Whether you are a kindergarten teacher or a corporate executive, communication plays a vital role un your day to day work. And while most peoole are not spending their hours studying communication theory, we have all mastered a level of comunicational competence. It matters very much what you put on paper and what you say. But imagine if comunications went a step beyond that?
It actually does. In fact most communication between humans is non-verbal. Which means humans are most often taking their cues from physical encounters, facial gestured, posture and eye contact. We will look at three big areas of non-verbal communication and what you need to know, to put them to best use.
Visual Stemuli: Eye Contact
It is probably the most powerful nonverbal communication tool for humans. Unless you are blind visual stemuli plays a massuve role in completing a communications feedback loop. When we look at others we translate a number of physical factors about them. From body language and personal style to facial gestures.
However, eye contact often quickly conveys unsaid truth in seconds. This is often coupled with facial gestures and it help individuals determine attitude, sttate of mind, danger and even attraction. Even if you travel and experience different cultures with nuanced gestures that you may not fully understand, eye contact is often the fastest way to determine meaning and intent. When all else fails, be sure to make eye contact to help determine the full context of a conversation, a gesture ot interaction.
Disposition and Worldview: Facial Expressions
The resting state of the human face often differs from one society to the next. In some societies men and women co-exist with a permenant facial scowl in others it is expressionless. This general dynamic may be a social coping mechanism, the result of collective trauma or a disposition informed by a cultural worldview. It may be shocking to travel to some countries where individuals generally look pissed or aggrevated.
The important thing in communication however, is to determine what is normal in that society, work back from there to ascertain meaning or use it to convey meaning. In the USA people generally adhere to the concept of being inoffensive and so general expressions are muted resignation or unengaged until the person must respond to good or bad stemuli. Therefore an American fully engages his facial gestures in interpersonal scenarios.
However in other societies it may not be considered feasible to express one’s emotions in communication. One’s greatest tool in understanding facial gestures is observation. Some cultures will smile or laugh when they are quite angry or unhappy, because that is the socially acceptable nonverbal response. So your obsevation will play a huge role, and these differences may pose challenges to Artificial Intelligence programmers who only have their own cultural experience to program into an algorithm which may then misread responses.
Body Language: Touch and Movement
Touch and body movemnt often tells the greater story. There are some gestures that are universal and this helps with understanding what is being communicated. How one moves and acts conveys a message. Bad posture and a slow shuffle may imply to unlookers that a person is tired or sad whether true or not.
While many gestures and movements are universal, some are not and may be unique to a culture or society. Improving your ability to accurately understand and express intent and meaning can be useful in business, interpersonal relationships and daily life. Touch also plays a big part in nonverbal communication. How it is used can communicate many things. Touch can communicate confidence, comfort, anger and erotic intent. But it must be evaluted carefully in the context of the society, the situation and the nature of te relationship. Two men walking together holding hands mean different things in the USA than in the Middle East. So mastering touch as a communications tool reqires a high level of skill because a lot could go wrong with touch deemed inappropriate. You want to be sure that you are communicating the right message whenever you enter personal space.
Nonverbal communication can be a powerful way to express ideas and intent. But it should be embarked upon with clear cultural and situational context. A working understanding of nonverbal communication can be imensely helpful when coupled with appropriate verbal messaging.
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