Communication is key, but how exactly are we communicating? What we say only factors in a small part of what people take away from an exchange. Research shows that 60% of human communication is through body language and 30% is through tone and how it’s said. This means the words you’re speaking only count for 10% and the rest is nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication refers to any way we communicate without words. For example: eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture and body language or our personal appearance. Little things that we subconsciously take in when we’re interacting with someone that help you form an overall idea of their personality or emotions. Decoding is your ability to read other people’s cues, interpreting hidden emotions and information from the nonverbal communications, whereas encoding is the cues that you send out to other people. This can control what first impression you give and how you make the people around you feel.
The way we communicate nonverbally can be seen throughout many species on earth. Using dance to attract potential mates is something animals do that we also do. It can be used as a way to indicate without words that you’re interested in someone.
Animals from birds to lizards to dogs all puff their chests out to establish dominance, much like we do because it is a display of strength that could intimidate a rival. Humans are the only species that smile at people they like, unlike other species where a smile is used as a threat. Learning and recognizing these cues can give you more social awareness enabling you to further understand the people around you.
When to look out for nonverbal communication
When verbal and nonverbal communications seem to contradict each other, believe the body language over the words as that is likely to reveal their true feelings. Humans often try to conceal their emotions through what they’re saying. This can be for many different reasons, to deceive someone, to save someone’s feelings or through embarrassment. However it is very difficult to have complete control of all of your body language, which is why experts are able to tell when they think a person is lying.
Psychologist Paul Ekman’s work largely focuses on micro expressions and how people’s true feelings can be displayed for half a second or less. Recognising these emotions when they play onto the face may allow you to see past a facade and be able to tell if someone is trying to conceal something. We’re not suggesting that you book onto a course to start learning how to read your friends or partners face to see if their lying but it’s important to be mindful of how your face can say so much about your mood or feelings that you’re not even aware of. “The face offers us the best window into the emotional lives of others.” Ekman states.
Nonverbal cues and dating
So many of us stress over what to say on a first date but we should be giving more thought to our body language. There are some simple tricks that have been proven to help signal that you’re interested in someone. There are also signs that you can look out for in your partner to see if they are on the same page as you.
Piin wants to get people connecting in real life again, so that it’s easier to read these nonverbal cues and immediately see if you have chemistry together. It’s important to meet in person sooner rather than later to see if you’re compatible together so why waste time double guessing people’s intentions online? Get yourself out there and start making real human connections.
Once you’ve used Piin to set up your date at the bar, look out for these subtle cues to see if you are both on the same page:
Are they mirroring your body language? Studies show that people who are attracted to each other often end up in sync. Do they take a drink when you do? Lean in closer when you do? Cross their legs when you cross yours? All of these are unconscious signs that they could be interested in you. We’re not saying that you should go about copying everything your date does, that would be creepy, but noticing when this is happening could show you if the date is going well.
It sounds obvious but is smiling is contagious. So if you are smiling and looking like you’re having a good time, your date will too. It activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress as well as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin that help to elevate your mood. By smiling and in return making your date smile, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Lighting affects pupil size but it can also be emotional. The term bedroom eyes comes from eyes dilating to indicate desire. Research shows that if someone is interested in you romantically their eyes will wander down after making initial eye contact, whereas someone only interested in friendship will glance down before making eye contact. Another thing to note is how much they blink. Fluttering eyelashes is one thing but rapid blinking could indicate distress or discomfort.
Positive body language
Are they moving closer to you? If their feet are pointing towards you that can be a good sign. Their feet pointing towards the door could be a signal that they are itching to leave. How’s their head? (no complaints) If their head is tilted slightly towards you it means they are interested in what you are saying and engaging with you. A head tilted upwards and chin up could be interpreted as them feeling standoffish or snobbish. Not a very nice vibe, I would definitely consider moving on.
Again, this isn’t something that should be taken word for word. Sometimes there are external factors that may cause any of these nonverbals. This is merely a guide to give you an understanding of the type of things you can look out for.
Networking nonverbal communication
Identifying key nonverbal communication is not only important in your dating life but in all aspects. In the workplace it is crucial to be aware of what impression your body language is giving to bosses and other colleagues in order to do well and impress. Matching your nonverbals to your verbal communication will help colleagues to trust you and feel your confidence.
Nonverbals are especially important when networking as you usually only have a few minutes to present your best self to someone who could potentially be fundamental to your career growth. With the way social media is growing, we now have a whole new world of opportunities to connect and network with people outside our usual circles. Make the most of these new connections by impressing them with your confident mannerisms and charm.
Here are our body language tips to help you network with ease:
Keeping your upper body open and welcoming is key to getting people to want to approach you and feel at ease in your presence. Folding your arms across your chest signifies disinterest, awkwardness and is generally unwelcoming. So, keep your arms open or behind your back and your palms facing up to make sure you’re inviting and engaging. Be aware that your body could be undermining what you’re trying to say.
Stand up tall
Standing up tall sends a message of self assurance and authority. Keeping your stance nice and wide so that you are taking up as much space as you can will give you a commanding presence and confidence, even if you are really nervous.
Avoid nervous fiddling
Keep your gestures relevant and concise. Gesturing makes you look animated and passionate about what you are saying, however you should try to avoid distracting mannerisms such as playing with hair, tapping or fiddling with jewellery.
All in all, confidence is key. If you’re not confident, use these tips to fake it until you make it.
Give yourself as many opportunities to show off your new nonverbal communication skills by downloading Piin. Connect with people whilst you’re out and about and meet up in the real world to have genuine human connections.