When Ronan Keating’s famous Nothing Hill song hit the big screens it all suddenly made sense “You say it best, when you say nothing at all”
Nonverbal communication has been a means of communication since the beginning of time. Without uttering a single sound you can get a message across loud and clear even if you’re not aware of it. Our posture, facial expression the way we walk and talk are all signals we communicate to the outside world.
You might even find yourself saying more than you bargained for when it comes to professional or romantic relationships.
Allan Pease, a body language and analyst specialist says men easily mistake something as simple as genuine smile as a flirtatious gesture. “We’ve done studies into the phenomenon,” says Pease. “We presented a film of an acted-out scenario where an older superior male boss interacted with a female colleague who was simply being friendly, but not flirtatious.”
Both men and women saw this film and were asked to comment on whether the women were being friendly or flirtatious. 55% of the men thought that she was being seductive and flirting with her boss because she was constantly smiling, this was in comparison to only 27% of the women, who also agreed that she was flirting.
“We concluded that men are more than twice as likely to see a smile as a ‘come on’ rather than a women’s way of simply being friendly,” says Pease. “That’s why guys approach women and say such stupid things – he misreads the signals!”
It’s in the way you dress:
(Probably the most obvious) But in a professional and romantic setting outfits can become a make or break and clothing says a lot about your personality, the type of mood you’re in and how comfortable you feel around that person (speaking from relationship point of view).
If you’re well groomed and dressed formally for a job interview at a fancy firm you’d make a better impression than the person wearing the slops and Hawaiian T-shirt. So it makes sense to consider where you’re off to and the type of message you want to send.
Researchers at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna, Austria conducted a little experiment of their own. They looked at how pairs of men and women who had never met before behaved with regard to one another. Afterwards the women were asked if they were attracted to the men, interestingly enough the women who said that they weren’t interested in the men still displayed signals that might confuse one into thinking that you would be attracted to the guy. They were flipping their hair, thrusting their chests and fidgeting with their clothes.
Professor Karl Grammer the person leading the research then concluded that “The women who said they were interested in the man gave off more negative signals than those who weren’t interested.” They would fold their arms across their chests and sit crossed legged. The whole thing should be the other way around should it not?
Looks are probably the most intimidating gesture when it’s a girl vs. girl debacle. In the hit chick flick ‘She’s the Man’ starring Amanda Bines, the lead debutant intervenes when the main characters are physically fighting in the bathroom. She enters the ladies room and with a stern yet hysterical voice says “When ladies disagree, they say it with their eyes!”
This is treacherous ground to be walking on however because a simple look or stare can be misjudged into thinking that you’re actually judging that person. Even if you’re only admiring their shoes.
Normal day and age:
On an unromantically high note there are key giveaways that influence the side of you, you show people when you’re not talking. Avoiding eye contact, putting something between you and the listener, fidgeting and rocking or slouching are maybe some key things to avoid when you’re making an impression on the in laws or even trying to impress head office during a job interview.
When you get to know your environment (romantic, professional, casual) the objective and the result of you achieving your goal can be pin pointed by the signals you want your audience to see. The more aware you are of the signals you’re sending the smaller the chances of you delivering the wrong message.