What is Non Verbal Communication?
Communication is the process by which we convey something to another person and get a response or feedback from them. For instance when you ask your friend, "How are you going to the city today?" and she replies, "I'm planning on taking my car." A complete round of communication has taken place. This is verbal communication or communication which involves words. Not all communication uses words and this type is known as Non Verbal Communication.
What are the characteristics of Non Verbal Communication?
It does not make use of any words. You may argue that to communicate you need to speak some words, however I'm sure you have at some time or the other used non verbal communication. Think of the time when you gave a smile to your mom as you walked into the house after school. Or may be how you waved to your spouse in the morning when he left for work in the car. Or the way you honked at the driver in front of you as the traffic lights turned from red to green. These gestures did not involve words and yet they communicated how you felt.
Non verbal Gestures make up Body Language
There are a number of gestures that you use every day to communicate with on a non verbal level. These gestures can include smiles, frowns, raised eye brows, diverted heads, waves of the hand and a whole lot more. Many gestures are culture specific, but some like smiling and crying can cut across cultures. These global gestures are the basis of the study of body language. Remember that body language will differ from culture to culture so the same rules can not be applied to interpret some one's body language.
Reading Body Language Gestures
Essentially there are two sets of gestures Open and Closed Gestures and Forward and Back Gestures. The Open and Closed gestures indicate if they are receptive to what you are saying. While Forward and Back gestures show how actively involved they are or disinterested they seem in what you are trying to communicate. If a person faces you and shows you open hands with both feet firmly planted on the ground they are open to what you are saying. If they are leaning forwards towards you and seem to hand on what you have to say they are very actively involved in the communication process.
Interpreting Non Verbal Communication
The trouble with Body Language is interpreting it right. There is a lot of difference in the way a person holds their body in different cultures. So to accurately decipher what a person's physical stance means you need to have a good background knowledge of the person's culture. For instance in the American society children are expected to look an adult in the eye and talk. However in Asian societies the children are expected to lower their eyes when they talk to adults. The American parent would look at that lowering of eyes not as a sign of respect but as a sign of discomfort or hiding something.
Learning to read body language is an art that must be deliberately developed!