When engaging in conversation, how one says something is just as important as the words spoken.
Learning how to “read” non-verbal communication cues as well as controlling one’s own can help improve communication, whether in business or one’s personal life. Here are some tips to help you communicate more effectively:
- Pay attention to facial expressions. While engaging in conversation, does the other person look you in the eye? If not, he or she may be hiding something. On the other hand, it might indicate the person is nervous or even shy. While maintaining eye contact when conversing is important, glaring at someone may be interpreted as condescending and intimidating.
- Are eyebrows raised or furrowed? Raised eyebrows may indicate shock or surprise while a furrowed brow may mean the person is frustrated or confused.
- Look for facial expressions and body language that do not match the words being spoken. Is the person frowning despite saying they are happy or satisfied? If so, he or she may not be focusing on the conversation; rather he or she is instead struggling with emotions, internal strife, etc.
- Be mindful of the tone of voice being used – both yours and theirs. Raising one’s voice may be interpreted as anger or excitability, especially when engaging in a difficult conversation. Instead of raising one’s voice, try tempering the tone and stressing certain words or phrases to emphasize important points and ideas.
- Body language speaks volumes. Crossing one’s arms or standing with elbows bent with one hand on each hip signals defensiveness. Keeping them to each side conveys a non-combative approach.
- Give the other person space – literally. Invading one’s personal space is a no-no. It is disrespectful and can be perceived as threatening. There is no better way to shut down lines of communication than invading someone’s personal space.
- Is the person slouching? Standing or sitting up straight? Leaning forward? Each of these postures may be interpreted as someone who lacks self-confidence, is very confident and self-aware or engaged in the conversation, respectively.
- Is the person you are talking to shaking his or her head in agreement or from side-to-side in disagreement?
Learning non-verbal communication cues and techniques can make you a more effective communicator. Perhaps more importantly, it can make you a better listener.