AMA: “What is ‘Inappropriate Affect?'”

Have you ever been speaking with someone and they are saying one thing, but their nonverbals are saying another? 

‘Yes – super excited about that…’

May be the words that come out of their mouths, but their body language and vocal tone is suggesting a complete lack of interest…

Body posture is stooped, eye gaze is averted, facial expressions are not reacting or varying based on information exchanged (‘dead pan).

We have likely all observed this as a listener…and perhaps have been called out on it ourselves. 

So..what is inappropriate affect exactly? 

When our nonverbals don’t align with our words or our intention, we call this ‘incongruence’. It can also be referred to as ‘inappropriate affect’. In essence, when what one person expects to see expressed and what actually gets expressed, don’t align. 

Inappropriate affect can lead to serious communication misfires.

The good news, is that you can often get out ahead of this through the development of self-awareness.

In a tactful way, you can share with your audience that for ‘x’ reason, (perhaps it’s a surgery or medication, perhaps you’ve had a really tough day or are getting over feeling ill etc.) you may seem to come across one way, even though you really feel another way about the topic at hand. 

Being able to articulately claim inappropriate affect takes a lot of awareness. In fact, oftentimes you may even think that it’s just not that obvious….but over video in particular – you are on full display, and any disconnect between your video presence and what your audience expects to see, can really throw a wrench into the goal of communication and connection. 

Tools like the Virtual Sapiens Assessment or in-call Sidekick can help with the development of deeper self-awareness when it comes to your nonverbals. 

In using tools like these, you can quickly get a gut check to ensure that what you intend to communicate, is in fact what others perceive. Start your journey towards communication effectiveness today with a free trial!