This essay explores and examines the use and importance of gestures and body language, within the counselling exchange. Let's first discuss what body language actually is. Body language is non- verbal communication, meaning that you communicate through facial expression and eye contact to be but a few examples. There are many definitions and areas to be explored. So within body language I will include; - facial expressions, eye contact, voice definition, proximity and body orientation.
I will take each of the above areas separately, examining there meanings and say why they are important. I will do the same for gestures that we use like hands, arms and facial expressions. I will also look at there meanings when used in conjunction with non- verbal communication. Both of these body language and gestures tend to overlap into each other. This is because of the way we communicate with our whole bodies. I hope to provide information into how we use our bodies to communicate whether this is consciously or subconsciously.
To enable me to gain this information into how we communicate using our bodies I have and will continue to gain knowledge and information from various resources like: - books, the internet and other course materials provided in the study unit. 90% of our communication is based on non verbal and gestured movements. A lot of people communicate by using hand gestures, there's a saying "If you chopped his hands off he would be mute".
This doesn't even bear contemplating but in my opinion yes we do use our hands a lot more than we realise to communicate, we do it subconsciously and if we didn't have our hands then we would realise how much we used them. Many people do not understand body language and what we perceive to be correct information, can be deceptive if understanding is absent. During a conversation both the speaker and receiver will have the chance of effective understanding. This can prove quite frustrating and misleading at times. Though our body language, we actually never stop communicating.
Sometimes we may not mean to communicate but we do it subconsciously. Both animals and humans alike naturally move and portray communication through body language. Each movement and expression that we do has a meaning but this is normally accompanied by our voice. Both are normally synchronised. Unless you have special needs or speech and language difficulties then normally our voice and body language is rather confusing for the receiver. The receiver will receive mixed messages, meaning the information they are trying to receive is incomplete or wrong.
We all know that the body is the natural way of communicating so we tend to believe the body rather than the voice. Our face is the most important feature of our bodies. We don't need to talk we can give messages through our facial expressions. A facial expression results from one or more motions or positions of the muscles of the face. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information. Facial expressions are a primary source of information.
It portrays the speaker's attitude and emotions. Unconsciously the receiver constantly monitors the speaker's facial expressions. If the person was within a counselling exchange and failed to realise that the persons facial features are not matching with what they are saying then there could be consequences. Body language is the most reliable source as it is natural. We use our eyes a lot when talking. They are probably the most important feature. You can tell a lot from how frequently the talker gives you eye contact. You can distinguish whether they are bored, interested, or if they are being dishonest.
Eye contact is an event in which two people or animals look at each other's eyes at the same time. It is a form of nonverbal communication and is thought to have a large influence on social behaviour. Eye contact from the listener is needed to show that they are willing to participate in conversation. The diversion of eye contact can mean that the speaker is being dishonest. This is when other body language is brought in to establish the true meaning. Your eyes are also used for gesturing, this allows you to get feedback on the information that you have said, that the receiver is receiving.
Natural body language is a good indication and can be used by both parties. Some people find it hard to give people eye contact. This could be due to a bad experience or lack of self esteem/ confidence. Certain people see eye contact as threatening. From reading a book called "I Dare Not Look", I found out a whole load of reasons as to why people find giving eye contact so hard, it was mainly due to lack of confidence and anxiety. The counsellor may be able to promote communication and encourage a safe environment. The counsellor will have to judge this with a good deal of accuracy.
If this isn't done carefully then the speaker may feel that your not interested in what the are saying. Eye contact isn't the only important thing we use and look for when talking and listening. Our mouth is the next most important thing. We invite people to listen as soon as we open our mouths. Combining theses two features, we can show loads of expressions, we can show excitement, enthusiasm, concern, confusion and approval to be but a few. Effective communication is really important. So it's important that eye contact is used by both people within a conversation.
Posture can give a wide range of meanings. It can show the speaker that you're interested or not interested. Posture is a good indication of mood, portraying good, happy moods or negative sad ones. From observing someone's posture it helps you to approach the situation appropriately. If you are speaking to someone then you often use your body language to reiterate the importance of what you are saying. But some people when talking make the mistake of intimidating the receiver. Then the receivers will more than likely use there body language to defend themselves.
Body language is an interesting thing, for example if you sit slumped in your chair, when you are at school or in a meeting, it shows a complete lack of interest and is very disrespectful towards whoever is teaching or talking. In counselling it's vital that the signs are read correctly. Like I said the receiver who you may be counselling may use this posture as a defence mechanism between himself/ herself and the speaker. There isn't just posture that helps us to give meaning of what we are saying; our body orientation also works in conjunction with posture.
Body orientation along with our posture is a good indicator as to how the receiver is feeling emotionally. It also indicates how the receiver is feeling about what they are being told. The sort of body orientation this could include is crossing of arms and legs and shifting from side to side in there seat. It is really important that the counsellor is facing the counselee and showing the correct posture and facial expressions. It shows that they are interested in what they are talking about and it also encourages open communication. We use our hands and arm a lot to help us communicate.
These are known as gestures and can replace speech, most of the time we don't realise. Leading me back to one of my opening comments about "chopping your hands of". There are many gestures that we use to emphasise what we are saying. If you observe different cultures, gestures are very different. This causes confusion to their meaning. Some gestures are very self explanatory and are the same no matter what cultural background you come from. For example putting your hands over your ears means it's too loud or you don't wish to listen. Obviously the covering of eyes means you don't want to see.
For the speaker it can be confusing and they may feel that because the receiver is out from being receptive. It may just be that they are relaxing but yet listening. For example if someone is looking up then it may appear that they are not listening when really perhaps they are. People are said to be more interesting if they use their hands. People are less likely to get confused if the speaker uses his or hers hands when talking. So communication through speech and gestures can be a very effective form of communication. It's really important for the counselee feels listened to.
The counsellor can send gestures/ messages to the counselee to make them feel as if they are being listened to. As we know and have discussed previously language is the most reliable source we can naturally assume that if peoples body language doesn't match what they are saying then it is obvious that they don't want to talk about how they are really feeling. A counsellor can send gestures to the counselee to make them know that you are listening. Maybe nodding or tilting your head slightly will show that the counselee that you are listening and interested in what they are saying.
As we all know voice is used everyday in communication with others. Its use and understanding is invaluable, we don't always think directly about theses things because we do it automatically. Things like pitch, tome, rhythm and volume are all things that help us to understand voice. Through my childhood years my mum and dad told me its not what you say it's how you say it and what you do. There are thousands of words in the English language that alter our tone and pitch. This may completely change the meaning of the word you are saying.
Personal space everyone is entitled to, it's a place were people feel comfortable. If your personal space is invaded then you naturally start to move away from the subject, feel defensive, uncomfortable, and intimidated. Personal space is only normally crossed by invitation of a gesture. For example holding your arms out and open to receive something. This may happen when you get home from work and greet your husband or children. Not all people like you to intrude there personal space even if they are upset. Comforting someone who is upset is tricky because you don't know how the person will react.
It is always best to ask the person rather than just going straight in there and comforting them. Some of the things that are speaking about in counselling are upsetting and the counselee will find it emotional, but it is important that comforting is never assumed that it's needed or wanted. Conclusion Being able to read and understand is highly important within the counselling exchange. It's not just how we transmit ourselves its how we read; this is the key to understanding the spoken words. When looking at a person we can gain an understanding into how there feelings and emotions.
We can do this even if there words are saying something completely different. Using eye contact, facial expressions and body orientation, the counsellor's role is to understand the depth of emotion and feelings. They have to distinguish all of the above and understand when the counselee is struggling to find or use the correct words. Maybe there aren't any words that can describe how they are feeling. It is important to remember that it's a two way thing. The counsellor is reading the counselees body language and gestures but the counselee is also reading the counsellors body language and gestures etc.