Softening The Hardliners

Non – verbal communication is used for
Softening The Hardliners for smile. S for smile, O for open posture, F for forward lean, T for touch, E for eye contact and N for Nod. Non verbal communication is integral to the interaction process. Understand how it works to help make communication more effective. Though there would be a lot of discussion on the use of words during language lessons in schools and colleges, the non – verbal aspects get little or no attention. While you speak to others, the impact of non verbal elements that modify the meaning of words may be more than what the words by themselves do convey. Sometimes these elements are referred to as paralanguage which may include the loudness, pitch, tone, accent timbre, modulation, inflection, cadence, rhythm, and intonation of speech.

Everyday Experience:

Look at certain instances of everyday experience. When the father returns from work in the evening, the young son easily judges the father’s mood from his facial expression, even if he does not speak a word. You may likewise infer the attitude of your boss or colleague.

The expressions are often instinctive, as in the case of small baby, with no training of any kind, communicating instinctively with the mother. With elders, the influence of social mores also plays a role in determining the facial expressions and movements.

An experienced police officer would spontaneously identify a thief from a group. So also, a customs officer may have the sixth sense to pick out a smuggler from a group.

A man may be able to make out a woman’s interest in him, though she has not spoken a word. The secret in these cases lies in observing the body language, including facial expression. This ability for interpreting non – verbal clues develops with experience.

Human resources specialists who regularly carry out recruitment of employees naturally develop this kind of skill in judging the attributes of candidates based on their expressions and movements. Qualities such as earnestness, dedication to work or indifference can be assessed from non – verbal hints.

That experiences actors are capable of communicating an ocean of emotions which are sometimes brought out through scenes with no dialogue. The way you stand, your facial expressions, or even the dress you wear may send a message.

You sometimes feel that what a person mean is something different from what he says. How does this difference creep into your mind? It is through the non – verbal signals. “Oh, he is a great leader", if said in a contrived tone can mean just the opposite. This is the essence of sarcasm.

Facial expression:

Facial expression is indeed the most powerful element in face – to face communication. Strong messages can be conveyed well without uttering a single syllable.

A father giving a chastising look to his child and a young man fondly looking into the eyes of his sweet heart convey much more than all the words in a dictionary can. A conscious smile or a frown may be quite easy to interpret. But the way anger, confusion, contempt, desire, disgust, excitements, fear, happiness, sadness, or surprise are expressed may to a certain extent vary from person to person and from culture to culture.

Involuntary body language in the form of facial expression easily identifies the emotions of a person.

You should pay meticulous attention to the posture of the body during situations as when you face an interview. Though you never even dream of sending a message of arrogance, a wrong stance or posture may lead to misunderstanding in the mind of the interview panel. How you sit on the chair speaks volumes – whether you are confident, positive, or insecure.

Even during social occasions, the posture forms a powerful part of communication. There are genetic and environmental factors in the body language of any person.


Gestures are natural movements of the hands and body accompanying verbal expression. Sometimes the movement of the arms, feet, or even legs may play a role. Gestures would emphasis or reinforce what you say. Greeting by raising a hand, showing the V sign – as a victor does in an election, raising of a trophy by a winner in a tennis match, or the exaggerated gesticulations, of political demagogue or a stage actor, handshake clenched fist, clapping hands as a sign of appreciating a speaker are some examples.

Nodding of the head as a token of recognition, pointing the index finger so as to threaten a person are common gestures. An extrovert would use wide and vigorous gestures, whereas an introvert may less demonstrative with limited movements. Any gesture should synchronies with the spoken words. If there is clear clash between words and gestures, you may be carried away by the non – verbal communication.

You would have come across people who try to hide their obvious displeasure through polished phrases, failing in their attempt. Actions speak louder than words.

Certain gestures may not have a universal meaning. The shrugging of the shoulders that is common is the western culture may not be popular in your country.

The symbol of namaste may mean nothing to a Latin American. The way you move your head (From side to side or up and down) to mean yes may vary from culture to culture.

Let us look at some of the usual elements of body language signals and what they imply.

• Fully open eyes – receiving all incoming massages.

• Wide – open eyes – surprise, joy

• Veiled eyes (Eyelids hanging down) – boredom

• Closed eyes – contemplation

• Blinking / Repetitive movements of eyelids – tension. Embarrassment

• Looking on the floor – too much of caution, avoiding new ideas

• Looking straight into the eyes of the speaker – rapt attention

• Empty look - indifference

• Looking from above – superiority

• Carver of the eye – distrust averted gaze – disbelief pouting of the lips – annoyance

• Biting the lips – embarrassment

• Crossed arms on chest – defense

• Open palms – honesty; trust

• Back of both hands raised – un- approachability, inaccessibility (Cannot reach easily)

• Upward thump (Thumbs – up) – encouragement ; no worries

• Rubbing lips with index finger, or covering mouth with hands – telling lies

• Big steps – determination

• Scratching the neck – uncertainty

These are just initiative and not exhaustive. Body language is particularly important in situations such as group interaction and customer handling by salespersons. One should learn to listen with the eyes.

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