The three factors to “read” the Non-Verbal Communication

Reading time: 2 minutes

There are at least three factors to keep in mind if you want to read the NVC avoiding gross mistakes. Here they are briefly explained:

1. Context

The first thing to observ is the context in which we talk and in which the NVC messages we observ appear. Two simple examples can be more useful than a lot of words. The situation where a man with one’s arms folded is talking to another man, appears as if the man with one’s arms folded lives the classical self-closure situation. Maybe observing the context you will realize they are in the outdoors and close to them there are lots of clamouring children disturbing the conversation. That is the reason why the crossed arms become a barrier, not against the friend’s message, but against the disturbing noises of the children and, on the contrary, folded arms show the concentration of the hearer towards his friend.

The three factors to “read” the Non-Verbal Communication

2. Sum

Every time we observ one person’s behaviour it is always a good method to sum up every element we collect, instead of judging on a single detail. Imagine a person at a table with his/her arms in a position of openness on the table, but with his/her legs crossed under the chair. Looking closely it would seem the person doesn’t trust much of what the others are saying and he/she has some puzzlement. To consider one of the two elements would lead to a description of a homogeneous behaviour, while, in this case, this wouldn’t describe finely that person.

3. Congruence

It is always useful to observ the congruences and the incongruences between the different verbal and non-verbal messages from a person. Every time we notice an incongruence we have doubts, and the only two methods to solve them are to observ and to ask. An example can be useful. Imagine a person meeting a friend and offering him a beautiful slice of chocolate cake saying: “Do you want a slice?”. The other boy will answer “no” while nodding in agreement, revealing his interior conflict. At this point the other person, who noticed the incogruence, can deepen the situation by asking for example: “You don’t want it because you are on a diet and it is better for you if you don’t eat it?”. If the other person nods, the doubt has been clarified and the first friend will be sure his mate wants the cake, but he prefers forcing himself to remain loyal to his diet.

Luca Brambilla