Tuesday Weisblog: You can say a lot without speaking a word

From a young age, people always tell you to be careful what you say. But what they don’t always tell you is to be aware of what you’re doing while you’re saying it.

I’m talking about “nonverbal communication.” They are the facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures and body language that you send out on a regular basis – whether you are aware of it or not. These unspoken transmissions carry a powerful message of their own, and if you’re not careful they can actually contradict the very words coming out of your mouth. (Example: You tell someone, “I’m doing just great,” but your body is slumped and there’s no happy look on your face.)

How many times have you heard of e-mail misunderstandings that occur simply because the receiver didn’t know something was a joke, or maybe they didn’t understand the desired “tone” of the sender. Had there been one-to-one nonverbal communication that accompanied these e-mails, chances are this would not have happened. (That’s why “emoticons” were invented, of course.)

Your nonverbal actions speak volumes, and being more aware of that will make you a better communicator.

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2 responses to “Tuesday Weisblog: You can say a lot without speaking a word

  1. Andrew Schaller

    Oh Weis one,
    I agree that facial expressions can seem to contradict what is being said. Facial expressions can also seem to say something that they aren’t intended to say. I once had a professor who, when he concentrated, looked a lot like he was constipated. He wasn’t.

    I was once told that I was standing in judgment of someone because “I crossed my arms.” I wanted to say, “Excuse me, Sigmond Freud, but I cross my arms to show off my pipes, not to stand in judgment of you.”

    I speak publicly on a regular basis, and the faces I see are comical. I think you can also tell when people aren’t really listening (you can see it in their eyes).

    Moreover, it’s not just WHAT you say but also HOW you say it that betrays what you really mean.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking blog…

  2. Andrew Schaller

    I was kidding about the pipes thing… 😉

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