Non-Verbal Cues

Self-Awareness 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues and their importance in communication and self-awareness

In this episode Willard talks about the most influential part of communication both with ourselves and with others. It is said that "Actions speak louder than words" and in this episode Willard shares how to recognize what your body is saying to you using "non-verbal cues", and how you can use this knowledge to make simple shifts that will allow you to become more resourceful

< EP 23: Repetitive Patterns                                           EP 25: Facing Fear >

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What specifically am I referring to when I say "non-verbal cues"? Quite simply, it is your physiology .

Non-verbal cues are a huge part of your communication, that you express to other people, but also very important and often overlooked, that communicates things to yourself.

By the end of the episode, my intention is that you're going to become more aware of what your body is telling you with these non-verbal cues, and by becoming aware of them, that you have options. I will then share with you a couple of skills that you can use that will allow you to adjust to what your body is telling you. By making these adjustments, it will allow you to be more resourceful.

Self-awareness is what we talk about in this series, and an important part of self-awareness is recognizing when you're on track for where you want to go, and when you're not. Self-awareness allows you to "course correct" when you find yourself getting off-track. And one of the tools for recognizing whether you are on the right path, is your physiology.

You know, we've all heard the saying, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it". That can be in your communication with your friends, with your family, but it also relates to communication with yourself.

As an example of paying attention to "what you say and how you say it", there are many times where you want to express love to somebody but you don't seem to do it in the best way possible. The person you are trying to just does not seem to get the "intention" of what you are saying. Why is that?

Back in February of 1998, I was attending a Tony Robbins seminar, and he was talking specifically about communication. One of the things he was sharing is that so many people think that the words you say are the most important aspect of communication when you're expressing something to someone else.

As an example, if you're saying "I love you" to the person that you care about. Being the person who is saying those words, you may have the deepest intention of expressing love to this person. But the reality is that the words that you choose to use, are only 7% of your communication. The voice quality, how you say it, is 38%. So a person will respond differently if you say, "I love you " to an impassioned "I LOVE YOU". A quite simple shift, but it stands out a bit more.

But there is a part of your communication which speaks even louder than your words. The biggest distinction I made at that event was when he said that 55% of your communication are non-verbal cues. It's your physiology.

He went into an exercise that really drove the point home. And the exercise was not just about how you communicate to other people, but also about how your body communicates to you. What I mean is the way that you are using your body, determines the emotions you feel. Your physiology is directly integrated with your psychology. Your physiology therefore influences the thoughts that you focus on, which affects the resources that you available have to deal with circumstances in your life. By understanding what these non-verbal cues are telling you, you can make simple adjustments that will allow you to be more resourceful.

The example he used was, if there was somebody standing behind you and you weren't able to look at this person, and this person was completely and totally depressed; he asked simple questions to describe the person's physiology. He asked, "Would the person's head be up or down?" And 3500 people, pretty much in unison answered that the person's head would be down. Then he asked, "Would their shoulders be back and held high, or would they be slumped?" And again, the whole room answered that the shoulders would be slumped. He went through all these non-verbal cues of somebody who would be depressed, things like their facial expressions, the tension in their muscles, the location of their eyes, their breathing pattern. And for every question he asked, everybody in the audience answered saying pretty much the same thing.Without being coached on the answers, the whole audience was able to recognize what the non-verbal cues were for a depressed person.

His point was that for a person to feel depressed, we have to take on that specific physiology. Now, the great part about learning this was that if you were aware of the psychology/physiology connection; by changing your physiology, you could change the way you felt.

That was a huge distinction for me. By doing the exercise I realized that by making a few small adjustments, I could completely transform what I was feeling in that moment. But the first part of it, was that I needed to be aware that my non-verbal cues were saying to me. I had to notice if my physiology was out of sync with how I wanted to feel. With this new understanding, I became more sensitive in situations when I was sitting with somebody as to what I was doing with my physiology. Whether it was a business meeting or whether I was sitting with a friend. If I started feeling uneasy, I would shift my attention and ask myself, "What is my physiology like right now? Are my muscles tensed up? Are my fists clenched?" If I found that it was, then I could simply change it. I could make the choice to relax and loosen up the muscles.

One of the easiest ways to release tension, and you can do it without drawing any major attention to yourself, is to breathe. Simply sit back, take in a slow, deep, cleansing breathe and exhale slowly. By simply breathing, and releasing the tension it would allow me to communicate differently to the person I was talking to. By being aware of your physiology, you then have choices.

Your body is such a fine tuned machine. What I mean is that it tells you everything you need to know using non-verbal cues. The challenge is, most of us don't listen to it. But that does not change that fact that it is communicating with us, every moment.

Early in my journey of self-awareness, there was an acronym that I was given to use. I was told that if I was feeling explosive, if i was feeling off-center, if I was feeling out of sorts, if I wasn't feeling resourceful; I should "HALTS"!

H-A-L-T-S a simple acronym for a quick "self-awareness" check.

What they were saying was, in that moment, stop... and check these five things:

1) Are you "H" Hungry? Because your body can be telling you quite simply that you need to eat. A lot of times we get caught up in something and we don't eat. As a result people's blood sugar level gets off balance and the non-verbal cue that their body uses is that they start feeling irritable and don't know why. If you pay attention, your body is saying, "I need food!"

2) Are you "A" angry? What are you focusing on, that is making you not resourceful at that moment?

3) Are you "L" lonely? A lot of times we feel out of place, because we've got all these ideas that are bouncing around inside of our head and we really need to talk to somebody about it. We need to sort out these thoughts with another human being. We need to communicate, we need to connect. Sometimes you just need a hug, and your body is telling you the things that you need.

4) Are you "T" tired? Do you need to just close your eyes for a minute? Take a moment to renew, to regenerate, to revive yourself?

5) And "S" is, are you sick? Are you coming down with something? Are you not feeling well?

Their advice to me, which helped me greatly, was in that moment, before you say or do something you're going to regret later, check " HALTS " H_A_L_T_S. Quite a simple process but also quite effective.

What I learned by combining those two ideas together was, that at any time, I had the ability to "check in" with myself and ask, "What's going on?" And, if I'm not happy with what I find, "What can I change, to allow me to be happy?"

Ultimately, that's the place that I want to spend my time. I want to be happy and I want to be peaceful. So, if I'm sitting here and I'm all tensed up, what do I need to do, to let that go? If I am tense, then there is something I'm allowing to influence me and make me less resourceful. A lot of times it just as simple as taking a deep, cleansing breath.

Just breathe in deeply for a count of 6, you hold it for a couple of seconds say a count of 3, and then exhale for a count of 6, and it will change the way you feel. Just by taking a deep cleansing breath, the rest of your body relaxes.

Now, why is this important? It's important, for a couple of reasons: I'm hoping that part of your goal and your journey in becoming more self aware is to 1) be able to treat yourself better; to be able to live a happier and more peaceful life. And 2) that it is also about being able to contribute to others in a healthy and empowering way. That's my hope for you, I don't know what the outcome of your own journey of self awareness is.

The importance of these non-verbal cues from my perspective, first off, is realizing that your body is talking to you, realizing that your body is communicating with you. There was a point where we were filming one of the takes earlier, and before we even started, I felt tension in my gut and my hands were clenched. I had to stop and ask myself what was going on. I noticed that because we were trying something totally new in our approach, it was way outside of my comfort zone. So, I did a breathing exercise before we started to get myself more centered.

You have the ability to take control. Pay attention to those non-verbal cues. Notice when your stomach is feeling tight. Notice when your muscles are tense. Notice when you're sitting slumped over and change it.

Here is an exercise I want to give to you that I am asking you to do for the next 7 days. There are actually 2 parts to this exercise. First, every muscle gets strengthened by focusing on it and working it. So I want you to build and strengthen that muscle of taking control of how you feel. It is also the muscle that determines what you are communicating to other people. Each day I want you to pick a different state of mind, a different emotion that you want to experience. Choose one each day. Confidence. Happiness. Joy. Gratitude. Pride. Whatever the choice may be for that day, and just to get used to the experience of using your physiology to adjust your psychology; ask yourself, "If I was feeling confident right now, how would I hold my head?" Then put your head in that position. Then ask, "If I was feeling confident, where would my shoulders be?" Then put your shoulders in that position. Continue with these kinds of questions, "If I was feeling confident, how would I breathe? What would my facial expression be? How would I bee sitting/standing?" Then make those physical adjustments to the way you would be if you were confident.

Allow yourself to use your physiology to amplify those feelings and do it for five or ten minutes, just to get used to recognizing that you have the choice of taking that control.

The second part of the exercise is, I'd like to you to really pay attention to the non-verbal cues that you are being given. Become more aware of when your body is talking to you this week. Journal it. Write it down. When you notice something, take a moment to acknowledge it. Say, "You know what? There was a point around noon at the office, that I really was feeling on edge. When I stopped and used that silly acronym, "HALTS", I remembered that I didn't eat breakfast this morning and I needed to get something to eat. Within a matter of five minutes of eating, I felt great." Put it in your journal. Become connected to what your body's telling you.

Non-verbal cues; they communicate to other people, they communicate to you.

I look forward to hearing your results from using and being aware of non-verbal cues. Share them with us. I'll talk to you soon. Take Care. 

< EP 23: Repetitive Patterns                                          EP 25: Facing Fear > 

If you enjoyed this episode on Non-Verbal Cues, choose another Episode you would like to watch from the list below:

Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus

Introduction To Self-Awareness 101:  To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1:  The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness 
SA 101 Episode 2:  How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3:  To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4:  The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5:  Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6:  Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7:  Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8:  Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9:  Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10:  Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11:  The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12:  Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13:  The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14:  Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15:  Establishing Personal Boundaries, It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16:  Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17:  Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18:  Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19:  Personal Development Tests
SA 101 Episode 20:  A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21:  The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22:  Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23:  Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24:  Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25:  Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26:  Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27:  Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28:  How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29:  Positive Affirmations 
SA 101 Episode 30:  Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31:  Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32:  Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33:  Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34:  How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35:  Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36:  Deepening Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37:  What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38:  How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39:  Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40:  How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41:  Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42:  How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43:  How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44:  Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45:  Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46:  Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47:  Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48:  Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49:  Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50:  Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51:  Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52:  The Final Episode 

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