The key, my friends, are the tells of body language.
The first article in this three – part series will focus on how to improve our understanding of human interaction by examining nonverbal communication also referred to as body language. By comprehending body language better, we can add a more lively and engaging feel to the seminars we lead.
- Nonverbal Communication Explained
Nonverbal communication plays an important role in our lives. It is the foremost method we use to connect with fellow human beings by externalizing things such our mood, emotions, views and attitudes. These are some of the key qualities that drive our behavior, and yet ironically enough these are qualities which are naturally internal to us and only we ourselves can truly comprehend them. These are also qualities that cannot be easily articulated by means of verbal language. Take a look at the chart below.
Analysis of Communication Elements
All research carried out to date regarding human interaction points in one direction: Nonverbal communication is the single most predominant element in all communication activity taking place. It is evident that what matters is not what we say, but how we say it. Taking it a step further, it is actually what we don’t say that is most important!
Almost all activities we carry out in our role as judges require use of effective communication as we interact with fellow judges and players on a frequent basis. We communicate when we are facilitating a seminar at a conference, issuing a ruling, making an announcement at a Grand Prix, or simply socializing with fellow judges and discussing developments in rules and policy. It is very useful to keep in mind how important body language is throughout our exchanges with fellow judges and players. Since nonverbal communication forms such a significant part of our interactions, and since our role as judges requires active communication to a large extent, it follows to say that we need to have a very good understanding of body language.
2. Examples of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication, often referred to as nonverbal behavior or body language, is a means of transmitting information just like the spoken word, except it is achieved through a variety of ways. Some examples are listed below:
- Facial expressions – frowning, smiling, raising of the eyebrows
- Gestures – holding your hands out as if to say ‘I don’t know’
- Touching – a handshake or a friendly pat on the back
- Physical movements – waving your hands or nodding your head
- Posture – slouching or sitting upright with shoulders held back
- The tone of an individual’s voice (rather than actual spoken content) – laughing or yelling
- Eye movements – winking, looking downwards, upwards or sideways
- Closeness – respecting or invading someone’s private space
- Appearance – being neat or tidy
- Body decoration – clothes, jewelry, hairstyle and tattoos
All of the above mentioned nonverbal ways of transmitting information emerge in the form of an ongoing process that is a continuous activity in which two parties exchange feedback. Let us see what it’s all about.
The Communication Process
When we interact with each other, one party, the sender is sending a message to another party called the receiver. In order for the message to be communicated, it needs to be encoded by the sender. The encoding procedure is mostly based on the internal feelings of the sender, and is then transferred to the receiver by a medium directed by external behavior, for example dialogue. Upon receiving the message, the receiver then decodes it and tries to make sense of it thereby generating their own internal response. After the message has been decoded, the receiver then sends feedback to the original sender in the form of a new message which is once again made possible by the external behavior of both parties. This creates an ongoing loop, and it is what we call the communication process.
The process is made quite complex by the existence of noise which is anything that causes the initial encoded message to be decoded differently from the receiver. The higher the amount of noise we experience, the wider the gap will be between the internal response that has been triggered by the message we receive and the external behavior we exhibit to the other party. An upcoming article will be entirely devoted to the concept of noise.
Because it is the type of language that most often speaks the truth!
As seen in the previous section, the task of seamlessly engaging in the communication process can be quite an effort mostly because of the existence of noise which scrambles the messages that are being sent across.
Well, it so just happens that nonverbal communication can reveal a person’s true thoughts, feelings and intentions. For this reason nonverbal behaviors (see the list in the previous section) are sometimes also referred to as tells. It is through the proper use and understanding of tells, that we can hope to eliminate as much as possible the noise that exists throughout the communication process. When we improve our understanding of body language we immediately become better communicators since:
- As a sender: we can make sure that our message is properly delivered by using body language tells that reinforce it
- As a receiver: we can make sure that the feedback is properly acknowledged by observing the tells exhibited by the sender and then cross-referencing them to the verbal communication we receive.
Nonverbal Communication and Seminars
How can we practically apply all this information with a view to become better seminar presenters? It helps to think that during a seminar the presenter should not only be an active sender of information, but it is also equally important to be an active receiver at all times.
Want to find out more? Read the next installment where I will be showcasing practical methods that enable us to be great senders of information during seminars.
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