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How Body Language Helps You Communicate

two couples gathered in a well lit restaurant for brunch and cocktails

It is estimated that one in every 25 Canadians has some sort of hearing impairment. So, it’s important that both individuals with hearing impairment and those without hearing impairment work together to ensure that everyone can communicate well with one another. Now, when we think about interactions between those who are hard of hearing and those who are hearing, we tend to think of sign language. Of course, this is a great skill to have and something that more people should learn and practice.

However, it’s also important to know that there are other things that we can do to help people communicate with one another more easily. One tool that is a staple in human communication is body language. Believe it or not, body language helps everyone communicate with one another. It’s a key factor in communication mood, emotion and other factors that influence our interactions.

In fact, studies show that the words we use make up only seven percent of our total communication with one another. Thirty eight percent is deemed to be dependent on vocal signals and an astounding 55% is through our body language. So, how exactly does body language help us to convey our thoughts and feelings? Here’s some more information on the subject.

The Importance of Body Language

As we’ve noted above, body language plays a fundamental role in helping others to understand what we want them to understand. It’s equally, in turn, important to understand body language to truly get what someone is trying to communicate to us. Simple gestures can give us all sorts of insight into a person. Folding arms can show that someone is feeling defensive or uncomfortable – with the arms creating a barrier between their body and yours. Hands on the hips can show anger. Smiles can show happiness and friendliness. There are countless more signals that we grow to understand as we communicate more and more with others too.

Facial Expressions and Eye Contact

A key area to start when using your body language to communicate, or when watching someone else communicate, is facial expressions and eye contact. Believe it or not, by simply looking at the expressions conveyed through a person’s face while communicating can give you good insight into their message and can significantly help with activities like lipreading. Many of us are naturally good at interpreting people’s facial expressions, picking these cues up intuitively, but others amongst us will have to work a little harder to interpret them.

On their own facial expressions can convey one message, but paired with other body language, they can tell another. For example, if someone is smiling consistently during a conversation, but the rest of their body language shows defensive, uncomfortable or other negative signs, you could negate that their happiness is false and a show.

It’s important to work with facial expressions and eye contact alongside other body language clues. If you find that someone’s facial expressions aren’t matching up with their other body language, it can sometimes be best to react in a way that doesn’t necessarily take their words for truth and to react instead to the body language being conveyed.

Eye contact is generally positive, but individuals with hearing difficulties may know that it is difficult to maintain eye contact while also trying to lipread to better understand what someone is saying. But don’t fret – as you become more habituated to lip reading and reading people’s gestures, you will begin to be able to maintain eye contact at the same time.

Posture and Gestures

Another important element of body language is posture and gestures. Posture can indicate mood or engagement pretty well. People who are feeling happy, comfortable, positive and engaged tend to have more upright postures. On the other hand, individuals who are feeling down or upset may slump, while individuals who feel threatened or uncomfortable may shy away. Pointing and other use of the hands can help to enhance descriptions of objects or places or identify locations of different things. This can also be helpful.

Please bear in mind that you should take individuals’ body language on a case-by-case basis. Behavior in one person can vary in meaning from behavior in another. For example, someone being unable to maintain eye contact with you could indicate one person lying, but merely indicate shyness, awkwardness or anxiety in another person. Sometimes, it takes some time with an individual to fully work out what their body language means.

Of course, there’s much more to be said when it comes to discussions of body language and communication. But hopefully, some of the above information will serve as a good springboard into the topic for you! To learn more about your hearing loss treatment options, please don’t hesitate to contact the Hearing Wellness Centre on (519) 735-4327.