Communication is infinitely more than the practice of putting words together. And it’s much more fascinating in its complexity: It’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it, and even more important what we do. Our every blink of an eye and our every movement communicates something very particular. Even if no one else is around, we communicate our actions to ourselves.

Almost anyone can learn to communicate effectively by 1) showing knowledge of what they’re talking about, 2) using articulate language, and 3) stating their point of view in a persuasive manner. There are certain guidelines for how to accomplish these skills. An actor can convincingly communicate the thoughts and feelings of the character he or she is portraying, at the same time thinking and feeling something entirely different. In everyday life as well, we tend to hide our true feeling and real perceptions under a sort of communication cover up. We may rationalize that we’re using good manners, or we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, and this is justifiable to an extent. But often the real reason we’re not being honest is because we’re uncertain and afraid of how others will react. We may be embarrassed or ashamed to tell our truth.

We communicate clues that our spoken words are not really coming from our authentic selves. Some of the not-so-subtle red flags are 1) a disinterested tone of voice, 2) a prolonged sigh, 3) a pause, 4) eye movement, especially down and to the left, 5) body posture, such as slumping…the list continues.

Nuance alludes to the more subtle cues that we’re not being our real selves, often without our consciousness. Like it or not, the human species has evolved into becoming quite astute in interpreting nuance. Women are widely known to be perceptive in reading others’ feelings from the nuance in their communication.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” When we’re talking, our listener often has an advantage: With more accuracy than we imagine, he or she can observe that the words coming out of our mouths don’t appear to be in sync with who we are or what’s going on inside us.

This disconnect doesn’t occur, however, when we express our authentic selves, which is why it’s so important that we understand, appreciate, and manifest the unique and powerful women we have become. We can start at this moment to get to know who we really are by questioning the limiting thoughts that we’ve allowed to be part of our beings. We can observe our communication patterns, which may be based on unthinking habit or false assumptions.

Communication is most effective when it’s based on genuine self-expression, a creative action which emanates from our authentic selves. The term self-expression is often associated with the arts, including painting, music, and literature. When we truly express ourselves in any endeavor, we raise our level of communication beyond just a skill and more to the level of an art form—an exciting process!

Thanks for reading. Please send me your comments and feedback.

Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones