Home > GENERAL > Language & Speech Therapy > Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Action Speaks Louder Than Words : Knowing Body Language

Action speaks louder than words. We’ve heard this time and time again. What it means is that what we do is more important and more meaningful than what we say. This is true about our actions and behavior in every area of our life. It is also true about our communication.

When we talk to someone, the message is often received based on what we do while we talk, and not entirely from the words we say. Do we even realize that we are doing other things while we are talking to someone? All the actions and mannerism we display while talking is called non-verbal behavior, or more commonly known as body language.

Why is this important in speech therapy? Speech therapy is so much more than words. We help people to improve their overall communication skills, and this includes body language as well.

Non – verbal behavior is literally from head to toe. It includes our eye – contact, how we stand, how much we move, what we do with our hands, how close we get to our conversation partners. No matter what we say, our body language is always a big giveaway.

If you have observed a couple talking from a distance, even if you can’t hear what they are saying, you can pretty much guess their mood. Notice the crossed arms, each looking in a different direction, raising their hands and their voices, and sitting or standing with quite a large space between them. We can’t hear a word, yet everyone around can easily guess what’s going on.

Then there’s the couple who seem to be Siamese twins, attached at a few points, gazing intently into each other’s eyes (they got eye contact more than covered!), smiling, laughing. Again, can’t hear a word of their conversation but can safely conclude their mood as well.


Twin language? Encouraging your twins to communicate
Sumber : https://www.twiniversity.com

How is it that we can guess these things, even without hearing what they say? It is simply their body language. Body language is extremely important to making a good impression, both in conversation and also when giving talks or presentations. Learning good non-verbal communication skills is important not only for individuals with communication disorders but also every one of us.Here are a few tips on non-verbal language that will help you to communicate better:

Non – verbal language

What to do or not to do

Appearance

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Have neat and clean hair, clothes, nails.
  • Smile!

Personal Space

  • Personal space refers to the space between people, how close or how far we sit or stand from each other while talking.
  • Remember to be not too far, or not too near.Usually an arms width will be comfortable.
  • Close friends and family can be nearer.
  • Notice if someone moves away from you, they may need more personal space (or you smell bad…)

Eye – contact

  • Maintain good eye – contact, while looking away once in a while.
  • This depends on the culture and custom as well.
  • Do make eye contact but don’t stare intently at the eyes.

Voice

  • Loud enough to be heard, but don’t shout.
  • Watch your tone of voice, keep it courteous.

Facial expression

  • Notice the other person’s facial expression, is she smiling or frowning; and that will be an accurate response to what you are saying.
  • Also be mindful of your facial expression; make sure it tallies with what you are saying. If you smile while telling your child to stop jumping on the bed, or frown while telling your child her drawing is nice, they will listen to your face, rather than to your words.

Hands

  • Avoid hands in the pocket or folded arms. Place hands by your side on your lap.
  • Don’t fidget or move your hands too much.
  • Use your hands naturally to make a point or describe something, but make sure you don’t overdo it.

Touch

 

  • This depends on how close you are to the person you are talking to. A pat on the shoulder, a squeeze of her hand, or a hug may be appropriate in certain situations with close friends and those you know well.
  • A firm handshake is crucial for all occasions.
  • Don’t be a nutcracker and crush the person’s hand!

Gestures & Posture

  • Gestures are actions that a person makes while communicating, usually with their hands.
  • Postures is how a person sits or stands.
  • Do observe the person you are talking to and try very subtly to imitate their gestures and postures. This will make the other person more comfortable. Don’t be too obvious as this make feel uneasy.

Communication is the key to building relationships, be it socially among friends or professionally with colleagues and clients. We can prepare a script for a perfect presentation, or rehearse exactly what we going to say in a conversation, but our non – verbal language will complete our communication.

When someone is not sincere or unsure of how they feel, their body language will give them away and cause confusion among those listening. When we are sincere and aware of what our actions convey, our non-verbal language works together with our words to enhance our communication.

So be mindful of what you say, choose your words wisely. Be mindful of what you don’t say, as your actions, your gestures, your smile, your frown, your handshake, all speak louder than your words. Have fun communicating, especially with your actions!

References

  1. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/Body_Language.htm
  2. Scott, H., Batten, J. P., & Kuhn, G. (2018). Why are you looking at me? It’s because i’m talking, but mostly because i’m staring or not doing much. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201810/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-staring
  4. Lansing, C. R., & McConkie, G. W. (2003). Word identification and eye fixation locations in visual and visual-plus-auditory presentations of spoken sentences. Perception & psychophysics65(4), 536-552.
  5. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/body-language/
  6. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/social-communication/

 

Last Reviewed : 18 April 2019
Writer : Amelia Inbam Neelagandan
Accreditor : Nadwah bt. Onwi