Knowledge is Power: Communication History


We enjoy our traditions.  Traditions in communication have a fascinating history.  In America, and in many other countries, business greetings begin with a handshake.  This is a Western tradition with origins in ancient Greece or the Middle East.  They shook hands as a way of making a pledge.  In Russia the handshake is more of a form of male competition - a sign of confidence and power.  In the United States the earliest handshakes were between tribes.  They were open-handed to demonstrate that neither party was carrying a weapon.

Perhaps our favorite communicator is the kiss.  In its earliest days the kiss, or bringing mouths together, signified the joining of two souls.  In ancient Hebrew the word for breath also means soul.  Ancient Egyptians thought of kissing as the giving of breath, or giving life.  The Romans are credited with turning the kiss into a sophisticated form of communication.

The study of body language gained interest in the latter part of the 20th Century both academically and among the general public.  However, in the history of body language Francis Bacon got us started.  Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, politician and scientist.   In a website titled "all-about-body-language" I found this:   Writing in Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human - first published in 1605 - Bacon had the following to say about gestures of the body when discussing the concept of knowledge of ourselves.

Aristotle hath very ingeniously and diligently handled the factures of the body, but not the gestures of the body, which are no less comprehensible by art, and of greater use and advantage. For the lineaments of the body do disclose the disposition and inclination of the mind in general; but the motions of the countenance and parts do not only so, but do further disclose the present humour and state of the mind and will.

For as your majesty saith most aptly and elegantly, “As the tongue speaketh to the ear so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” And, therefore, a number of subtle persons, whose eyes do dwell upon the faces and fashions of men, do well know the advantage of this observation, as being most part of their ability; neither can it be denied, but that it is a great discovery of dissimulations, and a great direction in business.

In our book Outfluence®, The Better Way to Influence, we added Constant Messaging® to the lexicon.  Constant Messaging broadens the body language concept to include the messages we send to others from what we read, what we watch, our associations, our habits, our vocabulary and more.  

Outfluence® is a communication concept and its power lies in silence.