Does Your Body Language Say What You Want?

non-verbal communicationDoes Your Body Language Disagree with Your Words?

Does your body language say what you want it to say?  Our behaviors and characteristics convey meaning without the use of words.  Nonverbal communication is present in most interpersonal conversations.  We communicate via facial expressions, tone, pace, loudness, clothing, eye behaviors (occulisics), gestures (kinesics), posture, touch, and smell.  In addition, the new electronic technologies have added to our nonverbal communication with emoticons, pauses, capital letters, and more.  Nonverbal communication often conveys more information than verbal communication.  It is the primary means of communicating emotion.

Your Body Tells When You Are Lying

People don’t always say what they think or feel.  However, the body is not good at hiding the truth. As a result, people believe in nonverbal communication over verbal.  Psychologist Paul Ekman studied facial expressions and cultures.  He found that people from different countries were equally accurate in describing emotions portrayed in photos.

Vocal cues may give more accurate information about emotional states.

In situations where visuals are filtered out, as in when talking on the phone, vocal cues become even more critical.   Vocal pitch, pace, and pauses in speech can project very different impressions.  Just think of the Sargent in Gomer Pyle and Gomer or the Wicked Witch and Snow White.  Ha! I used to work in theater and love characterizations! But, of course, you want to have your authentic image and not be a character. So be sure you express what you want to say and be in agreement with your desired image.

Six Common Functions of Nonverbal Communication

  1. Managing conversations
  2. Expressing emotions
  3. Maintaining relationships
  4. Forming impressions
  5. Influencing others
  6. Concealing information.

Different parts of the brain control our emotions and our thinking.  Since other areas of the brain control emotions and thought, it is difficult to hide how you feel.   You can only mentally control how you react to your feelings, not control your feelings.  Build relationships on trust and good communication.  When nonverbal signals conflict, there is a lack of faith. For good relationships, honesty is essential. However, it is also necessary to say what you mean with kind-heartedness and respect for the other person.  Think of the cartoon where the wife asks her husband if her dress makes her look fat.  If the husband answers with honesty, he would say yes and be sleeping on the couch.  However,  if he answers honestly with kindness and respect, he would tell his wife that the other dress is more flattering.

Pausing another person in a conversation with a held-up hand is an example of managing a conversation with nonverbal communication.

Copying another person’s movements and words, called mirroring, is a technique to influence others.  Mirroring helps others relate to you and you to them.  Finally, when someone is concealing information, their body language changes.  The better you know a person’s behavior under everyday situations, you can detect these changes in their behavior when lying.  Body language must say what you mean.

Which nonverbal communication are you using, and are you using them appropriately?

The Image Doctor addresses your colors and style and some primary body language and interview tips if the client requests them.  No matter how well you dress, you cannot appear uninterested, dishonest, tired, or ill-prepared to discuss pertinent topics.  Your body language must coincide with your statements for you to be credible.  Be confident you are expressing what you want to say and build on your credible image.

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