Face to Face Communication

COMMUNICATING The word communicate comes from the latin “communis” or “common”. We speak of a common room that everyone shares or a university commons where everyone shares the space. It indicates that two people or two groups have something shared in common but many problems and disputes can be traced to a lack of understanding. People cannot live without each other – we are social beings. As soon as we are in contact with others we are communicating. For this we can make use of spoken and written language. In these ways we make the content of a message clear to each other. However we can also communicate without words. This kind of communication tells us something about the relationship between people. Often this is more important than getting the content of the message across. The communication about this non spoken communication, which tells us something about the relationship between people, is called Meta-Communication. Communicating about communication! Communication is about listening and sending. Listening with our ears and eyes and sending with words, text, and body language. • Effective Listening Skills – Your ears. The key to getting someone to understand what you are trying to say is to speak in his or her language. If you want to know what that is, you have to listen first. When you are a good listener, you are a good learner. Good learners are constantly improving their personal effectiveness. • Effective Listening Skills – Your eyes. So much of what is said in person to person communication occurs through subtle body language. Listening to what you’re seeing and being aware of what your body is saying, has an important positive impact on your “hearing” overall. • Communication – Your mouth. Voice tone and inflection, as well as the specific words chosen all add to the totality of your “message.” Researchers say that 94% of the meaning of our communication is conveyed by body language, tone of voice and facial expression. Increasing the likelihood that you will be heard as you intended is a skill that can be practiced and improved.

The most important lessons for elementary-school pupils focus on communication skills. They use the skills of listening, talking, reading, or writing almost every moment in their work and play. These skills are basic tools in learning each new subject. Mastery of them helps prepare young people for solving the problems of adult life. Whatever careers they choose, they must communicate in order to work with others and put their ideas and knowledge to use. Personality development is also dependent upon good communication skills. Thoughtful parents provide their children with a wide variety of experiences in listening and speaking. These experiences prepare the children for rapid progress in communication skills in school. Babies begin listening early. They have learned the meaning of many words and other sounds long before they speak their first words. As they continue to develop, the family provides them with words they need, helping with pronunciation and meaning. The children are encouraged to ask questions. Well-selected books and pictures provide topics for talking and listening. Children are self-centered in their use of oral communication (speaking and listening) when they enter school. Members of the family have adjusted their topics, words, and sentences to the child’s ability to understand. Schoolchildren must learn to work with the group and to adjust to others’ interests. Communication becomes a social experience. People spend about 45 percent of their communicating time in listening, 30 percent in speaking, and only 25 percent in reading and writing. Listening was the chief means of learning until books became abundant after the invention of printing. Listening has revived in importance with the spread of radio, television, recordings, and films. When people are bored with what they hear, however, their minds frequently tune it out. Skilled listening involves thinking as well as hearing. School activities for practicing and improving speech include conversation, discussion, reports, planning and evaluating, storytelling, and reciting poetry. School programs and assemblies are occasions during which students can demonstrate speech skills.
Modern communications technologies enable different kinds of communication. Until Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, the written letter was the main means of long distance communication. In the intervening century people have adapted to the telephone and new means of communication evolved that are different from those used face-to-face.If we can’t see the people we are speaking to, we can’t see their body language. This places great emphasis on the clarity of what is being said. If you observe someone you know making a ‘phone call you may see and hear them behaving differently to the way they would behave in a face-to-face conversation.Some channels of communication seem to influence what we say and how we say it. And sometimes we read things into the message, which are not there.The communication is characterised by each individual’s background and culture, and their understanding (or lack of understanding) of the background and culture of the others. Misunderstandings are common. Body Talk Body Language is the unspoken communication that goes on in every Face-to-Face encounter with another human being. It tells you their true feelings towards you and how well your words are being received. Your ability to read and understand another person’s Body Language can mean the difference between making a great impression or a very bad one! It could help you in that job interview, that meeting, that business function, or special date!

The words of the conversation probably weren’t what we noticed as a direct lie. It was more likely to be the body movements and signals that gave them away. Darting eyes, palms not visible, shifting from one foot to another, hand covering mouth or fingers tugging at the ear are clues. Body movements, too, go along with language. Sometimes they take the place of actual speech. Some body signals probably cannot be helped. Someone who says “Wha-a-at?” may show disbelief by actions as well as words. His eyes may widen, his mouth open a little wider perhaps. Eyebrows may draw together as angry words are spoken. A slight hunch of the shoulders may go along with a confession of fear. Body signals that cannot be helped sometimes contradict the messages of spoken language. A look may say yes, even if the words say no. The way a person stands may say, “I don’t like you,” even if the words say “We’re friends.”

Some body signals are deliberate. Deliberate signals, called gestures, have to be learned. People in different places use different gestures and attach different meanings to them. In many places, an up-and-down nod means yes. But in the Middle East, an upward jerk of the head may mean no. Western Europeans often shake the head from side to side to say no. But in some Arab countries, that it gesture means yes. Most Chinese motion “Come here” with palm down instead of palm up. French people often substitute a shrug for “I don’t know.” Even among the same group of people, a gesture can have many possible meanings. In the United States, for instance, a wink can mean “Hi, there.” Or it might mean, “This is our secret,” or “You’ll get a laugh out of this,” and so on.

Body language plays a big role in intuition as it gives us messages about the other person that we can interpret at an intuitive level. We are always communicating verbally and nonverbally.

To make a good impression, it is important to understand that you are always communicating through body language, whether it is intentional or not. Studies done in the field indicate that:

• 55% of the communication consists of body language, • 38% is expressed through tone of voice (paralanguage), • 7% is communicated through words.

Effective communication can be hard to achieve. Sometimes it seems that no matter how carefully we try to phrase the things we say, the listener either doesn’t understand us, or they misunderstand us. In verbal communication we often add emphasis through body language or the intonation of our voice.

“The orientation of speakers and listeners: face-to-face, side to side, or back-to-back, can send powerful non-verbal messages. In a group situation, when the leader faces the group and turns toward the one who is speaking, this conveys strong attention. When two people are communicating, competitors are more likely to sit facing each other while collaborators are more likely to sit side-by-side. If one stands while the other is sitting, the standing person may be sending dominance signals, which can stifle free exchange of ideas.”

We start forming impressions of people we meet from the moment we set eyes on them. A large part of the initial impression that you create comes from your body language. Your posture, facial expression, eye contact, and gestures speak louder than the words you say. We all interpret body language all the time on a subconscious level. There are some tips of communicating face to face:

• “Darwin believed that facial expressions of emotion are similar among humans, regardless of culture.” However, researchers now believe “our non verbal language is partly instinctive, partly taught and partly imitative.” The face is the most expressive part of the body. If you are feeling anxious then your facial expression may lead you to appear aloof, disapproving, or disinterested. You can break this misrepresentation by making a conscious effort to smile. Your smile is one of the strongest tools you have in meeting new people. It will help you appear warm, open, friendly, and confident.• Eye contact is direct and powerful. The eyes are always talking. A poet and writer of 19th-century France wrote, ‘Eyes are so transparent, that through them, one sees the soul.’ Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of dealing with others, especially people we’ve just met. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what they have to say. We should tend to keep eye contact around 60-70% of the time. (However, there are wide cultural differences, so be careful in other countries) By doing this you won’t make the other people feel self conscious, like they’ve got a bit of vegetable stuck between their teeth or a dew drop hanging from the nose. . Instead, it will give them a feeling of comfort and genuine warmth in your company, any more eye contact than this and you can be too intense, any less and you give off a signal that you are lacking interest in them or their conversation.

• Posture is the next thing to master, get your posture right and you’ll automatically start feeling better, as it makes you feel good almost instantly. Next time you notice you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you’re standing or sitting. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable. Head position is a great one to play around with, with yourself and others. Your posture gives signals about your interest in something, your openness, and attentiveness. It also gives clues as to your status within a group.

• Arms give away the clues as to how open and receptive we are to everyone we meet and interact with, so keep your arms out to the side of your body or behind your back. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way and you meet things “full frontal”. In general terms the more outgoing you are as a person, the more you tend to use your arms with big movements. The quieter you are the less you move your arms away from your body.

• Legs are the furthest point away from the brain; consequently they’re the hardest bits of our bodies to consciously control. They tend move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. Angle of the body in relation to others gives an indication of our attitudes and feelings towards them. We angle toward people, we find attractive, friendly and interesting and angle ourselves away from those we don’t, and it’s that simple! Angles include leaning in or away from people, as we often just tilt from the pelvis and lean sideways to someone to share a bit of conversation.

• Hand gestures are so numerous it’s hard to give a brief guide but here goes. Palms slightly up and outward is seen as open and friendly. Palm down gestures are generally seen as dominant, emphasizing and possibly aggressive, especially when there is no movement or bending between the wrist and the forearm. This palm up, palm down is very important when it comes to handshaking.

• Distance from others is crucial if you want to give off the right signals. Stand too close and you’ll be marked as “Pushy” or “In your face”. Stand or sit too far away and you’ll be “Keeping your distance” or “Stand offish”.

• Ears, yes your ears play a vital role in communication with others, even though general terms most people can’t move them much, if at all. However, you’ve got two ears and only one mouth, so try to use them in that order.

• Mouth movements can give away all sorts of clues. We purse our lips and sometimes twist them to the side when we’re thinking. Another occasion we might use this movement is to hold back an angry comment we don’t wish to reveal. Nevertheless, it will probably be spotted by other people and although they may not know the comment, they will get a feeling you were not pleased. There are also different types of smiles and each gives off a corresponding feeling to its recipient, which we’ll cover next time.Examples Of Body LanguageNONVERBAL BEHAVIOR INTERPRETATIONBrisk, erect walk ConfidenceStanding with hands on hips Readiness, aggressionSitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly BoredomSitting, legs apart Open, relaxedArms crossed on chest DefensivenessWalking with hands in pockets, shoulders hunched DejectionHand to cheek Evaluation, thinkingTouching, slightly rubbing nose Rejection, doubt, lying

Rubbing the eye Doubt, disbeliefHands clasped behind back Anger, frustration, apprehensionLocked ankles ApprehensionHead resting in hand, eyes downcast BoredomRubbing hands AnticipationSitting with hands clasped behind head, legs crossed Confidence, superiorityOpen palm Sincerity, openness, innocencePinching bridge of nose, eyes closed Negative evaluationTapping or drumming fingers ImpatienceSteepling fingers AuthoritativePatting/fondling hair Lack of self-confidence; insecurityTilted head InterestStroking chin Trying to make a decisionLooking down, face turned away DisbeliefBiting nails Insecurity, nervousnessPulling or tugging at ear Indecision

Body language is used especially to express feelings. Our face, eyes, hands (gestures), and posture express what is going on inside of us. They give clues to others and to us as to whether the words we say are consistent with what we are really feeling. Being aware of our body language can allow us to send a consistent message. Smiling, making eye contact, using open gestures, and using good posture can bring up our level of self-confidence. For instance if we do not like someone, it is often difficult to say that directly to the person. However we can make it clear either intentionally or unintentionally through body language. The opposite is also true. We may say that we ARE angry through words yet our body language may be saying loud and clear that we are NOT. This can be very confusing for the receiver. This is usually described as giving out double messages – one message in words and an opposite message in body language. It is also difficult to lie or cover up our feelings through body language. People may give their true feelings away by not being aware of their body language. Research has shown that most people pay more attention to, and believe more readily, their impression of how a person acts through body language than what is said through words. As a consequence we tend to doubt, or put a question mark behind, the spoken words if they do not correspond with the language of the body.

This sub communication is even more important that ever before, because society created a link between our actions, and how people feel. For example when you are in room, and you feel really nervous, everyone in the room will pick up that you are nervous, by your actions, tonality, speed of your movements… Such things are really obvious, even for kids… you can see when somebody is sad, happy, excited, honest, angry. You can tell everything about a person just by the way he looks. To leave a good impression behind, say at a job interview, it is important that we know, and to a certain extent can control, our body language. The person on the receiving end of our body language will have a feeling or impression that is often difficult to describe – difficult to put into words or difficult to prove what actually was communicated. Body language plays a big role in intuition as it gives us messages about the other person that we can interpret at an intuitive level. It is therefore necessary to get to know our own body language first. We should learn about it so that we can recognise it in others as well as in ourselves.