EQ: Emotional Intelligence - Interpreting Verbal Versus Non-Verbal Communication

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The connection between your feelings, the subconscious (a.
the Tank), and your personal behaviors is quite real.
They each affect how you communicate with others...
and interpret what is communicated to you.
We have verbal communication, but the larger part of our communication with each other is nonverbal.
We use our vision and our bodies to communicate non-verbally with each other.
If we have trouble getting along with someone else, it's a good idea to look at non-verbal and verbal communication messages to see what we're missing.
Non-verbal communication through the vision is about our interpretation of what we see with our eyes.
Experts on learning say that we learn up to 60% of everything we know by looking at it!! Look for the Whole Story However, it's important for us to remember that we may not "see" the whole story or context.
It is important for us to remember not to jump to conclusions about meanings before we do indeed have the whole context.
We use our body for non-verbal communication in these ways:
  • we make different facial expressions
  • we use or avoid eye contact
  • we use movement from all parts of the body
  • we use voice quality, speed or volume to change or add to the meanings of words
  • we dress the body in different ways - different personal expressions of clothing fashion, makeup, hair styles, body piercing or tattoos, etc.
    (All of these ways of "dressing" the body represent a nonverbal message!)
Sometimes non-verbal losses block full understanding of another person.
Best example: the telephone takes away everything but voice.
Okay, so now what do you do with this information? A good way to start is by observing people that you believe you know well.
Do they look you straight in the eye during conversation? Do they wave their hands around or bounce a foot on a crossed leg? When you say something obvious or stupid, does this person roll their eyes or is there another non-verbal cue that gives you meaning? Play this game with yourself.
Try to understand what people are really saying and how they feel when:
  • this person bites his lip
  • that fellow's face turns red
  • someone taps their foot nervously on the floor
  • your kid/friend storms out of the room and slams the door
  • that man tugs his trousers up with a frown on his face
  • that woman plays with her hair with a far-away look in her eyes
Just watching people's body language will bring immediate awareness in many cases of how they are feeling, and what they are thinking - but not in all cases! But don't forget to add the words they are saying to you to your list of information.
Full context is everything! We can all name dozens of times that we have misinterpreted someone's behavior or someone's words because we didn't have the complete context.
In other words, we didn't have complete information.
  • Wars have started on incomplete information - they have started on jumping to conclusions about incomplete information that came to decision makers.
  • Friendships have crumbled - one of us heard only part of the story.
  • Engagements have been called off - we misunderstood what someone else told us about our fiance.
  • Long-term feuds have gotten started (these are famous for no one really remembering how they started!)
  • Marriages have gotten off to bad starts or broken up decades later - because wrong assumptions have been made about what the spouse actually meant in one or more incomplete communications.
In each of these situations, incomplete information made one or both of them jump to wrong conclusions about what was really communicated.
Here are some more examples of that:
  1. That fellow whose face turns red - is it turning red because he's angry at you or your conversation, or because you embarrassed him (he's shy; lacks self-confidence)?
  2. When that person taps their foot as they listen to you - is it because they need to go to the bathroom or because you are making them very impatient with what you are saying to them?
  3. What that woman is playing with her hair - is she nervous about the subject of conversation or about the people around her, or is she simply just thinking hard about what she's hearing or going to say to you?
Knowing the whole context will help you understand what caused the behavior and what the person is communicating to you.
AND - you won't be making any behavioral mistakes with these people by misinterpreting their message and jumping to a horribly (or humorously) wrong conclusion! The Real Rule to Follow The only real rule is to have complete information before allowing your emotions, old programs or wrong assumptions to make you jump in and say or do something that could hurt a relationship of yours.
No one will ever have a problem with you asking, "Now what did you mean exactly by ______?" or "So, you said ___ (You repeat their exact words to them).
Tell me more about that.
" or "Hmmm.
I see you look a bit angry (worried, nervous, scared).
Am I right or is there something else going on?" Observation is key.
It will also help take you out of your own feelings and emotions as you closely observe and question another person!
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