Nonverbal communication

In our communicating science class a few weeks ago, I noticed a good deal of information really resonating with me.  I’ve taken the Communicating Science course here at Virginia Tech, and it was one of the most transformative classes of my graduate career.  It was instrumental in helping me become comfortable communicating with diverse audiences, and even made it enjoyable to do so.  I was open-minded going into this class, but also a little skeptical and very nervous about stepping outside of my comfort zone.  But by the end of the semester, I found myself overjoyed with the level of uncomfortableness (it was still there, but in a gentle, nagging way that pushed me to follow through rather than discouraging me from continuing).  Despite going through these exercises for an entire semester and loving the outcome, I was still apprehensive at the beginning of our PFP communicating science class.  As expected, it immediately became comfortable again and I could see right away that I was learning and growing from even the simple exercises we did in those 2 hours.

What I also gained from this class was a new perspective about nonverbal communication that I hadn’t realized through the previous semesters’ course.  I understood of course how powerful and pervasive the influence of nonverbal communication can be, but my primary take-away was concerned with eye contact and distracting/anxious tics and fidgeting.  In this PFP version it became clear that our stance can also have a massive influence on how we are perceived.  Greg explained a theory dating back many many years about the positive and negative energies our body exudes.  If we think about our body as existing in two hemispheres separated by a coronal plane (see below), the hemisphere in front of that plane exudes positive energy when we exist in that space, while the hemisphere behind that plane exudes negative energy when we exist in that space.

Positioning our bodies to lean into the positive space by putting body weight on the balls of our feet conveys an extraordinarily different message from positioning our bodies to lean into the negative space by putting body weight on our heels.  This becomes very evident when you get the chance to watch someone demonstrate the difference.  Witnessing the difference has sunk in, and, I think, will play an active role in my future.