Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nonverbal Cues

Nonverbal cues give us information that can greatly aid us in communication. First, imagine these circumstances: Ever since you walked into the classroom there have been classmates looking at you and talking quietly to those around them. Once in a while there is a giggle and often there are smiles. The key thing that doesn’t ever happen is they include you in the conversation. In fact, you’re certain at this point that the discussion going around the room is about you. Then it dawns on you that you have a job interview after class and there is no time for you to go to your room and change. Instead of wearing your regular student uniform (blue jeans, hoodie sweatshirt that says “No Fear”, and tennis shoes) you’re wearing a light jacket, white shirt, black dress shoes and a tie. Finally, one of your classmates asks, “Are you going for a job interview after class.”

Your response, “Yes I am. How did you guess? Perhaps it was the clothes I am wearing. Wish me luck.”

Not know what the other students were saying and suspecting that they were talking about you could have been quite unsettling had nobody clarified the situation. You probably would have checked all you buttons and zippers and wished for a mirror to check things that can’t be seen without one. With that explanation in mind, much of the whispered conversations around the room have an explanation that allows you to relax.

When you’re feeling confident and your self-esteem is high, these little unexplained conversations around you aren’t very tough to deal with. On the other hand, when your self-esteem has just taken a hit and you’re feeling sort of down, then these conversations might make you feel resentful and uncomfortable. Those talking about you and not with you are not being particularly thoughtful. The person who chose to talk to you was being thoughtful and at the same time satisfying everybody’s curiosity. The nonverbal cues you picked up on do have an impact on you.

As is almost always the case, nonverbal communication is fuzzy and imprecise. How we are feeling about ourselves and the rest of the world can have a huge impact on how we interpret nonverbal communication. We need to keep that in mind. We have an obligation to ourselves and those around us to create the most positive world possible. We all live in our world and the more we can do to reasonably boost one another’s self-esteem the more likely our world will be a positive one.

Things we should ask ourselves. When we are talking about things that nobody should hear which would be better: talk quietly looking around to see if anybody is listening or talk in private so others can’t misconstrue what is going on? If you know another language and are talking to another person in a language unfamiliar to those around you, you may be having a negative impact. We don’t know what you’re saying but if it was “good” you would be speaking so anyone can understand. Of course, there are occasions when a different language must be used. Be aware of your communication’s impact on those around you.

And remember nonverbal communication is interpreted by the viewer. If you are concerned about the possible interpretation of your nonverbal communications do your best to structure them physically and/or verbally so that the fewest possible interpretations can be use. Its safer all the way around.

No comments: