Blog posts that provide encouragement for marriage and family success.

Friends and Nonverbal Communication

Most of us think we interpret nonverbal communication better than we really do. We read a few articles and think it's a simple process. But there are entire college majors in studying nonverbal communication and there are many factors to consider when interpreting someone's body language. Even my posts here, grounded in social science research, are just the very tip of the iceberg.

With our friends, especially, we may think we've got it all together. We've been friends a while and, certainly, we must know how to interpret "that" look or gesture.

And lots of times we may be right.

But other times...

Regardless of the relationship, but definitely with our friends, we should perception check once in a while. This means we take a minute to confirm that our impression (or understanding of their nonverbals) is correct.

Sometimes this is as simple as saying, "you look confused. Should I start over?" That lets your friend know that based on her facial expressions she doesn't look like she's following along. Now it's her turn to either confirm or deny.

The key is to take her at her word. If she says she got distracted by thinking of something else for a minute, and you to just keep talking...believe her. Second-guessing her will only put her on the defensive.

Likewise, if someone asks you about something they interpret from YOUR nonverbals, take a minute to really assess what you are thinking or feeling. Then let them know what's happening with you.

Decoding nonverbal communication can be straightforward but is more often a complex mix of relationship history, context, inner thoughts, and routine. Don't be afraid to ask some questions to help your relationships stay strong!

Be well,

💝 Andrea

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