Non-Verbal Messages

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Non-Verbal Messages
Non-verbal messages are as important as the words we say. Congruence (saying what you mean and having your body reflect the same message) is also a key part of communicating well.
In this lesson, you’ll learn the basics of non-verbal communication, and how non-verbal messages are interpreted. As you work through the material, think about some of the non-verbal messages you send.
About Non-Verbal Messages
Non-verbal messages are, in fact, more important that the words we say. This can include the way we stand, what we do with our hands, the sound of our voice, the way we walk, and the expressions on our face.
Not that long ago, studies told us we only had four minutes to make a first impression. Today, we only have 90 seconds. In this fast-paced society, we don’t have time to get more than a quick snapshot of how a person looks before we make up our mind about them. They are making up their mind about us at the same time, too.
Body Language
Much of our face-to-face communication happens through body language. While we deliver a message through words, we are also emphasizing, confirming, or even negating what we say through our tone of voice and our non-verbal body language.
The face and the eyes are the most expressive means of body communication. Additional positive or negative messages are sent by your gestures, posture, and the space between you and the other person.
Body language must be in tune with your words and tone, or you will send a mixed and often confusing message. Positive body language is important to supporting your words and ensuring complete understanding.
The Signals People Send
The chart below can be used as a guide to help you with some of the signals that people send.

Non-Verbal Communication Interpretation
Facial Expressions
Frown Displeasure, unhappiness
Smile Friendliness, happiness
Raised eyebrows Disbelief, amazement
Narrowed eyes Anger
Blushing Embarrassment
Eye Contact
Glancing Lack of interest
Steady Active listening, interest, seduction
Hand/Arm Gestures
Pointing finger Authority, displeasure, lecturing
Folded arms Not open to change, preparing to speak
Arms at side Open to suggestions, relaxed
Hands uplifted outward Disbelief, puzzlement, uncertainty
Body Postures
Fidgeting, doodling Boredom
Hands on hips Anger, defensiveness
Shrugging shoulders Indifference
Squared stance or shoulders Problem-solving, concern, listening
Biting lip, shifting, jingling money Nervousness
Sitting on edge of chair Listening, great concern
Slouching in chair Boredom, lack of interest
Business dress Authoritative, conservative
Sloppy attire Disrespect, lack of responsibility
Casual clothes Relaxation
Proxemics (Physical Space)
From physical contact to 18 inches Intimate space
From 18 inches to 4 feet Personal space
From 4 feet to 8 feet Social space
From 8 feet outward Public space
Voice Characteristics
Speaking loudly, quickly, and with clipped enunciation Anger
Monotone and downward inflection Boredom
High pitch, fast rate, loud volume, and upward Inflection Joy
Status Symbols
Rare or expensive possessions High status
Prestigious titles High status