Here it is, the final part of my interview with Allan Pease: find out how to offend someone from northern Greece, by accident. Which politicians are better actors, from an expert’s point of view? Ever wondered why Pinocchio’s nose grew when he told a lie? It will all become clear…
NE: So in the years you’ve been talking about body language, what have you learned from your own audience feedback?
AP: When it comes to male and female interaction, women are hard-wired very much the same as women everywhere and have the same priorities, what they want is the same. Men are the same as men everywhere. Within a given culture, all a culture does is determine what you can or can’t do or say within that culture, it doesn’t change what you feel or how you perceive something. So if you learn how to talk in man-talk or woman-talk, that’s fairly cross-cultural, you can go to any culture and talk that way and they think you’re a winner, they like you because you clearly understand them.
In terms of body language differences that can be quite funny. For example, this gesture here is one of the most misinterpreted on Earth. In Dubai it probably means ‘OK’ as the main signal, as it does in most places. In France it means ‘zero’, in places like northern Greece and Turkey it’s a gross insult signal, it’s what we call an orifice symbol, they’re calling you a very rude name.
This one in Dubai means good, OK; in France it means number one; in northern Greece and Turkey it’s a gross insult. You can imagine what it means.
So if you go to Greece on vacation or get Greeks travelling here to Dubai to do business and you [give a thumbs up and] say ‘welcome to Dubai’ [then an OK sign and say] ‘good to see you’, you’ve just given them gross insults!
So what I’ve learnt is that you need to ask, culturally, how do you insult people within a culture, you’ve got to ask ‘how do I insult you?’ because if you don’t know how to do it, you’re likely to insult them and not know you did it!
George Bush’ favourite? The Longhorn football team. That’s their sign and all the Texans wave this when the Longhorns win, that’s the long horns of the bull. His first job was in South America when he became president. He got off the plane with 2,000 people greeting him and he got off the plane doing this because the Longhorns had won the football. Now in places like South America, and Italy, that means your wife is cheating on you.
So he was waving his fingers and they all started to whistle. Whistling in America, in a crowd, means ‘it’s good’ but whistling in South America, like in Europe, means ‘it’s bad’. So he was doing this and they started to whistle so he started to dance and do it. That’s George Bush!
NE: So give me some of the ‘tells’
AP: Well when people aren’t telling the truth, hand-to-face contact increases for most cultures, they start touching their face, particularly the nose, because the nose swells when you’re not telling the truth because the soft tissue fills with blood. That’s called the Pinocchio Effect strangely enough, and that’s why everybody has this urge to touch their nose when they’re telling a real pack of lies.
NE: Is it very obvious to you who’s had training in body language and who’s behaving naturally?
AP: It’s obvious who’s had bad training because they’re trying too hard, they’re actually trying to do things. In the last [Australian] Federal election, Julia Gillard just looked wrong because she was trying to act it and she’s a bad actor. Whereas Bill Clinton ‘s a great actor and Ronald Reagan was a professional actor. He looked like a sincere, genuinely nice guy. Who knows if he was telling the truth? I don’t know. You can’t tell, he’s an actor.
NE: Watching television with you must be interesting
AP: It’s great! Watch it with the sound off, it’s better!
NE: Well we’ve come to the end of our time unfortunately, thank you very much for speaking with us.
AP: My pleasure.
©2012 Noni Edwards. All rights reserved.