Beth Dantonio Explains Interpreting Body Language

By Hunter Ferguson

The afternoon of Sept. 28 brought Ferrum rain and wind on the outside, but inside of the library’s LEAP room, it brought jokes and interesting messages.

English professor Beth Dantonio took about an hour to inform students and faculty about the importance of body language and other non-verbal communication.

“Don’t Stand So Close” was the theme of this talk. The title can mean different things, but attending this event allowed the crowd to create its own meaning for the phrase. Dantonio started out by telling stories were about her children and how she, as a mother, has this unspoken language with other mothers. She explained how usually this is a really good thing, but sometimes it can be misinterpreted very easily.

“This lady’s son was acting crazy in the grocery store.” Dantonio said. “The child was just being straight up bad, and the mother would just scream and cuss at the child, with me and Max (her son) just a few feet away. Knowing Max as a small child, he would pick up this dialogue very quickly. I didn’t want that.” Dantonio continued. “So I gave the lady the mom look I was talking about, however she didn’t read from me what I thought I was displaying and she threatened to kick my ass in the parking lot!”

So while some non-verbal language has strong importance, it can also lead to misunderstandings very easily based on the two peoples moods or how accurately you display what you’re trying to say with your mind through your eyes.

Dantonio continued on to explain how the same gestures can mean very different things pending on the culture or country you use it in. To sum this statement up, one gesture that could mean, in America “rock on,” could mean in Europe “your wife is cheating on you!”

During Dantonio’s presentation she needed another person up there with her to reenact a handshake exchange between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump at the recent debate. She chose Dr. Jack Corvin. “It was really interesting to look at things from that perspective. I am used to interpreting things through other people’s minds and what they say, I learned a lot about how we can talk through body language this afternoon, I also thought I did a great job as Hilary Clinton.” Corvin joked.

Dantonio concluded her talk by giving the audience a few fun facts. There was one in particular I found interesting. “A woman has a higher range of peripheral vision. This allows them to check out men much easier, and less obviously. This is why you will notice men will turn their head up and down, very obviously, to check a woman out. It also might be because men just don’t care as much who sees!” Dantonio explained.

The knowledge, relaxed atmosphere and relatable explanations were all present on this Wednesday afternoon. Dantonio admitted to being nervous, but it never showed.

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