Body language experts - Quacks?

Are body language experts quacks? This woman is on TV a lot and I wonder if her body language analysis is just bullshit.

http://www.tonyareiman.com/

There is something to it, but I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling it a science or anything like that. And I don’t know that it’s really a skill that can be learned: it can be honed, but there’s an instinct behind it in people who have the ability, rather than a calculated analysis.

Some people are very adept at reading body language. My husband is one of those. I can’t hide what I’m feeling from him-- he can always tell if I’m unhappy or nervous or angry, despite my attempts to appear “normal.”

Dogs are extremely attuned to body language. They can sense very slight tension in their owners, often leading people to believe that the dog doesn’t like certain individuals or groups. (What’s really happening, usually, is that the owner is anticipating a negative reaction and is getting tense which is causing the dog to think that the person is a threat.)

But, all of the talent in the world at reading body language won’t help someone who isn’t good at putting people at ease. A good “reader” may be able to tell that the boss is upset despite their smile, but if they don’t have good social talents, they can end up making the situation worse.

Parts of body language seem pretty obvious (folded arms, leaning in or away, etc.) what bugs me is when magazines like Us have an expert analyze a still photograph. What a moment looks like compared to body position and movement over time are two very different things.

Ekman has done a lot of work into reading facial expressions and there are certain people who are natural “wizards” at detecting meaning from faces. But these people are rare and most people tend to do much worse than they imagine. Many of the signs we think correlate to certain internal states actually have very little relation.

Rather a long time ago, an old and interesting guy would turn up at my local pub and give impromptu lessons in it. They were a hit.

My appreciation was enhanced by a UK sales course that I had been through before.

It kind of works, but it gets complicated when you realize that the other guy/gal knows the same stuff, and you go into set ritualistic moves.

Mostly, like most things, knowing is better than bliss, but occasionally it is really charming when a naive (but very nice) lass inadvertently tells you that she simply likes you.

Body language is interesting.

Obvious, but not always accurate. I tend to fold my arms and my ankles when I am relaxing. Drives my boss crazy because he assumes its me being “closed”. :rolleyes:

I always find it amusing when I’m reading the “expert analysis” in an US magazine at my doctor’s office that is a few months old and it’s since been totally off.
Example: “Here’s a photo of Lance Armstrong & Cheryl Crow. By their body language it says they will be together for many many years to come.”
A month later they’re splitsville.

Yes, they are quacks.
So is the guy who’s been on public television who’s a professor who can tell what you are like now from a single childhood photo. If you were moody in the photo, you are cold and cerebral now, etc. But it’s stupid because everybody has childhood photos with vastly different expressions.

Those “obvious” ones are the ones most typically wrong, making them worse than useless. I’ve been accused of being “closed” because I cross my arms. Well, the arms on the chair are too low, and folded arms are comfortable for me. I’m “closed” because my legs are crossed? Raise the chair 3 or 4 inches so I can sit comfortably and I won’t close them. I’m leaning in? Hey, I fidget. Watch closely. I lean in sometimes and out sometimes. Doesn’t mean a bloody thing.

Puny humans, with your “bodies” and your “languages!” We shall destroy you!

IMO, it is like so many other things that may have a germ of accuracy and relevance in limited circumstances, but that its proponents blow way out of proportion, claiming it accomplishes way more than I believe it does.
I HATE it when I’m just sitting or standing there and someone (like my wife!) will claim that the manner in which I happen to be holding my arms or somesuch reveals what I am thinking or feeling.

Indeed. My last girlfriend once got pissed at me because my body language told her I had a bad time on our big date - despite the fact that I said I had had a good time.

Kittens give Morbo gas…

I doubt many of the people claiming to be experts in it could survive a controlled testing environment - the main problem with most of them is that their interpretations are basically non-verifiable.

There are body language signals backed up by research, its a bit of a judgment call when its crossing over into quackery - the more detailed and confident, the more likely they’re full of it Id say.

If someone did that kind of stuff above Id just laugh - if mindreading was that easy the world would be a very different place.

Otara