Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Avoid Making Contact - it's a Psychological Advantage

If you were a fan of the television series 'Lie to Me' you will have picked up some useful pointers about interpreting body language, and about micro facial expressions

But one thing you may not have noticed is that in the majority of interrogations they avoid making physical contact with the person they're questioning.  And that psychological tactic has applications in a wide range of confrontations.

Let me explain the basic principle.  When we meet someone we generally shake their hand.  This contact is an act of human bonding, and it gives each person a feel for the other.

However, if there is no physical contact, then the other person has no way of getting a proper feel for you... and consequently you become something unknown.

That in turn can trigger a sense of uncertainty that's based on a primal fear of the unknown... and consequently the other person can't be sure if you're friend or foe

Not surprisingly, this can make them hesitant about opposing you... and that's a definite advantage. 

Good interrogators use this tactic of not making contact to psychologically empower their position.  It makes them an unknown quantity.  And the person being questioned often can't be sure if the interrogator is friend or foe..... if they're going to be compassionate or adversarial

It's interesting to note that if an interrogator does make contact... especially if it's something aggressive like a push or a slap... then it transforms the interrogator from something unknown into something known... a physical threatAnd in response the person being questioned will often start defending themselves by being defiant or evasive. 

So if you suddenly find yourself in some kind of heated exchange... like a road rage incident... the first thing I suggest you do is create a safe distance and adopt a primal threat indicator in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.

A primal threat indicator is simply body language that expresses confidence and a readiness to engage (if necessary).  And this is how you create it :
  • first of all, stand side-on
  • point with your finger, pen, or a bladed-hand
  • but keep your gestures inside your body's frame 
  • drop your chin and speak deeply and confidently 
  • and for as long as possible, avoid making any contact.

It's Primal Protection.


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