Communication is a complicated thing. Often words don’t tell the whole story.
For one thing, researchers have consistently shown us that a huge amount of a person’s message is actually conveyed not in words at all, but non-verbally. This includes things like voice tone, body movements and gestures and so on.
In addition, people often hint at things without saying them explicitly. They may do this in sensitive situations where they fear openly expressing themselves or where they are ashamed of their true desires or intentions.
As a listener, it is extremely important to be aware of these facts. When we realize how frequently messages are conveyed either nonverbally or non-explicitly, we can be on the lookout for these cases and we will be far more likely to respond optimally when faced with them.
A group of very talented individuals exists that are skilled at recognizing liars. It is an extremely interesting field in which they participate. And research in that field supports the notion that when people communicate, they always “leak” certain indicators of their real thoughts and feelings. These may be tiny expressions or micro-twitches that speak in ways that words cannot.
While we can’t all become complete experts at this, we can all become better at picking up subtle cues in communication. And this is what is likely to happen more and more when we enter conversations fully aware of the existence of hidden meaning.
So for the next few weeks, as you interact with others, pay special attention to not only what they say, but how they say it, the nonverbal cues that go along with it and – just as importantly – what they don’t say. Don’t become paranoid. Sometimes a message is straightforward.
However, it is nonetheless valuable to explore the hidden side of communicating.
When talking with someone you are very close with, it may be feasible to inquire directly about alternate meanings. Perhaps it will be comfortable to express your curiosity about whether anything is going unsaid and assure your partner that you will be empathetic if they open up further to you.
Perhaps you are incorrect. If so, your partner will tell you to take what they say at face value. They might even say that despite the fact that you are reading things correctly if they do not wish you to know their true thoughts and feelings. Yet, it is also possible that they will admit that there really is more to their message. They might even be relieved that you’ve given them an outlet for it. And this can enhance your relationship.
Many cultures have recognized the importance of unconscious motivations. Things we are not aware of may affect our world enormously. When we focus on the aspects of communication that are not obvious, we come face to face with this powerful realm. Reading people in ways that go beyond words involves a trip into a deeper part of our reality which some don’t know even exists.
The ability to do this is a power that can be used to help or hurt. Sadly, some choose the latter and apply their talent at picking up on cues to exploit others. However, the finest counselors and teachers employ the same skills to massively improve people’s lives.
As you become better at deciphering nonverbal communication, you will get to decide which of the above you will be. It is my hope that you harness this power to bring more peace to our planet.