|Theatre at the Fort||
Nonverbal Communication: What are you saying...really?
Have you ever sent a text message or email to a friend, only to have the person you are sending it to misinterpret the emotional content of the message? One of the drawbacks of so much digital communication has to do with the lack of context that body language (or, more accurately, nonverbal clues) those messages have. Have you noticed yourself using emoticons (happy faces, smiley faces, etc.) more and more in order to indicate when you are joking or sad? Without being in the presence of the receiver of the message, we miss the layers of communication with which we surround the actual words we speak.
Often as important as the actual words we speak are the nonverbal clues we send and receive from others. Eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture, touch, intensity, timing, pace, and intensity are all elements of nonverbal communication we use to interpret the emotional content of a communication exchange.
Elements of Non-verbal Communication
Is this source of connection missing, too intense, or just right in yourself or in the person you are looking at?
What is your face showing? Is it masklike and unexpressive, or emotionally present and filled with interest? What do you see as you look into the faces of others?
Tone of voice
Does your voice project warmth, confidence, and delight, or is it strained and blocked? What do you hear as you listen to other people?
Posture and gesture
Does your body look still and immobile, or relaxed? Sensing the degree of tension in your shoulders and jaw answers this question. What do you observe about the degree of tension or relaxation in the body of the person you are speaking to?
Remember, what feels good is relative. How do you like to be touched? Who do you like to have touching you? Is the difference between what you like and what the other person likes obvious to you? (This includes firmness of grip during handshakes, pats on backs, hugs.)
Do you or the person you are communicating with seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or over-the-top and melodramatic? Again, this has as much to do with what feels good to the other person as it does with what you personally prefer.
Timing and pace
What happens when you or someone you care about makes an important statement? Does a response—not necessarily verbal—come too quickly or too slowly? Is there an easy flow of information back and forth?
Do you use sounds to indicate that you are attending to the other person? Do you pick up on sounds from others that indicate their caring or concern for you?
Source: The Language of Emotional Intelligence, by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.