Researchers of interpersonal communication have found that only 7% of the attitudinal meaning of a message comes from words and a staggering 93% comes from nonverbal cues.
Every one of us, sometime in our lives may have observed about a smart person’s explanation for not keeping his word about meeting the work schedule or honoring his commitment about payment and said to others, ‘what this man says seems logical, but my inner mind says it is not true’ and it proves true sooner or later. That inner mind is probably nothing but your eyes, which have observed the liar’s body language displayed by him unconsciously. The liar may have displayed this behavior unconsciously in bits and pieces in a few seconds, but your eyes without your knowledge may have captured and made out a meaning out of them by taking together all such behavioral units and by observing the congruence of them. What the liar has displayed is the body language, which shows up without his knowledge. Body language, which is different from the verbal expressions and displayed without words written or oral, is ‘nonverbal communication’. According to Mary Ellen Guffey, ‘nonverbal communication includes all unwritten and unspoken messages, both intentional and unintentional’.
Nonverbal communication complements the verbal communication in that without the former the latter does not give full meaning. Body language and verbal language go together without the native’s knowledge to express what is intended. Verbal language can be manipulated but body language cannot be. Body expresses its language, since it has been conditioned to do it ever since it took its body form. Every one of us also unconsciously learned how to read the body language of the other person. On one hand, the liar may be skillfully lying with very cogent reasons, but on the other he may be looking down at the floor avoiding direct eye contact with the listener or putting his fingers on his lips or speaking in reduced voice. Our eyes observe this incongruent nonverbal body language of the liar and form doubts about what the liar says verbally.
Body language symbols and signs have more than on meaning, each meaning applicable depending on the context and culture. Body language is difficult to understand and often confusing in the process of understanding it, since it is not exact and universal. But body language is louder and essential, without which the message will be uninteresting and cannot get across. According to Dr. Birdwhistle, ‘body language and spoken language are dependent on each other. Spoken language alone will not give the full meaning of what a person is saying, nor for that matter will body language alone give us the full meaning. If we listen only to the words when someone is talking, we may get as much of a distortion as we would if listened only to body language’ (Fast Julius, Body Language, Pocket Books a division of Simon and Schuster Inc, New York, 1970, pp.108).
Understanding of Body Language Saves A Boy’s Life
Julius Fast ( Fast Julius, Body Language, Pocket Books a division of Simon and Schuster Inc, New York,1970, pp.105-107) a real life story of a seventeen-year old, depressed boy named Don. The boy was meeting a therapist periodically, uttering a declaration that he would end his life. But he did not commit suicide. One late night, when the boy came to meet the therapist, he got dressed sloppily and his face was pale, and he sat in a listless way, his arms crossed and eyes vague. When he moved, his motions were tight and restricted. He was passive and slumped over when he came to rest. Don was the last patient for the night. The therapist did not want to see Don since Don came very late almost after consulting hours were over. The tired therapist said that consultation was closed for that day and hence told him to come the next day. The boy said in extreme weariness and desperation that there would be no next day for him in a flat, passive and lifeless way, meaning that he would end his life right that night. The therapist replied back to him that he was hearing such declarations of suicide over the last six weeks, but nothing of that sort happened. Don left the consulting room, immediately after the therapist refused to talk to him.