Why Is Nonverbal Behavior Important?

Vanessa Van Edwards
A free video tutorial from Vanessa Van Edwards
Author and Behavioral Investigator
4.4 instructor rating • 7 courses • 367,888 students

Lecture description

In this video we discuss why nonverbal behavior is important to study and incorporate in real life.

Learn more from the full course

The Secrets of Body Language

Learn how to interpret the body language of the people around you while perfecting your own nonverbal communication.

01:57:40 of on-demand video • Updated October 2019

  • How to read body language
  • How to be a human lie detector
  • How to read people
  • How to detect hidden emotions
  • How to spot lies
  • Body language in business
  • Body language for women
  • Body language for men
English [Auto] I want to talk for a few minutes about the importance of nonverbal why it's even relevant for us to study it for us to learn it. And remember we talked about how 93 percent of our communication is non-verbal it's facial expressions body language voice tone and so that it's a major part of our communications. And that's the first reason why it's really important to say nonverbal. And the second reason is that because our brains have a natural inclination to trust nonverbal cues over verbal cues. So getting them right not only what we're seeing but also our own non-verbal cues is incredibly incredibly important. So let's look at a couple of studies that show how nonverbal comes out in the real world and why that's so important for us to learn. Great great bilingual researcher Alexander toter of from Princeton University wanted to look at the nonverbal behavior in presidential campaigns and in senatorial campaigns to see if their body language could accurately predict a winner. He was thinking in his mind and this has been an age old question of you know when you meet someone in the first 30 seconds or 10 seconds or one second can you know if they're a quote unquote winner or a quote unquote loser. So just from your first impression just from even seeing them across the room are you somehow able to guess or make an assumption about if they are going to be successful or not. If you're going to like them or not dislike them if you can just predict their behavior just from their body language. So what he did to test this with him and his research team is he took pictures of candidates from old elections and most of them were from senatorial elections. They were older and obscure so that people wouldn't recognize them they weren't as famous as some of the president. Obviously you would know who won if you saw a picture of a foreign president. Well hopefully you would know who won if you saw a picture of a foreign president. So they took pictures of candidates from all the elections and they showed them to research participants so the participants came in the room they sat them in front of these photos and they showed them for one second one second. The both candidates picture and after that one second. Remember they're just still photos of there of the candidates. The participants were actually accurately able to predict which person would win the election. Just from the picture. So this is interesting to think about. And we have a lot of further research to do but it definitely shows how important non-royal behavior is. Could it be that people who looked at the pictures could tell from their facial expression their face if they were a winner or loser or if they were a better leader or not. Or are we looking at a different phenomenon which is that people who were voting in that election didn't know much about the candidate. And so they judge the entire election just on a one second look at the picture. Either way it sort of shows us how important body language nonverbal behavior is that we make split second judge judgment and those judgments are often incredibly accurate. Now toter of study is not the only one that we can look at to see how important non-road behavior is. So not only can we look at someone's body language and decide if they're going to be successful or not or base our entire decision or choose our government based on someone's body language. But this also affects efficacy in medical and health professionals so there's a great study done at Tufts University and what they did is they looked at doctors and they want to know if a doctor's bedside manner or a doctor's non-verbal cues had anything to do with the rate at which they were sued for malpractise because they noticed that certain doctors were being sued more often for malpractise. They want to know you know does it have anything to do with them the way that they practice medicine like are they actually practicing medicine in incorrect ways. Or is there something else going on that's making people sue these doctors more than other doctors. So what they did is they recorded clips of. And these are just audio clips. So we're talking about voice tone in this tape recorded audio clips of different doctors speaking to their patients before surgery. So just in the normal doctor patient setting not actually in the surgery room and they recorded them talking and they took the 10 second clips of the different doctors and they warbled the words. So you couldn't understand what was being said. You can only hear the voice tone of voice tone remain the same although you couldn't hear the words. The reason they had to do that was because they wanted to take out the words the verbal content and just rely on the nonverbal just the vocal sound of the doctor's voice. So they took the different 10 second clips with the warbled words and they had students listen to the clips and see if the student could accurately predict whether that doctor would be sued for malpractise. And the way they did this is they had the participants rate the clip of The Voice tone based on niceness aggressiveness meanness and give it different emotional categories. Just from the voice tone no words actually being said as well as also I should mention the cadence. Not only was it the voice tone. The doctor spoke in a high or low voice. There's also the cadence the rhythm or tempo in which he spoke the words so it was a slower Steger if he spoke fast. There were also women in the experiment I should not say he. He's And she's. And they have the students rate them most of the clips. The students were able to predict just from that 10 second clip that had no verbal content just vocal content which doctors had higher amounts of malpractise lawsuits and those doctors were raided with aggressive or not nice voice tones. So this is hugely important for us and for people who are in the medical professional or or any kind of profession where you're working with people or clients. Doctors are often sued not because of their actual medical ability but actually if they're perceived as nice or not. So if the patient feels that they are being treated well just from their voice tone you can tell whether or not they're going to get malpractise lawsuits against them because they're not perceived well amongst patients on their patients. So this is hugely important and has profound effects that no matter what profession you're in who you work with you need to make sure that you are thinking about both your expertise your knowledge of the subject your knowledge of what you do whether you're a salesman or a doctor insurance agent lawyer you need to know your know your stuff but that's only half the battle. The other half the battle is making sure that your nonverbal behavior is corroborating your knowledge so that your nonverbal behavior matches your expertise your kindness your likability and a lot of people have no idea what their natural behavior is saying they're there. They think about the content they think about their knowledge and expressing their knowledge in their and their expertise but they don't think a lot about what their non-verbal is saying. In addition to their knowledge and that your nonverbal behavior can act as literally an exclamation point to what you're saying or can act as a as a parentheses like don't really believe what I'm saying. If it doesn't match people pick up on that. I think so doctors who spoke in a harsh tone of voice whether that's because they had a bad day or they were feeling like they were really tired. People took that to mean and they were not as knowledgeable about their subject. This is why we're going to be talking all about how to not only read other people's nonverbal cues but everything we're going be talking about her body language applies to yourself. So if you feel like you are brave I would highly recommend that you record yourself. You ask for feedback from friends and family on what your body language nonverbal behavior is saying especially if you're in a profession where you want to make sure that people are trusting you you're building or poor you're building credibility. Make sure to get feedback on that to make sure that your body language is saying exactly what you want to say because it is incredibly important. We will make the decisions about you and your knowledge and how you can help them based on your nonverbal. And so to make sure that it matches your credibility is going to really help you be successful.