Tag Archives: conflict

Anger and Health Issues

I want to write about the three scenarios from last week’s blog posting.  Each of the three stories (all true stories) resulted in health problems for the people involved.  I believe it is critical to understand how anger – when held inside – causes physical harm.

 

In the Dan Cooper story, we have a young man who followed his father’s road map for his life instead of following his own.  This decision to please his father took a terrible toll on him health-wise.  Dan hated himself for not standing up for himself.  He also felt enormous hostility toward his father for forcing him into the business when he knew full well that his son wanted a career in music. That is a lot of baggage to carry around:

●self-hate

●hate of one’s parent

It is not possible to serve two Gods and remain healthy and sane.

 

Dan remained working in his father’s business for twenty-two (wasted) years.  Early in his 23rd year, his father had a massive heart attack and died.  Dan immediately put the company up for sale.  He then moved toNew York so that he could attend the Julliard School of Music.  He had a grand piano installed in his little apartment and started taking both piano lessons and violin lessons.  He worked hard at learning all he could about his chosen craft.  Over the next few years, his dragging limp disappeared along with his slurring speech.  The change happened slowly but it did happen.

 

Four years later, he accepted a position with Disney’s Imagineering Group where he is today, creating music for all of the cartoon movies that Disney creates.  Dan is finally a happy man.

 

A person can pay a dreadful price by not following his or her own aspirations, goals and ambitions, especially when those are a strong force within.  If you know intestinally what you should be doing in life, but you are doing what someone else thinks you should be doing, it will cost you in health and happiness.

 

With the Sally and Jay story, it is Jay who has the problem.  Somewhere during his childhood, something dreadful happened between him and his mother, Greta.  If he could have talked about whatever happened to a professional and gotten some closure, perhaps the issue of his spike in blood pressure when Greta was around could have been addressed.  Either Jay didn’t want to discuss it or he could not discuss it because it was buried somewhere deep in his subconscious.

 

This story illustrates what can happen health-wise when we do not deal with anger-causing issues but instead hold on to them.  We think we are hiding the problem but our bodies react to the issue anyway.

 

The mechanism is interesting.  Whatever happened, even though it was years ago, whenever we remember that situation, our hostility rises and our anger gets hot – just as hot as it was when the situation originally occurred.  Our bodies think, “My God, it’s happening again!”

 

As human beings we are pretty resilient when it comes to stress that is tied to a specific incident like someone cutting you off in traffic and almost causing an accident.  But that episodic stress passes and we easily recover.  However, it is the stress that doesn’t go away which eventually causes health damage.  This is the stress, anxiety, hostility and anger that bubbles up in our minds whenever we recall some aggravating incident.  That is why you should never tell yourself, “Oh it’s just a little thing; I shouldn’t get so upset.”  Instead, acknowledge that you are upset.    (Look, if something upsets you, there’s a good reason.   Do not belittle your feelings.  Your feelings are valid.)  Go talk to the person and put that hostility to rest once and for all.

 

In the Way-lin Yan story we have an example of a person dealing with the type of stress that does not go away.  In Way-lin’s situation, there was no respite – she had to face that aggravating situation every single day.  The caring nurse in the office of Way-lin’s doctor was right –leave that job before it kills you.

 

Way-lin had convinced herself that because she lacked experience, it was okay for her to be brutalized by a mean and bullying boss.  Now, however, she did have experience.  She was no longer a novice.  Way-lin was counseled to tell the boss that the current recruit was more than satisfactory and that Way-lin’s last day would be this coming Friday.

 

Way-lin returned to her job on Monday, prepared to make her departure announcement to the boss.  Mid-morning, an astonishing interaction occurred between the new recruit and this bullying boss which left Way-lin flabbergasted.

 

Boss:  (screaming) You are one dumb broad, sister.  Why in the hell did you staple the report together when you were clearly told not to?

Newbe: (standing up at her desk, facing the boss, head held high, hands at her

side, strong but calm voice)  Listen here.  You will not ever scream at me

again.  No one has ever done that to me in my life and you are certainly

not going to be the first.  I demand an immediate apology and a promise

that you will not ever again address me in such a disrespectful manner.

Boss:  (dumbfounded look, mumbling in low tones) Well, I was upset that you did

not follow directions.

Newbe: That’s not an apology.  I want an apology loud enough so that the entire

office will hear it just as they heard your criticism.

Boss:  (grumbling) I’ll get you some flowers.  Now get back to work.

 

Newbe: I don’t want flowers.  I want a loud apology and a promise that you will

not scream at me again.

Boss:  (somewhat loud voice) Okay, I apologize.  I’ll try not to raise my

voice when I’m upset over what you do.  Happy, now?

Newbe: Thank you.  That will do for a start.

 

Way-lin later reported that she was so surprised her mouth guard fell right out of her open mouth.  She was speechless.  “I realized”, she said, “That all I needed to do was stand up to Mr. Andrews once and his abuse would have stopped.”

 

The great lessons here for Way-lin were:

●speak up immediately when you have been disrespected

●facing up to a bully once usually stops that hostile behavior permanently

●speaking up immediately changes the dynamic of the relationship

●speaking up confirms you will not lay the victim role in the bully’s game

 

Hating yourself for allowing such a situation to continue is a killer because the stress never goes away.  Conventional wisdom might tell you that learning to deal with stress is a necessary fact of life.  Conventional wisdom is wrong.  How about learning to live without the kind of stress put on you by other people.  You shouldn’t stand for it.  Speak up.  Free your life.

DeAnne’s Anger Tips

Rage can be used as an attempt to mask low self-esteem or to conceal personal failures. Sometimes anger toward others is merely a projection of the rage a person feels toward themselves because of unmet expectations.  Should those unmet expectations suddenly come to light, the rage that is generated can be over-powering.  This is why you must never let yourself become entangled in someone else’s rage.  Their rage is their problem.  Don’t let it become yours by reacting inappropriately (responding with rage or responding by playing the victim role).

Thursday Special

Last Week’s Scenarios

Scenario #1

Your next door neighbor has a very tall tree……

Your neighbor’s body language tells you that he is not interested in negotiating your problem.  He is closed off to anything you have to say and hostile to boot.  Although it might be useless to continue communicating, you might try speaking to his self-interest.  You might say, “If the next storm comes with strong winds from the East, you could lose half your house if that tree falls in your direction.  Are you insured for wind damage?  If you decide to take that tree down, I am willing to help you with it , or help you pay for someone else to take it down.  What do you prefer?”

 

Scenario #2

Your teenager, Benjamin, is barely getting passing grades in school……

From your child’s body language, you know he is lying.  Moreover, you also know he is not studying.  Turn off the television, take his cell phone, sit down next to him and calmly talk about how he wants his future to look.  Ask questions about how he thinks he will earn a living if he flunks out of high school.  Ask him to tell you how he envisions his life when he is 20 years old?  Will he be pumping gas?  Will he take a job as a used car salesman?  Will he be bagging groceries at the local super market?   The problem with kids is they only think about today and what feels good right now.  Their future is closer than they realize and stupid decisions today will impact their choices tomorrow.  As parents, we have to help them see that.

 

Scenario #3

You are the mother of near- genius eleven year old who is being bullied…….

The body language of the bully’s parents tell you that they are fully aware of their son’s bad behavior.  Most probably they have had discussions with him about it. Both are frustrated and not surprised to hear what you have to say.  They are open to any suggestions you might have.   It might be best, however, to ask for their recommendations on how to stop this behavior.  You might say, “What should I do to insure my son’s safety from your son’s bullying?”

 

This Week’s Scenarios

Scenario #1

Dan Cooper is the only son of Jason Cooper, the President and CEO of an over-the-counter medicine manufacturer.  Jason wants Dan to go into the business when he graduates from business school.  Dan, however, has no interest in business.  His great love is for classical music.  He wants a career in music composition.  To that end, Dan spends every spare minute in College taking music courses.  At the end of four years, Dan graduates from business school with a “C” average and enough music credits to be accepted into the nation’s best conservatory of music.

 

Jason tells his son either he goes into the family business or he will be cut off financially and permanently from the family’s fortune.  Dan knuckles under.  After working three weeks in his father’s factory, he becomes severely ill.  It is as if Dan has suffered a stroke.  His right side is virtually useless and his speech is slurred.  Dan drags himself around the factory on crutches.  Strangely, doctors find no evidence of a stroke.  Dan’s mother, Belinda, fights with Jason to please let Dan do what he wants with his life.  Jason is adamant that he wants Dan trained to take over the company.  How can this story end happily for all concerned?

 

Scenario #2

Sally and Jay have been happily married for twenty-five years.  Sally has never had any health issues; Jay has had a constant struggle with high blood pressure.  He does take drugs to help keep his blood pressure down but as Jay has gotten older, these drugs seem to be less effective.  His doctor has advised him that he must absolutely stay away from stress-causing situations. In his condition, stress could be fatal.

 

Every year or so, Jay’s mother, Greta, comes for a visit. That is the time when Jay’s blood pressure goes through the roof.  The last time Greta visited, Jay had to be hospitalized.  The doctor said he nearly died.  Yesterday, Greta phoned and announced that she plans to come for a visit in two weeks.

 

Sally is frantic; she does not want Greta to visit.  Sally and Jay argue.  Jay insists that his mother visit as usual.  He does not want to deny her the pleasure of seeing her grandchildren.  He also insists that Greta be told nothing about his blood pressure problems.  He doesn’t wish to worry her.  Sally doesn’t want to become a widow with three kids to raise.  What can be done so that all parties are happy?

 

Scenario #3

Twenty year old Way-lin Yan lost her husband in an auto accident two years after the Yans had become American citizens. Way-lin’s husband had no insurance.  She had to support herself.  She took a six weeks secretarial course and an eight weeks course in English and went job hunting.  She had convinced herself that she would be lucky to get anything because of her lack of experience.

 

At Grabit, Grabit amd Runn, a stock brokerage house, they saw meek, mild, naïve Way-lin coming.  GG&R had a vicious manager, Wayne Andrews, who loved to scream at his staff.  He would use foul language and insults when verbally abusing his staff.  People said his tongue could etch glass from thirty feet away.  He could not keep a secretary more than three weeks.  Most experienced job seekers realized immediately what kind of a boss (a bully)Waynewas and, if offered the job, would refuse it.  Way-lin thought she was lucky to be hired.

 

Over the next three years, Way-lin developed a serious case of stomach ulcers requiring surgery.  She had to wear a night-guard to protect her teeth from grinding them to bits during working hours.  Finally, a kind and caring nurse in her doctor’s office told her that she should quit the job before she did herself some permanent health damage.

 

When Way-lin toldWaynethat she was quitting, he went berserk.  When he finally stopped screaming, Way-lin promised she would stay on until a suitable replacement could be found and trained.  That was five months ago. Wayneinsists that none of the new recruits sent over by human resources is a satisfactory candidate.  Way-lin now has a new case of stomach ulcers.  What can be done to make all parties happy?

 

In The News

First Responders stood on the beach inSan FranciscoBayand watched a man drown because they were not certified in water rescue.  Red tape is killing this country and our humanity.  All those involved should turn in their human being licenses.  What were they thinking?

 

They might remember that Wilber and Orville Wright flew airplanes without licenses.   Bill Gates became a multi millionaire without a college degree.  You and I can achieve anything we set our minds to without permits, tickets authorizations or certifications.  We just have to put what’s between our ears to better use.

DeAnne’s Anger Tips

Angry insults often conceal jealousy.  When someone insults you, it really says more about the speaker than it does about you – the target of the remark. The insult may actually disclose the other person’s envy regarding a character strength or personal achievement which you possess.  So, the next time someone insults you, don’t get angry.  Remember that they may well be talking about themselves and their failures – not yours.

Negotiation Wisdom

Suppose you have decided to confront someone who is causing you a considerable amount of stress, aggravation and anger.  Let’s also suppose that it isn’t just one behavior this person does, but several that drive you nuts.  Perhaps this is a close friend who borrows your things – money, clothing, books, electronic gadgets, tools and never returns them.  You have to ask for them back.  Moreover, many times whatever he or she borrowed comes back damaged.  Of course, they apologize but never offer to replace or repair the damaged item. When this friend goes out of town, they drop off their dog for you to look after – without even asking if you want to take on that responsibility.  The final straw occurred last Saturday morning when you returned from shopping to find your friend’s two little kids sitting on your front porch with a note.  The note said, “Please look after Katie and Ethan for me.  I’ll be back to get them at 6:00 pm.”

 

The first thing you have to do it have a serious talk with yourself and decide what you want as a result of your discussion with this friend:

●Do you wish to end this no-boundary relationship?

●Do you want to declare, “No more borrowing anything of mine?”

●Do you want to focus on getting them to replace or repair one item?

●Do you want to say, “I am unwilling to look after your kids or your dog?”

What you cannot do is tell them:

●”You are the most inconsiderate person I know!”

●”You have some nerve taking advantage of our relationship this way.”

●”You are using me and I want that to stop!”

The reason you cannot say the phrases listed above is because, believe it or not, those phrases are not specific enough.  All you will succeed in doing is frustrating your friend because he or she will not understand what you are talking about.

 

So, rule one is negotiation successfully is to know exactly what you want as an outcome of the discussion so that you can state it clearly to the other party.  This may sound too simple for words but, when we are angry, often we blurt out loud words that certainly deliver the message that we are angry but our meaning is lost in the fog of our hostility.

 

The second rule of negotiation around actions of others that cause us hostility is to select one item for discussion.  Leave all the other actions this person is doing for discussion at a later time.  There are two very good reasons why you only want to put one item up for discussion:

●You do not want to dilute the person’s focus by loading them with too many moving targets.  People today have very limited patience and mental capacity for dealing with your problems.

●You do not want the person to feel that the situation is hopeless and well beyond any possible resolution.  If you select one item, resolution seems easily within reach.

 

Select the item which is causing you the most aggravation.  When there are multiple issues causing you hostility, very often speaking about one of the items is enough to cause the person to clean up their act on all the other items.  It is like dropping a small pebble in a still pond which causes a series of ripples.  What you have actually done is put a line in the sand that sends the person a message about their aggravating behavior.

 

One very famous and brilliant statesman who negotiated for the State Department would begin every negotiation discussion be saying, “I think we are pretty much all in agreement here on the issues. We just need to clean up a few details.”  In truth, the parties involved were no where near agreeing to anything.  However, when he made his little speech, all the grim faces began to smile and the parties involved eagerly rolled up their sleeves to begin working out those little details.

The third rule negotiation around actions of others that cause us hostility is to use words which objectively and specifically describe the situation.  Do not use terms that over-dramatize the situation or blow it way out of proportion.  Most certainly do not use words which incite the other person.  When you do that, you make it impossible for the other party to find a middle ground.  Such terminology creates an ossified stance on both sides and so does not forward the resolution process.

 

Instead of saying, “You are totally unprincipled and irresponsible when it comes to spending money.  Why are you such a spendthrift?”  Try saying, “I am really concerned that you went over our monthly household budget again.  This time by by $375.00.  What are we going to do about this situation?”

 

Instead of saying, “Your behavior is bizarre.  What you said was total idiocy.  People will think you are absolutely out of your mind.”  Try saying, “I think your comments really surprised people. I don’t think they expected to hear that point of view.”

 

If you want to see the results of using inappropriate over- dramatic words, you have only to look at our congress.  When discussing the President’s health care bill, our Speaker of the House declared that if the bill was past it would bring the country to total Armageddon – which is supposed to be the battle that ends the world as we know it.

 

For those of you who are not history buffs, Armageddon has already occurred – in 1260.  The Mongol horde was about to sweep acrossEurope.  There was a little trading town at the bottom of a mountain pass in the Middle East namedMegiddo.  In front of the town was a large grassy plain.  Solders from all across Europe and theMiddle Eastmet on this plain to turn back the Mongols who were led by a descendent of Genghis Kahn.  In those days solders fought on horseback with swords, pikes, spears, knives and bows and arrows.  Many thousands died that day and the plain was soaked with blood but the Mongols were turned back.  This battle became known as the Battle of Armageddon.  I hope you notice that It did not end the world.

 

There are many tips for negotiating yourself out of anger-causing situations in my book, From Rage to ResolutionYou can find info on how to purchase the book on my blog.  It is just too many strategy to put into a blog.  However, I can tell you this, using my strategies will clean up a lot of stressful hostility in your life.

Thursday Special

Last Week’s Scenarios

Scenario #1

Jeff has the best computer skills in the department…….

Jeff needs to make a brief speech to his boss explaining the situation and asking that the boss to redo the performance appraisal report in the light of this new information.  (It is never a good idea to tell one’s boss that he or she is wrong.  It is better to say, “In light of this new information, please make a new decision.”)  So, Jeff might say something like this:

“Boss, often you volunteer my time to help people in other departments without informing me as to where in my list of priorities this helping fits in.  This damages my effectiveness and causes you to downgrade my performance because these helping duties prevent me from completing my own work.  I would appreciate it if you would redo my performance report in light of this new information.  How quickly can you do that?”

Scenario #2

Danielle Johnson’s performance appraisal was due 90 days ago….

Universally bosses hate to do performance feedback reports and will put them off as long as possible.  Since bosses always have more to do than they can handle, it is easy to find excuses.  As an astute employee, Danielle needs to get a little pushy and explain to the boss how these delaying strategies are hurting her financially and motivationally.  Danielle might say something like this:

“Boss, I am already three months beyond the time for my performance appraisal. This really upsets and depresses me because, until that paperwork is complete, I cannot get my annual increase. I would appreciate it if you could give me my performance appraisal by noon on Wednesday.  What information will you need from me to complete the documentation by that time?”

Scenario #3

Your boss – a company vice president – always catches you just as you are leaving for coffee break……

Here is a boss who makes a lot more money than you do who is taking advantage of the power relationship between you.  Moreover, this sounds like a case of extortion where your generosity buys you a good performance report.  You are being used and bullied.  Since this is a boss-subordinate situation, you have to avoid this situation without making your boss wrong (which he clearly is.)   You might say something like this:

“Boss, regrettably I can no longer purchase coffee and donuts for you.  The cost is becoming prohibitive.  I would appreciate it if you would ask someone else to handle this for you in the future. “

This Week’s Scenarios

Scenario #1

You have a serious concern with your next door neighbor.  He has a very tall and almost dead old pine tree which is leaning precipitously over the roof of your home.  This year, the rain storms were accompanied with strong winds.  You feel it was just luck that the old pine did not crash through your roof.  Today you went to his house and expressed your concern asking that he consider taking down that tree.  In response, your neighbor stood in a wide stance, his beefy arms were crossed tightly across his chest, his jaw jutted out and you could almost hear his teeth grinding.  He glared at you in silence. Then he said, “Too bad.” What should you say now?

Scenario #2

Your teenager, Benjamin, is barely getting passing grades in school.  At this rate, he will never be accepted into any college.  Tonight he is sprawled all over your living room couch, school books and papers are strewn around the floor and coffee table, the television is blasting away and he is on his cell phone talking to his girlfriend.  When you asked him what he was doing, he said he was doing his homework.  However, as he mumbled his response, he looked away from you, put his hands up to his mouth and rolled his eyes to the ceiling.  What should you say in response?

Scenario #3

You are the mother of near- genius boy of eleven years who is being severely bullied at school.  You have reported the problem to school authorities who have done nothing.  Before you go to the police and sign a complaint, you decide to speak to the parents of the bully to see if they can put a stop to this behavior.  The parents of the bully graciously invite you into their home where you tell them what their son is doing to your son.  The father gets up from his chair and begins to pace across the living room while at the same time combing his fingers through his hair.  The mother puts one hand at her neck while the other flutters aimlessly in the air,  leans away from you and says in a weak and high-pitched voice, “Oh my God, no!”  What should you say now?

In The News

Once again this week there was another reported hit and run accident – this time the victim was a policeman.  Lately there seems to be quite a bit of this going on.  I’d be interested in hearing what you think about these incidents and why it is that people run away from taking responsibility for their actions even in situations where to run away means the victim dies for want of immediate medical help.

DeAnne’s Anger Tips

Rage can look like compliant passivity. Public compliance often hides private rage.  Passivity does not mean agreement.  It is an aggressive act using inertia and mistakes to block someone else’s action. A person can also assume a loser role to disguise an attempt at gaining power over others.

Anger and Body Language

Every single one of us has the ability to read the body language of others. Some refer to it as intuition, others call it gut feeling. There is a gender difference: females seem more attuned to the body language of others than are males.

In my experience with reading body language, I have learned two significant facts:

●our intuition or gut feeling is seldom wrong; and

●our tendency is to ignore those signals.

If you have ever had to interview someone for employment, you experienced your intuition or gut feeling.  Did you listen to it or did you go ahead and hire the person anyway.  Later, when it became obvious they were wrong for the job, did you say to yourself, “I knew he or she wouldn’t work out.  I just had that feeling….”  All of that input, I believe, comes from our ability to read another person’s body language.

Research studies indicate that only 7% of the message is delivered through words while 93% is conveyed through body language and tone of voice.  Such studies show that understanding happens:

7% from the word meanings

38% from the tone of voice

55% from the body language

If this is true, then communication is actually the act of the (person watching the speaker) listener, not the speaker.  It also reinforces the importance of monitoring your own body language as well as watching your adversary’s body language throughout a confrontation.

It is often said that true feelings are revealed through body language while the words contain some manufactured acceptable pabulum which is only slightly related to the truth. Take this common exchange:

Husband:      Are you angry with me?

Wife:               No, I’m hurt.

Her body language gave her away. He knows she is angry but she prefers to be manipulatively dishonest and make him feel guilty for something she refuses to identify.

When confronting an adversary, you must make certain that your body language reflects your intent.  Moreover, you want to project strength by taking the confrontation to your opponent. At work, early morning, before the day gets started is the best time.  Picture your adversary seated at his/her desk, drinking coffee.  You walk into his or her office and, standing, deliver your message. Consider the relationship of height and power; you are standing, they are sitting; you are taking the power stance.  If you approach your adversary later in the day, plan the seating arrangements in advance.  Sitting opposite your adversary only reinforces the conflict while sitting side by side delivers the message: we are working on this conflict together.

When confronting in a close relationship, select a time when your adversary is relaxed and not under stress from a day at work or a difficult commute home or a miserable day with the children. Late into the evening is probably the best time. Always sit side-by-side.

Think of yourself as a tall oak tree with roots deep in the ground; unmovable.  Your hands should be at your sides, relaxed, palms opened (no clenched fists.). Your face should reflect a serious demeanor. Your voice should be strong and at an even pitch.  You do not want to project any stress.  This is why it is always a good idea to role-play with a friend before you confront the adversary.  Practice does wonders for the nervous, pitch-varying speaker. Finally, always give your adversary 100% of your attention along with a straight-in-the-eyeball look.

Now, let’s consider the body language of the adversary. There are two significant items to notice in your adversary’s body language, both of which are controlled by the adversary:

  • changes in the physical distance between you; and
  • the amount of continuous eye contact the adversary maintains with you.

People lean toward what they like and away from what they don’t like. This movement occurs at the moment the other person hears your words. The adversary may, after hearing your message, lean back in their chair, or push back against the chair, increasing the physical distance between you.  They could even get up and begin pacing.  Should the adversary come forward in their chair, you should anticipate hearing something positive.  Should the adversary move away, you should assume you will quickly hear something negative with regard to your words.

The second cue involves your opponent’s eye movements.  The adversary should be giving you fairly uninterrupted direct eye contact all through the conversation.  At some point in the interaction, the adversary may avert their eyes.  They may suddenly become very absorbed in looking out the window or examining their hands or watching themselves pick lint off their clothing.  This is evidence that your adversary would like to get away from you and the problem you have addressed.  The physical constraints of the situation do not allow him or her to do that.  So they escape as much as they can by increasing the distance between themselves and you and by directing their eyes and attention somewhere else.

In the confrontation, there is one moment of significant body language communication: immediately after you speak.  At that moment, you will see before you the adversary’s psychological response to your words reflected in a group of body language changes. Then your opponent will speak their response.

What you want to look for, immediately after you speak, is gross changes in the body language followed quickly by a verbal response.  If you see positive body language, anticipate hearing a positive response.  If you see negative body language, anticipate hearing a negative response.  The problem comes when you see negative body language but the response is positive.  Then you know your opponent is not speaking truthfully. The adversary’s body language and the words of the message that he or she speaks should match. If they do not, your adversary is not being honest.

The most effective strategy for dealing with an adversary’s body language is to comment on it directly.  This indicates that you got their unspoken message.  Here are a few examples.

Adversary:     (Pushes back from the desk, leans back against the chair, crosses arms over chest, looks away into a far corner of the room, shrugs shoulders, looks back at you, rubs at his nose and then  says, I’ll be happy to look into it and get back to you when I have some information.

You:    I sense there is a big problem with my request and that your search for more information may be a delaying tactic and I want…

Opponent:     (She pushes back in the chair, crosses her legs, eyes avert to side wall while she fidgets with a pen. When she looks back at you, her jaws seem tight. She responds in a strained voice.) Well, I guess that might be possible.

You:    You don’t sound as if you want to make the effort to make it possible and I want..

Adversary:     (She leans forward in the chair, smiles while giving you a straight in the eyeball look and says) I’ve been waiting for you to tell me you wanted more responsibility”.

You:    Well, I’m ready for a new challenge right now and I want….

Spouse:(Moves away from you, starts to pace the room while combing hair with fingers and says)  I don’t want to discuss this right now.

You: I can see that this topic is stressful for you. Nevertheless, it’s critical that we resolve this issue quickly. When would you like to discuss it because I want….

Teenager:(Looks down at feet, hands are clenching and unclenching, voice is weak and says) I’ll try not do that again.

You:    That doesn’t sound like much of a commitment and I want you to…..

 

Listed below are some of the most commonly seen negative body language cues and what they mean.

Negative Body Language Cues                         What that Body Language says

Fidgeting                                                                   discomfort

Teeth grinding                                                          stress

Nervous laugh or cough,                                       agitation

Reddening face                                                       discomfort, embarrassment

Fluttering hand motions with long silences       discomfort

Hands at mouth                                                       a desire to retract words

Arms crossed over chest                                        closed off from discussion

Rapid blink rate                                                        untruthfulness

Hand touching nose                                               untruthfulness

Rubbing back of neck                                             aggravation

Combing hair with fingers                                     agitation

Pacing the floor                                                        distancing self from the issue

Tightness in jaw                                                       aggravation

Playing with pen, paper clips, etc.                                    agitation

Tapping pen or pencil in even cadence              impatience

Crossed legs, top one swinging                            impatience

Hands clenching and unclenching                                 anger

Hands at throat                                                         unexpected surprise

Hand rubbing chin                                                  thinking

Feet up on desk                                                       prove it to me

Legs crossed one leg over the other                    defensiveness

Bulging eyes                                                                        extreme anger

Purple-red face                                                        extreme anger

Lack of eye contact                                                  distancing self from the issue

Rolling eyes to ceiling                                            heard this already

Mumbling response                                                            unsure, uncommitted

Voice high-pitch; words rapid                                panic, nervous

Voice low; words slow                                             anger

Varying pitch                                                                        constructing a phony response

Long silences                                                           fabricating or deleting information

Sigh, noisy exhale, groan                                      passive aggressive no response

(may speak agreement)