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Are you Sorry, Lying or Just Don't Care?!
Learning about the shoulder shrug will help you realize when someone you are speaking to has possibly given up. The should shrug is a distinctive body language signal that is very easy to spot and signifies a submissive feeling. If the person you are speaking to is shrugging their shoulders, you want to read this body language signal in the context of the discussion. Sure, a simple shoulder shrug could mean, "I don't know" or it could signify uncertainty, vulnerability and even be a sign of deceitfulness.
Sometimes, the shoulder shrug may be paired up with other body language such as in the person trying to apologize. The person apologizing might be tucking their head down while raising their shoulders in a shrug at the same time opening their hands and exposing their palms. This is done in an attempt to look smaller and more vulnerable in hopes to be forgiven. The shoulder shrug is a very submissive gesture and when a person is sorry they have no reason to feel aggressive and so their body language will reflect their vulnerability.
Remember, the shoulder shrug can be a sign of uncertainty. It is easy to shrug your shoulders in a way of saying you don't know something or that you are unsure, however it is important to look at this in context. Sometimes a person might use this gesture without knowing it. They may be trying to make a very committed statement and yet at the same time they are saying it, they shrug their shoulders. this a display of incongruence. It might mean that they themselves do not believe wholeheartedly what they are saying or that what they are saying is not true.
The shoulder shrug is a body language gesture that in the extreme interpretation means "I give up". It could mean that person doesn't really have a strong opinion about what you are discussing or may not even care. Again, it is important to look for this gesture in context. For example, let's say you are asking someone what they thought about what was just said in a meeting and they say, "I totally agree with what the woman said" but was also shrugging their shoulders as they said it. This might be a sign of deception or incongruence but can also be a sign that they really don't care either way but they think they should say something.
Well now that you know a little more about shrugging the shoulders, I think it is safe to say that it is not a body language gesture you want to make often. In fact, I would advise you that unless you want to get your apology across to someone and are sincere about being forgiven, the shoulder shrug does not have a place in your body language if you want to be a master communicator. What a shoulder shrug can communicate to others is not something that will build confidence or credibility so if you tend to shrug your shoulders a lot, then you have your work cut out for you. Eliminate the shoulder shrug and let your confidence in your talking be displayed in the confidence of your body language as well.
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