Because sometimes it’s not a matter of just words. Your facial expressions, gestures, posture, and tone of voice are powerful communication tolos too. Like the faces in the image above humans also have a variety of different facial expressions and hand language that are very useful to express better their ideas and moods. In this lesson we’ll learn how that works and how to know everything there is to know about signs, gestures and nonverbal communication in general.
While the key to success in both personal and professional relationships lies in your ability to communicate well, it’s not the words that you use but your nonverbal cues or “body language” that speak the loudest. Body language is the use of physical behavior, expressions, and mannerisms to communicate nonverbally, often done instinctively rather than consciously.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, when you interact with others, you’re continuously giving and receiving wordless signals. All of your nonverbal behaviors—the gestures you make, your posture, your tone of voice, how much eye contact you make—send strong messages. They can put people at ease, build trust, and draw others towards you, or they can offend, confuse, and undermine what you’re trying to convey. These messages don’t stop when you stop speaking either. Even when you’re silent, you’re still communicating nonverbally.
In some instances, what comes out of your mouth and what you communicate through your body language may be two totally different things. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel that you’re being dishonest. If you say “yes” while shaking your head no, for example. When faced with such mixed signals, the listener has to choose whether to believe your verbal or nonverbal message. Since body language is a natural, unconscious language that broadcasts your true feelings and intentions, they’ll likely choose the nonverbal message.
However, by improving how you understand and use nonverbal communication, you can express what you really mean, connect better with others, and build stronger, more rewarding relationships.
So, in a nutshell, nonverbal communication or body language is the use of gestures, tone of voice, expressions, body posture, and so on to send a message.
The main components of the system are:
Of the above, body language (particularly facial expressions and gestures), eye contact, proximity and posture are probably those which learners most need to be aware of in terms of conveying meaning, avoiding misunderstandings and fitting in with the target culture.
In terms of skills development, non-verbal clues should not be underestimated when developing both the listening and speaking skills. Like grammatical structures, non-verbal communication has form, function and meaning, all of which may vary from language to language.
Have you ever wondered how non-verbal communication really helps? Let’s take a look at real-life nonverbal communication examples.
The Marketing Manager at Chanty, Anastasia, is always given recognition for her presentation skills. Co-workers and executives were asked why they praise her presentations. The answer they gave was because of her exceptional nonverbal communication skills. Her body language conveyed clarity and trust, and she has a propensity of making eye contact.
In the practical world, the best teachers, actors, lawyers, TV hosts, journalists, or salespeople usually exhibit great nonverbal communication examples.
The most important things in communication are the things that you don’t hear, but rather see. This encapsulates the significance of nonverbal communication.
According to most reports on the subject, 80% of communication is nonverbal. Humans communicate their deepest feelings of hope, joy, rage, despair, and anxiety without using words.
Nonverbal communication is becoming increasingly important and people around the world are even taking workshops to improve their nonverbal cues.
There are numerous different types of nonverbal communication. From what we mentioned above, let’s focus on the ten main types that are believed to be the most important. Let’s take a look at them below.
One important thing that many people are not aware of is that facial expressions are universal. If you have watched the series Lie to me, you already know that there are seven basic emotions.
These are sadness, anger, disgust, fear, surprise, contempt, and happiness. Even though our cultures can shape our worldviews and behaviors, facial expressions are universal throughout the world.
However, when we go through different events, we might be tempted to do this. For example, in the case of a public speaking situation, when fear, shame, anxiety, and other negative emotions creep through your body. You will be tempted to hide them because of what people may think about you.
No matter how much we think that we can hide our feelings, they come to surface in the way of micro expressions. They are difficult to identify and you need training and exercise because they are quick and fleeting.
There are many types of gestures. We all know that some of them are deliberate, such as waving or pointing, while others are not.
For example, there are adapting gestures such as touching some body parts, rings, clicking pens, and so on. They are often displayed when someone is in distress. During a presentation, you can notice that some speakers will adopt this kind of gesture.
Posture and movement are key factors of body language. Most people will adopt comforting behaviors or actions during stressful moments.
Posture and movement can tell you how someone is feeling. For example, an arm-crossed posture sends the message that you are not open to new ideas or solutions.
Or, the leg-crossed posture is known as a posture of defiance and defensiveness. Posture and movement send information about attitude.
Nonverbal communication is a broad domain that includes all the subtleties of our bodies. Paralinguistics are represented by your tone of voice, pitch, loudness, and inflection.
Think about how the meaning of a sentence can be changed just only by how you pronounce and articulate different words. Misunderstandings can arise from small things, like not hearing a word correctly.
You can identify how the other is feeling just by carefully listening to what and how he presents his ideas. A cold tone of voice is related to negative emotions, while a warm one to more positive ones.
Eyes are the window to the soul. And they never lie. We all know this. Eye contact is used in a conversation by everyone because it helps you gather information. It also helps you get feedback from the environment and notice the body language of your interlocutor.
However, eye contact helps us establish a connection with others. I have learned during my practice as a psychology student that when people gaze, I must not interrupt them. Gazing means that someone is deep thinking. Eye contact means that someone is ready to communicate and to listen to you.
Eyes can also be used to send different signals as well. Depending on the culture and society you live in, prolonged eye contact can send a signal of intimidation. Or, in another context, flirting.
Nevertheless, eyes can help someone establish a rapport or connection. And this is so important in the life of a businessman or manager, and of course, during classes!
Nonverbal communication is also thought to be facilitated by the colors we wear, the clothes we dress up in, the haircuts we have, and other physical characteristics.
Different colors can provoke various emotions, according to research on color psychology. Physiological responses, assessments, and conclusions can all be influenced by appearance.
Just consider all the rapid and subconscious judgments you make about people based solely on their appearance. Because first impressions matter, experts advise job seekers to dress professionally for interviews with potential employers as well.
Culture has a big impact on how people evaluate appearances. While being thin is often admired in Western culture, certain African societies associate fuller figures with better social standing, wealth, and health.
Other means of nonverbal communication include objects and imagery. You might choose an avatar in an online forum, for instance, to represent your identity there and to share information about who you are and what you like.
People frequently invest a lot of effort creating an image for themselves and surrounding themselves with items that serve as symbols of the things that are significant to them.
For instance, uniforms can be used to send a great deal of personal information. A security guard will wear a uniform, a doctor will wear a white lab coat, and a student may wear a specific uniform to represent a certain school.
These costumes make it clear to onlookers what a person does for a living or where they belong.
Have you ever experienced awkwardness during a conversation because the other person was intruding on your personal space? Although our needs for physical space vary depending on culture, circumstance, and the depth of the relationship, we are all there.
Physical space can be used to convey a variety of nonverbal cues, such as expressions of closeness and sympathy, dominance, or hostility. The typical conversational distance for americans is between an arm’s length and four feet.
In american society, having less room can lead to either increased intimacy or hostile conduct. A person who has had their personal space invaded by another may feel intimidated as a result and may respond defensively.
Visual communication is any form of communication that uses visual aids. For instance, we use a red sign to signify “danger,” a skull between two pieces of bone arranged crosswise to symbolize “dangerous,” and an image of a lit cigarette with a cross on it to imply “no smoking.”
The psychological and physical aspects of the communication setting also fall under environment. The setting is a crucial component of the dynamic communication process, more so than the desks and chairs in an office. One’s perspective of their surroundings affects how they respond to them. For instance, Google is renowned for its work environment, which includes areas designed for physical activity and even 24-hour in-house food service. Although the cost is unquestionably high, Google’s actions speak for themselves. The outcomes achieved in the setting intended to promote contact, collaboration, and innovation are worthwhile.
Your nonverbal communication cues—the way you listen, look, move, and react—tell the person you’re communicating with whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, they can generate tension, mistrust, and confusion.
If you want to become a better communicator, it’s important to become more sensitive not only to the body language and nonverbal cues of others, but also to your own.