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The truths that matter most to us come always half spoken.

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Have you ever been in a situation where someone said something, but you knew they meant something else?

Maybe when you asked your parents for a car – they said, “maybe later”, but you know they didn’t take it seriously.

Or perhaps when you asked someone how they are and they say “I’m fine” but you know they are not feeling their best.

Often times, what someone says only scratches the surface of what is really going on with them. To truly understand what someone means, you have to feel more into their words.

How do you do that? Nonverbal communication. Here are the four most important elements of nonverbal communication to keep in mind to uncover the truth of a conversation.

Facial Expressions

One of the most obvious ways of communication, after words, is facial expressions. A person’s face can exhibit myriads of emotions just through the twist of the mouth, an eyebrow lift, or a subtle flare of the nostrils. The expressions someone uses while saying something gives a huge clue as to what they truly mean. The most common expressions are a smile, a frown, or an indifferent look.

Hand Gestures & Body Language

Do you use your hands a lot when you speak? Some people use their hands more than others while speaking. Hand gestures and use of body movement is a big indication as to what’s really going on. For example, if someone is sitting with you with their arms crossed, it can be a sign that they are closed off to you and your ideas. Imagine you are on a date. No matter what the other person says, you can easily pick up on the truth: they aren’t interested!

Similarly, if the other person is leaning towards you, even if they aren’t saying anything, it is easy to understand that the person is interested in you.

Tone of Voice

Another way of picking up on the underlying truth when someone is talking to you is their tone of voice. Are they speaking loudly and rapidly? Are they speaking slowly and softly? What words are they emphasizing?

If someone says, “let’s go for a movie” loudly, it can be assumed they are excited! If they say it softly and slowly, it could mean that they aren’t very interested in this activity. You can understand what someone is saying based on their tone of voice and adjust your response accordingly.

Physical Touch

A subtle form of nonverbal communication is physical touch. When someone touches you, you can feel connected to them or you can feel threatened. Either way, it strengthens the message. If someone says “you were supposed to do this”, and pushes you, it’s evident that they are upset with you. However, if someone squeezes your hands or gives you a pat on the back, it can be a sign of encouragement and support.

Words are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the truth. What someone says can be far from what they truly mean. So how can you truly understand the truth of the situation? By reading into their nonverbal communication. Experts say that 55% of our communication is nonverbal. Pay attention to their facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and physical touch, and you will get a much clearer idea of the truth of a situation.

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