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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. Facial expressions. The human face is extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. Body movement and posture. Consider how your perceptions of people are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand, or hold their head.
The way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the world. This type of nonverbal communication includes your posture, bearing, stance, and the subtle movements you make. Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. You may wave, point, beckon, or use your hands when arguing or speaking animatedly, often expressing yourself with Looking to play with a verbal top role a without thinking. However, the meaning of some gestures can be very different across cultures.
Eye contact. Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of nonverbal communication. The way you look at someone can communicate many things, including interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. We communicate a great deal through touch. Think about the very different messages given by a weak handshake, a warm bear hug, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm, for example. Have you ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and invading your space?
We all have a need for physical space, although that need differs depending on the culture, the situation, and the closeness of the relationship. You can use physical space to communicate many different nonverbal messages, including als of intimacy and affection, aggression or dominance. There are many books and websites that offer advice on how to use body language to your advantage. For example, they may instruct you on how to sit a certain way, steeple your fingers, or shake hands in order to appear confident or assert dominance.
And the harder you try, the more unnatural your als are likely to come across. What you communicate through your body language and nonverbal als affects how others see you, how well they like and respect you, and whether or not they trust you. Unfortunately, many people send confusing or negative nonverbal als without even knowing it. When this happens, both connection and trust in relationships are damaged, as the following examples highlight:. And if he takes your hand, he lunges to get it and then squeezes so hard it hurts. Jack is a caring guy who secretly wishes he had more friends, but his nonverbal awkwardness keeps people at a distance and limits his ability to advance at work.
Arlene is funny and interesting, but even though she constantly laughs and smiles, she radiates tension. Her shoulders and eyebrows are noticeably raised, her voice is shrill, and her body is stiff. Being around Arlene makes many people feel anxious and uncomfortable. Arlene has a lot going for her that is undercut by the discomfort she evokes in others. When Sharon had something to say, Ted was always ready with wild eyes and a rebuttal before she could finish her thought.
This made Sharon feel ignored, and soon she started dating other men.
Ted loses out at work for the same reason. His inability to listen to others makes him unpopular with many of the people he most admires. These smart, well-intentioned people struggle in their attempt to connect with others. The sad thing is that they are unaware of the nonverbal messages they communicate.
Nonverbal communication is a rapidly flowing back-and-forth process that requires your full focus on the moment-to-moment experience. As well as being fully present, you can improve how you communicate nonverbally by learning to manage stress and developing your emotional awareness.
Stress compromises your ability to communicate. And remember: emotions are contagious. If you are upset, it is very likely to make others upset, thus making a bad situation worse. Take a moment to calm down before you jump back into the conversation. The fastest and surest way to calm yourself and manage stress in the moment is to employ your senses—what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch—or through a soothing movement.
By viewing a photo of your child or pet, smelling a favorite scent, listening to a certain piece of music, or squeezing a stress ball, for example, you can quickly relax and refocus. Since everyone responds differently, you may need to experiment to find the sensory experience that works best for you.
In order to send accurate nonverbal cues, you need to be aware of your emotions and how they influence you. You also need to be able to recognize the emotions of others and the true feelings behind the cues they are sending. This is where emotional awareness comes in. Pay attention to inconsistencies. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said.
Is the person saying one thing, but their body language conveying something else? Look at nonverbal communication als as a group. Consider all of the nonverbal als you are receiving, from eye contact to tone of voice and body language. Taken together, are their nonverbal cues consistent—or inconsistent—with what their words are saying?
Trust your instincts. Eye contact — Is the person making eye contact? If so, is it overly intense or just right? Facial expression — What is their face showing? Is it masklike and unexpressive, or emotionally present and filled with interest? Posture and gesture — Is their body relaxed or stiff and immobile? Are their shoulders tense and raised, or relaxed? Touch — Is there any physical contact? Is it appropriate to the situation? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Intensity — Does the person seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or over-the-top and melodramatic?
Complementing: It may add to or complement your verbal message. As a boss, if you pat an employee on the back in addition to giving praise, it can increase the impact of your message. Accenting: It may accent or underline a verbal message. Pounding the table, for example, can underline the importance of your message. Can nonverbal communication be faked?
Arlene is attractive and has no problem meeting eligible men, but she has a difficult time maintaining a relationship for longer than a few months. Get more help. Print PDF.Looking to play with a verbal top role a
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