Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Power of No Words

I was walking through crowds of slow-moving tourists in Manhattan this weekend and made eye contact with someone promoting double decker bus tours. I never did this before, but that day I was wondering if my two companions who were visiting from California would be interested in the tour. I walked right by the man, but he followed me a few steps to the corner and presented his brochure and made a fervent sales pitch, which I politely declined. I knew he would try to approach me from that brief moment we had.

It just reminds me how potent our non-verbal communication skills are, and to trust our instincts. I am always surprised at how much I reveal without saying a word, and how I can usually tell how someone feels or what they might say or do, even if I never speak to that person.

Other examples of this behavior dropped like anvils throughout the day. One incident occurred on the subway, when I was having a muted conversation with one of my companions. I noticed a woman sitting near us reacting to what we were saying without speaking. Her body language and facial expressions were subtle, but I could tell she disapproved. Instead of turning her head or moving to a seat further away from us, she kept looking in our direction. It amused me how I could tell how much she wanted to chime in but wouldn’t, and how her dislike of what we were saying grew with every word. Later that day, we wanted to find a subway station and I approached an angry looking traffic cop to ask for directions. My friends were put off by his disagreeable demeanor, which was evident when he turned his back to us as we walked towards him; I asked him for information, which he tersely gave. Somehow, I knew his standoffish behavior would not prevent him from giving us the right directions, and thankfully I was right.

How much do you rely on your ability to communicate or read others non-verbally?

1 comment:

Kekla Magoon said...

Interesting, I do spend time thinking about and reading other people's body language, but I'm not always certain if my own body language is saying what I want it to at times. Do you think our body language unconsciously projects what we're consciously thinking and feeling, or does it draw from a deeper place we may not be aware of?

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