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What You Communicate Without Speaking a Word

It’s 9 a.m. and your boss rushes through the door looking slightly disheveled while letting out a huge sigh.  Immediately, you know to back off and give him or her a few minutes to get settled before you approach them with your question.  How were you able to detect that your boss was upset if he/she didn’t say anything?  It’s called body language.

Defining Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication (NVC) is usually defined as communicating messages without the use of words or verbal communication.  For example, NVC can be communicated via gestures, touch, posture, facial expression, eye contact or even via object communication such as clothing and hairstyles.  According to Wikipedia, the first scientific study of nonverbal communication was in Charles Darwin‘s book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). He argued that all mammals show emotion reliably in their faces.  That being said, the following are some common examples of non verbal cues that people use every day.

Common Examples of Non Verbal Cues

  • Legs-Depending on the situation as well as the gender of the person, keeping your legs crossed while speaking to someone else may indicate that you are not being receptive and can hamper a job interview or a business sale.  On the other hand, not crossing your legs may indicate that you are too relaxed and are not taking things seriously.
  • Face/HeadYour face can say a thousand different things.  For instance, a furrowed brow may indicate pensiveness, fear, anxiety, sarcasm or anger.  Someone who is nodding may be agreeing with something that is being said while someone who tilts their head in closer to another person may be indicating that he or she is trying to understand the other person more clearly.
  • Eyes Someone who is trying to hide something will often avoid eye contact while someone who is bored may glance around the room.  On the other hand, someone who is challenging another person may look directly at the person with a piercing gaze.
  • Arms/Hands If someone has their arms crossed, this is typically an indication that they are trying to put some distance between you and themselves.  Hand movements are also extremely revealing.  For example, greeting someone with a sturdy handshake may convey confidence while someone who constantly touches their hand to a part of their face may be indicating that they are nervous or lacking in self confidence.

Of course, all of these gestures and various types of non verbal cues are dependent, in part, upon the person’s ethnic makeup, gender and extenuating circumstance.  This is where proxemics comes into play.

What is ‘Proxemics’ ?

Simply stated, proxemics is the way in which we utilize the space around us to communicate. Broken down further, proxemics can be looked at in four different types of spatial zones [source]:

  1. Intimate– physical contact to 18 inches | common for intimate relationships
  2. Personal– 18 inches to 4 feet | common for interpersonal communication
  3. Social– 4 to 12 feet | common for work settings
  4. Public– 12+ feet | common for formal meetings

NVC in Private Investigations

When it comes to private investigations, many skilled private investigators are also highly skilled at reading body language.  Once someone has finely tuned their ability to read non verbal cues, most people suddenly become open books. Especially in investigations where there is criminal intent or where witnesses must be called in to testify, this ability to read NVCs may act as the missing piece to solving a crime.

For more information about private investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

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