If a picture is worth a thousand words then is it so hard to imagine that your body tells so much of the story? Communication is more than words, right?! Too often we are so consumed by our emotions, we fail to recognize what our partner is really trying to say (deep down).
And that type of communication can turn into a relationship deal breaker.
Tall dark and handsome walks through the door after a stressful day at the office. He makes his way to the kitchen where he finds his lady—he smiles and kindly greets her. He approaches her, gazes into her eyes and pulls her in close to hug her. She reciprocates with little eye contact and a “pat on the back.” She then breaks away and continues preparing dinner. Tall dark and handsome asks his lady if she is ok. His lady responds “I’m fine.” Tall dark and handsome replies, “It seems like something’s bothering you?” She then sternly says, “I said I’m fine!” and then leaves the room (faint sound of a door slamming).
Ok, so I’m sure you get where we’re going with this. The guy is attempting to connect with his lady and lady is rejecting and not feeling it. There could be any number of reasons for this. If we went into that, this would be a totally different blog post. We want to help you focus on NonVerbal Communication (NVC) and why Non-Verbal Communication is so important in your relationships.
Actually, it's more important than the words you speak. And if you don't fully get this, it can turn into relationship deal breaker. It happens far too often.
So many people talk about how communication is a key factor in creating lasting relationships—and they're right! Talking to your significant other kindly, asking how their day is, giving a compliment—it’s all great… and necessary! But what many fail to really understand, is the physical actions beyond the words and the primary emotion beyond the action.
NVC are the facial expressions. (If you identify as possessing a Resting Bitch Face, may we suggest you find a new resting face?) The NVC's are the attitudes, tone of voice, facial expressions, and eye contact that we use when we're communicating. And, we're ALWAYS communicating. It’s not WHAT you say to others, it’s HOW you say it. Non-verbal communication is the most crucial and accurate form of communication. Here’s the breakdown according to Professor Albert Mehrabian's Communication Model :
7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.
38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55% of meaning is in facial expression.
So let’s go back to the scenario using what we know about NVC. The guy is trying to connect with his lady by hugging her, smiling at her (facial expression), giving her a kind greeting (paralinguistic), and eye contact (facial expression).
Well, we all know she’s not really “fine” as she says she is because of her body language. Body language is context. This lady does not return the hug–just a “pat on the back,” gives little eye contact (facial expression), and then begins to raise her voice sternly in the presence of her man (paralinguistic), and ends the interaction by leaving the room (don't forget about the door slam).
So, how can you pay more attention and not turn your NVC's to a relationship deal breaker?
It all starts with knowing the deal. And now, maybe you have a deeper understanding? This is so important because when you pay closer to attention to your non-verbals, your interactions with others are different. They feel better. And when you pay attention to other’s non-verbals, well that can change everything.
You can totally get a better idea of how to respond. Of how they're actually receiving what you're saying. Of how you're making them feel.
Maya Angelou is often quoted with her incredible insight: “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Learning how to recognize NVC in yourself and others is important. It's a good place to begin so you can avoid these relationship deal breakers. And so let's take facial expression—this a big one people. Some facial expressions that can communicate discomfort, anger, frustration, etc in a person are:
-Closed face or body (no smile, arms crossed)
-Uninterested (lack of eye contact)
Blank stare AKA “resting bitch face”
Some examples of paralinguistic (the way words are said) communication that can convey discomfort, anger or frustration are:
Facial expressions that may communicate happiness, sincerity, curiosity, and presence are:
-Open face (genuine smile)
-Direct eye contact (meaning that you’re interested in what the other person is saying).
Some examples of paralinguistic (the way the words are said) communication that may convey happiness, sincerity, curiosity, and presence are:
-Relaxed and Calm voice tone
-Curious tone (I am interested in what you have to say)
-Excited or Happy voice tone
And the remaining 7% of communication is the actual words themselves. Of course, the actual words are important, but they don't have the impact of your NVC. If your words do not match your actions or non-verbals, then there’s a breakdown somewhere. It’s back to that old saying “Actions speak louder than words.” And this ladies and gents are where so many relationship deal breakers happen.