Hein Kaiser
Journalist
4 minute read
5 Jun 2021
4:52 am

A Masterclass in body language

Hein Kaiser

Mentalist and body language expert Gilan Gork shares a masterclass with The Citizen on verbal and non-verbal communication.

According to mentalist and body language expert Gilan Gork almost 60-80% of what we communicate is non-verbal. This means that the gestures we make, our eye movements and even what our fete are doing are continually communicating to others how we think, feel and engage with them. In addition, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, video conferencing could cut off some of these communicative cues or, says Gork, you could apply them effectively.

“Body language can show us or reveal, for that matter, how engaged we are in a conversation or a situation,” says Gork. This includes your posture, hand gestures and facial expressions. If you can understand body language, he adds, it can help you communicate more effectively and pick up on unspoken issues or feelings. It is a useful too to also strengthen your verbal communication. “The ability to be able to read what other people’s body language is saying is to be able to know what people are thinking and feeling no matter what they’re saying. But of course, not only do we need to be able to read people’s body language, but we also need to be able to use the right body language ourselves because people are consciously or subconsciously picking up what we’re putting down as well.

[WATCH A MASTERCLASS] Mentalist and body language expert Gilan Gork shares a masterclass in body language with The Citizen.

Gork explains that there is a simple rule of thumb to assess your own as well as the body language of others. “We want to look for at least a set of three cues in someone’s body language that communicate the same thing. Normally people have learned what we call universal cues, which is to say that if somebody, for example, is not keeping eye contact, then they’re lying to you.” But he says that this may not be totally correct, “because we need to look for other things in the behaviour set that could communicate something different, perhaps. For example, they just have a low self-esteem, and they are not good with eye contact with anyone for example.  So, we need to always have a set of gestures that communicate the same thing.”

In addition, he says, that arms folded or crossed does not have to mean disengaged. “Maybe someone is simply more comfortable sitting or standing like that, maybe it’s a bit chilly.” So, the environment plays an important role when interpreting body language, be aware of this before making a judgement call, he notes.

“Have you ever had the feeling when you’re interacting with someone and you just can’t put your finger on it. But something feels wrong. Something is just not right. And you are not sure. Do you believe them? Are they telling the truth?” This is called the harmony aspect of body language, says Gork, He uses listening to music to illustrate. “Even if you are not good at music, you can tell if you’re listening to people trying to harmonize or instruments trying to harmonize in a song. If one of them is off, it just does not sound right. It does not feel right. You might know nothing about music, but you can pick up that there’s just something wrong.” He says this is the same when interacting with people. “Is what they’re saying non-verbally in harmony or congruent and are they communicating the same thing as the words uttered?”

He says that therefore authenticity in communication is important, and that what you are saying is aligned with what you are non-verbally communicating. “Top businesspeople, politicians and the like go through a lot of coaching with body language, for example, because they understand that if they’re addressing a group of people, they’re going to make sure that everybody can trust what it is that they’re saying, so that people feel good, that they don’t feel like something’s off with the messaging.”

If you follow a few simple rules, communication and evaluating what others are saying and how they are interacting, verbally and by gesture, it becomes easier to decipher others or for that matter, to project exactly what you want to communicate across all levels of a conversation.