When you interact with others your words make up only 30-35% of your communication, and when you converse with another person you are letting them know things about yourself in ways you would never imagine – without even saying a word!
Understanding what is going on between people often depends on interpreting non-verbal communication. Next time you are sitting at a table look at the people around you. Sitting with your arms folded on the table and leaning forward can denote a display of interest or a need to be more comfortable.
When you have a hearing loss, however slight, non-verbal communication can often provide you with a range of clues about what is going on. Many people say they do not lipread, they face read. Lipreading is helpful but face reading is a more appropriate term because clues are gained from observing the whole face.
Interpreting body language
If a person is anxious you may notice:
- Not looking at you
- Throat clearing
- Hands covering mouth
- Index finger pulling collar from neck
If a person is interested you may notice:
- Leaning forward
- Tilting head
- Hand to face gestures
- Moistening lips
If a person is evaluating you, you may notice:
- Stroking chin
- Head tilted
- Hand to bridge of nose
- Holding glasses’ earpiece to mouth
Lips are not just for reading:
- Trembling lips – unhappy
- Biting a lip – pensive
- Compressed lips – anger, sadness or annoyance
- Pouting lips – sadness or uncertainty
- Smiling, parted lips – happiness
If you want to find out more about this sort of thing there are lots of excellent and interesting books you could read. Here are two:
- Watching the English by Kate Fox.
- People Watching: the Desmond Morris guide to body language by Desmond Morris.