Nonverbal communication

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Body language (nonverbal behavior, tells) is a means of transmitting information through:
  • facial expression
  • gestures
  • touching (haptics)
  • physical movements (kinesics)
  • posture
  • body adornment (clothes, jewelry, hair style, tattoos etc.)
  • tone
  • timbre
  • volume of an individual's voice
Nonverbal behavior comprise approximately 60 to 65 percent of all interpersonal communication.

The ten commandments to maximize your effectiveness in reading the nonverbals:
  1. Be a competent observer of your environment - situational awareness. Observation is an skill, can be learned and improved with training and practice. Becoming aware of the world around you is a conscious, deliberate behavior. Concentrating observation includes all senses, not only the sight.
  2. Observing in the context is key to understanding nonverbal behavior.
  3. Learn to recognize and decode nonverbal behaviors that are universal. Universal nonverbal behaviors that are relatively the same for everyone.
  4. Learn to recognize and decode idiosyncratic nonverbal behaviors. Idiosyncratic nonverbal behavior is a signal that is relatively unique to a particular individual. Behavior patterns in people you interact with on regular basis (friends, family, coworkers, persons who provide you with goods or services). Best predictor of the future behavior is the past behavior.
  5. When you interact with others, try to establish their baseline behavior. Baseline behavior = how they look normally, how they typically sit, where they place their hands, the usual position of their feet, their posture and common facial expression, the tilt of their heads and even where they generally place or hold their possessions. You need to be able to differentiate between their normal behavior and their behavior under stress or abnormal.
  6. Always try to watch people for multiple tells - behaviors that occur in clusters or in succession.
  7. Look for changes in person's behavior that can signal changes in thoughts, emotions, interest or intent. Sudden changes in behavior can help reveal how a person is processing the information or adapting to emotional events.
  8. Learn to detect false or misleading nonverbal signals. The ability to differentiate between authentic and misleading cues take practice and experience (concentrated observation and careful judgement).
  9. Learn to distinguish between comfort and discomfort. Comfort behavior: contentment, happiness, relaxation. Discomfort behavior: displeasure, unhappiness, stress, anxiety, tension.
  10. When observing others, be subtle about it. It is all a matter of practice and persistence.


What Every BODY is Saying, Book by Joe Navarro