Communication comes in all shapes and sizes, including non-verbal cues. Even the things you don’t say can hurt your effective communication strategies.
You may be saying more than you even realize. Our non-verbal cues say a lot about who we are and what we are saying. People can even misinterpret what you are saying based on where you are looking, what your hands are doing, and even your posture. When you are getting ready to communicate, make sure that you think about what you are saying and how you are going to say it. But... don't forget to think about what you aren't saying too.
“Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, and posture, etc).” (The Nonverbal Group) More than half of your message is conveyed by saying nothing at all, so how do fix it?
You can easily see that nonverbal communication is crucial. The next time you write a speech or even think about smaller internal communications consider your non-verbal communication. It is important to plan and practice your words and your movements. Here are 6 body language mistakes to avoid! Removing these nonverbal mistakes from your communication habits will help your effective communication strategies, both in the work environment and your personal life.
No eye contact. Your wandering eye may be due to nerves, however, that is not what your audience is thinking. When you are not able to look someone in the eye, it causes them to think you are not trustworthy or even worse you are holding something back. Remember, the next time you are communicating with someone — look them in the eye. If looking someone directly in the eyes makes you nervous, try looking just above or below their eyes. This will demonstrate to your audience that you are paying attention.
This mistake travels to the digital world as well. When you are recording your personal video messages in Ving, make sure your camera is level. When your camera is level your video will appear as if you are looking at the person you are talking too instead of your computer. It is important to practice what you want to say a few times so while you are recording your video you can look directly at the camera and not your notes. These tips will help you keep eye contact during face to face communication and the digital world.
Crossing your arms. When you cross your arms, you appear closed off from the person you are communicating with. If you cross your arms while someone is talking to you, you insinuate that you are disregarding what they are saying all together. Pay close attention to your arms and where you place them. It is best to keep your arms to your side if standing and on your lap if you are seated.
Unprofessional or rumpled clothing. You may think that it doesn’t matter what you look like… it does. The way you carry yourself says a lot about the type of person you are. One part of effective communication strategies are planning what you wear to the office. You don’t have to lay out your clothes the night before, but you do have to think about what you are wearing and what you kind of person you want to be perceived as.
Looking at your phone. Don’t do it. Stop checking your phone while you are talking to your boss, customers, team members, and anyone with whom you interact with for that matter. It is obvious that this is a big NO however, people do it all the time. The person you are communicating with will assume you are not interested and are ignoring them. Besides being perceived as not caring, when you are checking your phone you are multitasking and this will decrease your ability to truly listen to what someone is saying.
Eye rolling. This is probably the most basic tip for non-verbal communication, but it happens. If you are having a bad day and someone says something that feels like “the final straw” you may roll your eyes — well don’t. Rolling your eyes, even just a little, will cause some serious friction in the office. Leave eye rolling in middle school.
Clock watching. Last but not least, stop watching the clock. It may be fun on a Friday afternoon to count down the last few hours of the workday, but watching the clock while someone is talking to you is another major NO. This tells the person you are communicating with that you would rather be some place else. So pay close attention to your audience when you are communicating.
As you focus on your effective communication strategies keep these nonverbal cues in mind. Some of them you probably already know, but a reminder is always nice. Print out the infographic below to remind you about the importance of nonverbal communication.