Non-verbal signals are one of the most underrated ways to understand what someone is thinking and feeling.
Non-verbal signals fall under the category of body language. When it comes to communication and body language one of the questions that comes up is – Non-verbal signals, what to look for? What are the tells that people give away?
Actually, our body language that we use when we’re communicating 55 to 60% of the impact on communication comes from body language.
I’ve discovered these through practice and engaging with audiences at all levels including:
- In a business environment
- Corporate coaching
- Large audiences thousands of people
- Personal meetings
Based on this experience, I now always look for these four things.
Important note, if you take on board these four areas, observe them closely when communicating, you’ll always be able to tell what’s going on.
Non-Verbal Signal #1: Eyes
Let’s start with eyes.
When we do live events one of the exercises I get them to do is I’ll have them ask a question and look at the person’s response with their eyes.
There are eye accessing cues that really give away massive tells as to what a person is thinking!
If the questions are asked the right way at the right pace, and if you ask a series of questions. The other person will not be able to – process logically. In other words, they will consciously try to keep their physiology in their eyes in a certain way
So in effect, you are trying to catch them out. You’ll notice their eyes will go to a certain place to access a memory or to construct something if they’re possibly lying.
So the first thing to do is just ask a series of questions to somebody and watch what they do with their eyes.
When it comes to whether you think they’re telling the truth, or maybe they’re feeling a little bit protective, or possibly internalising. The best way is to ask a question and observe where their eyes go. For example, if they look down it means they’re really connected with what they’re saying, in other words, internalising.
Whereas if they look left or right, they’re probably processing auditory so they’re thinking with sound, they’re hearing words, whereas if they go up they’re probably more visual and picturing something.
Play with that as it will give you a good sense of whether someone is more kinaesthetic, auditory or visual – as well as if they are telling the truth or constructing somethign.
Non-Verbal Signal #2: Breathing
Breathing is a massive non-verbal signal which most people miss.
When two people are really synchronised the body language becomes synchronistic.
One of the great ways to get someone to calm down is to get them to – Breathe in synchronicity with you.
To help someone who is feeling this way, you can even pick up your breathing initially to speak a bit quicker, take lighter breaths. Initially, matching their breathing pace, they will then get resonance with you, you can then slow it down a little bit.
Then as they’re comfortable with you their breathing will slow down. Therefore begin to calm down.
That’s an example of an obvious observation. The real mastery comes when you can observe the most minute breathing changes.
Non-Verbal Signal #3: Feet
The third is feet.
Also, these non-verbal signals aren’t in a specific order, if forced to rank them, feet are the fastest way to tell whether somebody is comfortable or uncomfortable.
For example, if they want to get away from you, if they want to exit the conversation their feet will start to turn away from you.
If there’s a door in the room it will probably tilt towards the door.
Non-Verbal Signal #4: Hands
The last one is your hands and again, like feet, hands are a very big indicator.
If someone is comfortable with you they are gesturing very openly.
They may want to:
- Touch you
- They might reach out
- Shake hands with you
They feel comfortable, but when somebody starts to put their hands down to their crutch or pockets for example and they’re covering that area they may feel like they want to protect themselves because they feel uncomfortable.
The movement of the hands says a lot so look for that when you’re communicating.
Start to have conversations and when you think someone is nervous look at what the four non-verbal signal body parts above are doing.
If they are all aligned, you will begin to know what they are thinking and feeling.
These are powerful tools to start being a good observer in this process. True mastery will come when you ask powerful questions and simultanously observe all areas at the same time.