When we communicate, information is given not just from the words we use, but also the non-verbal cues like eye contact, facial expressions, postures, movements and hands gestures. All of these signals can convey important messages. To be more effective at communicating, pay closer attention to other people’s non-verbal behaviour.
When people do not look others in the eye, it can appear as if they are hiding something. Too much eye contact, on the other hand, can appear intimidating or aggressive. Remember that good eye contact does not mean staring into someone’s eyes, but looking away once in a while, or moving your focus slightly lower to their nose or mouth is a good practise.
Use Appropriate Cues
Your verbal and nonverbal communication can work together to convey a message. Improve what you are saying by using body language that supports and reinforces your words. This makes the communication more effective and meaningful.
Always consider the situation and the context of the communication. Some formal situations require different postures and conduct. And these may be interpreted very differently from the other’s viewpoint. The signals must match the situation.
A firm handshake may show confidence while a weak handshake may show a lack of interest or confidence. But there is the possibility of misreading this signal. A firm and tightly gripped handshake may indicate something else entirely, such as aggression or dominance. Always remember to look for groups of behaviour. A person’s overall posture or body language is far more telling than a single gesture viewed in isolation.
If you are confused about another person’s nonverbal signals, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good idea is to state back your interpretation of what has been said and ask for clarification. An example of this might be, “So what you are saying is that…”
If the other’s words do not match his non verbals, you should pay careful attention. For example, someone might tell you he is happy while frowning and staring at the ground. When words and cues fail to match, people tend to ignore what is being said but focus on the unspoken expressions of moods, thoughts, and emotions.
Some people can use nonverbal communication effectively and can also correctly interpret signals from others. Build this skill by noticing yourself in a mirror while you chat on the telephone, observing other people and practising good posture and movements.