|Nonverbal Communication Says A Lot|
When the question, “What do you think of when you hear the word communication?” is asked, usually the first or second response is “speaking”. Of course that is an important component, but the area of nonverbal communication, research indicates, is more “telling” of our thoughts that the actual words that we speak. Nonverbal communication is a very crucial but often neglected area.
The components of nonverbal communication, eye contact, facial expression, posture, arm and hand gestures as well as head position are extremely vital. Even though, we typically only focus on our verbal message, others see our communication as a “whole”. Awareness of “silent” communication is the first step to improve our interactions.
When we speak, we include nonverbal communication whether we are aware of it or not. Our “silent” communication may be minimal as we are communicating but that is also “telling”. When we present limited or non-engaging body language, others may interpret that as not having an interest in the interaction. That perception may not be accurate but that is how it may be viewed. This can have a serious impact particularly when during job interviews, client introductions, working with colleagues or networking.
The use of body language can be subtle or more demonstrative; that is dependent on the situation, your communication partner as well as your own style. An effective use of body language, as with other components of communication, is to make it a natural part of your verbal message. Our “silent” communication needs to be aligned with our verbal message. If these two behaviors do not match with a similar “tone” misinterpretations can occur.
For some individuals, aligned body language is just a natural part of their communication. For others, it is more of a challenge. The crucial elements needed to improve your nonverbal communication include your awareness of its importance, the various meanings of body language and your willingness to begin to apply these ‘silent” behaviors during your opportunities to engage with others.
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"The two words "information" and "communication" are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through."
Sidney J. Harris, Former Journalist, Chicago Sun Times