For leadership and management teams across North Dakota and beyond, there is great power in nonverbal communication and the one-on-one message. Only about 35% of any message is purely verbal. Since about 65% of any conversation is received and interpreted by a number of ingredients other than the words that are used, there are many elements to consider:
- Inflection: Whether the tone of voice is stern or friendly, it is paid attention to in conversation.
- Gestures: Motions like nodding or waving take on interpretive importance in every discussion.
- Positioning: Sitting, standing, walking, or leaning into an individual who is listening to the message, influences the words that are being used.
- Clothes: People do pay attention to how an individual is dressed. Someone in a suit talking to someone wearing jeans sets up a status difference in the communication.
- Facial expressions: People watch faces. Whether it is conscious or unconscious, faces do communicate. A blank stare is always remembered.
The most interesting fact for leaders is that “nonverbal” is prone to misinterpretation, especially when the conversation is emotional or negative in nature. It comes from the point that it is not what one says, but how one says it that is the most important element.
When combined with language, the nonverbal signals can be very effective when someone is conveying ideas, selling something, or convincing someone. The more emotional the situation, the more influence the message has in the conversation.
Everyone has varying degrees of sensitivity or awareness with nonverbal communication. Some notice it more than others. But the two most important aspects of nonverbal communication; kinesics (body language) and paralanguage (tone and inflection) are usually paid attention to in varying situations.
Most employees will believe nonverbal communication as fact. Criminals and actors use this reality in their respective professions. It is important to remember that people are attracted to others by their nonverbal cues. First dates often begin with body language and gestures.
Being aware that it is not what you say but how you say, it will go a long way in relationship building and understanding.
This article on nonverbal communication is in association with the Dale Carnegie workshops and classes found below.
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