Once upon a time, before the spoken word, there was a more primal way of communicating our needs and desires. This system of communication was born out of the necessity for our species to survive. We developed facial expressions and movements that communicated, “There’s a mastodon! Let’s gather a hunting team!” or, “These berries are delicious!” There were low tonal grunts of displeasure, and higher pitched squeaks to go with flailing arms that signaled terror of the approaching forest fire. This was our evolutionary start to communicate with one another. Even today, the heart of any message being delivered is found in the tonal quality of our statements, our facial expressions, and our gestures. The words we use only convey data. However, our attitudes – how we truly think or feel – and our raw unspoken primal emotions are all being communicated nonverbally – all the time.
As evolved as we are, we still see primal behavior everywhere. We see it when a judge slams his or her gavel, or a CEO slams his or her fist while driving home a major point. It is the same behavior exhibited by langurs and savannah baboons, which communicate the same thing: “I’m the boss. My word is final!” Imagine how our ancestors used their non-verbal communication to persuade and influence the others in a group to use one hunting strategy over another or to migrate the entire community west versus east or to farm using this way over that.
After all these years, much has seemed to change. We use words. We have mobile devices and computers that enhance our communication, yet our brain still retains a very primal communication system. Of course, we have become better at using words, but our instincts are intact. We respond to our environment with learned and automatic behaviors that help us express our human experience. Next time you experience victory and automatically pump two hands in the air in celebration, remember it was your ancestors who taught you that.
So, how do you stand out from the crowd? Well, if you want to get noticed, win business and influence people you have to prep yourself both inside and out. This is where understanding, detecting and decoding other people’s body language as well as sharpening your own can be a huge advantage. Did you know non-verbal communication (body language) makes up a minimum 60% of communication ability – some say it’s up to 93%? So, if you focus on your words, you are only using 40% of your ability. You have to portray with confidence both your verbal and non-verbal content.