Nonverbal behavior that helps the process of conflict resolution

When you are involved in a conflict, whether an argument, difference of opinion or disagreement, there are certain body movements that are called ‘nonverbal behavior’ that can ‘say’ a lot about what you mean and how you feel to the other person. Some forms of non-verbal behavior are quite helpful during a conflict and some decidedly are not. Below we’ll take a look at both kinds and discuss what you can do if you’re having a conflict to help resolve it faster with nonverbal behavior.

First let’s look at an example. If someone said to you ‘oh sure, that makes sense’ and while they’re saying it they roll their eyes, would you think that they agreed with you or that they were possibly mocking you and didn’t agree with you at all. More than likely you’ll say that they are thinking the latter and that’s a perfect example of non-verbal communication. You know that they don’t agree with you even though they haven’t said it because of the movement (rolling) that they made with their eyes.
In fact it’s been proven in scientific studies that the majority of people will ‘believe’ what a person says nonverbally more than what they say with their mouth if the two are inconsistent. These same studies have shown that in conflict situations this holds even more true. When a person is in a conflict situation they pay very close attention to the ‘body language’ of the other person involved and this is why it’s so important to know how to communicate nonverbally when involved in any type of conflict.

Some of the most important nonverbal cues are facial expressions (like rolling the eyes), body posture (such as crossing the arms in front of the chest), gestures (giving ‘the finger’, rapid hand movements) and the tone and intensity of the voice (yelling as opposed to talking).

The fact is, when you’re in the midst of a conflict it pays to watch your own body language and pay close attention to the other person’s as well. In this way you can actually diffuse the situation faster and may even see that the other person is actually trying to do the same. Indeed a calm voice, an interested or concerned facial appearance, eye contact, nodding your head when the other person speaks, and a comforting touch can go a long way to assuaging the situation before it escalates.

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