Breath of Clarity

Verbal and Nonverbal Behaviors

Different types of people speak different languages in terms of both their verbal and nonverbal communication (Baldridge n.d.). As we discussed last week, it is crucial to be aware of all the social styles in order to be flexible and adapt to them (Baldridge n.d.). We also miss listening to nonverbal behaviors in others and ourselves when we don’t know about them yet (Navarro 2015). In order to be good observers, we have to know what to look for (Navarro 2015).

We as a species evolved to communicate nonverbally (Navarro 2015). That said, Alex Lyon (n.d.) illustrated that non-verbal feedback is important. He recommended nodding to demonstrate a genuine interest (Lyon n.d.). The amiable in me already does this well. Tilting the head also indicates being receptive (Navarro 2015). I need to work on implementing that one more often. I also found it particularly noteworthy that Lyon (n.d.) recommended making it so that my facial expression does not seem as though I am judging the other person (Lyon n.d.). Still, Lyon (n.d.) would highlight that, given my amiable social style traits, I am particularly skilled at listening for the big picture emotion and connecting with it (Lyons n.d.). I am glad to have the expressive tendency of focusing on the main idea because getting caught up in the details is a potential barrier to solid communication (Lyon n.d.). I can be empathetic to analytical people who may struggle with being heavily detail-oriented. The amiable in me does well at showing others that I am interested by tracking what the other people are saying, as well as focusing on their topics (Lyon n.d.).

However, Lyon (n.d.) suggested that I can get better at asking probing questions or starting new topics. Joe Navarro (2015) would add that people respond with certain facial expressions when they don’t like something. If I see this behavior and notice someone’s already disagreeing with me, it brings the opportunity to ask the other person how they’re thinking about what’s going on (Navarro 2015). Doing so would be encourage the passive amiable or shy analytical person to strengthen their voices. People will gravitate towards those who are curious about them (Navarro 2015). For example, expressive people seek the opportunity to talk about themselves. Additionally, I can improve at communicating my next action step based on the information they share (Lyon n.d.). Doing so would particularly appeal to drivers. Exceptional people do what needs to be done by meeting others where they’re at and act (Navarro 2015). Further, I can get better at following up with them by taking notes after the initial conversation so I am prepared with how to revisit their topic next time. Doing so would be especially supportive of analytical folks. From there, I can focus on minimizing the drawbacks of my own style.

One way to avoid the challenges associated with my social style is to detect moments I am beginning to get stressed so that I can prevent myself from reacting, as opposed to responding, to the situation. Navarro (2015) suggested focusing on comfort versus discomfort. He went on to explain that we do things in our bodies that are signals our bodies are trying to get us to calm down (Navarro 2015). For example, when something bothers us, we cover our eyes or rub our hands together (Navarro 2015). That said, we need to be conscious of mirroring which illustrates that if I’m nervous, you’re nervous (Navarro 2015). Additionally, when you show you don’t care, other people will show they don’t care (Navarro 2015). Instead, we need to provide psychological comfort (Navarro 2015). For example, placing our finger tips together shows confidence (Navarro 2015). Whether someone looks confident or friendly determines how long we want to talk with them (Navarro 2015). It is important to seize the opportunity to make people feel safe by paying attention to my own nonverbal communication.

Lyon (n.d.) emphasized, more talking does not equal better communication. According to Navarro (2015), we have even learned that nonverbal communication is more truthful than the verbals. Lyon (n.d.) suggested giving compressed verbal feedback with phrases such as “I hear you,” or “that makes sense” (Lyon n.d.). Moreover, Baldridge (n.d.) suggested using velvet hammer words which are soft words that pack a hammer and can do a lot. The words “noticed and wondering” are great velvet hammer words when giving feedback in a positive and corrective way (Baldridge n.d.). Further, he recommended using “likelihood” and “when” for action related feedback (Baldridge n.d.). I look forward to incorporating these specific nonverbal and verbal tools into my workplace interactions.


Lyon, Alex. Year (n.d.) “Effective Listening Skills.” Communication Coach Alex Lyon. YouTube. Nov. 20, 2017. Video, 5:26.

Navarro, Joe. 2015. “Keynote: The Power of Nonverbal Communications.” CMX. YouTube. Nov. 4, 2015. Video, 34:10.

Baldridge, Joy. Year (n.d.). “Difficult Conversations Made Easy.” TEDxUCCI. YouTube. April 11, 2018. Video, 14:49.

Comment by Paul Hamilton:


I think you provided a great discussion of the topics this week and your connection to them. During your post my mind was caught with the idea of discomfort, disagreement and the nonverbal cue that could result of it. I also considered what effect these nonverbal ques could have on a conversation about a topic between two polar opposites. It is my belief that in order to grow there is going to be discomfort. This discomfort also means being open to listen to views that you do not agree with. During these conversation body language is going to be often be defensive, negative and possibly hostile.

Think about all the conversations on race, creed, sex and religion that we need as individuals and as a culture to grow. Many of these topics are hard to have even among those you feel comfortable with so with strangers it can be even more difficult with. Body language and other nonverbal ques have a great impact on these conversations. Developing a strategy and body language for these situation is important.

You mentioned Alex Lyon recommends demonstrating a genuine interest. I think that is a key along with asking probing questions. I have read Dale Carnegie’s book How to find Friends and Influence People a few times. The one thing I remember most of the book is to make people talk about themselves. Turn the conversation to what the topic means to them and why they believe the way they do about it. This helps my body language because its no longer the topic alone, but it is about this person that I am conversing with. Caring about them helps me listen and react better to the topic. As these relationships grow the nonverbal communications that do occur have less of an impact on the conversation because there a level of understanding has been established. I think it is still important to manage them and understand them when you see them, but they will have only the weight you place in them based on your knowledge.

Comment by Professor Gnuse:

Mary, good explanation regarding lessons learned as they pertain to leadership style.

Good inclusion of various facets regarding verbal/nonverbal cues and communication. As mentioned, it is not the amount of words spoken but the words utilized and the intent. What about when surrounded by your own style?