Communication is an art.

It takes awareness and practice to perfect, and many of us don’t always convey what we intended to on the first try. We’ve discussed common communication errors and how you can fix them in parts one, two, and three of a previously published series, so be sure to look through that information if you haven’t yet read it. In part one of this ongoing series, we’re going to look at nonverbal communication and make explicit what’s often implicit.

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Nonverbal Communication Basics

Let’s start with the basics — what is nonverbal communication? Well, besides the obvious, nonverbal communication pertains to body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and other signals we provide to others without explicitly using our words. In some instances, nonverbal communication can say something completely opposed to the words coming out of your mouth! Suppose, for example, you tell someone that you’re excited to hear what they have to say, but you then gaze at the floor or behind them the entire time that they’re speaking. While your words are saying one thing, your body language — or your nonverbal communication, in other words — conveys the opposite.

Below are a few more examples of nonverbal cues we give to others:

Facial Expressions forms of nonverbal communication

The importance of facial expressions is almost invariable across cultures. Facial expressions are usually the first thing we see whenever we interact with someone else, and we often give more weight to what we interpret from their expression before they’ve even begun to speak. The next time you’re conversing with someone else, take a moment to notice what, if anything, is being conveyed by their facial expressions. Take a moment to consider what you’re conveying with yours, as well!

Gestures and Signals

Have you ever noticed someone glance at their watch mid-conversation? How did it make you feel? Even if they were simply checking the time, we often assume that this signal conveys a feeling of boredom. While checking one’s watch to convey boredom or tediousness is more common in Western cultures, pointing and waving are both hand gestures used to communicate around the world.

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Body Language

Body language is one of the most important nonverbal cues you can give someone. While each situation is different, psychological studies have shown that one’s arms and/or legs can convey a sense of defensiveness.

For more typical examples, think about your last job interview (or important meeting if it’s been a while since your last interview). Did you slouch in your chair, or were you alert and ready to engage with the interviewer? Did you fidget with your hands or clothing? The latter behaviors convey anxiety and nervousness, while slouching can convey disinterest or laziness. No matter which situation or context in which you find yourself, paying close attention to your body language can help you have better in-person interactions as a whole.

Contact Our Technical Translation Experts

We hope that today’s post has been interesting and informative. We plan to continue this post in a second installment, so watch our blog page in the coming weeks!

GlobalSpeak Translations is proud to provide a wide range of technical translations in New Orleans, including legal material translations. Our team of professional translators can handle jobs of any size, and we’ll work quickly to help you get your project done on time and at a price you can afford.

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