In a previous post, we discussed why we must look for clusters of clues when we look at Biometrics and Kinesics to form accurate conclusions. We assign the clues into 3 categories of clusters (Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable, Dominant vs. Submissive, Interested vs. Uninterested) and compare that conclusion to our baseline. I want to know if my conclusion fits my baseline, a FIT, or does not fit my baseline, a NO FIT. If the cluster is a NO FIT, I now have an anomaly that I want to investigate and attempt to figure out why that person does not fit in.
The following are gestures on the body that I would put into the “Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable” Cluster. Keep in mind, if different contexts, the same gesture could be put into a different cluster, but are all derived from the limbic system’s response to threats and the preparation to the freeze, flight or fight response.
The Uncomfortable Cluster
The Uncomfortable Cluster is a result of the Limbic System’s Flight response. This shows that the person perceives a threat and has determined that the best chance for their survival is to either leave the area or close themselves off to protect themselves from the attack. Even though in today’s society, we likely to not physically leave the area when presented with minor threats, the concepts of blocking and distancing are still displayed.
- Feet bouncing (limbic system preparing the body for flight)
- If flight isn’t an option, the knees may come together to protect vital areas
- Feet oriented towards a door or exit (showing what our intentions are, preparing for flight)
- Leg’s crossed while seated, forming a barrier (protecting vital areas)
- Leg’s shoulder width apart while standing (body capable of defending itself)
- Torso leaning away (distancing from a threat)
- Torso rotated away from person or object (either facing exit to prepare for flight, or turning to protect vitals area)
- Arms crossed across chest (establishing barriers to protect vital areas) this could also include gripping the opposite arm
- Arms may be extended or up around face as a means to block a blow to the face or body
- Arms/hands covering crotch/groin (establishing barriers to protect vital areas)
- Shoulders raised (response to a threat to protect neck/carotid artery, and head)
- Increase use of Pacifying Behavior (resulting from the energy manifested by the Autonomic Nervous System)
- Facial Expressions of: surprise or fear
- The body may maintain a tight tension, showing a lack of comfort
- Chin tucked in to protect the throat
- Avoiding eye contact
- Increased blink rate
- Eyes flicking back and forth looking for an escape or a way out
- Putting any object between themselves and the threat
If the person feels that the flight response was not sufficient to ensure their survival, or if a person’s aggression rises, they may shift from the Uncomfortable Cluster into the Dominant Cluster if they feel the need to fight their way out and launch a pre-emptive strike
The Comfortable Cluster
The Comfortable Cluster is the absence of the flight response and shows that the person does not perceive any threat. This relaxed and open posture is what people likely display for most of the day and will shift out of it to Uncomfortable, Dominant, or Submissive as the area around them changes and they no longer feel safe.
- Feet motionless and relaxed (no limbic system response causing them to distance themselves from the threat)
- Feet oriented towards the person (no limbic system preparation to distance themselves from the threat)
- Legs uncrossed or legs crossed with the inside of the thigh exposed to the person (no limbic system response to protect vital areas and the femoral artery on the inside of the thigh)
- Standing with legs crossed (no threat perceived, body vulnerable while it is standing with all the weight on one foot, body not prepared to fight/flight)
- Torso upright or leaning in (no threat perceived, not concerned about distancing)
- Torso leaning away or splayed out (in a reclined or lounging type manner, body not prepared to defend itself)
- Arms open – at the sides of the body, gesturing openly, or behind back (no immediate threat recognized and need to use hands/arms to protect the body)
- Shoulders lowered and relaxed – no turtle effect (no threat recognized, no need to protect vial areas of neck)
- No pacifying behaviors.
- Illustrators likely used in speech, but are open and gentle, not sudden or tense
- If arms or legs are crossed, they are done so in a relaxed manner, different than being closed
- Generally will not have any body tension as muscles should be relaxed and loose
- Person should seem happy or unconcerned overall
- Gaze will be relaxed with minimal blinking
- Eyebrows stable, only moving with speech, showing a relaxed forehead
- Breathing slow and steady
- Skin is a normal color, not reddened or pale
Being able to identify people who are Uncomfortable and Comfortable help assess who is experiencing a limbic system response in their body. Let’s say you are looking at a woman who is giving off an overwhelming number of Comfortable cues and that becomes your baseline for her. If you were to observe a man who you assumed would be a stranger to that woman walk past, how did that woman respond? If he was in fact a stranger, you would likely see a shift out of the Comfortable Cluster as the unknown man could be a threat, causing her body to shift from one cluster to another. Or if she didn’t respond at all, didn’t perceive that man as a threat, perhaps they have a pre-existing relationship that you were unaware of.
Identifying the cluster is only the first step, noticing shifts and changes in the cluster will help you find the people who don’t fit in with their surroundings. Always be looking for 3 or more indicators that lead you to this conclusion. You have classified people in these categories before, these are just some descriptions and specific gestures to help you communicate why you believe in your assessment.
Thoughts or gestures that we have missed? Let us know.