Nonverbal communication is often overlooked by many people despite the fact that it can improve their ability to relate to others, engage in conversations, and establish meaningful relationships in everyday life. Nonverbal signs that one receives and transfers are often subconscious and may be missed because of the focus on the spoken language. However, researchers, and social scientists specifically, suggest that nonverbal communication can significantly influence one’s life and position in society due to the increased power it gives in the context of interactions with people. Therefore, when nonverbal communication is concerned, it is imperative to account how people judge others, how others judge them, as well as what the outcomes are.
Nonverbal communication has been explored in various contexts, showing that the world beyond words is as complex and multidimensional as verbal. Importantly, Wood (2019) suggests that there are many similarities between verbal and nonverbal communication: both of them are symbolic, rule-guided, intentional or unintentional, and reflective of one’s culture. Thus, when communicating to other people, one’s thoughts and feelings will be reflected in the changes in posture from a more open stature to hunching, smiling or frowning, crossing legs and arms to opening them. Besides, as Cuddy (2012) suggested in her TED Talk, hormones also play a role in which nonverbal communication manifests. This points to the fact that language signs beyond spoken word depend on a variety of factors that regulate the flow of communication between people.
As one further explores the influence of nonverbal communication, it becomes clear that attempts to intentionally change one’s signs, such as assuming a powerful pose, can shift not only the perceptions of others but also the person’s self-perception. Assuming a ‘powerful’ posture refers to kinesics, which defines the range of body positions and motions, including those of the face (Wood, 2019). Wood (2019) states that power is among the relationship-level meanings that enable asserting dominance and negotiating for influence and status, which will affect how people communicate power nonverbally. However, such power is not always present internally, and it may be a good idea to practice exerting power through intentionally exhibiting nonverbal communication signs that are characterized as powerful. “Fake it till you make it” is a principle that may seem ineffective and insincere; however, Cuddy (2012) stated that such an approach could help a person develop a more profound sense of confidence and squash the impostor syndrome over time. As nonverbal communication reflects culture, physical appearance changes can also help increase one’s sense of power, especially in the context of Western countries (Wood, 2019). Artifacts are a part of the physical appearance, ranging from one’s hairstyle to clothing, which helps define personal territories and identities. Therefore, even though nonverbal communication is often unintentional, intentional changes can also change how a person is perceived and how a person perceives.
Paying attention to one’s nonverbal communication signs can therefore be an important part of building social connections, which are vital both for personal and professional development. One’s body language helps create an image of an individual, their personal, social, and cultural characteristics that accompany verbal communication. Even though nonverbal cues are often manifested unwillingly, recommendations to pay attention to one’s communication through nonverbal means and alter them to seem more confident can indeed boost perceived power and confidence.
Cuddy, A. (2012). Your body language may shape who you are. Web.
Wood, J. (2019). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters (9th ed.). Cengage.