Gidget. The power of handshakes

So I am back from Canada on the touch campaign. The first order of business is to answer that trivia question. Gidget the 60’s surfing movie teen, got her name from Moondoggie, the boy she was so smitten with she learned to surf. Moondoggie created her name by morphing Girl with Midget to make Gidget. A name she hated in the first movie, but soon everyone, even her dad, was using it. I love the feisty character; she was surfing, back when few women were accepted in any men’s sports.

Ok, so I am back from the Media tour in Toronto. One of the highlights as body language and touch expert was an interview on an afternoon talk show. The previous day the new prime minister had his photo taken shaking hands with his small son. The host asked me about that. I personally think it was just a photo op. hopefully; the new prime minister does more than shake hands with his young son! Any touch is preferable to none. And you know my threes years of research on handshakes has found that a handshake is equal to three hours of continuous interaction. That means if you do not shake hands at the beginning of the meeting it will take three hours of talking to get to the same level of rapport you can have with one handshake. Powerful stuff touch.


I am off to Toronto today to do a media tour for Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion.
As part of the campaign you can go to their website and take a fun survey. So go try it out!


Ok, Trivial Pursuit. Who gave Gidget her name and what does it mean?

Who gets touched the most

I told you about the research in Canada in the United States — When asked who got the most strokes (physical touch or signals to show "I know you’re there"), 44% of those surveyed said their pets got the most strokes, 18% said their children got the most strokes, and 18% said family members got equal strokes. I am off to Toronto for the touch campaign...more later!

Touching someone in a photo can make you powerful

I am on a touch campaign in Toronto as Canada's spokesperson for
Vaseline Intensive Lotion
GO to the following blog for a photo of latest TV show about next new singer
Look at how she is touching him.
Touching hands can communicate affection, ownership or in a photo like this, a desire to share the touched person's power. I didn't watch the show this season, but touching powerful people in a photo is a way of associating yourself with their power position. I see this in photos of people being photographed with celebrities or polititians. The regular Joe is the touch aggressor. Just a thought.

Bush body language read in photo with Tina Turner

If you go to
You will see a group photo with famous people including Robert Redford and Tina Turner and
As a body language expert who works with law enforcement and the media I do photo body language reads. Looking at this, I find it interesting that Bush has chosen not to touch Tina Turner or his wife. This communicates his desire to single himself out in this group of illustrious people. The lack of touch, intimate space or leaning towards anyone when placed in the front and center postion says I am seperate and above.

We touch our dogs more than we touch each other

My friend Beth takes care of my dog Bo when I travel. Today, she sent me results from a recent online survey about dogs. It says that, two-thirds of dog owners said they would put in longer hours if they could bring their dog to work.

The poll, conducted by the online dog forum Dogster and the job search engine Simply Hired, revealed that almost a third of those surveyed said they would go so far as taking a 5 percent pay cut if that meant their dog could accompany them to the office.

About 70 percent of the 150 individuals surveyed also considered a dog-friendly office an important job benefit.

I think that dogs make us feel better on so many different levels. I read in my local paper the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Shelters after Hurricane Katrina were much calmer and well kept if the people in them had their pets with them.

As the National Spokesperson in Canada for Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion we surveyed 1500 Canadians on touch. Guess what? The survey found we touch our pets more than we touch each other. So today think about the positive touch you give and are given.

I am lonely today. I got up and got on my computer like so many people hoping to download emails from friends. Sure enough their were emails from friends meeting me tonight for dinner and comedy improv compitition and other friends that want to meet for dinner and movie tomorrow night and one from a girlfriend friend who just was checking in. But I am still lonely. I am sitting at my computer in my big old four bedroom two story house, all by myself, well there is Bo the wonder dog curled up at my feet. Lovign my dog Bo is wonderful but I am so lonely I am resisting the urge to belt out the old 70’s song ALL BY MYSELF. That’s lonely. I don’t think they we were meant to be so lonely and isolated.
We spend so much time working to get the big old car and house and live in suburbs were we can’t hear our neighbors and have to drive to get anywere…we co-exist rather than live in community. Richard Schwartz, a psychiatrist who co-authored the book, "Overcoming Loneliness in Everyday Life," with his wife, Jacqueline Olds, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says, "Our notion of success is being able to purchase what you need and not be obligated to anyone,'' I Want to be obligated to people. I have that with my wonderful friends. I want someone to expect things of me. I want someone to expect me to be there when they call, to love hearing their voice, to enjoy seeing their smile, to think that their company is a delight. I want someone to miss me when they have not seen me in a while. I want intimacy.

Greeeting handshakes assure guests that all is safe

I often get called at the last minute to do media interviews, but strangely enough, I rarely get nervous. ( I save my throw up the night before nervousness for written from scratch speech performances. )
Typically I will get an urgent call from a media contact and then rush to a TV studio to make comments about a breaking story. When I get to the studio, the producer or journalist I will be working with shakes my hand and ushers me into the studio. I sit calmly as they mike me and we do a sound check.
One day got a call to do a read of President Bush’s body language. I have done that dozen of times, so I thought it would be fun, and no big deal. When I enter the Fox news affiliate studio, I put out my hand, but the producer pulled her hand back said, “I’m sick and don’t want to give you germs.” She then turned and walked ahead of me. As I walked to the studio, my heart began to race and I had to ask for water because my mouth got dry. My hands shook as I sat on the stool in front of the cameras. I started to sweat. What was different this time? The host or “tribal chieftain” didn’t shake my hand to signal she was not going to hurt me and that the station was safe for me to enter. Without that warm greeting I felt danger, my cave woman instincts kicked in and I had a great need for a good antiperspirant.

Do not underestimate the assurance of saftey communicated in a greeting handshake.

Shake Hands and Come Out Fighting

Shake hands and come out fighting.

I speak around the country to court reporters. They are the people, predominately women, who record every word, said in the courtroom or in a deposition. They have a lot of stories about the lawyers they work with. Many of them talk about a particular handshake ritual they see occur at the beginning and end of a trial or deposition.

Lawyers who have known each other for years will come in and shake hands with each other. Then those same lawyers will spend the entire day or trial saying horrible, derogatory things about one another, shake their fists, frown and nod negatively, and roll their eyes, and express other disrespectful gestures and sounds when the other lawyer is talking. They will in effect go to battle with each other, smile and shake hands again and say, "Let's go out for a drink." They are buddies again.

The court reporters were flabbergasted. How can guys do that? How can you shake hands and be friends again with someone who treated you so abominably? This is actually part of Gamesmanship.

The game rules say, "Shake hands with your opponent, and come out fighting." And when the game is over, the game is really over, so leave your bad feelings on the playing field and shake hands again.

This ritual is repeated by men over and over on the sports playing field as they grow up so that in adulthood it is second nature to them to shake hands and come out fighting.

Read some interesting stuff here.

Another Saturday in the office

I am surfing the web today for fun sights and blogs. Any tips?

Some favorite links are: The Writer's Almanac for provoking thought, Clark Howard for money-saving tips, the Internet Movie Database for movie stuff,

A signal its over. Why is he patting me on the back?

I am sometimes quoted in the Dream Girls dating newsletter. This months newsletter says that January is national breakup month. Seems men are likely to wait till after the holidays to breakup. Hummm, years ago my former fiancé broke up with me on New Years Eve, I guess he didn’t get the newsletter. The two major reasons for Jan. breakups. New Year's resolutions and a desire to break up before that commitment causing Valentines day.

I did a peace for Cosmo on the signs it’s over and Dream Girls mentioned a cue that’s a big signal of male displeasure, a little pat on the back. Women tend to give a man a pat on the back, when a man they are not attracted to gives them hug. They pat to say to the man, “I am not accepting this hug as a sexual contact.” Or, it could send a stronger message, “Down boy.” Men as well as women, use the pat as a signal there is a lack of sexual interest signal. That does not mean that every pat says, “Let’s call the whole thing off.” But is does sometimes mean you are being admonished subconsciously or treated as a child. Note that the bigger the pat the less intimacy communicated.

Photos reads from the Golden Globes, and Brad Pitt

Monday I read photo of Reese and Ryan Witherspoon at the Golden Globes for these weeks US Weekly. . In the first photo Ryan is leaping up out of his chair and signaling like a circus ringmaster for the attention to go to his wife. This is an unusual thing for a husband to do. Usually the husbands lean over and kiss their award winning wives. The jumping up photos shows Ryan’s great joy, and perhaps his great alcohol consumption. Another photo showed him holding her from behind and kissing her passionately on the ear while she hold her head down and her arms across her body trying to keep her dress and makeup from being messed up before she gets the award. She is smiling, but you can tell she wants to wrestle out of his arms and go get her trophy. The full set of photos showed a husband very happy and unusually exuberant open discovering his wife’s win. I loved them. Hurrah for the Golden Globes for creating a place for the actors to come and have fun and be spontaneous.

My favorite Golden Globe moment was when the actress Merkerson won a best actress award and came up and said, “I 53… I am having a hot flash.” Love it that a women in a performance arena said her real age!!!

I read photos of Brad and Angelina today for Life and Style Magazine. He is so much more relaxed with her since they announced they are pregnant. He looks happy. I say that even though I am enough of a square that I wish he had gotten divorced before he had started a new relationship. Seems like such an obvious thing to me.

A Voice Fit for a Dog, paralanguage

A Voice Fit for a Dog

I was having dinner over at my next door neighbor’s house when their cat named “Women” crawled up and my lap. I began to talk to her in a very high sweet voice. My neighbors started laughing and Roger said, “Oh, my gosh!”, “That is your BO BO voice!” “What are you talking about?” I replied indignantly. Roger answered, “We go to bed at 9:00 at night and we can here you at the kitchen door when you come home late greeting your Dog Bo as you unlock your door” He said, “Your voice goes up really high and lilts like your talking to a baby and you say, “Hello Bo Bo, Hello my sweet baby ”
My neighbors laughed and Roger continued using a funny high pitched imitation of my apparently already funny voice, “Hello BO BO.” He repeated. I was so embarrassed. I thought greeting my dog was a private ritual and hadn’t realized how hysterical my voice would sound to someone else.

You have the power to change your voice to sound sweet or mean angry or condescending just a lift here a change in timbre there and you can send a message of love or hate.
I like my BO BO voice. It’s filled with all the love and tenderness in my heart for the little four legged creature who always greets me with a waggely tail and a lick.
So now when my neighbors tease me, imitating my BO Bo voice, which they love to do, I smile knowing they are teasing me about all the love in my voice that’s wafts through their bedroom window late at night.
Paralanguage, the science of your vocal variations is part of nonverbal communication and like your body language it communicates so much of your true feeling. The words, "I love you." can mean a hundred different things depending on the way you say them.
Notice your voice today. Ask yourself what messages it is sending.

Where you sit at the table or Hide the vegatables under the mash potatoes

Hide the vegtables under the mash potatoes
I was the baby of the family, significantly younger than my siblings. In fact my sister Robin, who is twelve years older than I am, went off to college the same week I started first grade. This age differance obviously effected our family dinners. I was down at the end of table playing with my food, trying to hide the broccoli under the mash potatoes, because no self respecting six year old eats anything green, while the rest of my family was focused on adult interaction.

Every family has its dinner ritual. And your childhood rituals effect your adult interactions. One of the most important nonverbal patterns that tend to develop at the family dinner table is where you sat and who you talked to. Nonverbal Communication research shows this pattern effects your future conversational behavior dinners and meeting behavior as an adult.
As a child I didn’t exactly fit in. Oh! I tried. After all I loved begging the center of attention. I would interrupt the conversational flow with exploits of the number of minnows in my latest catch and how high I swung on the swing that day. I always had to fight my way into the conversation. , using an extra loud voice. I had more energy and enthusiasm than a high school cheerleader and facial expressions and chair dancing to rival Steve Martin. I would even sit on my feet so I would sit higher at the table thinking it was just a few inches of height that separated me from the fun.
My antics would work in the short term. I could always get the first part of the story out. But if I went a second to long, the adults would shush me and continue on and I would be the small silent food magician pushing potatoes around again.
Occasionally my enthusiasm would disturb them far too much and I would be “allowed” to eat in the basement family room in front of the TV. I would hear the family laughing upstairs over the sounds of The Virginian or Flintstone Cartoon and would take the opportunity given in my absence from the table to flush any food I didn’t like down the toilet. My mother always said, “You eat so much better when you’re not distracted by us talking” It was lonely downstairs. I felt left out. But I felt left out at the table as well.
Now here is the kicker. Years later I began to go to grad student meeting then faculty meeting and then corporate meeting. Sitting around any board room table I felt like the little kid at the end being ignored. I even sat on my feet! But I was silent most of the time. It took several years of speaking in front of audiences at the corporate level to get my confidence up enough to speak in a board room. The patterns created at the family dinner table are very strong.
Yesterday I went to a business meeting at a restaurant. The booth seat was low, I asked for a telephone book to sit on. I guess I am too old to sit on my feet.
Where do you sit at the table?

Talk to strangers, flirt with the world.

My mom never meets a stranger. When I was a teenager I would go into Walgreen’s soda fountain with my mom after a long day of shopping. The waitress would come over and my mom would lean in close and smile as if she had known that waitress all her life and start talking. But most of all she would start listening. She would look that waitress in the eye, nod her head and keep saying say "uh-huh," and by the end of the meal she would leave knowing the waitress’s name and the names of her children and how each child was doing in school.

My mom knows how to use her body language to make people feel comfortable, to feel important. Basically she flirts with the world. And having seen the magic she creates I can tell you everybody loves it.

Try flirting with the world today.

Wedding customs:Something old something new

My niece and new nephews wedding was beautiful. Missy had worked so hard to take care of every little detail. Something saved to do at the last minute was getting something old, new borrowed and blue. You have probably heard of the tradition of the bride carrying those things with her on her wedding day, but do you know what they mean? According to the Northhamptinshire city website in England "something old" shows the durability of marriage and the continuity of your old life into the new married one. "Something new" symbolizes the start of building your new life together as a married couple. “Something borrowed" is an important item to choose well as “it should be from a happily married woman whose virtues you most wish for, to assist in ensuring marital bliss.” “Something blue" is used to promise love, fidelity and purity.
Missy had on new jewelry, but the something old, borrowed and blue was her mother’s antiques lace handkerchief. Missy pulled it out a few times during the wedding to dry her happy tears. The last time she pulled it out to hand to the justice of the piece, who started crying and she pronounced Missy and Kevin husband a wife. We all laughed and then the couple turned and walked out quite literally into the sun setting over the bay.
I would love to hear your nonverbal wedding stories in the comments.

Wedding customs

Today is my niece Missy’s wedding day. The groomen's job in the middle ages was to help kidnap the bride from a neighboring villiage and guard till the wedding her so she would not run away and her family could not steal her back.

Missy will not be running away, she is very much in love. Her fiancé Kevin has definitely kidnapped her heart.

Right now her girlfriends and maid of Honor are fixing her long blonde hair. The bride’s maids in medieval times stayed with the bride in the days before the marriage and braided her hair with flowers and rubbed her with perfumes oils, basically trying to keep her calm. Here I hear the girls laughing and talking about Whistler’s resort where she and Kevin will spend their honeymoon. It's a nice sound

You will find more info Monday on traditional wedding customs. I love knowing the origin or nonverbal rituals.

Wedding history

I am writing this post as we are getting ready to go to my nieces wedding rehearsal.
Last night my future nephew had his bachelor party, where they were joined by the bachlorettes who had just finished their spa day. The first bachelor parties were in Sparta and were given by warriors to celebrate fellow warrior’s upcoming nuptials.
The first “weds” in Anglo Saxon times were guarantees of the groom’s family that the bride would be taken care of for the rest of her life.

Baby worship

Yesterday my family spent several hours watching my nine month old nephew crawl, walk, play and eat. It’s an odd ritual, ten adults giving their rapt attention to a baby.

Why? We are wired to find a baby’s large head, round eyes, and little nose attractive. Our primal brains are wired to insure a baby’s survival. In our family we call this fascination baby worship, and that seems an appropriate name.

Now, if you will excuse me. I have to go and wrap a little tractor with a farmer and mooing cow for my little nephew, an offering to the baby god.

side by side in a golf cart

Yesterday I was on an all day car trip. Sitting next to my sister talking and laughing I thought about the intimacy that the seating space in a car creates. Intimate space is created by standing or sitting less than 16 inches from someone. Sitting side by side in car creates a unique opportunity, for self disclosure and bonding. It almost forces you to bond.

I remember how my father uses to love to play golf. I bet one of the things he loved was sitting side by side with one of his buddies, joking and laughing for a day. You add a cooler of beer to the outing and you can really self disclose!

On the trip with my sister we talked and laughed for 8 hours. Maybe we should all take a long car trip or play golf with a loved one.

How should you seat groups of people

How should you seat groups of people?
It depends on what activity you want to encourage. If you want people to visit, share ideas, bond and create agreement, put them in “social seating.” This spacing actually brings people together, like team style seating in a classroom or the dining table in most homes. The people are facing each other around a table but the table breadth is no more than three feet, so they are still in personal distance.
If you want them to be quiet, be obedient and listen, use sociofugal seating. This creates spacing which separates people so no one faces anyone else. We see this in the straight rows of chairs found in airports or bus terminals.
Positions at a table also communicate power. In Western cultures, a father traditionally sits at the head of the table facing the other members of the family, appropriate to his primary role in patriarchal societies.

The need to interact and have an opinion

So I was reading and interesting article on blogging today in an old may issue of Business Week magazine. The authors Stephen Baker and Heather Breen discussed how the blog universe is like one big coffee house of intellectual discussion. I think blogging. pod casters and sending video and still photos over are phones are a clear indicator of our need to interact and comment rather than passively listen to and read data.
As a former college instructor and as a speaker trainer for over 20 years I know that audiences have changed dramatically. My Auburn college audience in the early 80’s would listen quietly and politely and dutifully write down every word of my lecture verbatim. My FSU students were not as quiet, but I still had to work got them to ask questions and debate with me. My corporate audiences were equally as passive. But now audiences become what I love best, filled with the desire for lively interaction and sharing. Speaking can not longer be a data dump of PowerPoint slides. It must reflect the publics growing desire to interact and have an opinion.