September 9, 2009

Learning the Unspoken Language of Body Talk

Are you a people reader? Do you enjoy watching others? What do you learn from their gestures, posture, eye contact, facial expressions and their appearance? Have you been watching the political bantering and balderdash of those in Congress? If you want to know what the politicians are really saying, turn off the volume on the television and watch them carefully. Listen to their ‘body talk’. Then you will begin to see and understand the unspoken message they are sending.
What you See is What You Get
All communication begins with what we see and recognize with our eyes. When you were just an infant in the cradle you didn’t understand a word your parents said. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that half of what they said was nonsensical baby-talk like, “Wook at dis wittle bitty ting. Ouu r’ soo pwecious an tinee an cuut.” Despite these funny, goofy sounds you could slowly begin to understand their message. How? It was clearly and repeatedly demonstrated in their actions; their body talk.
When you meet people for the first time, you immediately make judgments about them even before they open their mouths. Your eyes give them a quick read, observing how they stand, walk, gesture, make eye contact, smile and even how they dress themselves.
From these various cues you develop ideas and form judgments about their intelligence level, their social standing, their self-confidence and whether or not you want to develop a relationship with them. This is all done in a matter of seconds. You are listening with your eyes to a multifaceted and complex message and quickly forming opinions. How accurate are your perceptions? How much detail do you see? Are you sure you’re not misunderstanding the total picture because of one visual word you heard?
Did You See what He Said?
Listening is more than meets the ear. Listening with the eyes and understanding what you see takes years of dedicated practice. Vision that is well trained can even overcome the barrier of a profound hearing deficit. It takes knowledge and awareness of people, their culture, circumstances, age, gender, social and educational background and other important factors to make accurate judgments on their visual messages. But with time, practice and understanding the principles of body talk you can become acutely proficient in reading others.
No matter what your trade or profession, we are all in the ‘People Business’. We all have the challenge to become adept at all kinds of communication if we are to maximize our productivity. Doesn’t it make good sense to spend time learning this valuable language of body talk?
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