A lot of people seem to think that communication = talking. But face to face communication involves much more than merely speaking. There is often more non-verbal communication involved than actual speech. As an introvert, I’ve spent a lot of time listening. And when you listen, it gives you the opportunity to observe. This has helped me notice the non-verbal cues that people exhibit. Its helped me to understand how a person reacts to what I’m saying. I can tell if people are starting to get bored or distracted and I can adjust the conversation as necessary. People give off non-verbal cues that tell you exactly how they’re feeling and reacting to you. It gives you insight into that person and you can then tailor the conversation accordingly. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
Vocal tone and inflection.
If they’re excited and passionate while speaking, there’s a good chance they’re enjoying the topic. Their voice can be warm or full of emotion. But if their tone is lower or quieter, they may not be as engaged. They could be bored by the conversation. Or they could also be tired, overwhelmed, sleepy, or wishing they were home in their pajamas (this is me a lot of the time). However, my voice is quiet and on a lower-register even at full energy, so it really depends on the person.
Body movement and posture.
Since body movement and posture is often done unconsciously, it provides great insight into how someone is really feeling. If they appear relaxed and open, they’re probably pretty comfortable. If they appear stiff or tense, they may feel uncomfortable. They may not be comfortable with the topic, or the people around them. Or they might be having a bad day. I’ll often get more and more tense if I’ve been in an over-stimulating environment for too long and need to get away.
Facial expression and eye contact.
If they are emotionally present , they’re probably interested in the topic. If their face appears inexpressive or mask-like, they may be bored or distracted. When someone shows good eye contact, you know they’re focused on what you’re saying and you feel connected to them. But if they’re scanning the room or staring off into the distance, chances are they’re not being engaged. I often do this when in group conversations that are heading nowhere.
What are some things you’ve noticed?