How to Identify and Improve Your Nonverbal Communication
Communication is something we might immediately identify as verbal; entrepreneurs rely heavily on their speaking abilities to establish client relationships and make sales. However, nonverbal communication is an often-overlooked skill that can easily be used to your advantage. Nonverbal communication can include facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, tone of voice, body language, personal space and more. Read on to learn how to identify subtle actions, balance out your eye contact and improve your hand gestures.
Identify Subtle Actions
A person’s nonverbal behavior often sends strong messages that you can learn to identify. This allows you to evaluate their interest and pivot your actions to keep a person engaged. For example, an indicator of patience is the speed in which someone nods. If a person nods slowly, it’s a sign that they are interested and want you to continue. If they nod quickly, it might suggest that they want you to wrap up your point or give them a chance to interject. Another head movement to observe is the direction in which they tilt their head. Tilting slightly backwards might signal that they are suspicious or unsure, while tilting their head sideways may indicate interest.
Another nonverbal action that indicates interest is the direction of a person’s feet when you’re engaged in a conversation. “When you’re having a conversation with someone but their feet are angled toward the door, they might be unconsciously saying that they’re ready to cut the talk short and move on,” says author Sarah Smith.
We know that good listening is paired with good eye contact and that we look more intently at people saying things that we believe are interesting. But eye contact can be tricky to master, especially if you’re in a virtual meeting over a webcam. As a rule of thumb, keep your eye contact casual. “It should be warm, connected and engaged, but not locked in,” says public speaker and entrepreneur Alexa Fischer. “The minute you're locked into somebody, it feels uncomfortable and unnatural.” So the next time you’re in a meeting, work on keeping a nice balance of warm and friendly eye contact.
In the world of body language, hand gestures are important. When used correctly, they can improve your message and make you appear more confident and relaxed. They can also reinforce the point you are attempting to express. However, using them incorrectly could distract your audience or send the wrong nonverbal message. To learn more about using hand gestures effectively, check out this BVM blog.
Recognizing and using positive nonverbal communication can drive your point home and make your clients feel comfortable in your presence. Whether you are reading into someone else’s nonverbal communication or perfecting your own, these tips can increase your positive interactions with colleagues and clients.