Since last class on Wednesday (19) I admit I have become a little bit paranoid (or a “cold reader”) by how I’ve been observing people and even myself. The subject here is non verbal communication and how we express ourselves every second without even having to speak. Sometimes mouth says something, but body responds completely differently.
Our unconscious mind is way more vast than our conscious mind (Morgan, hbr) and therefore we don’t naturally understand or even notice every single body movement or facial expressions we make. As explained by Julian Adams in class, non verbal communication is your body language, expressions and mannerism responding to a conversation with others or to a specific situation like presentations and meetings.
There are many examples of non verbal communication, but personally, arm gestures and facial expressions are the ones that intrigued me the most. How could we possibly not be aware of our facial expressions when speaking to someone? Well, as a matter of fact, there are many situations in life where we have to hide the fact that we are nervous or scared, and other where being completely honest is not the best option. Therefore, we hide it through our words, even though how we feel is the complete opposite. The problem is that at some point, our body will react to how we truly feel and through simple or rough gestures, the truth will show for those who can easily read others.
This made me reflect back to many situations in my professional life where I felt there was something wrong in what people were telling me, or in interviews taken which I first had an idea of how it went, and in reality the turnout was completely different. Maybe demonstrating too much confidence can actually spike your weaknesses, or talking too much can show stress. Perhaps not talking at all sounds like a problem, but demonstrating interest, eye contacts and simple truthful gestures can give a great impression.
Image by Manpreet Kaur – Infogram
But then again, as discussed in class, there are so many mannerisms that may not even mean anything in particular. For example, crossing your arms can represent defence to one speaking to you… or it can just be a comfortable position in that very moment. As Julian explained, non verbal by itself does not mean much. What we look for is consistency and context in relation to actions. So if someone is speaking to you, and you don’t feel very comfortable with what is being said or even with that specific person, then you might cross your arm to subconsciously demonstrate a defensive feeling.
Being able to understand how our minds function around our feelings is crucial for our communication with others. Perhaps observing too much will drive you crazy, but being able to self educate and observe the truth in people is definitely a very interesting way to improve communication.
As for me, I definitely want to study the subject forward to be able to work better with my team at work and consequently understand them better than I do now.