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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Other Views

Coming attraction

Commentary by Betty Bell

In my résumé there’s not even one successful scheme to warrant the delicious confidence I have that finally I’ve got it—I’m on the verge of setting off the next big craze, a craze bigger than the Hula-Hoop and Pet Rock, combined. And I’m confident enough to risk a preview even before it’s market-ready.

Body language, pilgrims. The next big craze will be body language. Count on it. But advanced body language—as used back there in Washington in the House of Power, not simple stuff like, for instance, reading Lindsay Davenport’s body language. You know what I mean—when Lindsay loses the first set and gets down two breaks in the second, every positive muscle in her body lets loose and leaves her with a slump so obvious her opponent, seeded 82, suddenly sees that all she has to do is stay on her feet, not cramp up, and Lindsay’s outta there.

But watch Justine Henin-Hardin in the same predicament. Justine doesn’t know slump. Justine just projects her five-foot frame into six-foot-two, and her opponent instantly knows in her bones that she’s about to blow her big lead. Justine nearly always wins.

But that’s simple sporting-life stuff, the kind we all use. Heavens, I remember back at the dawn of skiing when the hot binding was toe-plates-and-long-thongs on seven-foot wooden skis, and I remember the exact minute when the light-bulb flash revealed that the forward lean was the secret, the crucial element in the pursuit of racing glory. That moment was followed by an even better revelation: I didn’t have to be on my skis to use it. The forward lean projected great confidence, and it seemed to be so wholly intimidating that I walked around that way all the time to mind-tamper with the other girls seeking racing glory—truly, I didn’t stand upright for years.

Sporting life body language is body language writ small. But then I read Bob Woodward’s "Plan of Attack", and I started to think BODY LANGUAGE writ big. Writ big, Woodward shows, is how it’s used in the House of Power. Read the book, but don’t get caught up in the tale of willful, woeful, wages of war. Rather, pay rapt attention to the story between the lines, the story of the Power People’s use of body language ... body language ... and yet more body language. You’ll be as astounded as I was to learn about the collective perception and projection of body language as practiced in the House of Power.

For instance, Woodward tells about the pre, pre-war planning stage when General Frank’s would enter Rummy’s office with the latest changes in the probably never-going-to-use-it-but-just-in-case-plan-of-attack. Rummy carefully noted the general’s body language as he approached, and since the general always projected very good body language indeed, it’d bolster Rummy, and then boomerang back to bolster the general. It was a wonderfully positive thing they had going during that time of need for positive.

Woodward says that not much attention was paid to Powell’s body language, but the Veep’s got a lot. All the Power People watched the Veep—and probably envied him too. The Veep, even when he was just walking around the Halls of Power, never projected anything but Goliath. But when the talk turned to Iraq all the other Power Persons used one word to describe his body language: feverish. The Veep projected feverish, which I hadn’t known was possible. The Veep plus Iraq equaled feverish.

I’m not making this up. Woodward conveys the impression that in the House of Power body language is the mother tongue. Since I found that out I’m in awe of the president. Imagine, he became the most powerful man in the world just by substituting body language for plain old English. When the president walks into a gathering of the Power People in Crawford, he enters with body language writ big—you can actually see the stiffening of spines all around the table.

Yep, body language will open the door to the ground floor I’ve been waiting to get on all my life. I’m geared-up and ready, but I need a partner, someone to cover the costs of launching. First we’ll do the book—"Power Body Language," or maybe "Body Language Power." Next the video, then the lecture tour here and abroad that probably will open up the big-moola seminar circuit. Partner, I almost guarantee you’ll get a fat return on your ante.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.