Did you know we communicate more with our mouth closed than open? Depending on who you talk to you will get different thoughts on exactly how much of our communication is nonverbal. Conservative communication professionals would suggest that our nonverbal behavior or body language make up at least 70% of our communication.
Lack of eye contact, a shoulder shrug, arms crossed, a scowl, a frown, eyes wide open, bent over laughing, a huge smile, a tear, or a gaze off in the distance are all ways of communicating with those around us. By understanding the four areas of nonverbal communication we can all do a better job of really understanding what people are saying when they talk to us.
Since we are all communicating all the time here are the four ways we speak the loudest when we are not using our words. I would even go so far as to say the volume is louder at number one and softer as you move toward number four.
How We Talk When We Don’t Use Our Words
1. Facial Expression
2. Eye Movement
3. Body Posture
4. Hand Gestures
Here are a few thoughts on nonverbal communication that are occasionally overlooked.
Nonverbal Communication Is Highly Emotional
If we are excited about something we generally become more animated with our nonverbal communication. Hands moving, eyes wide open, smiling and laughing. If you just won a new car and were telling your friends about it, what would that look like? How would you say it?
Nonverbal Communication Is More Credible
They are called “cues.” A cue is simply something we do that isn’t backed up by what we say. If we are talking to a good friend and keep stopping during the middle of the conversation to reply to a text we are communicating disinterest even thought we said, “Go ahead, I’m listening.” We listen with our eyes more than our ears. Emerson once said, “What you are doing is thundering above your head so loud I can’t hear what you are saying.”
Nonverbal Communication Means You Are Always Communicating
We are walking billboards. The question is, What are we advertising? As we walk through our day or speak with others at the office how are we communicating? Our faces are telling a story whether we tell it to be quiet or not.
Three Ways To Better Nonverbal Communication
1. Watch What You Say, Literally
Record yourself and watch it. Yes, it’s painful. If you are a teacher or communicator it’s good to watch yourself communicate. How many times do you say that word? How fast are you really talking? How often are you looking at your notes? I started recording myself many years ago and still do it today because I want to be a better communicator and remove those annoying habits that can distract from what is being said verbally.
A smile is an inexpensive way to improve our looks and the countenance of others.
3. Be Animated
Use gestures when you talk. Gesture with your face, forehead and eyes. Our eyes are often the best way to communicate. A great reminder from the Bible in Proverbs 15:30 says, “Bright eyes gladden the heart.”
If we work on what our body is really saying then maybe we wouldn’t have to talk so much.
What area do you need to work on this week? 1, 2 or 3? Why?
1. Watching what you say
3. Being Animated
Photo: istockphoto.com File #4356705 Joan Vicent Cantó Roig