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What You Need to Know About Non-Verbal Communication
Posted in Healthy Relatio... by Dr. Georgianna Donadio on Dec 19, 2012
Albert Merhabien, the famed communication researcher, stated that non-verbal communication makes up almost 93% of all the "messages" we receive from other individuals. Others suggest that it is actually more like 60-70% of non-verbal communication that lets us know what others are really feeling.

What we know about how the brain and body work is that all thoughts and feelings are ways that we cope with surviving in our world and; that for many of us NOT revealing our feelings but holding them back, may be the "safe" way to cope with others at work, home, and in general.

What is also well understood is that there are "tells" or neurological expressions of these withheld, non-verbal communications that are going on inside of our brains. Even though we may not consciously or intentionally express verbally or physically how we feel, our brain/body connection does express these thought and feelings in non-verbal ways. These non-verbal ways are the "tells" that police and other professionals use to tell if someone is withholding the truth or information they are not revealing.

There are many books on the subject of body language and non-verbal communication. It is important for all of us to become aware of how our physical and verbal or non-verbal behavior impacts others, especially those who spend the most time in our environment.

Non-verbal communication can often cause one individual in a relationship to become upset if they are seeing or interpreting non-verbal actions by their partner as being rejecting or disinterested. Often times, before a relationship breaks up we can have an idea that the relationship is in trouble by the lack of eye contact, or verbal communication, or even the way our partner crosses their arms and legs when we are trying to speak to them.

There is a science to non-verbal communication interpretation, as well as a science to understanding the best way to express our feelings, in ways that can result in a positive or negative outcome. The science is directly related to neurological and neurotransmitter connections between thoughts and feelings in the brain and their communication to the muscles and nerves in the rest of our body.

To have a better sense of our own non-verbal communication can really assist us in creating more successful relationships.

- Dr. Georgianna Donadio


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I am 64 and have never been diagnosed with ASD, but I suspect I fit in there. One of the most difficult parts of communication is the non-verbal kind, and it works both ways. My husband frequently thinks I mean one thing when I mean another and vice versa. I understand a happy look and an angry-sad-upset look, otherwise I am clueless. I understand :) and :( but no other emoticons.

I am sure my emotions always play out on my face, but my thoughts might not always be present--I might be thinking about something that happened last week or 50 years ago.

All I want is for people around me to treat me kindly and give me the benefit of the doubt. That is how I try to treat others.
By Fern RL  Dec 29, 2012
Most of the time when a person is nonverbal, it's deliberate to hide feelings. If they won't open up, they're obviously going to talk to someone else. They harbor animosity so the situation worsens. The trick is learning HOW to get a non-verbal person to communicate!
By energylost  Dec 28, 2012
Good article. However, we must also think about how our cultural upbringing affects non-verbal cues. Someone in Costa Rica, or another country, may not make eye contact out of respect while we in the United States who are from a European background believe this means someone is lying. Each culture dictates what is appropriate. This can be seen even in the U.S. between different regions and also immigrant groups. There is no universal non-verbal language.
By Denise Garcia  Dec 24, 2012
I am deaf when it comes to nonverbal communication. It must be because my Corpus Callosum has been "elevated and thinned." I just don't pick-up on the little signals of being human. It is like being an android.
By landofkirk  Dec 21, 2012
Another important thing about non-verbal communication is when one or more person(s) don't bother to check out their perceptions. Each person perceives thru their own personal filter which is created by past experience. We don't realize this because it's in our subconscious (where BTW, our feelings are stored). So it is quite easy to MISUNDERSTAND the other person's non-verbals & assign an incorrect meaning.

It's always best for BOTH people to CHECK IT OUT. Stephen Covey's 5th Habit (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) says "seek first to understand, then to be understood."

Any time we assign meaning to non-verbals, we are assuming (& we all know what happens when we ass-u-me) something that may or may not be accurate, regardless of the meaning experts assign to certain non-verbals - nothing is 100% one way or the other.

It always takes two to communicate. That's why it's best to CHECK IT OUT.
By MyTrueColors  Dec 20, 2012
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