Today during a video conference meeting at work I found myself getting really strong non-verbal cues from all of the people in the meeting. There were small nuances to people’s body language that allowed me to often understand how they received what was being said, read more into what they were saying and get a hint at what they were going to say before they said it. It was as if my non-verbal radar were on hyperdrive… but then I realized, it was.
Having lived the past 6 months in Europe, I was exposed to many different types of languages I was not familiar with. This made me better at trying to understand what was happening based on situational cues like body language, tone, gestures, etc. I got pretty good at guessing what people were talking about and a few times surprised others into thinking I knew more of the verbal language than I did. I never realized the impact of this until today when I experienced an entirely different meeting by what was not said than what was said. It really helped me know where everyone was at and as someone who cares a lot about how people do and feel about their work, I was very thankful for this unintended benefit of living abroad.
I never would have imagined that living in a different culture where I did not understand the language would make me better at reading non-verbal communication. But, when I think about it, it completely makes sense. I’d recommend the experience to anyone and it reminds me how important non-verbal communication is.