What are Body Language Pacifiers?
Most people know the word “pacifier” as a calming tool for babies to suck on, which got its name because it literally pacifies a baby. Babies exhibit pacifying behaviors while still in the womb, where they commonly suck on their thumbs. Though thumb-sucking is a pacifying habit we break at a young age, adults still exhibit other pacifiers regularly.
In an article on The Psychology of Body Language, Psychology Today cites numerous studies that prove body language pacifiers are a reflexive response to stress or discomfort that begin in infancy and continue to develop as children adapt as they get older.
Pacifiers physically stimulate calmness in a person by triggering the brain to release pleasure-inducing endorphins. Pacifiers, therefore, can be a useful “tell” in determining a person’s emotional state in any business or personal relationship.
What Do Body Language Pacifiers Mean?
Most untrained people might misinterpret body language pacifiers as gestures for when someone is lying. A deception is a decision and requires action. Meaning people plan or decide to tell a lie.
Whereas body language is communicating, a hint at a person’s true emotions. These emotions, in turn, may suggest a person is deceitful, but they do not signify deception in it themselves. The same is true of pacifiers.
Pacifiers are hints that a person is experiencing high anxiety or stress. Pacifiers can be viewed as red flags that mean you may need to reconsider your approach.
When you see a person exhibiting a pacifying body language, you can ask yourself, “What am I saying that is causing stress for this person?” If you are specifically looking for deception, you can use pacifiers as a guide to inform you when you are getting closer to the crux of the issue. Based on the person’s behaviour, you can carefully word your next question to confirm if you are on to something.
So You Identified a Body Language Pacifying Behavior
So you have identified pacifying body language, but now what? How can you use that information to get to the bottom of the issue? Never assume just because someone is using pacifying body language that they are lying or withholding the truth. after all, they may be nervous for many other reasons. Perhaps they feel uncomfortable for some other reason, they feel they’re being unjustly accused or even they need to use the restroom.
The next step requires careful observation and taking in the whole picture. All you know is that pacifying body language behaviour is a natural reaction that tries to suppress a negative feeling.
How can you then shift your focus to the big picture?
It is important not to let on that you have caught on to one suspicious body language behaviour. If you accuse a person of lying or asking accusatory questions, you most likely will spark the freeze-flight-or-fight response that will cause a person to squirm regardless of their innocence.
The heightened emotion is in response to such accusations or interrogations. This freeze-flight-or-fight response can muddle the message that their body language is communicating. You need to be careful and casually pursue your line of questioning and carefully guide the conversation.
Body Language Pacifying Behaviours
Body language hotspots are specific movements that are often tied to tension and discomfort that can hint at the source of the problem, example might be:
· Negative hand gestures – physical release of emotional buildup
· Covering the mouth – uncomfortable with answering the question or responding
· Touching the face – soothing action like the touch of a mother
· Biting fingernails – soothing action similar to thumb sucking
· Clasping the hands, especially around the head – trying to hold in or hide their emotions
· Covering the face – signifies shame or embarrassment, for our sake or others
· Slapping of forehead or neck – self-punishing act for a mistake, usually for forgetting something
· Smoking – soothing action reminiscent of thumb sucking or breastfeeding
· Pulling or biting the lip – gives the impression of innocence. Can be purposely used to gain sympathy (President Clinton frequently utilized this gesture when under fire for his actions). Interestingly, this can also be an arousing or flirtatious act because it expresses vulnerability, as in, they are willing to be vulnerable with you but, can also be a sign of manipulation
Reading Pacifier Body Language
There is a lot to cover when discussing pacifying body language communication . Learning to read body language and microexpressions can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you want to learn how to uncover a person’s true thoughts and feelings, John English offers a Reading Others Workshop: Discover Truth About Lies. There is limited space for this powerful two-day workshop on reading others and learning to make sense of truth and lies.