There are a number of laws regarding face-to-face communication that you must understand to appreciate the role of nonverbal communication. Knowing some of the basic concepts of interpersonal communication will allow you to have a framework for better understanding. We begin with the first axiom of communication:
‘You cannot NOT communicate.’
Everything you do sends a message. For example, if you turn away from me to avoid direct communication, you are still sending a message. You may be communicating avoidance, disapproval, or you might simply be ignoring me – but you are sending a message! Communication is inevitable! You cannot NOT communicate.
Even in your sleep, your level of muscle tension indicates the level of comfort or stress you feel in your life. The amount of movement you experience in your sleep can also speak volumes about you. Bottom line: If you’re alive, you’re communicating.
So, the next time you’re sitting quietly in a meeting at your place of business and you think you’re not communicating anything to those around you, ask yourself this question, ‘What message am I sending to the people in this room?’ Do I seem bored or interested? Focused or distracted? Do they see me assessing what is being said or daydreaming?
There’s no time off. If you’re alive, you’re communicating. Although you may not have realized it before, you’re always sending a message of one form or another. ‘That’s the Hidden Message?’
*Watzlavick, Beaven, & Jackson. The Pragmatics of Human Communication.