Some people are very ‘verbal’; they have an ability to articulate well and explain, express themselves with seemingly hardly any effort, while others struggle to look people whom they don’t know very well, in the eye. Some people can voice their opinions without fear of consternation or embarrassment, whereas others can watch silently, afraid to upset anyone, or conscious of their perceived lack of knowledge, even though it’s likely they know far more than they think. So how do we spot these non-verbal cues and their meanings?
We know the sayings, “It’s good to talk”, “Get it off your chest”, “a problem shared is a problem halved”, but what about “Actions speak louder than words”, or as in the song written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, “You say it best, when you say nothing at all”?
I think one extreme, is the person I call The Bull……………………How many times have you been in a group of people, chatting / listening, when ‘The Bull’ enters the room? We’ve all encountered a ‘Bull’ at one time or another – a person who simply HAS to be the centre of attention, and whose opinions are the only ones which matter (to them, anyway). Even if you try to ignore them, or carry on your conversation, (which you were having quite nicely, thank you), it’s not long before you’re worn down and find yourself listening (willingly or not) to what they have to say..
On the other end of the scale, is The Mouse. Normally a softly spoken person, possibly introverted, but usually incredibly nice (intelligent too!!), but afraid to voice opinions, or argue a point, for fear of controversy.
Whichever end of the scale we place ourselves, or how we rate our communication ability, you can pretty much guarantee that other people would judge us differently to how we judge ourselves (if they’re / we’re being completely honest). The truth is, regardless of what ‘genius’ comes out of our mouths, we’re conveying far more information subconsciously.
Even when we think no one can see us, (think of the businessman driving his brand new Jaguar XF, whilst picking his nose at the traffic lights – yes, your car windows are still transparent, even if they have been tinted), the chances are, we are being perceived by someone.
Criminal Psychologists can ascertain whether a person is being truthful or not, and even the kind of person they are, just by reading their ‘Body Language’ and mannerisms. An absent-minded sniff, a flick of the hair, a rub of the chin – they all say something, and it doesn’t always simply mean that we have an itch.
Non-verbal communication may be deemed more effective than the spoken word. We all have the ability to lie. Some people believe that it’s in our very nature to lie – part of our survival technique, but regardless of what we say, the chances are that our bodies will either confirm or deny comments made.
If we’re upset, what helps more, someone telling us, “Everything will be ok”, or someone giving us a hug? Whether that hug opens the emotional floodgates or not, I think I’d rather the hug. If we’re feeling really angry, what helps more, someone asking (and asking) us what’s wrong, or someone leaving us alone to work through the frustration in our own time, while still “being there” for us?
Wherever we are on the communication scale, sometimes we don’t need to ’fill the void’, sometimes the silences aren’t ‘awkward’, sometimes they’re golden.
Non verbal cues can differ from country to country. Some countries consider a handshake rude, and it’s always rude to hand an object to another person with your left hand in the Middle East — after all, that hand is reserved for matters of personal hygiene. While burping after a meal is considered the height of rudeness here in the U.K., a hearty belch is a sign of appreciation for the cook in India. In some places, people value a certain degree of personal space in conversation, while those from the Middle East might get right up close to you when they’re engaging you in conversation. Smiling at someone unknown to you, is perceived as a sign of friendship in the UK / America and many other countries, although smiling at a stranger in Russia can be considered rude.
The last thing you’d want to do if looking to trade with members of another country, is offend your prospective business / trading partner. Contact us so we can give you the edge over your competitors.