NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION
The expression ‘action speaks louder than words’ is absolutely true.
In written and verbal communication, the writer or speaker can choose the words carefully and intentionally.
However, it’s not that easy to manipulate non-verbal communication like body language, facial expressions and eye contact.
They show expressions that generally covers all forms of emotions such as interest, happiness, boredom, confusion, defensiveness, contempt, sadness, fear or anger. In fact, non-verbal communication acts as the tattletale in conversations.
You have to pay attention to see what the speaker is saying beyond words. Sometimes, a person is too reserved to express their thoughts through words and show it through their actions.
Other times, actions and expressions amplify a person’s genuine thoughts, indicating truthfulness and confidence.
And there are times when people don’t mean what they say and their actions contradict their words.
This is why understanding non-verbal communication is very important in professional and personal situations.
Let’s look into forms of non-verbal communication.
The field of psychology states that there are seven basic emotions that can be reflected through facial expressions. They are joy, surprise, contempt, fear, anger, disgust and sadness.
Interestingly, because our face has 43 facial muscles controlling the movement of our eyebrows, eyelids, nose, mouth and lips, we can reflect a variety or expressions on our face.
Let’s look at the seven basic expressions.
” : -D “
Happiness – the look of happiness is described as having an upwards and diagonal lips (a smile) with muscles around the eyes tightened as a result from the smile.
” 0_0 ”
Surprised – a person feeling surprised is described as having the eyebrows and eyelids pulled up with the mouth slightly open (hear the silent ‘gasp!’) and dilated pupils.
If the eyes relax and the lips turn into a smile, that is being pleasantly surprised ;D
” 😮 “
Fear – an expression very similar to ‘surprise’, except that fear lasts longer. The eyebrows and eyelids are pulled up so as to open the eyes extra wide and pay extra attention to what’s going on.
” >:( “
Anger – this expression has got your eyebrows and eyelids pulled downwards with the ends of the eyebrows going upwards (frown) and pursed lips.
” :-/ “
Contempt – this expression is unique because it will make your lip corner pulled up and back on just one side.
” -_- “
Disgust – this expression is described as having your eyebrows pulled down, nose slightly crinkled and upper lips slightly arched.
” 🙁 “
Sadness – someone who is feeling sad will have their eyebrows and eyelids pulled downwards, lips curved downwards.
Maintaining a good and strong eye contact is a very important skill. Eye contact does not only show sincerity, it reflects confidence and establishes authority too.
Let’s look at common eye movement interpretations and also eye contact triangles, further explained and shown below.
Common eye movement
Eye movement may differ for each individual but these expressions are considered to be common eye movements.
Steady eye contact – interest, confidence and sincerity
Breaking eye contact – uninterested or insincere
Looking at the floor – uninterested or sad
Looking to the right – creating, lying
Looking to the left – thinking, recalling
Power Gaze or Business Gaze
The power gaze is used for business and formal meetings. The eye contact triangle is limited to the area in between the eyes and the forehead only.
Social Gaze or Personal Gaze
The eye contact triangle for this gaze is the area in between the eyes, through the nose and down to the lips.
The intimate gaze starts from the eyes down to the chest. This type of gaze is completely unacceptable in professional settings.
Usually, body language amplifies the expression of the person. Sometimes, body language reveals the true feelings of a person even when they do not express it through words or facial expression. Below are some common body language:
Open posture – confidence or openness
Crossed-arms – defensive or confidence
Slouched – uninterested or unconfident
Hands on hips – contempt or anger or confidence
Body turned away – anger or uninterested
confident or open
Crossed arms + chin up + smug smile
Resting face on hand
Hands on hip
Hands on hip
Turned away + crossed arms
uninterested and angry or upset
Non-verbal communication is a very powerful form of communication. You can practice projecting good body language, appropriate facial expressions and strong eye contact. If you are planning to be in business for a long time, the best way is to be sincere with your thoughts and actions, and your expressions will show naturally.
On the flip side, you can observe the non-verbal cues from your clients so that you can give better responses. You can also gauge the non-verbal expressions of new people you are dealing with as a cautionary measure.