Whether consciously or unconsciously, experience teaches us that verbal communication is just as likely to conceal as it is to reveal. Because of this, strong nonverbal communication skills are strategic tools for anyone wanting to succeed in business.
Although we often consider verbal and written communication as being important skills to acquire, we do not habitually stop to think about the effects that nonverbal communications may have on our ability to achieve our desired results. Research indicates over 55% of communications are conveyed by facial expressions and body language. This statistic gives us a very good idea as to why it would be wise to become more skilled in nonverbal communications.
Nonverbal messaging becomes increasingly important when we consider cross-cultural communications. While communication mechanisms are often considerably different across cultures, knowing how to read and interpret nonverbal communications can offer invaluable clues when trying to interpret how others are really thinking and feeling. In high context cultures people consider words far less important than the subtle signs – eye contact, facial expressions, posture or body language – exhibited through non-verbal messaging. Because what is said is not necessarily what is meant to its fullest extent in many cultures, nonverbal communications can speak volumes – if you know how to correctly interpret them.
How can you acquire better nonverbal messaging? Here are a few tips to strategically improve your nonverbal communications:
- Be Aware.
The most important thing you can do is to become aware of your non-verbal communications and manage them carefully – they often speak much louder than your words. Pay special attention to your facial expressions…
2. Understand Gestures.
Gestures play a significant role in conveying your personal message. How you use your hands, how you stand, how you position yourself all matter. Just by standing with your head slightly tilted, leaning slightly forward and making eye contact (unless this is culturally inappropriate), you can provide the signal that you are listening, comfortable, and receptive. When you respond, use hand gestures to project an inclusive demeanor.
3. Observe Others.
Observe others’ non-verbal communications and body language. Use the information to reflect not only on how others communicate, but consider how others may perceive your non-verbal messaging – and make adjustments.
4. Understand cultural norms.
If you work in a global environment, keep in mind that interpretations of nonverbal messaging may vary. Get to know some basic cultural orientations and how they may appear from a nonverbal perspective. Be sensitive not only to how you may perceive other’s nonverbal messaging, but also to how they may perceive your nonverbal communications.
5. Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Be aware and project yourself as a confident, welcoming person – clients, colleagues and other leaders will be keen on doing business with you and open to including you in their network when you make a solid first impression.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”. This has never been truer than in today’s business world. There is a critical link between nonverbal communications and business success. Because of this, body language and other nonverbal cues are communication tools that are too powerful to be ignored. Since effective communication is based on skills, and skills can be learned, it stands to reason that nonverbal communication capabilities can be improved in the business environment. It is an integral part of hearing what is really said in a business conversation.
How can you improve your nonverbal communications to facilitate your own success?
Please engage the discussion and let us know how nonverbal communications enhance your strategic intention. You can always contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.