Are you aware of the nonverbal signals you send? Do you know how to interpret the body language of colleagues and clients?
We both send and receive conscious and subconscious nonverbal messages. Experts say that 70 to 90 percent of communication is nonverbal.
Gain a competitive edge in the business world. Attend to nonverbal messages. What you say as well as how you say it give you advantages during interviews, presentations, company meetings and client negotiations.
Check your body language knowledge
Answer “true” or “false.”
1. Eye contact is disrespectful in some cultures.
2. Listeners who look away from speakers demonstrate confusion or disbelief.
3. Eagerness is exhibited with simultaneous displays of smiling and head nodding.
4. Confidence is exhibited by hands in pockets.
5. Well-dressed professionals project success, credibility.
6. Placing both hands behind the head reveals self-doubt.
7. Speakers who make eye contact with listeners increase credibility.
8. It’s best to interpret nonverbal communication along with simultaneous verbal communication.
9. When conducting business, it’s best to stand or sit at the client’s level.
10. Defensiveness is indicated by arms crossed high on chest and crossed legs.
Scoring: One point for each “true” to statements 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9; and 10; and “false” to 4 and 6. The higher your score, the more you understand nonverbal communication. A low score suggests you could enhance body language knowledge. Consider the following:
Nonverbal communication tips
- Eye contact and facial expressions. Establish eye contact to demonstrate open communication flow, and convey honesty, interest, warmth and credibility. Smile frequently to encourage approachability. Smiling transmits happiness, friendliness.
- Body orientation and movements. To show approachability, lean slightly forward to face the person with whom you’re communicating.
Be aware of positive and negative messages sent by other cues. Boredom is indicted by looking away from speaker, sloppy posture or preoccupation with something else.
Attentive listening is demonstrated by cupping chin between thumbs and fingers or putting hands to bridge of nose. Expanded chests communicate confidence in men and openness in women, while shrunken chests convey self-consciousness.
Dishonesty is demonstrated by frequent eye blinking, covering mouth or looking away while speaking. Insecurity is exhibited by hands in pockets, fidgeting, coughing or hand wringing.
- Gestures. Some hand and arm gestures while speaking are good; they demonstrate animation and capture interest. But excessive gestures turn some off, and not using any suggests no enthusiasm. Head nods communicate interest and positive reinforcement.
In today’s business world touch is avoided because of “sexual implications.” However, touch demonstrates “You’re OK.”
- Interpersonal distance. Too much or too little space between people causes discomfort. Signals of uneasiness include rocking, leg swinging, tapping.
Appropriate amount of space for intimate communication is one and one/half feet or less. Close interpersonal contact requires one and one/half to four feet, and business transactions need four to 12 feet. Formal communications are beyond 12 feet.
- Vocal cues and linguistics. Speak in a level, modulated voice. Talk loud enough to be heard, but don’t shout. A low voice can make a strong point.
Vary the tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness and inflection of your voice. Monotone suggests boredom. High pitch suggests excitement, and low pitch projects anger.
A rhythmic voice pattern projects confidence, authority. Irregular speech is considered thoughtful or uncertain. Slow speech frustrates listeners. Speaking too fast suggests nervousness, and is difficult to understand.
- Physical appearance and grooming. Project a confident, energetic, enthusiastic, professional image.
Look savvy, contemporary. Maintain standards of good taste. Dress according to company norms. Coordinate pieces. Wear spotless, well-tailored clothes. Maintain shoes, have hair cut professionally. Avoid strong fragrances, bulging briefcases.
Stand tall, sit erect. Slumping posture projects subservience, exhaustion and age.
- Handshake. Convey a positive first impression. Communicate power, confidence and sincerity with a firm grip. Support your grip with consistent nonverbal messages. A loose handshake projects weakness, insecurity. A vice-like grip suggests intimidation and causes pain. Use a handshake after an agreement to symbolically seal it
Awareness of nonverbal behaviors enables you to send positive messages and eliminate destructive ones. To improve nonverbal communication, videotape yourself interacting with others. Ask a friend to suggest refinements. Practice those you want to perfect.
Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Dr. Kanchier, offers additional communications strategies. https://www.amazon.com/Questers-Dare-Change-Your-Life/dp/1508408963