Reading between the lines

A very wise teacher said “Your lips are moving, but your body is speaking volumes.” Non verbal clues often mean more than the spoken words. What signal are we sending?

College Journal reviews studies have came up with some interesting figures.  Studies say that body language makes up 55% of how a message is conveyed.  Verbal content provides 7% and intonations make up the other 38%.  As it turns out actions seem to matter more than what we say.

Paralinguistic is the study of nonverbal communication dealing with the voice. It sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. Studies point out six elements to the voice.  They are pitch, rhythm, tone, inflection, timbre, and loudness.  Learning how to modulate the voice makes someone a better communicator. Understanding these elements also helps listening skills.  It’s just one of the ways to read between the lines to have better understanding.  These things all factor into the messages they are sending.

Eye contact in the most dominant form of nonverbal communication.  Looking away and to the left is said to be an indication that someone is being untruthful. Perhaps the eyes truly are the windows to the soul.

Body orientation is another non verbal clue used to read between the lines.  The way one walks, stands and sits all send messages.  Is the stance leaning forward, rigid, or relaxed?  All these are signals.  If they are leaning forward they are paying attention and interested in what is happening.  If they are rigid they may be resisting the information that is being presented.  Everyone is broadcasting signals to anyone who is paying attention.

Sarcasm is a common tool for humor and also a defense mechanism. If a person feels threatened or out of place they may turn to sarcasm. If they are trying to make light of something they may use sarcasm. If the observer doesn’t catch the sarcastic tones they will end up on the wrong page.

Is there really a good enough reason to learn about this?  Absolutely. Reading between the lines is an essential skill to have in today’s world. It is a rare occasion when people say what they really mean. We have been encouraged to be politically correct and celebrate diversity. While these are good things, it often gets in the way of communication skills. It is important to be good at reading between the lines and making assumptions. If you try and find yourself making incorrect assumptions you may want to study human behavior.


One thought on “Reading between the lines

  1. Look at you! I learned something a couple of weeks ago. While behavior scientists say that people look to the right to access their memories, this is not entirely accurate (I’m sure this is media’s fault somehow).I look up and left every time: turns out people who are actually supposed to be left handed do this. Who knew?

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