Nonverbal communication often reflects our thoughts and feelings more accurately than our words. Therefore, in the workplace, you must be aware of the nonverbal signals you send to your colleagues and customers.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to improve your nonverbal communication skills. By being aware of your body language and using positive expressions, you can create a more positive work environment for yourself and others.
What is nonverbal communication?
Nonverbal communication is the process of sending and receiving messages without using words. It can include body language, such as posture, gestures, and facial expressions. It also includes vocal cues, such as the tone and pitch of your voice.
Nonverbal communication is a powerful tool that can help you build rapport, express your thoughts, and better understand others.
Why does nonverbal communication matter in the workplace?
We communicate in a nonverbal way by body language, often telling a different story from what we say. So, what does that mean? First, what we communicate extends beyond the spoken word.
It is essential to realize that non-verbal communication can affect the outcomes of your communication, whether you intend to help it or haunt it. Most importantly, you need to understand its power.
Nonverbal communication affects the interaction, whether you are talking to the whole company at a company meeting, chatting with a coworker on the phone, or talking to your boss in her office.
In addition to your day-to-day meetings with coworkers and other passing interactions in your workplace, nonverbal communication is also important during lunch meetings within or outside your organization.
How can nonverbal communication be classified?
Non-verbal communication can be classified into the following categories.
→ Reinforces verbal communication
Enhancing or complementing our verbal messages with nonverbal cues and gestures is possible.
Using your hands to demonstrate your enthusiasm when explaining a project or presenting a pitch, for example, illustrates anger through a gesture of banging a fist on a desk while yelling. In addition, using your hands makes your words more memorable, so you can use them while explaining a project or presenting a pitch.
→ Substitutes verbal communication
There are also nonverbal cues that can be used in place of verbal communication.
It doesn’t always take speaking to express ourselves. As the expression goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Facial expressions are universal. We can discern genuine feelings on a face, even detecting fake smiles. For your people to move in the direction you want them to, you must be aware of the signals you send. We perceive authenticity, which is why you must be self-aware of the signals you emit.
In addition to understanding and reading your nonverbal messages, you will be better able to build and maintain authentic relationships with others.
→ Contradicts verbal communication
It is crucial to keep in mind that our nonverbal cues can contradict our verbal messages.
Conflicting communication breeds distrust and causes your employees to question your credibility, so managers should pay special attention to it at work.
Leaders are responsible for expressing themselves clearly and conveying their intended message coherently. Saying one thing and doing another is a big leadership faux pas we hope you will avoid here.
Related: Principles of Nonverbal Communication
In what ways do nonverbal signals communicate?
There are many ways in which nonverbal signals communicate. Below are some of the most important.
- Posture: How someone is standing or sitting can tell a lot about their feelings. For example, someone who is slouching may be feeling tired or relaxed, while someone who is standing up straight may be feeling alert and engaged.
- Gestures: How someone uses their hands can also be a nonverbal cue. Common gestures include pointing, waving, and using hands to emphasize a point.
- Facial expressions: Facial expressions can be very telling nonverbal cues. For example, a person smiling is usually happy or amused, while a person with a furrowed brow may be angry or frustrated.
- Eye contact: Eye contact is another important nonverbal cue. Avoiding eye contact can signal that someone is shy or uncomfortable, while maintaining eye contact can show that someone is interested and engaged in the conversation.
- Body language: Body language is the most common type of nonverbal communication. It includes your posture, gestures, and facial expressions.
Related: Kinesics Communication
How to improve your nonverbal communication skills?
Here are some tips for improving your nonverbal communication skills:
1. Use positive body language
Good nonverbal communication is about more than just looking confident and friendly. It’s also about using the right body language to send the correct message.
For example, if you want to convey approachability, smile, and make eye contact with the person you’re talking to. If you’re trying to project confidence, on the other hand, stand up straight and avoid crossing your arms or legs. By paying attention to your body language, you can ensure that you’re sending the right message in any given situation.
2. Watch for nonverbal cues
When talking to someone, be aware of their nonverbal message and the words they’re saying. Paying attention to both will give you a complete understanding of their thoughts and feelings. It’s also important to be aware of your nonverbal message.
3. Practice in front of a mirror
One of the most important things you can do to improve your nonverbal communication skills is to practice in front of a mirror.
This will help you see the nonverbal cues you’re sending and how they come across to others. By becoming more aware of your nonverbal communication, you can ensure that you’re sending the right message.
4. Be aware of cultural differences
It is important to remember that nonverbal communication can vary from culture to culture. Therefore, it is important to understand that when communicating with someone who comes from a different culture, be aware of the nonverbal cues they may use.
5. Be aware of your body language.
It is important that you stand up straight and maintain eye contact with the person with whom you are conversing. Avoid crossing those arms or legs, as this is considered a defensive posture.
6. Pay attention to your facial expressions
There is no doubt that a genuine smile goes a long way toward creating a good first impression, whereas a scowl can cause a person to appear unapproachable.
7. Use hand gestures wisely
Gestures can help to emphasize a point you are making, but be careful not to overuse them, or you may appear nervous or Excited.
8. Try to match the volume and tone of your voice to the situation
How you say, something can be just as important as the words you use. For example, speaking in a monotone voice conveys boredom or lack of interest, whereas speaking with enthusiasm can make you sound more credible and trustworthy.
9. Read other people’s nonverbal communication
To effectively communicate with others, it’s essential to be aware of your nonverbal cues and understand how to read other people’s nonverbal communication. Paying attention to nonverbal cues can help you better understand what someone is saying and give clues about their feelings and intentions.
Related: Barriers of Communications
Nonverbal communication is essential in the workplace because it can often reflect our thoughts and feelings more accurately than the spoken words we say. By being aware of your body language and using positive expressions, you can create a more positive work environment for yourself and others.
What are some ways you plan to improve your nonverbal communication skills? Tell us in the comments section below.