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The Power of Body Language Hardcover – November 20, 2007

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About the Author

Tonya Reiman is a body language expert who appears weekly on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. A motivational speaker, consultant, and corporate trainer, she has also appeared on Access Hollywood, Extra, Your Morning, Fast Money, New Morning, and several other television shows. In addition, she has been heard on ESPN radio and has contributed to national publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Time, Positive Thinking, and New York Newsday. She lives in Long Island with her husband and three children.

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Introduction

What I hide by language, my body utters.
-- John Barthes


As a body language expert, I'm in the business of helping people understand each other better. I teach people how to study movements, gestures, and facial expressions so they can decode other people's thoughts and feelings. The media often asks me to comment on the body language of famous or infamous people such as politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and criminals. Judging from the amount of media coverage they receive, nothing fascinates us more than the private lives of celebrities.

While individual celebrities may fascinate us, when two celebrities come together in love, we are transfixed. We create cute names for them, like "TomKat" and "Brangelina." We track their dinner dates, their holiday plans, their "baby bumps."

That's why, when a celebrity manages to maintain some distance from the media and keep her private life somewhat private, we're that much more curious. Few A- list celebrities have been as successful at holding the paparazzi at arm's length as actor Renée Zellweger -- even after her ill- fated marriage to Kenny Chesney.

Zellweger met Chesney, a quadruple- platinum country performing artist, in January of 2005 at a concert benefi ting the victims of the tsunami. After a brief, intense courtship, they married in a small, romantic ceremony on the beach.

Then their whirlwind romance came to a crashing halt. A mere 128 days later, Zellweger fi led for an annulment.

The gossip media was abuzz with wild speculation about the fast demise of the marriage. She had checked the box marked "fraud" on the annulment application -- what did that mean? Reporters, bloggers, and fans couldn't help but wonder, What kind of fraud? Was Chesney gay? Did Zellweger just discover it? Was she crushed?

Through it all, Zellweger maintained her dignity and stiff upper lip while under the constant watch of the public eye. She probably thought the story had gone away and that she was home free by December 2006, a full year after the annulment was finalized, when she appeared on Late Show with David Letterman to promote her new film, Miss Potter.

A frequent guest on the show, Zellweger had always enjoyed an easy, joking rapport with Letterman, who had customarily been warm, welcoming, and respectful to her.

That may have been why she was caught off guard when, after a cordial welcome, Letterman abruptly changed the subject and attempted to pin her down with a question about her marriage to Chesney. A week later, I had the opportunity to analyze Zellweger's body language on The O'Reilly Factor, and I was astonished by what I saw:

At first, Zellweger's signals telegraph a strong connection with Letterman -- her body is turned toward him, her posture straight and tall, her shoulders back, her chest out. She's maintaining eye contact with him, with her back to the cameras. Her legs are crossed in a pose universally seen as the sexiest sitting position for women, the leg twine, which highlights the muscle tone of her legs. She preens a bit, touching her hair and tossing her head, standard female signals of self- confidence, attraction, and interest. She's playfully flirting with him and clearly anticipates that this encounter will be as pleasant as their earlier interviews.

The moment Letterman asks the question about Chesney, all of those rapport signals start to fall apart. Even as she's forcing a smile, teasing Letterman for having the temerity to ask, trying to keep the moment light, this Oscar- winning actor's body language betrays how deeply hurt she is by the invasion. She completely stops making eye contact with him. She leans directly away from him, exposing her neck in a submissive gesture that shows how vulnerable she feels about the issue. As she sits up again, at the same moment, she shifts her body so her knees and feet point away from Letterman, and she orients her chest and shoulders toward the audience.

Having introduced the topic, Letterman continues with the line of questioning, although he, too, starts to change his body language. He averts his gaze and stares down, seeming to ask the desk his remaining questions.

Their rapport has disappeared. Both parties have stopped looking at each other. While Letterman and Zellweger both continue to speak to each other verbally and show outward social signs of "making nice," their bodies relate an entirely different conversation. Her body language is saying, "I'm so angry and frustrated that you brought this up"; his body is saying, "I'm sorry that I had to do this -- let's just get through it."

Zellweger begins to rock her body back and forth in increasingly larger movements and responds to his comments with big, forced, barking laughs. Her fingers twist in her lap. Yet all the while she has a big smile on her face.

As Letterman makes a joke about having been disappointed when she got married because he had wanted to marry her, she turns completely away from him and drops her head down, still smiling. Then, the most telling moment: for just the briefest instant, a flash of true anger covers her face. She scowls, narrows her eyes, purses her lips, and all traces of even fake smiling leave her face. There's no doubt -- it might seem like she's joking, but she is just plain livid.

As quickly as her anger appears, it disappears. That "microexpression" lasts only for a fraction of a second, not nearly long enough for the untrained eye to catch it. In fact, I had to slow down the clip for Bill O'Reilly during my analysis on the show. But once you've seen this signal, you know what to look for. You can't miss it.

Zellweger's flash of anger evaporates and she smiles brightly again, swings her head around, and looks directly at Letterman. For the first time in the twenty seconds since he asked the initial question, she looks him in the eye -- and a bit forcefully. She even subtly moves her head around to draw him back into direct eye contact. Perhaps not coincidentally, soon thereafter he straightens his tie in his trademark gesture of discomfort and says, "Probably none of my business, is it?" and she says, "Well, now that you mention it -- no!" with a big barking laugh.

We all have aspects of our private lives that we like to keep private. When we need to interact with the world, we put on our public face and try to conduct our business without letting anyone see behind the veil.

While we intend to maintain our privacy, very few of us are successful at completely obscuring our true feelings. Even the most accomplished actors can unintentionally betray their genuine emotions with body language signals.

Once you have studied and mastered body language, you will be astounded to discover how much a person can unwittingly reveal about himself without saying a word. While most people never pick up on these signals, once you learn to recognize them, you will detect them everywhere -- and even be able to control them more easily in yourself.

I'll never forget the first time I learned the power of body language.

I was in a psychology class at Pace University, an eager- to- impress student. I sat in the front row of the class, taking copious notes as I listened to Professor Mitchell deliver his lecture to a packed auditorium.

This particular day, Professor Mitchell was talking about proxemics, the study of how humans interact with each other within physical space. He described the zones of personal space, telling us one of his trademark great stories, walking back and forth in front of the classroom.

Gradually, as he spoke, he moved closer and closer to me. Naive little old me continued to take notes, somewhat oblivious to what Professor Mitchell was doing, but subconsciously starting to feel increasingly uneasy.

In the middle of a sentence, he abruptly stopped talking. His tone changed, and he said loudly, "OK, I want everyone to look at this young lady."

Every head in the classroom turned in my direction, and the class drew an audible gasp. Professor Mitchell was leaning over my desk, nearly nose to nose with me. Although my hands were still on my desk, the rest of my body was stretched as far back as it could go.

My professor had moved in so subtly, I'd no idea what was happening. Until he had concluded this little "experiment" and called attention to my posture, I hadn't even realized I had contorted my body to try to get away from him. My body had automatically responded to his sly, but very aggressive, takeover of my personal space. He had used his body to communicate messages of power, dominance, and total control. And his skilled use of body language coupled with my total lack of awareness gave this man the complete upper hand.

I was dumbfounded, awestruck, and immediately hooked. I had to learn these secrets for myself. And so my passion for body language was born.

Research has found that as much as 93 percent of our interpersonal communication is nonverbal. How your body moves, what expression your face makes, how fast you speak -- even where you stand or sit, how much perfume you have on, what type of jewelry you wear, or whether your hair is long or short -- all of these elements send messages far more convincingly than any words spoken. An estimated one thousand different nonverbal factors contribute to the message you send in every interaction. Cumulatively, these nonverbal elements have much greater power than the paltry 7 percent impact of the words coming out of your mouth.

Every flick of your wrist or change in your vocal tone reflects something about how you are feeling or what you are thinking to the person with whom you're speaking. Do you trust this person? Do you truly believe in the product you're selling? Do you want to turn and run for the hills? The languages of the body don't just supplement what we say -- they usually dominate our conversation.

Our conscious brains might be focused on decoding the spoken words in the conversation, but the subconscious does the really heavy lifting, "reading" the body's many languages for nonverbal cues that tell us about the other person's true ... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (November 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416559019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559016
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Tonya Reiman is a weekly Fox News Channel contributor. A motivational speaker, consultant, and corporate trainer, she has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, the Today show, Access Hollywood, Extra, Fast Money, and ESPN radio, and has contributed to national publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time. She lives on Long Island with her husband and three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Laura on January 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What you don't say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. As interesting as it is to learn to read others, it is also important to learn your own particular non verbal quirks: i.e.: Tonya's book teaches that although the reader may not be aware of it, people receive messages through body language (nonverbal signals) that can have a huge impact in a positive or negative way, just as the sound of your voice may make more of an impact (positively or negatively) than your actual words.

She teaches the reader to watch for body language signals may indicate truths that are not expressed in words. She also teaches the nuances and psychology of mirroring body language. The book clarifies the meanings of signals and nonverbal cues and shows the reader how to use this knowledge to his/her best advantage in every day situations, including the differences in male and female body language.

After reading this book, I found that watching political speeches more interesting, especially when the body language and spoken words do not match.

I would recommend this book to everyone.
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78 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Leavens on November 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tonya Reiman's The Power of Body Language provides insight into the 93% of communication we usually take for granted. Citing both real world examples and scientific research, Reiman breaks down the microseconds of a situation in order to heighten our awareness of how we present ourselves as well as how others' words may not fully portray their thoughts.

As a Marketing Communication student, I am fascinated with how communication occurs. Within our business culture, it is vitally important that we present ourselves in a professional manner. Reiman's book is very practical, down-to-earth and applicable, providing suggestions regarding how to be seen as more confident and authoritative in the business setting, as well as open and more attractive to the opposite sex. Although body language can be highly situational and not always taken at face value, it offers some food for thought and suggestions we can start using immediately.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. DeLong on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Power of Body Language was an interesting read for the most part and I found some tips that I utilized right away. Since I am in sales, every insight to what a prospective customer might be thinking is always helpful.
Trying to read someone's body language is an inexact science at best, but this book offers some tips that make it worth the investment.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Reading Rabbit on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am fascinated with this and try to read as many books as I can on this subject. Tonya says many of the same things I have read in other books, but she includes a lot of additional personal insight and information that makes the book very readable and useful. She approaches the subject from different directions which provide the reader with an interesting read. I have not finished the book yet, but am enjoying it and would recommend it to others.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steven Chambers on April 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had heard of Tonya Reiman because of the body language analysis she does on Foxnews but really didn't know what to expect from her book, The Power of Body Language: How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter. I was totally blown away by how much I enjoyed this book and how much information was presented. By all measures this is an excellent introduction to the basics of reading, interpreting and understanding body language and nonverbal communication. It was an easy read, enjoyable and presented the concepts in a logical order.

Most people, myself included, want to learn a little about body language so we can communicate with others better, detect a lie or two and better communicate in our relationships. Tonya did an excellent job of covering these points in chapter 7, "Reading their Secret signals." For most situations the knowledge presented in these chapters would more than suffice in helping you read their body language signals.

Want to know more about body language for business? This book delivers. The information on making a good first impression was top notch and spoke directly to the issue. I learned a few things and trust me, many people can find a thing or two they can put into practice to improve the impressions and impact they make on others. Aside from the nonverbal advice for making a first impression she covered how to easily establish rapport using the "Reiman Rapport Method". A rapport building model that is both simple and effective.

Looking for body language tips on improving your relationship or having more luck with the opposite sex? She's got this covered as well in the back pages of the book.

I often have friends ask for a great book to learn body language basics and this is now the one I recommend.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Chastant on February 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am enjoying reading this book and i'm learning a lot about reading others people's body language and also learing about my own body language, and how to change my body language so i send more postive and open signs
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Dennis on February 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reiman's book will be a big hit for anyone involved in sales, education, retail, travel, politics, sports, management and LIFE!

Though so much of what she teaches may seem obvious, so much more is not. She explains not only what certain gestures and expressions may mean, but why they could be interpeted that way.

One interesting chapter discusses our personal space. What makes this so informative is she gives us specific distances for specific circumstances and different sexes.

The Power of Body Language is full of example illustrations and photos.
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