The Importance of Nonverbal Communication
Believe it or not, we are constantly communicating. Whether we are catching up with old friends or standing in line at the grocery store. One thing that most people to not realize is the “message” that we give off, or the effect that body language truly has. As stated by Susan Heathfield, people can be aware of your attitude the second you walk in the door (Heathfield, 2016). With nonverbal communication having a much higher rate than verbal communication, it is important to not only learn how to properly communicate nonverbally, but also how to read it.
Have you been put in a situation or conversation where the other person won’t talk to you? Look at their stance; are they crossing their arms, avoiding eye contact? Are they showing signs of defense or other emotions? By better learning the different meanings of body language, you can help turn the situation around. When you walk into a room, your body has already greeted the room before you get the chance to open your mouth. If you were to walk into a room of people right now, what would they be reading you as? Confident? Nervous? Unprepared? Any of these are possibilities that can easily be told by the way someone walks and hold themselves.
One interesting thing that Heathfield points out in her article is some helpful tips when it comes to learning more about nonverbal communication. She mentions the importance of reading all of the body language. Now, this is made up of tone of voice, body position, what you’re wearing, to where your eyes are looking (Heathfield, 2016). By understanding just what to look for, will help you get a good start at reading and understanding it.
In my years of being a communication scholar I have learned to see just how much photography can be used to learn about nonverbal communication. Let’s take a look at this photo for instance; what can you see? Two siblings; happy; laughing; having a good time. How did you convey all of that from a still image? Body language, people. This is a perfect example of “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Even though it may be a still image, you can get a sense of the situation or setting that it was taken in. Let me give you one more and see what you can gather from it.
Now, this picture you could say a lot from. Tired, stressed, senior in college procrastinating. To understand all of this you do not need to know the subject, you just have to be able to read the situation. By understanding body language it will help you not only become a better communicator but also better at analyzing and appreciate art. Whether you’re walking through an art museum and reading the scenes through the painted body language, or going through your friend’s selfies she took of you when you weren’t paying attention. Either way, nonverbal communication surrounds us daily. Learn how to read body language and you will begin to see everything in a bit different light.