Body Language Quick Takes – What Does Passion Look Like?

What are the body language signs of passion?  You’re thinking, this is a joke, right?  No, I’m not going to talk about sex.  I’ll leave that to the experts and the Internet.  What I’m talking about are the signs that a co-worker or friend or family member is about to erupt in rage, or frustration, or pique, or excitement, or even hilarity. 

We put such a premium in most workplaces — and social situations — on staying calm and not showing emotions, that we are often unprepared for it when it shows up unexpectedly.  Indeed, passion can be used in a calculated way to intimidate, to railroad, or to push a point of view.  So it helps to spot the warning signs in order to prepare yourself for the explosion. 

What do you look for?  You'll often spot agitation first in the face, seeing a rapid movement of the eyes, or clenching of the jaw and neck muscles, or a suddenly furrowed brow.  But it usually starts in the gut.  Genuine passion, as the Chinese will tell you, comes from the stomach, not the head.  Breathing rate will suddenly increase, and become more shallow.  The stomach muscles, and the whole torso, will tighten, and prepare for the outburst.  It’s the natural way we have of increasing our adrenaline, and allowing that chemical to assist us in flight or fight mode. 

Often it’s literally true that our bodies know that we’re about to explode before we know it consciously, so watching others’ body language carefully can keep you one step ahead of the riot.  Look for tension in the hands, arms and legs, the shoulders, and finally the face.  He may start to tap his fingers, or his feet.  Her hands may clench before her jaw does.  Muscle tension is the primary signal.  With a little practice, you can even learn to detect what kind of explosion is about to happen by studying the individual and her particular habits of body.  And you can react to a blow before the other person knows he is going to punch by watching it start in the tension of the shoulder. 

Because our bodies decide before our conscious minds, we can’t explode without signaling it first with our bodies.  Thus passion is physical before it’s mental, and body language provides the clues for what’s going to happen.  Study the cues well and you’ll never be caught off guard again.     

Comments

  1. vturek says

    Nick,
    Your blog is a well of valuable information. I really like the fact that you keep the posts concise and to the point, because there is nothing worse than useful information scattered sparsely throughout an intimidatingly long post… ;-)

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