (131).

For a moment, let’s think of ourselves as movement specialists. What important kinetic or body language lessons have you learned and implemented in order to achieve the presence necessary to achieve at a higher educational level here at SIUE?

Or, what distinct yet subtle postures or movements have you adapted while here that are useful in sites of study or instruction such  as classrooms, the library, or places where you work with groups? How so?


Wesley Sloan said...

I think the only real conscious effort I've made with body language has been standing up straight. I think we associate slumping and also lack of eye contact, with childish behavior. If you're slumping or not making eye contact with a person, they won't take you as seriously and you lose that "presence." Instead of talking to you as an adult to an adult, it turns into a conversation of an adult to a child.

Other than standing up straight, I haven't really paid attention to my presence or phrasing. I didn't even know what phrasing was until reading about it. It was pretty interesting that the dogs basically had a rhythm of life and it made me think about how that applies to us.

We move in deliberate ways and take cues from how someone looks to determine the situation. If their face is tense, for example, they could be angry. If they're standing forward they could be trying to threaten you or convey aggression. I think subconsciously, we interpret body movement information every day and it's important to realize how it can alter a situation.

Jonathan W. said...

When I was a child, I can remember my parents always telling me to have an upright posture, lean forward, and have direct eye contact when communicating with other people. This advice that I had been given, however, wasn't implemented in my life until recently. Throughout my freshman and sophomore years of college I never had a great posture, and I would often avoid direct eye contact when communication with people such as professors and elderly folk.

Eventually, I realized that this wasn't the correct way to communicate with people. I noticed that when I was communicating in this way, I had no "presence" and felt as though the information that I was conveying to other individuals was not conveyed as effectively as it could have. So, I finally tried communicating with correct posture and direct eye contact, and I noticed an astounding difference in my "presence."

Also, as far as the classroom is concerned. I've noticed a dramatic increase in the activity of my mind when I'm sitting upright, ready to learn, and actively engaged in the material as opposed to when I'm leaning back in my chair, with a more relaxed attitude.

Anonymous said...

Nia Williams:

Some of the most important body language lessons I have learned over time is standing and sitting up straight. I've learned when I sit or stand up straight that I am more attentive; whether it is in class room, observing my surroundings, or engaging in a conversation. I think sitting and standing up right can help notify others that I actually care about what is going on.
I feel as though when I slouch from time to time I become sluggish and slouching can tend to mean that one is lazy and could care less about what is going on around them. I try to avoid giving off a negative impression or "presence" about myself.
Taking modeling classes when I was in highschool has taught me to walk with my head held high at all times. I feel as though walking with my head high shows a sign of confidence. I also believe walking with confidence gives the impression that you are well prepared. Appearing to have a high confidence level makes others aware that you are assure of yourself.
I believe good posture leads to confidence and when you have confidence you get better grades.

Katrina S said...

I often want to argue the real implications of nonverbal communication such as eye contact, posture, and other movements. Sometimes, they are unconscious and can convey things about ourselves like shy people tend to not make direct eye contact and such. But sometimes we assume too much about nonverbal communication and it's not always reliable in the presentation of a person. Also, some movements are habits that a person may have been doing for years and are difficult to change at will.

What I got from the nonverbal aspect of What the Dog Saw is the energy we give off to people. For example, when the male owner was trying to repeat the techniques Cesar Millan did, he was unsuccessful because he still had nervous energy concerning the dog.

It is interesting though, how dogs in particular can pick up on our energy and body language, probably better than some people can.

Daniel Shields said...

Throughout my life I have been told to use good posture, but I began to get lazy when I entered college, away from the parental unit. As I began to take advanced courses, I notice students and teachers in professional dress attire while using good body language.

Since Then I have hosted a television show at SIUE and have declared theater and dance as my minor. These 2 activites require professional and tentative posture.

I believe that etiquette training is something that should be a required course or activity for incoming students, as this can be the differenct between success and failure.

Kelly Q. said...

When I was younger I developed the habit of avoiding eye contact when I was not directly interacting with others. As I entered college I realized my subtle movements made a difference in whether a person would approach me.

Being in an unfamiliar environment I tried to present myself as a friendly and outgoing person by making direct eye contact with others and holding my head high. These simple actions can determine the mood in a situation.

Jaron Wright said...

I learned that smiling and not having such a serious face helps people open up to me and not feel intimidated. Your attitude definitely shows through your body language and how you carry yourself. This would help receive positive feedback from teachers and classmates that could potentially help me with my school work

When it comes to presenting myself in a way that would help me achieve or contribute to receiving a higher educational, I would say that standing and sitting up straight would help one focus more on what they were learning. Also having good posture would let your instructors know that your giving them your respect and undivided attention.

Janssen Shaw said...

I have learned over the years that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, body language is one of the key factors/determinants in the pursuit of success. Simple things like eye contact during conversation can show that the person you are speaking with has your undivided attention. Also, sitting up straight as opposed to slouching while you are in class or a meeting shows that you are focused. Those are just a few things I have picked up over the years.

Chico Weber said...

When it comes to success anywhere people pay the most attention to the initial moment you meet. Your posture, movements of your eyes and hands, and the way you talk all factor into how that person will interact with you from there on. Employers especially look at specific body language in order to see whether or not you are confident enough to work at their level.

I personally have tried to exercise good posture and maintain eye contact as much as possible, although I have found myself forgetting to do so at times. Professors and key employers on campus really react positively to someone who acts like they are capable of communicating with a strong presence.

Malcolm Gladwell is telling us the benefits of our phrasing, movements and presence when we interact with other people. In a sense we should act like Cesar Millan for our desired outcomes, not react like a dog.

TaNeal Walls said...

To me, eye contact is the most valuable asset to interpersonal communications. Without it there is no stability to the conversation. I always look people in their eyes and sometimes it even creates an awkward few moments but I maintain eye contact. If you and the person you are speaking with are on the same level and are genuinely concerned about the discussion eye contact is so necessary. Especially in a business environment; if you are trying to get hired, or speak with someone of authority, or simply inquire something they must take you serious and with bad or no eye contact there is no true heart to the conversation. Same goes for posture.
Recently I noticed a friend and I were out looking to purchase a car (for him) and when my friend was initially speaking with the car salesman representative he was slouched over the counter. I wanted to slap him on the hand and tell him to stand up straight (but that’s rude so I saved it for the ride home). To me- I saw this as unprofessional and not even responsible or serious enough for someone to consider you a credible person to sell a car to. Ultimately, we did not receive a good vibe from the salesman, as he probably didn’t from my friend, and did not purchase a car from him.
Cesar Millan makes us understand that these nonverbal cues are so essential to dogs as well. Giving something your full attention and an upright state of physical being inevitably aids in effective communication.

Monique Williams said...

I think the most important body language lesson I could give to someone is to have great posture and eye contact. These two things exemplifies respect to the people I am communicating with and has helped me become a successful student at SIUE.

I notice in the classroom that the days I am slouching, and not giving my complete attention to my professor ,is when I am the most unfocused and this has the ability to affect my grades. When someone has bad posture or poor eye contact, I instantly think of lazy and uninterested. So with this, I feel that great posture and eye contact lets me and my professors know that I am observant and ready to learn.

I find myself so much more focused when I do these simple tasks. Ceasar Millan did an excellent job emphasizing that nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication.

Gabe Taylor said...

I think the body language I have concentrated on most is both appropriate posture and eye contact. Having both of these consistently in conversation makes you a more accessible personality- it is clear that you are confident and can carry on a conversation.

As a theatre major here at SIUE, something we spend a lot of time on is reading the body language of others, so I have learned some of the subtleties of human movement- it is easy to send a message you don't mean to through involuntary movements (crossing your arms, etc.). These can show others that you are closed or open to conversation, even if you don't mean to.

Gabrielle S. said...

To have presence it is important to have confidence. If you don't seem confident in yourself then no one will have confidence in you. This is important in an academic setting because if you're working in a group and lack confidence, then other group members might not take you seriously.

It is also important to have good posture. This also ties in with confidence. If you stand up straight and hold your head high you give off a vibe of confidence which is very important for gaining respect among peers and professors. If you're hunched over and hanging your head low people are less likely to pay attention to you because you lack the confidence in yourself which makes group members lack confidence in your answers and opinions.

Eye contact is another key subtle movement. If you don't make eye contact with the person you are speaking with then they have no reason to look at you or listen to you. If you're looking someone in the eye while speaking to them you have a greater chance of keeping their interest and attention.

Abagail Thompson said...

Even though I love to talk, I also love to observe. While at SIUE, I have watched many of my professors interact with their students, as well as their colleagues. I want to teach, so I often observe teachers, hoping to learn from their social dynamics within the classroom. Through watching them, I have learned many gestures that I personally have adopted, and plan on using when I become a teacher. Like Cesar Millan, I started observing at a young age, and have developed a plethora of strong traits and tactics from doing so.
A major position that I have learned is having an astute posture. It shows that you are ready to get down to business, and typically shows that you are alert and ready to engage. Standing straight and tall initiates respect and commands authority. Another gesture I have adapted is open hand gestures. Open hand gestures allude to openness and trustworthiness, and give the speaker validity. I have also learned that walking around the room keeps the audience on their toes, and makes them feel more engaged within the lecture, rather than just receiving it. Making strong eye contact and providing feedback shows the listener that you are attentive to what they are saying, and care about what they are saying. These types of body language not only work within the classrooms of SIUE, but also amongst study groups, and causal social interactions. Body language is very important, and in most cases, speak louder than actual words do.

Phillip P Leatherman said...

When it comes to presence, I agree with some of my contemporaries here on the blog, for me I think of other’s perception. It was once told to me that when I walk in to a room I command respect. I appreciated the complement then and it admittedly it sticks with me today.

As a young man I was always instructed to walk with confidence, to speak clearly and with confidence and to provide a level and steady gaze. Do not stare or shy away from some else’s gaze, but to meet them with open and friendly eye contact. I have brought these tools with me to SIUE.

I have learned that if I study what interest me and become knowledgeable in that subject, I project a certain amount of confidence when discussing that or related topics. If I feel confident in what I know, I’ve learned I also feel confident in asking questions about those topics in which I have little to no understanding. It may sound weird but it has been my experience that people tend to respect others that do not know everything and are not afraid to admit it. We all have our areas of expertise. Conversation and acceptance works very well when we not only share that with which we are comfortable but that we allow the next person to do the same. When we show interest in someone else, it makes it easier to show interest in us.

Christine V said...

Our community as a human population has always been centered upon judgement before initial contact. This has been a problem for many to ascertain whether a specific posture is directly related to a situation and its outcome. One thing to note is that there are many culture clashes that are needed to be addressed. Although there there exists standards for non-verbal communication one country,it might not necessarily be the same standard in other countries.

Ke'Asha jones said...

I believe that sitting up straight and looking attentive are a few body movements I have acquired that will help. When you sit straight and look attentive it make you look like your trying to understand or follow whoever is presenting. When you are not slouching it helps make your presence known because you can be seen from far and you will be noticed as someone who was actually paying attention and may have been absorbing information presented.
Keeping eye contact with people you are trying to communicate with is also a skill I learned through life. When I was younger when I would ask my mother for things I would always look off into something else afraid she would say no because I really wanted they toy. As I got older I learned that when you look people you are communicating with in the eyes it makes them feel the need to pay attention to you and keep that same eye contact going.
In a classroom setting when you are sitting back and more relaxed I found through my own experience that it makes it easier for you to fall asleep and stop paying attention to the teacher because your body is in a relaxed position. When a teacher really wants to communicate something to a student during notes they will use direct cues and movements to emphasize how important something is to the subject being taught. Movements help people emphasize important tings and they help people look more intuitive and command that their presence be known wherever they are.