Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication includes eye contact, body language and facial expressions. Beyond that it also includes subtleties in the voice.

Let’s explore further.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the most important keys to communication.

People like to feel special. Good eye contact sends a strong signal that you are listening and interested in the conversation.

Another benefit of good eye contact is that it reduces the effect of outside distractions when listening to someone.

Little children are especially sensitive to eye contact. They frequently say “LOOK AT ME!” to a parent when they are speaking.

Children want their parents to be fully engaged. Then they (the parents) will pay attention to the important topic the child wants to discuss.

The same is true of adults, but most people won’t say anything to someone who has poor eye contact. They may be silently upset because they don’t feel listened to, even if they are. Some people relate lack of eye contact with lack of truthfulness.

Facial expressions and Body Language in Communication
People speak with their bodies and faces. We need to listen!

Body language and facial expressions reflect many emotions. They reflect happiness, sadness, stress, relaxation, high energy, tiredness and more. Sometimes the signals are clear, sometimes you need to interpret.

Here are just a few examples:

• Nervousness may indicate stress
• A relaxed manner may indicate confidence
• A relaxed manner may also indicate indifference
• Animated body language and facial expressions may indicate passion

Your own body language is also important during communication. Be aware of the signals you are sending out.

During a conversation ask yourself: Is my body language (and voice) indicating I am engaged? If not, can I adjust my body and/or voice to be more engaged?

Tone, pitch, volume and rate of voice reflect many emotions. Listening carefully can help sort out those emotions. Sometimes the signals are clear, sometimes you may need to interpret. Here are just a few examples:

• A relaxed voice may indicate confidence
• A shaky voice may indicate stress
• An excited voice may mean joy, or stress
• Speaking fast may indicate stress, or the need to provide information quickly

Verbal and Non Verbal Communication
Providing good verbal and non verbal communication are keys to effective listening. And to achieve effective listening, reflective listening needs to be applied.

Verbal signals that indicate reflective listening include statements such as “Yes, I understand”, or “Can you restate that?” or “I agree.”

Non verbal communication indicating reflective listening includes signals such as the head moving up and down in agreement, touching of the chin with thumb and forefinger and leaning slightly forward.

Finally, be ready to receive communication. Busy schedules, personal pressures, how you feel physically and/or emotionally and a host of other factors can act as distractions to being engaged in a conversation.

If the distractions are significantly harmful to the conversation, (and it is a critical conversation) then consider postponing the conversation until later.

Return from Non Verbal Communication to Communication Skills

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