6 keys to understanding how nonverbal communication works
Aspects about nonverbal communication that you should know to start learning about this topic.
Nonverbal communication is a fascinating field of study, whose knowledge can be applied in a wide variety of situations.
That is why, year after year, a great deal of research is conducted on this topic, which contributes to a better understanding of the different ways in which what we do not say directly gives clues about our intentions, our emotions, our interests, etc.
However, in order to understand how nonverbal communication works, it is first necessary to discard some myths and question some preconceived ideas about this field of study and analysis of human behavior. Therefore, here is a summary of the main keys to understanding how nonverbal communication works. the main keys to understanding how nonverbal communication worksFrom these, it is possible to begin to build useful knowledge to better understand others and adapt to what conversations reveal about the people who talk to us.
The keys to understanding nonverbal communication and how it works.
Here are some key aspects that will help you understand how nonverbal communication works.
1. Not all parts of the body provide the same information.
The human body is made in such a way that there are a number of muscles that are particularly sensitive to psychological processes, both cognitive (i.e., those based on ideas and concepts) and emotional.
For this reason, people trained in nonverbal language analysis are particularly attentive to these areas, in order to make good use of their limited attention span.which is limited.
2. The chameleon effect must be taken into account.
For better or worse, we humans have a tendency to imitate our interlocutor when we talk face to face, even if we don't realize it. This means that the non-verbal information we pick up from the other person when conversing with someone is almost never "pure", since it carries this built-in tendency to behave in a way that matches what the other person is doing.
However, this also implies that if we However, this also means that if we learn the keys to nonverbal communication well, we can take advantage of this "chameleon effect"; for example, to calm the other person down or to calm the other person down.For example, to calm someone who is initially defensive, showing in certain ways that we are relaxed and that our breathing is not accelerated.
3. Intonation is fundamental
Not all the information that is exchanged in nonverbal communication processes has to do with muscular movements that we can see directly. The case of intonation when speaking is the most paradigmatic example of this: the fact of expressing oneself verbally by modulating the voice in one way or another can provide us with a lot of data to take into account, even though we do not see the movements that cause it.
In fact, paying attention to intonation is a very good way of getting to know the way in which the person moves the muscles involved in speech. muscles involved in speech, which have the characteristic of leaving their "imprint" on the voice with the slightest change in the voice. the slightest change in them. This is especially interesting if we take into account that these structures are very sensitive to the emotional state of the sender.
4. Non-verbal communication unfolds over time.
It would be a mistake to analyze someone's body language on the assumption that it is composed of moments, "photographs" that give us clues about the individual's state of mind. On the contrary: this type of communication that goes beyond words is characterized by its dynamism, by the fact that it cannot be totally "enclosed" in the pages of a book, because it is not static.
That is why, it is necessary to pay attention not to specific moments, but to sequences of movements with a beginning and an end.. This explains why one of the most interesting areas of nonverbal communication, proxemics, which gives us information based on the position and distances adopted by some people with respect to others, must be analyzed by looking at the direction of those movements. It is not the same to see an image in which two people are far apart, as it is to see how two people are together and little by little one of them is moving away.
5. Moments of disruption provide more information
Moments when we "catch the other person off guard" are especially valuable from the point of view of nonverbal communication, because they give us clues as to whether there is a disruption in their train of thought.
For example, in interrogations conducted by investigators or police officers, it is common to get the other person to "lower their defenses" by talking about topics they are comfortable with, and then at a certain point make an abrupt change of subject to what might make them more uncomfortable and see how they react.
People who do not have much to hide are somewhat surprised but do not make micro-expressions associated with stress.However, those in which there is a psychological disruption (the change from speaking almost without thinking to having to make something up almost on the fly), these subtle gestures do appear.
6. There are cultural differences to take into account
People who have developed knowledge in nonverbal communication are experts in the subject, among other things, because they know how to recognize what they cannot know, and they are aware that there are aspects they ignore.
For example, they know that most of the knowledge generated by science in this field has to do with the nonverbal language of people from Western culture, or from societies strongly influenced by this culture. It is known that gestures, proxemics and the use of intonation can vary greatly depending on the ethnicity to which the person to whom the person to whom they are speaking belongs belongs to which the person we are observing belongs.
Are you interested in learning about non-verbal communication? Try this course
If you are thinking of training yourself in the interpretation and management of nonverbal language, you will surely be interested in the course "The power of nonverbal communication: keys to interpret body language", promoted by the European Coaching School (EEC).promoted by Escuela Europea de Coaching (EEC). It is a 15-hour program designed to teach the theoretical and (above all) practical aspects of nonverbal communication and body language, and is taught online with live classes through EEC's synchronous classroom system. It is a course designed above all for professionals who work in fields in which it is essential to manage human interactions, such as Human Resources and Personnel Selection technicians, psychotherapists, coaches and sales people.
- You can find more information about Escuela Europea de Coaching and its courses on this page.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)