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Your Body May Actually Speak Louder Than Your Powerful Words

Your Body May Actually Speak Louder Than Your Powerful Words

Most people know “the look” that seems to be universal with mothers. As a child, when you were out and getting up to no good, all you needed was that long stare from your mom to stop you dead in your tracks. You knew immediately that you would be grounded for about twenty years when you got back home – and no words even needed to be uttered! That was the power of nonverbal communication.[1]

Whether you realize it or not, something similar occurs in everyday life. And by learning more about it, you will be able to create better interactions around you.

Nonverbal communication actually helps you to express yourself better.

The world was shocked when Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was proven – after he had vehemently denied it! Yet, many telltale signs that he was lying were there, such as touching his nose more than three times what is normal. This is because when a person lies, blood pressure rises due to stress, which in turn causes the nerves around the nose to tingle or feel itchy.[2]

“Micro-expressions” are minute facial expressions that are different from other facial expressions, and are almost impossible to fake.[3] Understanding nonverbal communications will enable you to not only interact and communicate with others better, but also improve your ability to express yourself.

There are different types of nonverbal communication, and some can be easily forgotten.

Studies into nonverbal communication started with the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872. Since then, experts have noted that a significant part of our dialogues or interactions are, in fact, not reliant on words:

1. Hand movements convey a lot of information.

A hand placed on the cheek or stroking of the chin indicates the person is in deep thought. Nail biting or fidgeting with hair suggests nervousness or insecurity.

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    2. Facial expressions can be interpreted differently.

    This accounts for a big percentage of nonverbal communication.

    Consider how many different kinds of smiles you may have seen; various smiles can translate happiness, nostalgia, annoyance, or even sadness.

    A lowered head with the face looking downward could mean the person is either hiding something, or simply shy.

      3. Posture can suggest a person’s attitude.

      The way a person holds themselves when standing or sitting illustrates many things.

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      Arms crossed at the chest may indicate a sense of defensiveness. Having ankles crossed while sitting or standing would suggest nervousness.

        4. Eye contact says a lot about what a person is thinking.

        It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. There are so many things the eyes give away – even the inability to make eye contact says a lot.

        People tend to look upward and to the right when they are not being honest, and they look upward to the left when they are remembering something. (This can be the opposite for people who are left-handed.)

          5. Digital expressions and emojis can make text emotional.

          Social media has given birth to a new form of nonverbal communication. This new wave ranges from the emoticons that people use, to the deliberate posting of status updates or photos to create a reaction.

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          People are able to be clear about how they feel without words by one simple click of a button to show either a smiling face or a sad face.

            To interact with others better, try these small communication techniques.

            To begin with, if you start by being more aware of nonverbal signs around you, it will immediately start improving your interactions.

            There are also many small things you can do to communicate better without even saying a word.

            Be mindful about your small gestures.

            Take into account how your own body language comes across.

            For instance, when you meet someone for the first time, do you smile? If so, what does your smile say? A firm handshake with eye contact and a solid smile would help you to come across more confident.

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            Be aware of any body language inconsistencies.

            Whether on yourself or the other person, do the words match what the body says?

            Consider the different meanings when you say “I’m doing great” with a big grin, or when you say it with a loud sigh. Saying it with a warm smile would indicate sincerity and that you genuinely feel “great.” If it is accompanied with a loud sigh or a sense of dejection, it would mean the opposite.

            Don’t misunderstand stress with dishonesty.

            How many times have you known people who read too much into texts or phone calls, simply because the person on the other end was having a stressful day, and so they came across as angry?

            It is easy to misread others or be misunderstood when stressed, so be aware of this when you are having a difficult day. The next time you receive a text or email when you feel particularly stressed, perhaps it is best to delay your response until you are calmer.

            Pay attention to others’ reactions.

            Greater attention to nonverbal communication in others will enable you to interact with others in a more successful way.

            For example, if you are with someone whose hands are clasped in front of them, it may indicate they feel vulnerable or not as comfortable. Then consider what you can do to make them feel more relaxed.

            Practice these small techniques every day and every time when you’re talking with others and you’ll be a lot better at communicating with your body languages too.

            Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            J.S. von Dacre

            Writer at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on December 2, 2018

            7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

            7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

            When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

            You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

            1. Connecting them with each other

            Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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            It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

            2. Connect with their emotions

            Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

            For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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            3. Keep going back to the beginning

            Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

            On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

            4. Link to your audience’s motivation

            After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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            Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

            5. Entertain them

            While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

            Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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            6. Appeal to loyalty

            Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

            In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

            7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

            Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

            Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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