Nonverbal Communication as a Friendship Skill – Helping Your Child Understand the Impact of His Behavior on His Friendships
Part of the widespread bullying research focuses on building positive friendships. Often times those involved in challenging social situations don’t intend to cause problems or be off-putting. Sometimes the student(s) involved have not yet mastered the art of social skills, which is what builds positive friendships. How we speak our words is as important as what we say. To many people, the behavior that accompanies words speaks more clearly than the words themselves. However, not all individuals understand and use nonverbal communication effectively. In order for us to engage in positive social relationships we must be aware of body language and tone of voice. To put the importance of nonverbal communication into perspective, 70 percent of our communication comes through body language, 23 percent of our communication is through tone of voice and seven percent of what we communicate is through words. Therefore, what we say is only a very small part of what we communicate.
When working with individuals on increased effective nonverbal communication we look at a number of factors:
• Are eyes making good eye contact or do they stare, seem jumpy, glare or make no eye contact?
• Is the voice loud enough to be heard or is it too soft or too loud?
• Does the tone of voice communicate understanding or disinterest/sarcasm?
• Do facial expressions match the feeling communicated, or are there scowls, sighs, blank looks or yawns?
• Is the person’s posture relaxed and leaning forward slightly or is it rigid, leaning away, or arms crossing?
• Is the person’s movement toward or away the other person?
• Is personal space at arm’s length or too close/too far away?
The importance of nonverbal communication in friendships is significant. If it is felt that we are communicating distance or disinterest, our friend may feel uncomfortable or as if we do not care about what they are sharing with us. When that is the case, a friendship can drift apart or, if in the early stages of the relationship, not form at all. For many individuals, what they intend to communicate does not come across simply because of inaccurate nonverbal communication.
If you would like more information on social skills and nonverbal communication, please contact the offices of Dynamic Interventions, Inc. at 661-257-1254 or on the web at www.dynamicinterventions.com.
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