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The Look – The Importance of Body Language

March 30, 2011

Good communication is the foundation of successful relationships.  When we think about communication, most of us think about our words and how we use them. Yet both of our bloggers emphasized that we communicate with much more than words.   Terri wrote that bonding in marriage causes couples to know each other so well that “they begin to finish each other’s sentences and anticipate each other’s reactions; they are able to read each other’s facial expressions and entire conversations can be had with only a look.”  Greg blogged that he began to learn how to read looks from his wife early in their marriage.  Her special looks convey all sorts of meaning from “tonight’s the night” to “you are in so much trouble!”

In fact, researchers tell us that 93% of our communication is nonverbal.  Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes all nonverbal signals that can be read by others such as:

  • Facial Expressions, which can reveal countless emotions without saying a word.  Unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, they are universal.  Facial expressions for happiness, sadness, fear, anger, etc. are the same in any culture.
  • Gesturing, or using our hands to express feelings like anger or animation. Unlike facial expressions gestures can be very culturally specific so it is important to be careful!
  • Body Movement refers to how we sit, stand, walk, hold our arms, legs or head.  The way we move our body sends a strong message to our listener.
  • Eye Contact, which is an especially meaningful form of nonverbal communication.  The way we look at someone can express affection, attraction, anger or hostility.  Eye contact can also let someone know we are paying attention.
  • Voice refers to nonverbal speech sounds such as tone, volume and inflection.  When we speak other people read our voices in addition to our words.
  • Touch is a strong communicator.  Think about the message in a firm handshake or a hug versus a limp handshake or a controlling squeeze on the arm.
  • Space refers to our innate sense of boundaries and can communicate a desire for intimacy, affection or control.

In our Love Thinks classes we teach the acronym SOLER to help you and your partner remember the importance of these nonverbal elements of communication.

S Square off and face your partner

O Open posture to keep arms and legs unfolded

L Lean toward your partner

E Eye contact with your partner when you talk

R Relax

So, next time you get ready to talk to your partner think SOLER. Remember that your body language conveys more of what is in your heart than your words and your spouse will probably react much more to your body language than to the words you speak.


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