Why Nonverbal Communication Matters (and How to Improve Your Skills) - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

Why Nonverbal Communication Matters (and How to Improve Your Skills)

January 20, 2020

Research shows employees stay on teams when they trust their executives. 

A major influencer of trust is communication–both verbal and nonverbal. Surprisingly, nonverbal communication accounts for about 60 to 75% of the messages we send. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, meaning the additional cues given by your body that accompany the verbal string of words you say has a major impact on the overall message you send. In fact, it can completely alter the message.

As an executive or manager, your role in developing trust among your team is crucial. You drive the quality of internal culture and external success of the organization. But the tasks you check off your to-do list and the strategy you develop isn’t enough to get you there. It is the way you communicate with your team that will.

Being mindful about nonverbal communication isn’t enough. Here are 3 areas of nonverbal communication to master–just like you have your verbal communication skills.

1-Be self-aware of your typical body movements.

  • Consider your posture. Do you typical slump over or sit up straight? A tall posture exudes confidence and shows interest in the person you are speaking to.
  • Examine what you do with your hands. Do you often fidget or check your phone when talking with colleagues? What you do with your hands can reveal your level of interest. Sometimes, though, keeping the hands busy can help keep the mind focused. If this is true for you, be sure to give other visual cues of interest, such as nodding your head appropriately and maintaining eye contact.

2-Maintain eye contact and listen with soft eyes.

  • In the United States, eye contact demonstrates respect and interest. Listening with soft eyes ensures the speaker doesn’t feel invaded, judged, or put on the spot for their response. If working with colleagues internationally, consider looking up different cultural norms on eye contact so you convey the message you intend to, not the opposite! 
  • When speaking to small groups, making eye contact with all people in attendance can make everyone feel like they belong and are part of the team.

3- Consider the tone of your voice.

  • The meaning of the words you say changes drastically with tone. Match the tone (or octave) of your voice with the intention of your message.
  • Keep your tone steady to exude confidence. When your tone goes up an octave at the end of a sentence, it reveals self-doubt by exuding a questioning tone.

Nonverbal communication is key to building trust on your team. What are your best practices for developing excellent nonverbal communication skills?

Click here for more on nonverbal communication in the workplace.


About Abby

Abby Siegel Hyman is the Marketing + PR Manager at Amber Hurdle Consulting, and is a dual master’s graduate student at Vanderbilt University. She is the proud mom of the goldendoodle Willie–one of the office dog cheerleaders that keeps AHC innovative and engaged. Connect with Abby on LinkedIn

Amber Hurdle Consulting is a multi-award-winning talent optimization firm that pioneers using both science and marketing principles to solve these problems by strengthening your brand from the inside out. As a Predictive Index (PI) Certified Partner, we teach you how to generate and use real data in the form of people analytics, and then we sit on your bench as analytics experts, bringing along almost 20 years of branding, marketing and public relations experience. With these tools, we partner with you to design a compelling internal relations strategy featuring three key areas:

#1 We work with your leaders on their personal brands, so they increase self awareness and see and harvest the greatness in others. 

#2 We teach you to use a scientific, repeatable method to recruit, retain and inspire top talent, elevating your culture while crafting a world-class employer brand. 

#3 We then help you leverage strong leaders and a “best places to work” environment so that happy employees are serving happy customers…ultimately elevating your business brand.

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