Communicating as a Leader

Communication: Understanding the non-verbal art form of body language

Kurt Hurley asked:

He, who knows, does not speak. He, who speaks, does not know.” -Lao Tzu

Fundamentally, communication is expressed in verbal form. The conveyor, or he or she that is expressing, talks or writes while the recipient listens to or reads the transfer. However, there is another form of communication based on gestures or body movements. This art of non-verbal communication is better known as body language.

Although spoken communication is the more direct way to convey a message or point of view, it can be masked. In body language, the message can be conveyed in a truer sense or form. However, this depends on the interpretation of the recipient of the message. How we interpret as individuals is based specifically on our experiences.

Anthony Robbins once said, and I quote… “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

With that said, it is imperative to disseminate and bring into light this art of non-verbal communication. How a message is interpreted, correctly or wrongly, may have drastic, dramatic and perhaps even life altering implications.

It is far easier to see what one is saying, than it is to just hear what they are saying.

For funs sake, let’s pick a simple scenario to illustrate non-verbal communication. Let us say a former colleague of yours calls you to propose a business partnership. This colleague is just a casual acquaintance. He’s not exactly a confidant whom you would refer to as a close buddy. He has asked that the two of you meet somewhere and you politely oblige. So you wind up meeting him in a coffee shop. After the usual handshake (this is one type of body language), both of you take a seat and order a cup of green tea. After a few exchanges of pleasantries and engaging in a little small-talk, you touch on the subject of the business proposal. While in the process of presenting the proposed business, you occasionally interrupt him with questions that he readily answers. Subconsciously, while you continue to listen to his proposal, you keep touching your nose with your index finger, rubbing it once in a while as if covering the nose with your hand.

After the proposal has been made, he asks for any questions or comments, if his proposal merits your acceptance. He’s not asking for an immediate answer or decision, regarding your interest, giving you enough time to study it. However, your first impression of the proposal is somewhat of an inclination to reject it. Your core reason is that you are not familiar with the line of business he’s proposing, and to swim in unfamiliar water simply does not interest you.

But in spite of your negative perception of the proposal, you don’t want to disappoint your former colleague, at least not yet. Before you give the final word that you will seriously study the proposal, you make some initial comments about it to the tune that it may seem to merit your approval although it really does not. While you are making your comment, again subconsciously, you touch your nose with one hand while talking.

It’s observed that during the entirety of your discussion, you frequently made one move, touching your nose. Are you aware that touching your nose is a gesture that means you’re not saying what you really felt or meant? Studies suggest that saying something while touching the nose is not reflective of what’s being said. In this case, rubbing the nose is tantamount to disapproval of the proposal presented to you.

This is just on scenario, because we all see things from our own unique perspective, each of us all respond to stimuli differently.

Okay so… Here’s something that I have seen time and time again.

Literally, every time I see both Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson being interviewed, they are hysterically picking their ears and frantically rubbing their noses, now tell me I’m reading to much into it, but it seems to me that they are either bored to tears, completely uninterested in the interview or they are absolutely oblivious to this fact. It is hard for me to believe that after all these years and countless interviews that they are oblivious to anything, so…you be the judge.

Although there is no definite basis that these specific gestures of these two mega-successful stars are a sign of anything other than random physical movements, the art of body language does exist and for the most part is quite easy to identify. But, In reality anything could be going on, only the one expressing such gestures knows for sure…or do they?

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