art credit: Banksy
So much of what we do and how we act is still determined by our primal roots, our prehistoric communication cues. We’ve evolved, sure, but fright or flight remains.
Men and women, from the beginning have had different styles of communication. Whether verbal or nonverbal, the ways each gender connects with one another in speech and action can be attributed to evolutionary, aka “caveman” survival needs. Our prehistoric communication cues haven’t changed much underneath the surface, though we’re much more aware and able to change as modern day men.
Communication by Exuding Strength
Men in general tend to exert dominance in their verbal and nonverbal communication styles. The reasoning is that men were meant to protect their family from danger and thus had to appear stronger and bigger than they might be, at all times. Hmm. Interesting how so many men are tasked with the same responsibility still in this day of age.
In modern times, men are asked to show strength in emotion. We are turned to in crisis situations or when our strength is needed (helping family members move large objects comes to mind…). We aren’t offered refuge from having to show strength, and since it’s in our nature, it feels unnatural to not show strength. So, we just do it.
Personal Space (Men v. Women)
Awareness here for sure. Our personal space bubble is unique to each of us clearly, however, when it comes to men and women, just make that personal bubble as big as it can get. When you don’t know someone, it’s best to keep a bit of space between you. Don’t touch someone unless you’ve gotten to that point in your relationship with them. Is this a modern day thing? Yes, we shouldn’t really care, I mean we’re all in this thing together, but nowadays, best to go slow when it comes to personal space.
Respect is also a big part of personal space. To avoid misunderstandings, you may want to gauge the situation and your personal space. On the flip side, if someone is in your personal space and making you feel uncomfortable, you can practice deep breathing and mental tricks to get through the moment (and remember it’s just a moment), or try crossing your arms or putting yourself in a “defensive” stance that’s still approachable for conversation, but maybe doesn’t allow for a hug or tap on the shoulder for example. Again, that caveman inside of us wants to protect ourselves and establish dominance, or is fearful and wants to hide. That fright or flight again.
Communication With Your Posture
Expansive роѕіtіоnѕ аrе аѕѕосіаtеd wіth роwеr аnd dоmіnаnсе аnd соnѕtrісtеd positions wіth submissiveness. Mоrеоvеr, thеrе іѕ rеѕеаrсh evidence thаt a more ореn, “fоrсеful” роѕturе will асtuаllу mаkе you feel mоrе роwеrful аnd соnfіdеnt. Stand up, feel the ground beneath you, and relax, breathing in openness to whatever lies ahead.
Something really interesting about posture is that you can actually use a tool that CIA agents and top-level sales managers swear by: mirroring. It’s been proven in studies that humans tend to relax and trust others more when we mirror their speech or body language. For example, pay attention to whether they are auditory, visual or kinesthetic speakers: “I see what you’re saying,” or, “I feel you!” or “I hear that.” And then use those same expressions back. Are they crossing their legs in the meeting? Do the same. Hand on the table? Do a similar, but unique action of the same. You’ll find yourself building rapport faster in whatever situation you’re in,
Your Fashion Style
Don’t think you have one? You do. Your style just might be “I don’t care what I look like.” And, you might want to adjust that if you are trying to do any of these:
- Find a job
- Looking for a relationship
- Get healthier
- Create more success in life
No, I’m not shallow, it just shows what you put on is what you put out. Basically, the same energy you put into what you put on will be reflected in the energy that comes back to you. That doesn’t mean you have to have the latest styles. Quite honestly, it means no holes, clean clothes, and clothes that fit you. If you can accomplish this, and maybe add a bit of a personal style, you’re nailing your prehistoric communication cues. You see, the first men (and women) adorned themselves with tattoos (get one, why not), beads, piercings, hairstyles, pelts, etc. in order to attract a mate and show their social hierarchy, or ability to fight (and thus strength).
Eye Contact in Communication
Another important nonverbal aspect of communication is eye contact. Depending on our level on confidence on that particular day, we either can give full eye contact, or our tendency is to look away. Try your best to give eye contact when you can, without being overbearing with it too. Ha, already stressed about this? Just look in between their eyebrows if looking in their eyes is uncomfortable. They’ll think you’re looking in their eyes.
Someone looking away constantly while you’re talking to them? Don’t immediately assume that they aren’t listening. They could be having a “self-confidence” depletion day like we just talked about. Or, of course, they could be not listening. But, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt first. It’s something you’d probably like afforded to you too.
Prehistoric Communication Cues v. Modern Day Solutions
So, yes, much of our communication is sort of “pre-scripted” as humans. However we can adapt and change if communication has been impacting our relationships. For one, getting outside of yourself and seeking counseling can give you a private, confidential space to discuss problems at hand. A counselor, removed from the immediate situation (and on your side), can help you develop a reaction to a certain issue or solve problems that have been difficult to get through on your own. The best tool for communication blunders and struggles? Listening. When in doubt, just listen. You might find the answer you’re looking for if you stay quiet for a moment longer than you feel comfortable. See how it goes and if you need more help, consider coming in for a session man to man and see if counseling is the missing piece to your wellness initiatives.