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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

            [1] Very Well: Types of Nonverbal Communication
            [2] Entrepreneur: Are They Lying to You?
            [3] Psychology Today: Body Language vs. Micro-Expressions

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            J.S. von Dacre

            Writer at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on February 11, 2021

            Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

            Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

            How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

            Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

            The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

            Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

            Perceptual Barrier

            The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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            The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

            The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

            Attitudinal Barrier

            Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

            The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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            The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

            Language Barrier

            This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

            The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

            The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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            Emotional Barrier

            Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

            The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

            The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

            Cultural Barrier

            Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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            The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

            The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

            Gender Barrier

            Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

            The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

            The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

            And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

            Reference

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