What’s Your Body Language Broadcasting?

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I’ve always been an avid people-watcher. It’s an activity I enjoy whenever I’m at the park or the pool or any other public place. Not in a stalking, staring, break-out-the-binoculars mode or manner, but in an alert, attentive, aware-of-my-surroundings kind of way.

What's Your Body Language Broadcasting

portraits courtesy of David Flanders

I especially like observing the interactions between husbands and wives or between mothers and children. I’ve learned a lot by doing this over the years — gleaning wisdom from both positive and negative examples.

One thing I’ve discovered is that you needn’t be close enough to eavesdrop on a conversation to understand what is being said. Body language broadcasts it all, loud and clear.

That’s a good thing to remember when you’re out and about with your own family. You never know when somebody might be watching, learning, taking notes, or — in our present age of smart phones — video taping.

That’s one reason I try not to do anything in public I wouldn’t want broadcast on YouTube! Ha!

But if I am behaving in such a way that I’d be embarrassed for complete strangers to watch my actions on the Internet, how much more should I want to spare my beloved family such scenes, both in public and at home?

It’s important that we remember communication starts before a single word is uttered, before a solitary sound is intoned. It begins with attitude and posture, with body language and facial expressions.

Think about what the following actions and expressions communicate:

  • furrowed brows
  • rolled eyes
  • a grimace
  • shaking the head
  • a distracted stare
  • an angry scowl
  • a heavy sigh
  • folded arms
  • narrowed eyes
  • an impatient tapping of foot or fingers

Sometimes we revert to such gestures and expressions out of habit — but wouldn’t it be better to change them to something more positive?

  • a warm smile
  • bright eyes
  • a beaming countenance
  • upraised brows
  • open arms
  • a heartfelt hug
  • a happy grin
  • a bubbly laugh
  • a friendly wink
  • a pat on the back

The actual words we speak constitute only seven percent of total communication. Facial expressions account for a full 55 percent and vocal tone makes up the additional 38 percent.*

Think about that fact, then ask yourself the following questions: What are my nonverbal cues saying to my husband? What is my body language telling my children? Is this really the message I want to send?

* Source: For Better or for Best: A Valuable Guide to Knowing, Understanding, and Loving your Husband by Dr. Gary Smalley. (I just finished reading this book and highly recommend it!)

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