How many times have you heard someone say, "You know what I mean?" and you immediately respond with a head nod or raise your eyebrows to acknowledge their question. But did you truly understand? Most of us would agree, we may have just gotten caught up in the conversation and our automatic response may have been a head nod. This is often termed nonverbal communication. As you know, we communicate both verbally and nonverbally, but sometimes many of us struggle with nonverbal cues. Let's explore several types of nonverbal communication.
Types of nonverbal communication
The many different types of nonverbal communication or body language include:
Facial expressions. The human face can vary from person to person but the expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures.
Body movement and posture. The way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the world. Think about when you cross your legs or fold your arms during a conversation. Does this convey interest? Or perhaps it appears you are disengaged?
Gestures. Gestures can involve various bodily movements, especially as it relates to cultural norms and what is socially acceptable.. Be mindful and check for understanding to avoid misinterpretation.
Eye contact. The eyes are said to be the window to the soul and are necessary for personal connection. It facilitates the flow of conversation and helps to gauge the other person’s interest and response.
Touch. Communication through touch can add more clarity to verbal conversation. For example, different messages are given with a warm hug or firm hand shake as opposed to a relentless grip or tug on the arm,
Space. Have you ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and invading your space? Some of us welcome 3-5 feet of space, while others may like closeness based on the nature of the relationship. Physical space can communicate many different nonverbal messages, including signals of intimacy and affection, aggression or dominance.
Voice. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. When you speak, other people “read” your voice as well as your words. They listen for inflection, pitch, and tone, to help interpret the meaning behind your message, Be sure to check verbally for understanding.
Research suggests 55% of all communication is nonverbal, which means more often we engage in nonverbal communication consistently on daily basis. Unfortunately, many people send confusing or negative nonverbal signals without even knowing it. When this happens, both connection and trust in relationships are damaged. This is why its important to also communicate verbally and ask questions for understanding. The next time you hear "You know what I'm saying? Ask questions, and make sure you know what they are saying.....
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