A picture is worth a thousand words
Patti Wood has been called the Babe Ruth of body language because when it comes to reading nonverbal cues, you can count on her to knock it out of the park. Wood, who holds advanced degrees in body language and nonverbal communication and is the author of several books on the topic, including SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma, is frequently called upon by law enforcement, hospitals, universities, government agencies and the media to decipher what’s really going on in a tricky situation. When Reader’s Digest spoke with Wood about the following historic photographs, we thought we knew what she was going to say, but as it turns out, we were a little off. Read on to see if you’re as surprised as we were.
When stars collide
It can be tough to catch an actor off-guard (since actors tend to be good at acting), but that’s exactly what the camera did in this iconic photo from 1957. At an industry party in Los Angeles, Sophia Loren is seated at a primo table with several important Hollywood businessmen of the day, and Jayne Mansfield shimmies over to Loren’s table to say hello. At first glance, it might appear that Loren, exuding confidence at centre “stage,” is unruffled. What Wood sees is a bit more complicated, however, with Mansfield aggressively pointing her “assets” toward the table and Loren responding by placing a hand on her head. Wood explains this “crowning” gesture is a move on Loren’s part to retain her dominance, not to mention the attention of the men at the table.
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Hitler, revealed, in the presence of a child
This 1935 photograph of Adolf Hitler attempting to engage with a young girl reveals more about Hitler than he ever would have wanted anyone to know, according to Wood. Having pored over thousands of images of Hitler, Wood has come to understand that although Hitler welcomed photo opportunities with children – perhaps in a bid to make himself seem likable – neither he nor the children seemed at ease in the resulting photos. In this particular image, the young girl seems to be doing everything in her power to keep Hitler at a distance. Her right elbow is bent sharply as if to keep Hitler away, and her left elbow seems poised and ready to join in if need be. Hitler doesn’t seem any more comfortable than the girl as he hunches awkwardly behind her as if cowering.