It is very interesting to look at the study of body language, especially as it pertains to poker.
It’s amazing just how useful this information can be when coupled with poker knowledge. In a cross cultural study, Paul Ekman concluded that there are seven basic facial expressions read correctly across all 21 countries studied. These emotions are: surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness and contempt.
Body Language, as the name implies, is not just about the face. In fact some people are really good about disguising these emotions. We may nod and smile during a conversation with someone we dislike, but pointing our feet toward the door screams that we can’t wait to get away!
There are five truths of body language:
• It’s constant. You continually communicate with your body’s stance, your facial expressions, the cut of your clothes. Face it. Know you are being "read" every time in public. Once realized, you can begin to use it to your advantage.
• It’s always being determined by context. What is acceptable at the local bar on Margarita Night is not going to fly at work, church or at a charity fundraiser.
• It’s never judged based on a single signal. You may have heard that covering your mouth with a hand can indicate deception. A body language novice might say, "Look she’s covering her month, she’s lying." But maybe she’s politely covering her mouth because she’s chewing. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
• It reveals the discrepancies between what a person says and truly believes. In order to listen to a person’s "true message" you need to tune in to verbal and nonverbal clues. Watch movements, listen to pitch, tone, volume and rhythm of their words. When a person is being truthful, their body language is what is called "congruent." Their movements, signals and voice will all match. When they don’t match, there is a "disconnect." Experienced liars sometimes mask their incongruence, but only to a certain degree. For most people even if they can mask their face they usually have "leaks" in areas of their bodies.
• Its mastery allows you to tune in to "micro expressions" – the brief flashes of intense facial expressions that may only show for a quarter of a second. These slight expressions, leaks and things we try to cover up are nearly impossible to control. Body Language experts spend hours viewing tapes to pick these up. When you become a master communicator, you’ll automatically detect and decode the micro expressions that slip right by your conscious mind.
The keys to success in anything in life are practice and application. The good news about this type of studying is that you can literally practice it in any way. You don’t have to be at the poker table to try and hone in on your body language skills. Try people watching at a café or when you are stuck in traffic.
Next time you are in a conversation with a friend, tune in a little more and study them. Try and see if your decoder is really working. Then you will be able to apply it to the poker table, take the money home and count it there!
Until next time… I am "OK"-Sarah and I always stay lucky!
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