Basic Body Language and Communication
Body language is a key part of effective and precise communication. Human beings are programmed to communicate verbally and non-verbally, combining the two aspects of communication to send and receive accurate messages.
Verbal or Non Verbal?The answer to this question is that neither form of communication is more important than the other. However, if one form is missing or inconsistent the impact on communication is huge. In general, verbal messages enhance accuracy and specificity, while non verbal messages enhance intent, meaning, and subtlety.
In situations where we are conscious of both, such as presentations and speaking opportunities, most of us put at least some time into practicing and polishing both the words and the body language that goes with them. Most of the rest of the time, though, we give little thought to how the two communication forms work together, and that’s why so many communication issues arise.
Modern Communication IssuesAn obvious communication issue in this modern world relates to electronic messages, such as email and instant messaging. These methods of communicating rely on words almost exclusively, leaving out the subtleties and nuances that come with non verbal cues and behaviours. Combine this with the extraordinary ease and speed with which email and instant messaging occur, and you can see why miscommunication and misunderstanding can so easily happen with these forms.
Another less obvious communication issue of the modern world is the immense influence of visual media on expectations and life in general. Because it is so easy to access video materials, the tendency is to begin thinking the types of body language and non verbal cues in those materials is normal. For instance, advertisers spend a great deal of time and money using sexuality to promote their products and create a ‘lifestyle’ of sorts. It doesn’t take very long for viewers of those ads to begin thinking that it’s normal for women to use their bodies to influence others and for men to use their masculinity to achieve status.
In other words, people start to expect other people to communicate in person the same way people apparently communicate in the media. Of course, those expectations simply cannot be met in the real world, leading to miscommunication, unrealistic expectations, and a lot of disappointment.
Effective Use of Body Language in Real LifeThe practical reality is that knowledge of body language and its use is not as widespread as perhaps it should be. The best way to counteract this is to make a point of raising our own awareness of non verbal behaviours and teaching our children about it as well. It goes well beyond teaching our children, though, as most people have many opportunities to influence and mentor others along the way.
When you focus on combining verbal and non verbal messages in the most effect ways possible, you improve your overall communication ability tremendously. This in turn helps you to be more successful in nearly every aspect of your life, from relationships to the workplace and beyond. It is well worth the effort to learn all you can about body language and put it to practical use in your communication practices.