We don't really need to emphasize the value of communication skills. Many studies have established that this is among the top skills required by most employers. Yes, if you want to thrive in your personal and professional relationships, you need to master this skill to perfection.
Although people work hard on polishing their verbal communication skills, the same treatment isn't meted out to the nonverbal variant. "Is nonverbal communication important" is the question needing to be asked.
Most people fail to realize the scope of nonverbal communication functions. Before we answer your question regarding the value of nonverbal communication, let's shed some light on what it is all about.
"Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say." ― Richelle E. Goodrich
To put it simply, nonverbal communication refers to the transfer of information via body language. Eye contact, gestures and facial expressions are all part of nonverbal communication. Don't worry, we will explain in detail what is nonverbal communication with some examples.
Why is it considered necessary to greet people with a smile? Because it conveys openness and friendliness! You let the other person know that you are interested in carrying on the conversation without even uttering a single word. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?
Is Nonverbal Communication Really Important?
Of course! There are several factors that leave no room for doubt about the value of nonverbal communication in your life, both personal and professional. Let's discuss a few of these benefits.
- Nonverbal communication enables you to express your emotions when even words feel as though they fall short. It's not easy to convey your happiness, confidence, eagerness or satisfaction in words. But your facial gestures can get the job done to perfection. For instance, when you notice someone crying, you instantly know they need help even without them asking for the same.
- This communication variant helps in building interpersonal relationships. It enables one to establish trust. Your body language and eye contact make you're your message loud and clear in ways that words can't.
- Nonverbal communication supports verbal interactions to a great extent. Your words will appear hollow and meaningless if they aren't accompanied by the right gestures. You wouldn't be able to emphasize the message you are trying to convey.
- Nonverbal communication skills are a reflection of your personality. Your body language and gestures make it clear whether you are lethargic, active, happy or sad. A lot can be gauged about a person's personality by analyzing his nonverbal communication.
- This communication variant gives meaning to your routine rituals like farewell and greetings. You meet people with a smile and wave your hands to indicate farewell. These are all examples of nonverbal communication skills which enable you to build a rapport.
How To Make The Most Of Nonverbal Communication Functions?
We have gotten past the stage of asking, "is nonverbal communication important". However, you need to keep in mind that this skill isn't easy to perfect.
For one thing, body language can be interpreted in more ways than one. It's not easy to understand nonverbal communication since there's no definitive guide for the same. However, body language undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in this skill.
Studies have revealed that the attitudinal meaning of messages comes primarily from nonverbal signals. Ironically, we all use nonverbal communication in the initial days of our lives when our parents understand our needs with our gestures and facial expressions. But with time, verbal communication takes center stage, and you end up neglecting nonverbal communication functions.
"How you carry yourself speaks volumes about how you feel about yourself." ― Cindy Ann Peterson
Why is it worth the effort to master nonverbal communication, and how it would benefit your personal and professional life? Let's find out.
Nonverbal Communication And Relationships
Typically, it's a close friend, partner or family member who is able to read your nonverbal signals. Hence, this exchange strengthens bonds and enables you to feel closer to those you value in life.
A lot can be conveyed via merely eye contact, particularly compliments. And this works pretty well when you are interacting with a friend or partner nonverbally.
Sometimes, things don't go as planned. You are unable to hide your feelings from your close relationships. Miscommunication can be the death of relationships of many years. Nonverbal communication can make you realize that there's something amiss in your relationship.
Nonverbal Communication And Business
The corporate world benefits significantly from nonverbal communication. Indeed, it enhances the opportunities for interaction with clients, colleagues and even competitors. If you want to deliver a subtle message without making a scene, your vocal tone, posture and eye contact can be pretty effective.
Not only that, but nonverbal communication also instills confidence and professionalism in your demeanor. It helps you thrive in international business settings too. If you are expanding your business and are opening a branch in a region with a foreign language, a translator wouldn't always be able to convey your feelings. However, your facial expressions and body language can win you the trust of your partners.
How To Improve Nonverbal Communication!
I realize that not everyone is able to perfect the art of nonverbal communication easily. It's harder for some than others. However, if you want to make the most of this skill and rake in its full benefits, here are some tips that can help you out!
· Be Attentive Towards Nonverbal Signals
People use a variety of ways to convey their feelings. So make sure that you pay heed to actions like posture, body movements, eye contact and even tone of voice. This will provide you with information that words will fail to. If you are attentive to how people interact nonverbally, you will be able to polish your skills too.
· Decipher The Hidden Meaning
There are times when verbal and nonverbal signals seem to be going in the opposite direction. For instance, the person tells you that he is pleased, but you notice that the frown never left his forehead for even a second. Typically, people give more consideration to your expressions instead of your words. Pick up these nonverbal cues when you feel that words aren't matching actions.
· The Tone Of The Voice Matters
"As proof that HOW we see things matters, Gen. Montgomery took a pre-prepared text that had been deemed an innocuous compliment to his American troops and delivered it in such a way that his condescension prompted more division than unity." ― Jean Edward Smith
Have you noticed that while some people don't have a lot to contribute to a conversation, they make it clear that they find the discussion fascinating by merely their expressions? Yes, your tone can convey your disinterest and enthusiasm even when you don't have words to describe your feelings. The tone of your voice amplifies the message.
· Always Make Eye Contact
If someone doesn't look you in the eyes, it gives the impression that he is trying to hide something. So if you want to master the art of nonverbal communication, always make eye contact. But ensure that you don't get carried away. Excessive eye contact can make you appear intimidating. You don't have to stare into someone's eyes. Merely four to five seconds of eye contact will get the message across.
· Don't Hesitate To Ask Questions
Never shy away from asking questions if you feel you aren't able to read the other person's nonverbal cues properly. There's no harm in repeating your interpretation or asking for clarification. This will ensure that no misunderstandings arise.
· Give More Weight To Your Message
Nonverbal signals give meaning to your verbal communication. Your communication skills appear more polished if accompanied by appropriate body language. If you really want to drive a point home, nonverbal cues can be of immense help, especially when talking to a large group of people.
· Adopt A Holistic Approach
A lot of times, single nonverbal cues are missed. Therefore, it helps to look for a cluster of signals that emphasize the point you are trying to make. It's easy to misinterpret a single gesture, but that won't happen if you make your message clear with plenty of nonverbal gestures.
· Pay Heed To The Context
There's a drastic difference in how nonverbal signals are interpreted depending on the setting. For instance, a smile in a formal gathering is a means to get acquainted. On the other hand, a smile extended to an old friend shows your happiness.
Always try to use nonverbal cues appropriate for the context. Your signals should match the situation.
· There's Always A Chance Of Misinterpretation
You can't be sure that your nonverbal communication skills will actually be interpreted the way you want them to be. Even a handshake can imply so many things.
This is why one must always focus on the overall demeanor of the person instead of paying attention to only a single gesture.
· Practice Helps
There's always scope for improvement. Nonverbal communication is one of those skills that can be built by careful observation and practice. So try to read people as much as you can. Of course, you will make mistakes eventually. But soon enough, your interpretation will hit the mark perfectly.
Let Your Gestures Speak
You don't always need words to explain your stance. Sometimes, your eyes, posture, tone and body language are more than enough. In fact, they are more effective in putting the message across. Mastering this skill will benefit you in both your personal and professional life.
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