Non verbal communication: How to read yourself and others

Non verbal communication: How to read yourself and others

Non-verbal communication is every type of non-verbal communication that we use in our daily lives. Non-verbal communication is natural and many times unconscious, and we are always, all day long transmitting non-verbal communication. 

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it” 

Non-verbal communication focuses on the how, not on the what. It can be used on it’s own or accompanying verbal communication. When verbal and non-verbal communication is contradictory, it is generally non-verbal communication the one we chose to interpret. This is because non-verbal communication expresses feelings, emotions and thoughts directly and many times without us noticing. But even though non-verbal communication comes to us naturally, it also depends on cultural habits and socialization techniques. Therefore, we can say that it is a natural trait but it is also learned and apprehended.

Non-verbal communication is a very broad term that includes: facial expressions, gestures (which are usually cultural, per example southern country’s people using more “expressive” gestures), paralingüistics (tone, pitch, highness and inflections of the voice), body language, appearance, postures, etc. The most common types of non-verbal communication and the ones that people tend to read and train more easily are: facial expressions and body language. 

Learn how to read others and yourself

Knowing how to interpret other people’s non-verbal communication and improving our own can help us in many ways, both life- and proffessional skills. Natural empathic people can read other people much easily, but empathy can also be taught and trained. By learning what people are telling you without words you’ll be able to have a bigger picture of them and of social situations. 

Once you learn how to read non-verbal communication you’ll also be able to train on your own non-verbal communication to make good impressions in front of other people. You may not notice it but maybe your body language is pushing people away or sending messages that you don’t want to. 

When you change your body language you will also be able to change your own mood. To feel and appear happier and more confident try to stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and don’t look down all the time (you’ll seem sad) or stay rigid (it expresses nervousness or defensiveness). Your facial expressions are also important: making eye contact, smiling more, not covering your face with your hands and hair are just some techniques that may help you get rid of bad body language habits. 

Kinesics

One of the most famous techniques for reading body language is Kinesia. Kinesia is the technique that analyzes body language, postures, gestures, expressions and active listening. 

In order to start reading non-verbal communication you can: 

  • Watch a movie without sound and subtitles and try to figure out what characters are thinking, feeling and saying according to their acts.
  • Analyze your own and other people’s body and faces while talking. 
  • Try some acting games and exercises. Body language is very much linked to theatre, and it can be very fun.
  • Learn any type of sign language (SL) of your country. Appart of making a big social impact and learning a new language you’ll improve your body language, facial expressions and gestures a lot. 

Remember that non-verbal communication can also help you for your professional life such as in interviews, so it can be very interesting and useful to know more about it.

Irene Adolph Crespo