I found this video interesting because while we’ve been discussing the subtleties rhetoricians employ to influence an audience, we’ve mostly focused on verbal language. In this video, Derek explains what gestures and body languages typically indicate to a recipient, and what they say about the person gesturing. They seemed to be subconscious manifestations of our feelings, but those that study them can utilize them for their benefit by either identifying a certain body language or by artificially incorporating them into interactions. For example, law enforcement officers might focus on a suspect’s eyes to tell if they’re lying, and as the video said, Barack Obama uses the thumb to forefinger hand gesture to indicate authority when he addresses the United States.
I know I don’t really pay attention to the apparently many cues we give and are given every day when we interact with one another. Beyond obvious facial expressions, I’m blind to the subtle suggestions I’m either displaying or receiving. I think it would be great to learn how to better interpret body language, but for me at least it would be hard to do without totally losing focus of what someone is telling me. It seems like it requires a lot of attention to be able to discern such things as whether a person’s eyes wrinkle when they smile, or if their eyebrows raise high when they see you. I can’t call everyone who doesn’t show me their palms a liar, and I shouldn’t become obsessed if a person should put their drink on their non-dominant side. I might drive myself crazy trying to see things that may or may not be there. I’ll just leave it to the professionals.