Updated April 9, 2023
How to Improve Non Verbal Communication – Communication is an essential part in one’s life; it plays a vital role in everyday life. Communication is a process, which humans use send and receive messages to share ones knowledge, information and skills, Communication can be both verbal, and non verbal. Nonverbal communication is communication without the use of words. Here things are conveyed through body language and gestures of the individual, such as facial expression, eye contact, touching, body posture, signal and tone in the voice. Non verbal communication involves encoding and decoding, which is done either consciously or unconsciously. People use non verbal communication for:
- Expressing emotions
- Express interpersonal attitudes
- To manage communication between two people in the form of cues
- To represent ones personality
- In the form of rituals like greeting and so on
Why is Non Verbal Communication Important?
To form a good relationship one needs to have good communication skills. Non-verbal communication is a powerful tool of connecting oneself with others and it helps in expressing what one feels and means. Sometimes our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice can convey a louder and better message than our words. Non verbal communication is a very important aspect in the work place, it shows how you listen, look and reacts while interacting with your co-workers; if ones non verbal communication is poor it can make your co-workers uncomfortable, it may create tension, and confusion. Whereas if one possess good non verbal communication; it can help in establishing trust, clarity and a good rapport with your co-workers.
People use the following as a method of non verbal communication:
- Facial expression: The human face uses a number of expressions on daily basis to express various feelings and emotions, like happiness, stress, sadness, fear, surprise and so on.
- Body postures: It includes communication through your posture, attitude and delicate movements. People get affected and influenced; by the way one sits, walks, and stands and uses various parts of the body to convey a message.
- Gestures: Gesturing is the way we use our body parts in the communication process, like using the hands at the time of greeting, giving a thumbs up to wish someone luck and so on. Different gestures have different meaning in different cultures; therefore one has to be careful while using them.
- Eye contact: Eyes can speak a lot, the way one looks at someone in a communication can convey whether one is interested, unreceptive, attentive or confused. It is very import to maintain the flow of the communication.
- Touch: Touch is also an import way of conveying ones messages, like a tight handshake shows warmth and interest; a hug, a light tap on the shoulders convey different messages.
- Space: Space, the distance between two people when they communicate is an important aspect conveying message of intimacy, affection and domination.
- Tone of voice: The way one speaks, the tone of a person also influences the communication process, it symbolises empathy, anger, frustration and other such emotions.
How to Improve Non Verbal Communication at Work?
Have a good communication skill ensures personal and professional growth. People use a large amount of non verbal communication in their interpersonal relations and with co-workers. One can do the following to improve their non verbal communications and make them more effective:
- Non verbal signals: One needs to pay attention to the various non verbal signals like, gestures, eye contact, and facial expression and so on. This will give an idea what is in the mind of the communicator, it will also influence the way you communicate further.
- Different behaviour: Sometimes the expressions are different from what the person is saying; one cannot fake ones expressions. Therefore if you pay attention to the nonverbal behaviour of the person you will be able to tell whether the person is actually speaking the truth or he is putting up a fake conversation. One expression should match what one is saying.
- Tone of voice: When you speak notice your tone and how it affects other people. Whether your tone is able convey what your words say, like if you want to show interest in something is your tone sound enthusiastic and happy. The tones of the voice can convey a lot of emotions and feelings such as happiness, sadness, anger, boredom and so on.
- Eye contact: Eye contact is an import aspect of communication. When one makes eye contact while speaking, it conveys that the person is confident, interest in the communication and on the other hand if one avoids eye contact it means he is trying to hide something, or the person is not confident or unsure about what he is speaking. It is also important to know that too much eye contact can give messages of confrontation or coerce.
- Ask questions: If one is about the nonverbal signals of the other person, then it is always better to ask questions, to ensure what he is confused about or not understanding or what and then one can reinterpret what is in his mind.
- Use signals: Using signal is a handy tool for communication in presentations and when one is speaking to a large group. The use of body postures, use of hands and tone of voice helps in conveying the message in an easier way.
- Group of signals: While interpreting non verbal communication, it is very important that one interprets a group of signals rather than just interpreting a signal. All signals taken together will give a clearer view of what exactly one is trying to say.
- Context and situation: It is very important to understand the context and situation in which the communication is held; in some cases the communication needs to be formal and crisp, like in business meetings, whereas in other cases it can be the opposite, like in an office co-worker party or function. One needs to notice and improve upon the ways to match the non verbal communication in accordance to the situation and context.
- Misleading signals: While interpreting non verbal signals, consider a group of signals. Ensure that your non verbal signals match your words; mismatch will lead to misleading interpretations and meanings. Say when you want your co-workers to follow your instructions, your voice should be loud and forceful with a tone of power.
- Practise: Noticing ones non verbal signals, and knowing where they lag, is important. One needs to put in effort and practise to improve them. With time and practise and experience one will be able to interpret nonverbal signals in a better way.
- Working on postures: One needs to work on one postures as they convey a lot about the persons communication pattern, like a person sitting with folded hands and crossed legs is an introvert, who does not share ones thought and feelings vey easily, A person with drooping shoulders is tired or lacks confidence, or is under stress or depression and so on.
- Read your audience: It is very important to study the nonverbal signals of the audience. It will give you a clear idea whether the audience is listening to you or not; whether they are interested in what you are saying; when you need to repeat things, and end your communication or redesign the way of communicating.
- Relax: When entering into a communication, one should be relaxed and calm. This will also relax the person you are talking to; and they will be able to listen to you more attentively and with interest. If the situation is stressed or perceived as threatening then the audience will not be comfortable and would not be able to concentrate on what one has to say.
- Maintain balance: It is very important to maintain balance in the non verbal signals one uses. They should be a mixture of serious, humorous, interesting and focused way of communication, which encourages interest, participation and acceptance in the communication process. It should be such that the audience understands what one wants to convey.
- Improve emotional awareness: It is very important for one to understand the reaction of others in the communication process. Therefore should be able to read the emotions and body language of others, to improve and modify upon their non verbal communication skills.
- Management of stress: It is very important to manage ones stress in a communication process. Letting your stress on the communication process will lead to misleading interpretation of what you are saying; it signals anxiousness, worry and tension, which may influence your audience indirectly.
How Nonverbal Communication Can Go Wrong?
If one is not skilled in the non verbal communication process, things may go wrong. Here are certain things to avoid inconvenience and confusion in a non verbal communication process:
- There should not be a mismatch between what one is saying and the facial expressions, postures of the speaker.
- Do not interpret non verbal signals based on only one signal, try and interpret a group of signals.
- One should not be confused in what one wants to say, as this will show in the gestures and people might get uninterested and confused with it.
- While developing a eye contact, remember it should not be for too long, as it may signify pressure or lead to the other person felling uncomfortable.
- Do not bring your stress in your communication, this will stress the listener and he may perceive it as threatening and negative.
- The tone of your voice should match what you are trying to say. Discrepancy in what you are saying and the way you are saying it will lead to confusion and misinterpretations.
- One should be loud and clear with of what one is saying by using body language and gestures, low voice or unclear communication will lead to disinterest and inattentiveness.
- As different gestures have different meaning in different cultures one should be careful while using them, and they should have knowledge about them, before they use it.
- The most important thing in the non verbal communication is that one needs to observe and learn about it, by observing the behaviours of people, how they interpret and analyse these non verbal signals.
Communication is an important aspect in human life. It is the way one expresses ones knowledge, emotions and skills. Nonverbal communication plays an import role in the communication process; it determines how one interprets the information and actions of others. Non verbal messages can be conveyed through eye contact, gestures, body language, touch and facial expressions. One needs to be skilled in nonverbal communication and he should also be able interpret it for smooth flow of communication in any relationship. When the non verbal signals do not match the words or action of the speaker, it leads to misinterpretation, confusion and mistrust among the audience.
Non verbal communication plays a vital role in the work place, as co-workers interact in different ways, while working in a team, meetings, subordinate and high authority communication and so on. Therefore the way in which things are expressed and conveyed is very important for the management and overall progress of the organization. Therefore one constantly needs to develop and improve one’s non verbal communication. One should be able to understand the nonverbal communication of the co-workers; When making non verbal signal one should make sure that they are not confusing, and the audience is able to understand what he is trying to say; ones non verbal signals should be in line with the situation and context; The tone should match the words; one should speak with appropriate eye contact and so on.
One needs to be careful while using non verbal communication, as different communities and cultures interpret these non verbal signals in different ways, therefore one should use them with caution and with the full knowledge about them’ they should ensure that by doing so they are not hurting the sentiments of a community or a person. The understanding of non verbal communication signals comes from constant observation, analysis, experience and regular practise over time.