Yesterday I introduced the 5 questions necessary to direct your mind through the effective usage of body language in any communication effort. I think it is important to repeat the fact that you should be looking to use these questions to TRAIN YOUR MIND through repetition.
The length of time necessary for a skill to become automatic is person-dependent so to say how long it will take you to learn this is futile. It depends on how quickly your mind is able to create strong enough bonds to create a neural net. For the middle of the bell curve, if you practice for a half an hour every day you should be well on your way to developing an actual skill. That being said, let’s get right into discussing the first and most complex of the three categories of body language usage…
Manipulation of Information Delivery:
As discussed earlier, there are three sub-components to information delivery… erasing, buffering and amplification. Let’s get right into them…
1. Eraser – As an eraser we can use body language for “deceit”. As a major point of reference, I do not and am not condoning destructive deceit… When I use the term deceit I am referring to the process of hiding your raw internal thoughts in the event that they DO NOT facilitate the accomplishment of your communication goals. In this instance you are looking for congruence between your body language and your linguistic communication, even though your linguistic communication is NOT reflecting your true thoughts.
Let’s say that your wife has just bought a dress and you really aren’t thrilled with it. She loves it, but you don’t… But what the hell do you know about fashion? If she is happy, then you are happy. You know she is going to ask you what you think and your opinion does matter, so what do you do?
- What type of message are you trying to communicate? – Sincere happiness and acceptance of her dress.
- What is the context geographically/socially/culturally? – Geographically you are in a retail store. You shouldn’t be jumping around or yelling. Culturally you are in the US… It would be tacky to have a long make-out session to display your over zealousness…
- What type of demeanor will help to facilitate that? – Joy, happiness, ogling, etc…
- What are the fundamental verbal and nonverbal traits of that demeanor? – Smiling, open gestures, a “toward facing” stance, etc… A bit of an elevated pitch and a stronger than normal volume.
- Are their any specific fringe traits that should occur? You usually hug her when you are happy…
2. Buffering Agent – As a buffer, among other things, body language can be exceedingly helpful when delivering bad news. Although you realize that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, you know that their impending emotional state will deter them from seeing it… Body language can help to minimize the emotional impact.
Let’s say that your best friend has just been turned down for acceptance into a school that they really wanted to attend. This is going to crush them, but you know it isn’t the end of the world…
- What type of message are you trying to communicate? Informationally it is a negative one, but you want to also communicate hope.
- What is the context geographically/socially/culturally? You are in a coffee shop on the lower east side of Manhattan in the US. Although you can’t just do what ever you want, it is a fairly liberal place and “unorthodox” displays happen quite often here so you have a fairly broad field to work within.
- What type of demeanor will help to facilitate that? Directionally you want to move from negative toward neutral. (This is a bit more complicated because you need to understand how far you can realistically go without displaying complete incongruity? If you do that, you will basically dissolve the effectiveness and possibly exacerbate the situation. Let’s call our ideal destination “empathic / compassionate hopefulness”. If you try to be joyous, you will most likely get a polar response as you will be just too far from their actual emotional state. If you can float somewhere around neutral/center with your body language this will help bring them to closer to your goal.)
- What are the fundamental verbal and nonverbal traits of that demeanor? A slight symmetrical smile with a concerned look, touching in the arm area or possibly a hug, straight back and shoulders for confidence, etc… Softer tone with a bit of a volume increase and just a little spring in your voice.
- Are their any specific fringe traits that should occur? When you really belief that an event doesn’t mean much you will usually joke about it and have a few laughs. Some times you even punch your friend in the arm…
3. Amplification Device – As an amplifier, body language can basically put a double stamp on the emotion of the message you are trying to display. Whether it is happiness, sadness, anger or anything in-between… You can really drive it home with super congruent body language.
Let’s say you are running late for a party that your boss is throwing and your husband is taking for ever plucking his eyebrows… Although you are delighted that he is finally getting rid of the uni-brow, you NEED him to get going so you won’t be late and at this late of an hour, you don’t have a moment to spare.
- What type of message are you trying to communicate? A message of urgency, importance and necessity.
- What is the context geographically/socially/culturally? You are in the UK, in the bathroom of your flat, alone with your husband… basically, anything goes.
- What type of demeanor will help to facilitate that? Stern, serious with just a touch of annoyance or anger.
- What are the fundamental verbal and nonverbal traits of that demeanor? Strong stance, feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips, furled brow, square shoulders, etc… Volume of voice is raised and tonality is deepened with a bit of a sped up pace.
- Are their any specific fringe traits that should occur? You will usually shake your finger at him and follow the demand up with a threat.
As an information delivery manipulator, body language is second to none as the proper and skill usage of nonverbal communication passes right by our critical thinking faculties to create decision at the nonconscious, automatic level.
In my next post we will finish the remaining two categories consisting of event prediction and sensory acuity… To learn more about Body Language and other forms of effective communication, please visit my site The Communication Expert. Or, if i’m online, please feel free to connect via Skype.