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Communication and Conflict Newsletter, Issue 3 -- Body language, it don't mean a thing
April 06, 2008

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Newsletter - Body Language Interpretation

My body language, my tone of voice, the colours I'm wearing....

They don't mean a thing.

(....or why, when we treat communication as a 'science', it leads to disconnection between us.)

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I was in a conversation the other day and noticed - some people call it my 'body language' - how I was standing.

I had my arms folded and my legs were also crossed as I stood leaning against the photocopier at work. I was talking to one of the mediators and I was fascinated by a discussion we were having about a course she is doing in Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

But hang on - my arms were folded and my legs were crossed. Doesn't that mean I was being defensive or insular or negative in my response to what was being said? Surely that's what all the body language bibles and gurus say. So how could I have been fascinated by this positive, interesting discussion, with this positive, interesting person?

But I was.
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The Communication and Conflict Newsletter is no longer published although the archives can still be visited via the above link. Instead, Alan Sharland now produces a blog associated with his organisation CAOS Conflict Management - you can visit this and sign up by clicking on the banner below:

CAOTICA the CAOS Conflict Management Blog

Fortunately, Caroline, the mediator I was talking to, is someone who clearly does not assume she knows how I feel and what I am thinking from my 'body language' as she was happy to continue the discussion.

But if she was someone who believed the books and trainings that discuss 'non-verbal communication' she could easily have 'read my body language' and decided that I was bored, or defensive, or negative and didn't want to continue our discussion and so might have brought it to a close by making some excuse and ending it.

And what a pity that would have been.

An interesting connection and sharing of communication would have been terminated and lost, perhaps never to have been recreated, because of one person's assumption based on perceived 'body language' saying that I wasn't interested.

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But how often are people swayed by these 'non-verbal' messages. There is a sizeable industry of 'trainers' and 'experts' who claim that body posture, tone of voice, even the colour of the jumper someone is wearing 'tells you something about the person'.

And as a result, many people who believe what they are told about such things, cease to actually communicate and engage with others because they have 'read their body language' and it was 'aggressive' or 'bored' or 'defensive' and so they either don't start to connect with them or they cut the connection.

......... to read the rest of this article CLICK HERE......

Ideas and Information

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Trainers and Facilitators

Reflective Learning in Conflict Management and Communication Skills training

This page looks at the use of a simple reflective learning process used in training and in particular, experiential learning approaches to training in mediation, communication skills and conflict management skills.

The process can be used in various other training environments but it is particularly relevant to approaches which are participatory, that is, involving pair work, group work, role play etc.

Click here to find out more about Reflective Learning in Conflict Management and Communication Skills training

Recommended books this month:

Eckhart Tolle is referred to on the Challenge the behaviour not the person page.

Together with Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle is the speaker and writer that has had the greatest influence on my views and approaches to communication and conflict and to life in general.

For more books that relate to communication and conflict go to the Books page on the website.

Principle Focus

Each month I will review one of the Principles of Effective Communication to see where it has relevance in different areas of our lives.

This month the Principle is:
That it's ok to make mistakes.
This focus considers the opportunities that communication mistakes can offer for learning, connection and insight in our communication and conflict resolution practice. That is, if they are seen as opportunities and not as something to 'cover up' or to condemn others for.

Quotation Corner:

The perfect way is without difficulty
Save that it avoids picking and choosing.
Only when you stop liking and disliking
Will all be clearly understood.
A split hair’s difference,
And Heaven and Earth are set apart!
If you want to get the plain truth,
Be not concerned with right and wrong.
The conflict between right and wrong
Is the sickness of the mind.

From Hsin-hsin Ming by Seng-ts’an quoted in The Way of Zen by Alan Watts.

Some links that you may find interesting...... is an excellent resource of information relating to mediation. There are articles, links to websites and blogs as well as the possibility of locating mediators in your area. - is a comprehensive guide to information about Self Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web.

Learning Supersite is a fascinating site dedicated to the development of informal learning. "A new approach to learning, the Learning Supersite is a venue that provides personal learning community, but with state-of-the-art Web technologies."

Transforming Conflict is an excellent organisation which works with young people, and adults, in educational settings, promoting restorative approaches to conflict.

Would you like to build your own website?..... SBI! Quick Tour

So, how did you like it?

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