Managers/Executives: Are you confusing your staff with your body language?
Statistics have shown that 50% of what we say to people isn’t communicated through our speech but through our body language.
That means, without understanding how your posture, non-verbal gestures, eye contact, etc. influence those you’re speaking to, you’re at risk of them only comprehending you half of the time.
From the pitch of your voice to the signals your body gives away, it’s possible to confuse, contradict or lose altogether the person you’re hoping to engage.
Non-verbal communication consists of signals and expressions – such as your eye contact, and even concerning the amount of times you blink; your facial expressions (smiles, frowns, etc.); vocal tones and inflections; your touch and personal distance; your appearance; how you listen; body movements, like nodding your head, etc.; gestures, such as when your hands emphasise certain words…..the list goes on. Hopefully, you’ll now understand just how many variants there may be, and how each person will differ when communicating.
Consider the impact if you were to walk into your office, not meeting anyone’s eyes, slamming doors and wearing a fierce frown – would you imagine employees would think it a good day to approach you? Even if you said, during this display of non-verbal cues, that you were ‘fine’: do you imagine staff would trust your words or your actions? When someone gives mismatched messages, we trust the behaviour of that person, not their words.
Understanding positive gestures and body language, however, could reinforce the impact of our communication: it’s not just what you say, how you say something can strengthen or dissipate the words spoken. (Though I’ve mentioned some elements here, understanding people management in depth would be best explored via leadership coaching.)
Effective non-verbal communication
Here are effective non-verbal cues, in order to project confidence and establish credibility:
- Maintain good eye contact. Looking directly at the person when they, or you, speak, establishes a connection and helps them believe you’re engaged in the conversation. Conversely, too much eye contact can make some people feel uncomfortable and under scrutiny; make it natural.
- Good posture. Establish your authority and radiate confidence by sitting up straight in your chair. Relax your hands and look comfortable so that you don’t appear tense.
- Match your facial expressions to your speech. If you’re looking to help the other person relax, smile; to help instil enthusiasm, consider making your expressions more animated.
- Ensure you’re committed to the conversation. Face the other speaker and give them your full attention. Don’t let your surroundings distract you and don’t turn away from your subject.
- Remain uncrossed. Keeping your legs and arms uncrossed shows more ‘open’ body language. Crossing your arms and legs communicates physical barriers and makes you appear reserved, or, at worst, bored.
- Initiate and direct the conversation. Outstretch your hand when the other person walks in the room to initiate a handshake; put forward an idea to invite others to do the same, etc.
- Tailor your voice to your speech. If you’re unsure of how you sound when speaking, record your voice and play it back – listen for pauses, the tone of your voice, how fast you talk, etc. Do you sound too sullen, abrupt, aggressive, quiet, for example? Try role play: alter the pitch and flow of your voice in differing situations to understand how it comes across to others. If you talk too fast to be fully comprehended, practice slowing your speech.
So you see, mastering effective communication involves more than the words you use, though these are equally as important. Successful business leaders and sales people take care to understand how their non-verbal communication may be received, as it can make a huge difference to their results. They not only develop their emotional intelligence to look objectively at the way they come across to others but they also engage impartial support who can give them true feedback on their communication, commonly through leadership coaching,
Contact me if you’d like my help in this respect; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01302 220221.
- Posted in: Emotional Intelligence ♦ Executive Coaching ♦ Leadership Coaching ♦ Management Coaching
- Tagged: angela sabin, body language, emotional intelligence, executive coaching, executives, eye contact, facial expression, gestures, Leadership Coaching, Management Coaching, managers, non verbal body language, posture, team building