What we don't say is often more powerful than what we do say. We pay so much attention to what we're saying and how we're saying it that we often overlook how we communicate nonverbally. What is your body saying at that important meeting? Are your facial expressions off-putting? Do you not understand why others seem hesitant to approach you? Learn to recognize how others perceive your posture, gestures, and attitude. Here are some tips for improving your nonverbal communication!
1. When you're speaking with a coworker or just walking to your desk, making eye contact is vitally important! It shows that you are listening to what they're saying and that your focus is on them. When you walk with your head up and make eye contact when you pass, you're presenting yourself as an assertive, confident person. Avoid making eye contact for too long however; you don't want to make them feel uncomfortable.
2. Posture speaks volumes about how you are feeling. When you fold your arms while your boss is speaking, they may interpret this as you closing yourself off from the information or from them. Slouching conveys disinterest or lack of professionalism. How many times have you heard "Sit up straight!" in your life? It's important! Tapping your fingers on the table or shaking your leg implies that you are impatient or feel that what is being discussed does not apply to you. Pay attention to your posture.
3. Gesturing is another form of nonverbal communication. When we gesture, we can convey the importance of what we're saying. If you have a nervous tick, like twirling your hair, practice recognizing and stopping it when you notice yourself doing it. If you never use gestures, you can convey a lack of preparation or interest. Be careful not to overdo gesturing though as it can prove distracting to the person you are speaking with.
4. Appearance may seem like a no-brainer but it is vital to your overall communication! If you have a presentation or meeting to run, take the extra time in the morning to make sure you are perfectly groomed and put together. Appearance extends to what you may be using in these situations as well. Ensure your equipment is clean and functional. Suspend any personal screensavers to avoid having photos you don't want everyone to see popping up. Double check that your background is work appropriate!
When we think about communicating effectively, we don't usually consider the nonverbal aspect of communication. Nonverbal communication is just as important and requires practice as well! Paying attention to it will help you be a more effective communicator in any situation.