Non-verbal language

What does non-verbal language consist of?

Non-verbal language consists of our bodily and facial movements in addition to our frame of mind and mood. The physical movements are relatively easy to interpret, but comprehending the frame of mind and mood may be somewhat more difficult, and that is what this posting is about.

In my opinion, frame of mind and mood cover our emotional state at the time of communication. In other words, non-verbal language carries the message as to whether the sender is happy, sad, angry, upset etc., but perhaps what is even more important it also carries the message of the sender’s attitude towards what he/she is saying as well as towards the receiver of the message. This is well-known from the expression ”pokerface”, where a player wishes to hide all expression and instead signal complete neutrality. But we also know the phenomenon from politicians and other professionals who wish to separate their personal opinions from what they are talking about.

Why is non-verbal language interesting?

Because deep down inside, many people want to engage in sincere and honest communication, in which they understand what is being said as well as what the sender personally means. It does not feel good when somebody says they are fond of you and at the same time you can feel they do not mean it. Neither is it nice to hear politicians make promises when you know it is merely to attract voters and not because they intend to keep the promise. Communication can be a deep and sincere experience when you mean what you say – on the other hand it can also be shallow chit chat, if you merely speak to be heard.

How can you develop your non-verbal language?

You do that by being aware of your opinions and by standing by them. In other words, you are aware of what you believe in and can vouch for these beliefs. You can then choose to express your opinion verbally or merely let it be unsaid. In both cases, you will be applying non-verbal expression. Through your opinions and attitudes, you also express your emotional state towards the person you are communicating with. Towards the person as well as the subject. By becoming aware of how you feel about the person and the subject, you become conscious of what you express non-verbally, because even if you don’t put words on your emotional state, it is still communicated. For instance, if you do not like the person you are talking to, you may become irritated with and go into opposition to that person. But if you are aware of and comprehend your stand towards the other person, you have the possibility of establishing an overview and tolerance which will change the non-verbal expression and thus enable you to have an attentive and respectful dialogue.

Is it possible to hide your non-verbal language?

Some people can, but in my experience it is very difficult. This becomes very apparent at my courses with the horses, where participants try to create contact with the horses merely through their non-verbal expression. It always comes as a surprise to the participants that they send out so many non-verbal signals. Horses are very sensitive and therefore react very clearly. If only people would become aware of reading the non-verbal language as meticulously as they read the verbal language as I am sure that many people actually register a considerable number of messages contained in the non-verbal language.

And why should you hide your non-verbal language, why not learn to use it as a supplement to your verbal language.  

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