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Non-verbal communication: how to use body language to connect with others


We transmit and perceive thoughts and moods unconsciously. That's why sometimes language is just the tip of the communication iceberg.

 Albert Kent, a psychologist and essay paper writer, who studied human behavior, determined percentages that serve as a reference in any communication course. Body language represents 55% of the information extracted from communication, tone of voice 38%, and words only 7%.

 No wonder the body is so important. We have all experienced how people who know us can sense our state of mind just by the expression on our faces or our voice. We should not forget that our distant ancestors may have communicated entirely without words since verbal language is evolutionarily later than body language.

 There are many occasions in which verbal communication is incongruent with body language. We send contradictory messages when what we say does not match how we say it.

 For example, what will we think if a person promises to help us but shakes his head? Probably, we do not trust what he/she says.

 Undoubtedly, more credibility is given to what comes to us from the body than to words. Listening to verbal speech, we also listen to the gestures, the voice, the look, and even the speaker's clothing.

 Words can be more easily manipulated, while what comes from the body is more direct and spontaneous.



 The key to effective communication lies in the congruence between what we say verbally and what comes out of our bodies. For example, when a person feels happy, his face is radiant, his eyes shine, and his movements are dynamic. Or when he feels angry, his muscles tense, and his gaze is fixed. We all respond to others in the light of their expressions. Often we try to mask our feelings with words.

 Like the person who goes to a job interview and says she is happy and motivated, but her voice sounds muffled. She looked down at the floor and hunched over. Contrary to what her words say, her body language betrays a part of her that she doesn't want this job. The interviewer will probably pick up on this message and rule her out as a candidate.

 To avoid falling victim to inconsistencies in communication, manuals are sold that teach tricks to get jobs, sell more, or seduce. The problem is that these tricks do not work if they are not internalized. What does not come from within is perceived as empty, mechanized, and inauthentic.

 To get to know what we say, we would have to rehearse many times, just like a good actor who finally gets to feel his role.

 For example, if we want to make friends, we will not only have to master the behaviors to tune in with the other person but also work on internalization. In this case, it will be necessary to come to believe that we deserve to have a friend or that we can maintain a friendship.



 If we learn to observe the body, we will be able to understand others and ourselves much more accurately. By listening to the body's messages, we can go deeper into our feelings and needs.

 The emotional world resides in the body. Good management of sensations and emotions, the so-called "emotional intelligence," depends on our sensitivity to what the body says.

 To decipher the body, we must stop the activity and ask ourselves: how am I? what do I feel? Where do I feel it? What does it mean? The answers sometimes take some time to arrive, requiring patience, practice, and trust.

 We receive a lot of information that we cannot grasp consciously. Looking into the body to connect with this unconscious wisdom is necessary.

 But connecting with the body can make us uncomfortable. Difficulty in dealing with conflicting emotions leads to repressing them. The long-term consequences of ignoring what the body is saying are increased body stiffness and even somatization.

 When the body is systematically forced to conceal how it feels, a moment comes when it loses flexibility. It forgets the access routes to the emotions, which accumulate in the muscles due to the lack of expression.

 Thus, the body becomes stiff and can become ill to unload repressed emotions. Migraines, backaches, or digestive problems may be talking about unresolved conflicts. To recover vitality, it is necessary to face what is repressed and give it an outlet.



 We are all born with the ability to relate without words. Children have less developed verbal language than adults and therefore resort more to non-verbal to express themselves and understand others.

 In front of a child, we cannot camouflage an emotion with words because he absorbs it like a sponge. We will only confuse him if we try to tell him the opposite of what he perceives.

 By hiding our real state of mind in front of children, they lose confidence in the understanding non-verbal language. If, on the other hand, we try to be congruent with the children, we will educate them so that they also know how to be congruent in turn.

 Suppose in the past, and it was considered intelligent to be able to detach oneself from one's emotions and body. In that case, it is now understood that learning to manage the body and emotions is desirable.

 The concept of "emotional intelligence," nowadays so frequent, was used for the first time in 1990 by psychologists P. Salovey and J. Mayer to describe the abilities that seem relevant for success:

  • Self-awareness. The first step is to know what we feel and how it affects us. Recognizing body sensations is the first step.
  • The ability to recognize the emotions of others is based on knowing how to interpret the signals that others emit unconsciously.
  • Social skills. They are based on a global expression of who we are and allow us to establish positive bonds.



 Hence the relationship between social skills and the ability to understand body language. The body is present in every interaction situation.

 If you want to check it, watch two people talking, and you will see how they make movements of approaching and distancing, like a dance.

 Observing carefully, you will detect harmony in the swaying of the bodies when the couple is in tune. This harmony will be broken when disagreements or conflicts appear.

 From this observation, we can intentionally create harmony with our partner by accompanying him/her with the body. It is a matter of adopting a posture similar to that of the other person, moving in the same way, and speaking with the same tone and rhythm.

 We can also distance ourselves or break contact with the other person by physically disagreeing, i.e., by making movements that are very different from those made by our interlocutor.

 In communication courses, a very effective exercise is carried out.  It consists of getting into pairs. One of you closes your eyes for five minutes and freely enters into your thoughts.

 The partner attentively observes his physiology: facial movements, breathing rhythm, and muscle tension... From what he/she perceives, he/she relates the thoughts and feelings that he/she assumes the other person has had.

 Generally, what is perceived bodily is very close to what is experienced. Achieving such a fine perception is not easy but can be achieved with much practice.

 In front of people, we are much more transparent than we imagine. What we think and feel is reflected in whether we want it or not in the way we are.

 Above all, in our faces, where more than seven thousand different expressions have been counted. Also, in our eyes, as the popular saying goes, "the eyes are the mirror of the soul." They will notice if we don't like someone, even if we don't say so.

 We can cultivate a good relationship by caring for our thoughts and feelings toward each other.

 If we want a good understanding with someone who does not inspire us much sympathy, it will be very positive to generate constructive thoughts towards this person. If, on the other hand, we criticize him or her behind his or her back, the relationship will certainly worsen.

 In short, we must take into account the scope of communication without words. Observing it will help us to know ourselves better and relate from the heart.

 It is impossible not to communicate. Even in silence, with the body, we are saying something. It is a matter of stopping and deciphering its messages.




 While you are interacting, pay attention to what is coming through your senses. Observe the other person's posture and movements.

 Imagine that your eyes are cameras that record the way the other person looks, moves their hands, and gestures. Look for planes and distances that allow you to capture more and better the image of the other person. What impression do you get?

  • Stand in front of the mirror and look at your image carefully. Do not let yourself be carried away by the criticisms that may come to you at first.
  • Try to be objective when answering yourself: What does your face express? What does your look say? What impression do you give to the other person?
  • You can contrast your answers by asking people who know you. If the answers differ from what you say or would like to say verbally, look for ways to change.

 Put aside the meaning of the sentences and try to identify their music. Listen to whether the voice is low or high-pitched, loud or soft. Is the pace of speech fast or slow?

 If the other person's speech were a song, what kind of song would it be? By paying attention to the "melody" in this way, do not fear losing the conversation thread. The overall perception will be enriched.


 Practice different ways of moving, looking, and breathing through dance, theater, or other artistic and therapeutic practices.

 We all have a great potential for sensitivity and expressiveness that is reduced by stereotyped ways of experiencing the body. Fine-tuning your body will make you more sensitive and able to express what is in you.

© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || InfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAbout
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