Has someone ever said something to you but you didn’t quite trust that this was the truth?
The reason for that is likely that what was communicated verbally did not match the non-verbal communication.
When this mismatch happens, the intentional or even unintentional non-verbal communication resonates more which can have negative consequences.
Here’s how mismatching cues can backfire:
- Leaving false Impressions: You can give off impressions without intending to. For example, if a team member is resting his face in the palm of his hand during a meeting he might look as if he is bored when in reality he might be thinking the complete opposite. Maybe he’s tired, or that position simply helps him focus. However, when others read into his non-verbal communication, he leaves an unintentional message which can negatively influence the team dynamic.
- Loss of credibility: If someone’s nonverbal language tells a different story than their spoken language, people’s alarm bells go off and their credibility will likely be questioned. For example, if you’re giving positive feedback to an employee but you relay the good news with a low, monotone voice – there is a good chance that the feedback receiver won’t believe your words, and may even lose confidence in your ability to help them advance.
To help you prevent these issues, here are 4 tips on non-verbal communication particularly important for managers:
1) Earn More Trust with the Help of Your Body Language:
Everyone displays a certain body language when talking. Here are 5 ways to leverage this non-verbal part of your communication to gain more trust from the people you’re speaking to:
- Lean in when you speak and when you listen to show engagement.
- Nod your head to show that you’re listening.
- Sit or stand up straight! A slumped posture demonstrates disinterest or lack of confidence.
- Keep your arms uncrossed, your legs unfolded and your torso facing forward to show that you’re open.
- Stand in a wide position, about shoulder width apart to demonstrate confidence.
2) Maintain Eye Contact to Show Your Engagement
“The eyes are the window to the soul” – cheesy, yes. But true.
We can make sense of people’s emotions through their eye contact (or lack therefore).
Maintaining eye contact during conversations with colleagues or team members will help you build trust and respect. It lets them know that you are listening and that you care. It also demonstrates confidence in what you are saying.
It sounds simple enough, but we can get easily distracted by people walking by or a notification popping up on the screen and our gaze can wander, so putting your best effort into maintaining eye contact is a good start to building a good relationship.
3) Pay Attention to Your Voice and Avoid the Question Inflection
Avoid the question inflection! When your voice goes up at the end of a statement (as if you’re asking a question) it appears as though you are questioning yourself, which will make you look less assured as a leader.
The tone of your voice is probably not the first thing that came to your mind when you thought about non-verbal communication. However, communication specialists say that we communicate 7% with actual words, 55% with body language and a solid 38% with our tone of voice.
So paying attention to how you use your voice in your communication is important. Start by observing yourself.
Tip: If you have a presentation coming up, practice your speech by recording yourself on your phone and then listen to your tone of voice and question inflection to see how you could improve your tone to send a stronger, more confident message.
4) Keep Your Hands Visible
Believe it or not, the first thing people see when they look at you is not your face, it’s your hands. Our hands reveal a lot about us.
Exposed hands, for example, are a sign of honesty, while hidden hands can give off the impression that you have something to hide or that you’re withholding information. In your day-to-day work life scenarios, whether it be giving feedback to a team member or presenting a new business strategy to your team – to get the buy-in and trust that you want, it’s best to leave your hands where they can see them.
The power to earn trust is in the palm of your hands. Here are a few tips to getting hand gestures right:
- Pretend you’re holding a basketball: This indicates confidence and control.
- Expose your palms: It’s a sure sign of trustworthiness, openness, and honesty.
- Keep palms facing down: This demonstrates strength and assertiveness.
Nonverbal communication may not make or break your leadership, but taking the time to become more self-aware of your emotions and body language will certainly help you build better relationships at work.
At the essence, communication is used so frequently and has such a strong impact on the results we get that we cannot afford to do it poorly.
Start with one tip you found helpful and see where it takes you.