Non-Verbal Communication for Men
The power of nonverbal communication may be so underestimated by men. Nonverbal communication carries so much emotional energy (feelings). Increasing our ability to ‘know’ this emotional energy will improve the power of our communication and build deeper connections to those we love. In this video, we are having a conversation about men’s capacity for non-verbal communication. To improve the non-verbal communication we men need to deepen our inner awareness to develop insight and awareness of the emotions and energy we are communicating with non-verbally.
Nonverbal Communication is 70% of all our communication
More than 70% of our communication is non-verbal. Every day our brain and body are responding with thousands of nonverbal cues and reactions. These could be body language and postures, expressions on our face, how we look through our eyes, our gestures and tone of voice. As Andrew says, the brain is so quick with its unconscious microsecond reactions and our conscious mind might not be keeping up.
The classic line we all use socially, especially men when asked, “How are you”? We answer “Good” when in fact our non-verbal cues are suggesting otherwise. In fact, what we communicate non-verbally can be showing how we are actually emotionally feeling. Our facial expressions can show signs of emotions like happiness, sadness, fear or anger. This can then be reinforced by our tone of voice and our body language in that brief nonverbal interaction. Nonverbal communication is essential in our communication as it helps us respond and adapt to our partner through our nonverbal messages (e.g., the clique ‘actions speak louder than words’).
Deepening Our Awareness Improves our Nonverbal Communication
Men are very capable of great nonverbal communication. We can improve our nonverbal communication by becoming aware more aware of our emotional feelings with our body. Sadly, due to our experiences of growing up and being socially conditioned through our historical toxic masculinity we men were taught to shut down our emotions. This process in effect has facilitated us, men, learning to disconnect from our emotions and our emotional well-being.
As young boys were communicated to our parents through our emotions. Around the age of 5 or 6 years old, we were given messages, “boys don’t cry, it is a sign of weakness”. This, unfortunately, taught us to suppress the emotional information our bodies were giving us. We all don’t mind receiving the emotional information of happiness and sharing it with others. However, we don’t like receiving the emotional information of sadness or emotional pain as that is experienced by men as a sign of weakness. We convert and react to these emotions into anger or armoring up to soldier on.
What feelings and attitudes do we nonverbally communicate?
Sometimes it is very difficult in verbal communication to express our feelings. Our logical and rational mind likes to have everything in order and when trying to have conversations about feelings which are not always rational our logical brain can get really lost and confused in this space. When we men are asked what are you feeling in this conversation, our stock standard answer can be, “don’t know.” This is not uncommon and due to our social conditioning at suppressing difficult emotions, we haven’t learned to have full awareness of the emotional energy invisibly generating in our bodies and manifesting in our nonverbal channels. It like we men are still learning to ‘connect the dots’ to our emotional landscape. Our emotional landscape is so essential to becoming aware of as I believe it is the antecedent and energy that seriously underpins our mental health.
To improve our ability to nonverbally communicate we need to be more aware of what feelings, attitudes, and beliefs we hold deep down (in our internal emotional landscape) in order to succinctly and authentically express it verbally and nonverbally. I describe this level of awareness as our intuitive or empathic abilities.
To highlight this point I love to use a quote from Albert Einstein who is alleged to have said:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Developing our Emotional Awareness
To be more aware and to express more authentic and accurate nonverbal messages, we men I believe need to become aware of your inner emotions and how they impact and influence us. This is a space and something our logical/rational mind does not like. It’s like it’s going offline and can trigger our anxiety and scramble to get it back into our ‘black or white’ – ‘right or wrong’ framework or world order. OMG, the emotional zone is ‘grey zone’ and it can “red alert” into our reaction of frustration and anger (emotions by the way!!).
The more we become familiar to our own emotions it facilitates a deeper empathy within ourselves and to others, especially our loved ones. This process allows us the ability to recognize the emotions of others and to bring awareness to the true feelings underneath the nonverbal messages our partner may be trying to express.
Nonverbal Responding Instead of Reacting
Deep communication about how things are going in life is not always easy for both men and women. Sometimes, there is a life experience that has triggered a feeling or state of being that we can’t put words to. We might express a nonverbal reaction through facial expression, tone of voice or a gesture that we may not be fully aware of. This reaction then triggers a defensive reaction from our partner and we both then nonverbally react to that as well. Learning to share and intuitively sense the nonverbal feelings can be an uncomfortable space. It’s like there is feeling in the room which I call the energy of the ‘invisible elephant in the room”. We are both delicately dancing around this ‘invisible elephant’ being “civil” to each other. Neither of us, is game to pricked the nonverbal energy of invisible elephant in the room in case it triggers ‘world-war six million’ of reactions. Our logical/rational brain will communicate in the, prove/disprove, ‘he said’, ‘she said’, old genre.
When this old verbal communication pattern kicks back in how do we stop and check in to the nonverbal communication that is underneath and potentially fuelling this pattern? Pausing and sensing into our own feelings (emotional space) firstly is a great starting place. Noticing what we are feeling. It could be stress or frustration and when our verbal communication is going ‘South’ and we are not hearing each other this can trigger deeper emotions of feeling hurt (both being unheard).
Noticing our Stress and Deeper Emotions
Life invariably brings with it stress and we all have it. In relationships each of may manage stress in different ways and be affected by it individually or collectively. In nonverbal communicate stress can affect our ability to communicate. If we are stressed out our ability to misread each other can be heightened, we can send of confusing and dismissive nonverbal cues or drop into unhealthy patterns of reactive patterns of defensive behavior. As we humans are empathic being our emotions can be mirrored. If you are upset and sad, it is likely that his maybe mirrored by our partners.
When our nonverbal communication is reflecting stress and upset, there are noticeable signs and cues in our bodies informing us of this. It is important to take time out and internally notice the stress and own it, instead of blaming the other person. Take a moment to quieten and soften before re-engaging in the conversation. This emotional space can create an equilibrium where we can feel more positive to manage the conversation in a healthier way verbally and nonverbally.
Meeting each other in this healthy way allows each of us to be heard physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This space enables us to reconnect at the heart level and brings a loving warmth to both the verbal and nonverbal senses of our beings.
Deeper Awareness Gifts of Heart
Being emotionally aware offers us the deeper ability to more accurately read each other including our emotions and what we both may be feeling and experiencing. We can better check in on the unspoken message we might be sending each other. If we are unsure we can be open to seeking more verbal clarity to confirm that we are empathizing with the other feelings.
Creating a safe space of empathically checking in to the other will create a deeper trust in our relationships and can facilitate the sending of our nonverbal energy and messages that are consistent and in harmony with our words. It shows to our loved one that we are deeply responding and do understand and care about what they are experiencing and wanting to share with us.
Connecting to our emotions
As mentioned before many of us man are so disconnected from our emotions we are like concrete slabs. Well, that might be a bit too extreme. However, to really strong and painful emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear we have been taught to suppress them and shut them off. Be a man and soldier on brother. Another classic is our emotional ‘shut down’ – nothing gets in, nothing gets out whereby we can be in denial or numb it out. We don’t get rid of emotions they just buried deeper into our subconscious, our old concreted Fort Knox!! Just what, energetically these emotions are still there and still impacting on our nonverbal energy and communication.
By developing awareness and connecting our emotions (all of them) good, bad or indifferent we learn to be with them and meet them. It is like developing the paradox of ‘comfort in the discomfort’ which create a space where we can choose to respond rather than react. Not that we won’t react because we will ‘miss’ the cues from time to time – but our open awareness is deeply authentic to acknowledge and own that we missed that bit!! A powerful admission and ownership of all of our realms of verbal and nonverbal communication ~ physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ~ Namaste
“Our eyes are the window to our Soul”