The Influence of Non Verbal Communication

The impact of shifting internal states and using spatial anchoring on belief change also brings up the importance of non verbal communication. Verbal messages, or words, are only one of the modalities through which people communicate and influence one another. There are many ways in which people interact and send messages non-verbally, such as making eye contact, nodding their heads, crying, pointing or emphasizing something through voice stress. A person's non-verbal communication is as important as, if not more important than, his or her verbal communication.

According to Gregory Bateson, only about 8% of the information communicated in an interaction is carricd in the words, or 'digital' part of the interaction. The other 92% is communicated non-verbally, through the 'analog' system. The 'analog' aspects of communication include body language as wrell as the information carried in the auditory tonal part of the interaction, such as voice tone, tempo and volume. For example, the way that a joke is told—the intonation, facial expressions, pauses, etc.—are frequently as a much factor in what makes the joke "funny" as the words.

Non-verbal communication includes cues and signals such as facial expression, gestures, body posture, voice tone and tempo shifts, and eye movements. Non-verbal cues are often 'meta messages', messages about the verbal content one is expressing. They frequently determine how verbal communication is received and interpreted. If a person says, "Now pay close attention," and points to his or her eyes, it is a fundamentally different message than if the person said the same words but pointed to his or her ears. If someone says, "That's just great," in a sarcastic tone of voice, he or she is actually non verbally sending the opposite message from what the words actually state.

Non verbal signals, such as facial expressions and voice tone, tend to impact us more emotionally, determining how we "feel" about what someone is saying. In fact, non verbal messages tend to reflect and influence our internal state, whereas verbal messages are more associated with cognitive processes. Non verbal communication is more "primitive" and is the primary modality that other animals use to communicate with another (and through which we communicate with them). If we say the words, "Nice doggy," to a dog in an angry and threatening tone of voice, there is no question that its primary response will be to the tone of voice rather than the words.

The Non Verbal Aspects of Our Communication Tend to Reflect and Influence our Internal State to a Greater Degree than Verbal Communication

Thus, the tone of voice one uses while speaking to others can have tremendous impact on how one's verbal message is "heard" and "received." Saying to a person, "You can do it," in an angry or frustrated voice may do as much to trigger doubt as to inspire confidence or belief.

Intended Message

Intended Message

Received Message

Non Verbal Meta Messages Significantly Influence Our Internal States and the Interpretation of Verbal Messages

People generally focus on the verbal aspects of communication, and are frequently unaware of the non verbal portions of communication. When working with Sleight of Mouth, it is essential to pay attention to the non verbal meta messages which accompany our words. The right words, said in the wrong tone of voice, or with the wrong facial expression, can produce the opposite of what we intend.

The degree of congruence between our non verbal messages with our words primarily comes from our own congruence about what we are saying - i.e., the congruence between "message" and "messenger." Thus, the internal state we are in while we are speaking is as important as the internal state of the listener. Learning to observe for non verbal cues, and to pay closer attention to your own internal state, can greatly increase your effectiveness in using Sleight of Mouth to positively impact the beliefs of others.

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