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What we say about ourselves when we say nothing

When it comes to being perceived by others as our authentic self, a lot of emphasis is placed on how we look and how we sound. However, a large part of human interaction is based on non-verbal communication, examples of this include hand gestures, eye-contact, facial expressions, posture, and the way we move our bodies.

Research shows that there are distinct differences between feminine and masculine non-verbal communication. Women tend to smile more than men and often mirror their conversational partners, whereas men tend to take up more space with their bodies.

Of course we all need to be careful with reinforcing gender roles and perpetuating negative stereotypes that may not be relevant in today’s society, but these cues can teach us a lot about how we are perceived by those with whom we are interacting.

Verbal and non-verbal communication are interconnected, which is why a well-rounded speech and language therapist will work on all of these elements together.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the role of non-verbal communication, start to think about how you hold your body when doing these things:

  • Reading a magazine
  • Brushing your hair behind your ear
  • Taking a sip of water
  • What you do with your hands while speaking
  • How you position your legs while sitting in a waiting room

While you are analyzing your own movements it can also be really useful to see how the ‘experts’ do it.

 

Next time you’re watching a movie or television show, take some notes. Look at:

  • What non-verbal communication skills you are observing in actors
  • How are they moving their body?
  • How are they walking or getting into their car for example?
  • What do you find feminine, masculine or androgynous?
  • If there is a specific individual that you admire, study their movements

 

The next step is to compare the two approaches. What did you notice, what was different? What can you do to emulate the approach taken by the actor in a way that feels natural to you?

The way we move is an important piece of the puzzle, small changes can make a big difference.

If you would like to learn more about how voice therapy can help you, sign up to one of GenderGP’s workshops with Jordan.

 

Author:

Jordan Ross Jakomin is a licensed and board-certified speech-language pathologist specialising in gender affirming voice and communication. He holds a certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is an active member of The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

 

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash