Improve interpersonal communication skills by reading people. Learn to understand the nonverbal communication language that reveals thoughts
This document explains how to increase sensory acuity or sensitivity to nonverbal communication. Practising the principles and habits described improves ability to recognise thoughts and intent from circumstances, body language and voice expression.
Ability to read peoples unspoken message increases understanding and improves communication. People who develop these skills become better communicators, have more influence, and are more easily able to persuade.
Improving communication skills decreases mistakes and miscommunication, increases efficiency, and improves morale.
Practise with any or all of the following techniques to develop or improve ability to read people:
- Set aside all your plans. Whatever outcome you hope for from the conversation or meeting, let it go. The more you desire to steer, the less you will be present.
- Banish your thoughts. It is only by suspending your thinking that you can create a silence from which to hear.
- Create an expectant state of mind. Recall the last time you were excited about exploring something or somewhere new. Capture the feeling and let the memory go. Hold only the feeling.
- Instruct your mind to remain quiet. No matter how great the discovery, insights and revelations must be saved and recalled later.
- Refuse to allow comparisons with your personal experience. Suspend comparisons until later and never interject to tell your story no matter how relevant it is.
- Set aside your opinions, beliefs, and principles. You must not judge anything the other person is saying or communicating. You will be free to assess what you have recorded in your memory after the conversations is concluded.
- Listen with your eyes. Observe every flicker of expression, every set of posture and stance, every nuance of movement. Allow yourself to observe without judgement.
- Listen with your ears. Hear beyond the words. Listen for the emotion and intent that gave the words air.
- Listen with your nose. Don't laugh, this is a serious point. Odours may be beneath conscious awareness. Not so long ago, people were much more dependent on sense of smell. Open your mind to the opportunity of learning from your olfactory sense.
- Feel what the other person feels. Suspend your own feelings and tune into theirs. Let go of or compartmentalise your sense of self so that you can feel the other persons feelings, communicated by the subtle un-spoken language your are observing.
- Sub vocalise what the other person is saying. Literally speak their words in your mind. Silently mimic their voice with as much accuracy as you can manage.
- Keep your patience and concentration. At first you may find that you can only do this for a moment or two before your own mind sabotages your efforts by demanding that you pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings. Persevere and you will find that you can gradually increase your span of presence.
- Relinquish all urgency to remember. You have no need to fear forgetfulness for if you are truly present, you cannot miss anything. Forgetfulness is a symptom of distraction. You have a perfect memory of what you dwell on.
- Trust in your innate ability. Everyone has a talent for mind reading. The task is to suspend our own internal chatter so that we can disentangle the signals of another's mind from those of our own.
- Set aside time for a deliberate review. Make an appointment with yourself when you will escape distractions and consider what you have learnt from each moment of presence.
Article by Clive Miller
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