Not many people realise it, but, when we talk we often use subtle non-verbal signals. This can be seen by facial expressions, body language, posture, the tone of your voice, and via eye contact. The way a person moves or acts; reveals just as much to another person as words can.
If you can develop a way of understanding this non-verbal communication it can help you connect to others – at work or during a job interview situation. How can you work on and improve your non-verbal communication skills
*Try using more *open* body language – uncross your arms, sit more on the edge of your seat, or if standing use a more *open stance* and always maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to. You can always pat a friend or co-worker on the back for a job well done, or, if in a meeting pound your fists to underline your message.
*Be aware that people are different. People from different cultures and countries often use different non-verbal communication gestures – so always take age, religion, gender and culture into account when reading someone’s body language
*Observe people – take time to watch those around you, on the train, bus, cafe, and restaurant or in the supermarket. Watching how those around you use body language can show you how to better understand non verbal communication – and how to project your non verbal communication when you are talking to others.
* Never read too much into a single gesture or non-verbal *clue* instead consider all of the signals you are receiving from body language to the tone of the voice and eye contact. Anyone can make a mistake and cross their arms by mistake or loose eye contact without meaning to, so always consider the signal on the whole to get a better *read* of a person.
We’ve looked at how you can *read* the other persons non verbal communication – so how can you deliver your non verbal communications to get your message across better. In an interview situation no matter how good your resume may be you do not want to slip up and give the interviewer mixed messages. At work you certainly don’t want to send out the wrong signals if you are hoping for a promotion!
- When speaking to someone adjust the tone of your voice so it is suitable to the situation. For example when speaking to a child you would use a different tone of voice to the tone of voice you’d use when talking to a group of adults. If talking one on one to an interviewer or boss again take into account the age, gender and cultural background of the person you are talking to.
- Make sure your non verbal gestures match what you are saying – if you are angry – don’t smile for example. Your body language needs to convey what you are saying not contradict it
- Always try to show positive feelings – even if you are feeling nervous or stressed. Use positive body language to show confidence, even if you don’t feel it. Don’t enter the room with your eyes down – stand tall, shoulders back and keep smiling, maintain a strong handshake and keep eye contact. It will make you feel more confident to help put the other person at ease.
How do you use non verbal communication skills? Do you find them a big help? How long did it take you to develop your ability to read others well?