Are you looking for the right things to say during the interview, the perfect ways to communicate a new project to your boss, or simply trying to stay out of the dog house with your significant other? It all comes down to what you’re not saying, which most times speaks much louder than your actual words.
It’s called nonverbal communication. I’m taken back to one of the most beneficial classes in my college education, where I learned that it’s just as (in most cases, more) important to say the right things with nonverbal communication as it is with verbal communication. Another jump back in time, and I’m reminded of my mother saying, “Kirk, I know you heard me, but did you listen?”
Here are three examples of nonverbal communication and how something unsaid can actually speak louder than words:
Look at me!
Making eye contact is crucial when you’re communicating or when you’re the one on the other side. Lack of eye contact can be seen as a sign of disinterest, disconnection, even disrespect (although, in some cultures, direct eye contact is the very action that is deemed as disrespectful). You want your audience, whether it’s one person or 1,000 people, to be engaged and interested in what you’re saying. Keeping eye contact as a listener shows respect and can keep you more interactive and in-tune with the information being communicated. As a communicator, making eye contact with your audience also shows them that you value their time and want them to get just as much or more value out of the information you’re providing.
Head, shoulders, knees & toes
Shrugging shoulders, crossing arms and slumping posture can also give a person the notion that you’re bored, uninterested, or closed to their ideas. Some of these are more subtle than others. I tend to cross my arms a lot – for me, it’s my thinking pose. It’s not that I don’t agree or am bored; it just may be that I feel comfortable with my arms crossed. Again, it’s all about perception. Sitting up straight and keeping your stance opened can make a big difference in how your actions are perceived.
It’s all over your face
Gestures such as winking, rolling eyes, or that expression that says “I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!!” are all facial clues to what you’re thinking. Before you jump in with your great idea, hear the person out in their entirety. Be respectful of their ideas first. Then, offer your feedback. After that, offer your ideas or solutions. On the communicator side, these are easy signs to spot and can sometimes completely derail the entire conversation.
So, whether you’re talking or not, you’re still saying a lot about yourself. A great way to spot your weaknesses in nonverbal communication is to video yourself during a mock interview. Ask your co-workers, your boss, your friends and family. They all should want to see you succeed, so shouldn’t have any qualms with pointing out your nonverbal clues.
Are there tips that you don’t see here regarding nonverbal communication? Feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, please connect with me – just click the “Let’s Connect” tab above. All my information is there and I look forward to hearing from you!