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Using Your Body to Communicate: Five Forms of Body language

group talkingCommunication is not just about what comes out of our mouths. In fact, what we don’t say — our body language and use of silence — often sends a louder message than the words we use or the intonation of our voice. So being aware of, and practicing, our non-verbal communication skills are critical parts of overall interpersonal communications.

There are a number of studies that tell us how a listener pays more attention to body language than verbal messages. This implies that if one’s body language is inconsistent with the verbal message being sent (e.g. frowning while saying you’re happy), the verbal message is less credible. In fact, such inconsistency can even nullify the verbal message, and result in it being perceived as a lie. At the very least, inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal communication can result in confusion, stress and possibly even conflict.

What does body language look like – what do you need to look out for?

Our non-verbal communication tends to be unconscious.  It can be influenced by many things, including past habits, life experiences, personal models, culture and hidden thoughts and feelings. Because body language is often outside of awareness, most have no idea what exactly they are communicating to other people.  Being made more aware of how body language influences our communication and learning how to control it can go a long way to reducing misunderstandings, stress and conflict in our interpersonal relationships.



John Whitehead, coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

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