Russian Brides Cyber Guide
By Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach
I listened with interest, interjecting some comments.
Suddenly she stopped and said, "Is something wrong? It sounds like you don't like this idea."
"I just stepped in fire ants," I said. "If I sound short, you're right, but it's not about what you're saying."
This is an example of one of the perils of reading nonverbal communication. Obviously this woman was very good at it, even over the phone. She detected a correct emotion in me. "Is something wrong?" is as good a way as any to put it. Fire ant bites hurt a lot for a long time if you haven't had the experience. Some people can go into anaphylactic shock and die from them (like bee stings), and this physiological chaos was going on in me, though to a lesser degree.
What did she hear? I was short of breath, impatient, talking in a terse tone of voice, using short words and sentences. My heart was racing, my nerves were on edge, and I really wanted to hang up the phone and get back to the cortisone cream - or go beat my head against a wall.
Picking up the emotion is the first step. The second step is figuring out what's causing it and what it's directed at. Of course one can always ask, as she did.
One place where this comes up is in depositions. Two very different sorts of people can appear to have the same emotional response - the person who is lying and guilty, and the honest person who is afraid of being accused wrongly.
There are many of the same nonverbal signs. Shutting down, giving terse replies, looking anxious, poor eye contact.
Of course a sociopath doesn't exhibit these traits; they are accomplished liars who have a smooth approach and can fool even experts. But among many liars you will see telltale signs.
When studying nonverbal communication in graduate school, we were assigned to go observe a trial in process. In the one I watched, while being cross-examined, the accused had been sitting quite still in one position for a long time. Then when a certain question was asked, he shifted his entire body position in one dramatic movement. It was clear "something had happened." It's up to the rest of us to figure out "what".
So check it out if you aren't sure. Otherwise you might miss the shy person who's anxious in general but really would like to date you. Or the innocent employee who feels intimidated to be cross-examined because he's so basically honest. Or the empathic person who shakes her head "no" (side to side) at what you're saying, because in her culture that's an expression of awe. Or the boss who's furious because he just had a fight with his wife, and is not furious with you.
Sensing the emotion is the first step, but don't be certain you know what it means until you check it out. If it's important, take the next step and make the inquiry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
©Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc. Coaching individuals in EQ, career, transition, relationships and personal and professional development. She is the author of "Nonverbal Communication: The EQ Way." For free EQ ezine, email@example.com with "ezine" for subject line.
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