Friday, August 21, 2009


93% of human communication has nothing to do with the words coming out of our mouth; rather it is based on how we speak with our bodies. Body language is non-verbal communication that consists of pose, gestures, eye movements, and tone/rate of speech. Through the behavioral elements of our communicative message we will give a better impression of our intent than we will from our actual words spoken.

The study of communication and body language is called kinesics and it has found that humans move their bodies when communicating to ease the mental effort of difficult communication. Kinesics has found that crossing of the arms across the chest is an expression of opposition during a confrontational conversation and thinking deeply during an amicable conversation. Eye contact can mean that the person is positively thinking about what the speaker is saying or can mean that the listener doesn’t trust the speaker enough to take there eyes off of them. Head tilt can mean boredom, disbelief is shown through a touch of the ear or scratch of the chin, lying is indicated by excessive blinking or no blinking at all, and on and on.

The point of understanding kinesics is to become better communicators with the people we interact with. Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell first coined the word kinesics and through his studies found that all meaningful body motion patterns are to be regarded as socially learned. If this proposition is true then we must assume that our communicative habits are influenced by the people we most commonly communicate with or observe in communication.

Since we all have people in our immediate lives that we see as poor communicators, we must assume that we have taken some communicative cues from them and use these forms of body language when we are interacting with others. Learned behaviors are the toughest behaviors to modify because we have most likely used these behaviors for long periods of time rarely knowing that we exhibit such traits.

Since communication is essential is all spheres of our lives it is of great importance that we understand how we communicate with others, what learned behaviors we exhibit through communication, and if our body language is sending off messages that are contrary to the meaning of our words.

In our pursuit for excellence our internal messages must align with our external messages and if we are unable to effectively communicate our intent through kinesics then we inhibit our ability to truly excel. Like all aspects of change, we must learn how before we can show how, and in order to learn we must be able to realistically look at ourselves and accept our faults through self recognition. Once this has happened we can then look to others as models, follow their lead and integrate the best of them into our individual personality so that we can become our best self.

Since only 7% of others understanding of us is through spoken word, there is a heightened sense of urgency placed on aligning way we convey the message with the message we are speaking. Actions speak louder than words is not just a message of judging by what I do not what I say, but by understanding what I say and how I say it.

We are the ones who can create a new pattern of socially learned communicative behaviors, and if we choose to be understood through both our actions and our words we must make the effort to align them.

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