“60 percent of all human communication is nonverbal: body language; 30 percent is your tone, so that means 90 percent of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.” from the movie Hitch.
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. We send and interpret all of those without being consciously being aware of them. Body language may provide clues about the feelings and attitude of the person we are talking to, for example, it may indicate aggression towards us, boredom in the conversation, or genuine interest. Did you ever try to talk or convince someone of your point of view while the other person had their arms crossed? I’m sure that it did not go well for you, since he was not receptive to any of your ideas. You meet a person after a long absence, how does he feel? Notice his smile: a genuine smile engages the whole face, including the eyes, while a not so true or polite smile will often only engage the lips. It’s useful to be able to read people’s body language because. It is important to know body language, because what people say is not always how they feel.
Tone of Voice
“Watch your tone with me, young lady!” Have you ever been told that as a child or teenager? Our tone conveys various feelings: anger, frustration, joy, happiness, we may sounds distracted or preoccupied, be sarcastic, and all of those will influence how others hear what we are saying and how they will interpret our underlying message. The voice includes such factors as tone, loudness, inflection, and pitch (remember “The Nanny”?). Just try saying the following sentence five times, each time giving more emphasis on a different word as indicated below, and consider the powerful effect that tone of voice can have on the meaning of a single sentence.
1. I didn’t steal that apple.
2. I didn’t steal that apple.
3. I didn’t steal that apple.
4. I didn’t steal that apple.
5. I didn’t steal that apple.
The Words of Your Past
“It is not what happened around you or even to you, but within you that really matters.”
Spoken words affect us on a deeper level than we imagine, and can affect us for many years into the future, if not for a lifetime. Think back to your childhood, what words did you hear spoken about you or to you: beautiful, smart, clever, or bad, stupid, never amount to anything? Do these words still linger in your mind? How did they affect your current life? Did you believe that you can do anything, and took risks to achieve more in life, or did you stay back, not wanting to rock the boat believing that you will not succeed anyway, so why even try? If you answered ‘‘yes’’ to the later, understand that oftentimes the people used those negative words towards us, were themselves so insecure in themselves that they used that form of communication to keep us feeling down, for their fears that we may rise higher than them. It is time to reconsider why those believes still have strongholds on your life, maybe you believed them then, but you do not have to believe them anymore, so let go of them and start anew today.
The Words of Your Future
Words create pictures in our mind, and those pictures create outward actions. Have you ever noticed how when you wake up in the morning after sleeping on the wrong side of bed, and say to yourself “I don’t feel so good today”, you then spend the next few hours telling everyone around you how bad you feel, and start looking for ever new signs of sickness, you develop a headache, sniffles, sore throat, and by noon your whole body is weak and you feel terrible? What we focus on expands, and your mind will always look for confirmation of your beliefs, so instead of concentrating on problems, it is better to focus on solutions in your life.
Words have tremendous power; they create visions of that which does not yet exist. In 1961 President J.F. Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” At that time, the technology did not exist for such an undertaking, but on July 20th, 1969 the entire world looked in amazement and wonder as Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon. Kennedy’s words ignited the dream of a nation, and the dream became reality.
Words to Yourself and to Others
Words are a tool that can help change your mind and your life: they create visions, which can be negative or positive. It is not what the vision is, but what it can do for your life that counts, so use it only for good. Use your words to build up yourself and others, for never before and never again will there be another one of you—use your life wisely. Some of the most powerful words you’ll ever speak are those followed “I” or “I am,” and therefore never use a word indicating any negativity, inability, or humiliation. If you hear someone say to you, “You are stupid,” you have the power to either accept it or reject it, and I hope that you will reject it. If you hear yourself saying, “I am so stupid,” you will not have the power to reject it, since it came out of your own mouth. Therefore, acceptance of that statement is the only way, unfortunately with very destructive consequences for your own future. Each word out of your own mouth should be positive, good, and encouraging, to enrich your life, and those of others around you.
The Power of Silence
Imagine receiving an invitation to a party: all your friends will be there and so you go out and buy a new dress. You look stunning and on the day of the party everyone compliments on how great and beautiful you look, well, all … except that one friend who just sits there with her lips tightly sealed, and a look of envy on her face. She does not need to say anything; her actions speak louder than words.
Imagine another situation: lunch break with your coworkers, and everyone is bashing the new girl in the office. Seems like the discussion is turning more and more offensive, and each one is passing more judgmental remarks, and suddenly all eyes are on you eagerly awaiting your input into the bashing. Instead of a remark, all the group is getting is your silence, and that silence speaks volumes.
Our World of Communication
As long as you are surrounded by others, it is inevitable to communicate , no matter what you do you are sending messages to those around you, whether with the words you speak (or write), your tone of voice, your body language, or facial expressions. The more you understand and learn to read those, the easier it will become, and the more effective you will become as a communicator.
My best wishes to all you in mastering the art of successful communication!