Speaking without words

by Anna Andresen | 1 January 2017

If these words had been spoken I feel the intensity of the scene would have been lost.

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”
Shylock – Merchant of Venice

Human beings resemble one another in fundamental emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger or woe. All of these and so many more are understood universally and without words. We can understand the inner lives of others despite different upbringings, backgrounds and culture. Smile and everyone everywhere across the world will know you are happy. Cry and people will often offer comfort, even if they don’t speak the same language.

Why is this? Well, my ISTA friends, it is because most of our thoughts, intentions and feelings are expressed by physical behaviours – such as facial expressions, body postures, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. In fact, several studies have proven that at least 70% of the communication that takes place between people is through body language and tone of voice. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian believes that when it comes to expressing feelings 55% of the communication consists of body language, 38% is expressed through tone of voice and only 7% is communicated through words. If this is true we express 93% of our emotions in a nonverbal way.

With this in mind, everyday life words can often get in the way. How often have you misinterpreted a text message, an email or a telephone conversation because of the person’s choice of words and the tone we think they give off?

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