“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” Peter Drucker was an educator and author who assisted in creating the basis of the modern business corporation and has been distinguished as “The founder of modern management.” We all know that a lot more is said than what is actually “said.” This concept is known as nonverbal communication and it includes posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, demeanor, physical space, choices in clothing, and more.
How does nonverbal communication affect your business life? Unless you have zero human interaction, you can guarantee that what you’re not saying is actually speaking volumes to your clients and your colleagues. The best practices will vary depending on the situation — from meetings, to one-on-one discussions, to presentations and beyond, your nonverbal communication should adapt.
Some Nonverbal Communication Tips:
- Pay attention to your hand placement and movement. Crossing your arms over your chest is emblematic of putting up a wall and closing yourself off.
- Make eye contact to show attentiveness, assuredness, and confidence. Practice this both when in a one-on-one conversation and in larger group settings alike, while giving a presentation, for example. However, overuse could come off as intimidating or combative, so be sure to find the right balance.
- Stand tall with a strong and upright posture to convey confidence. On another vein, to appear approachable and less intimidating, sit with those to whom you are speaking, rather than standing above them.
- Be aware of your facial expressions. Without even realizing it, our facial expressions can look as if we are uninterested or even irritated, so just remember to be cognizant of the faces you make so not to unintentionally exude a negative quality.
- Present yourself well. Be put-together in your hairstyle, makeup, and clothing choices as they communicate competence, socioeconomic level, and character. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and organization.
Nonverbal Communication & Personal Branding
Personal Branding can be broken down into three areas: 1) Visual 2) How We Speak 3) How We Show Up. That last one is where our nonverbal behavior comes into play and through this communication, we portray our character, values, skills, and essence. Because of this, my clients’ nonverbal behaviors play large roles in my photo sessions. Each of the above pieces of advice can and should be used in your photoshoot as well! The confident and approachable person you want to exhibit in your headshots is the same person as who you want to present face-to-face. Depending on what you want to convey in your photos, specific poses work best. Check out this blog post that shares 5 of my favorite posing tips.
Also, take a look at this excellent TED talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, author, and lecturer. She discusses why standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t necessarily feel such a way, can boost feelings of confidence and could even have an impact on our chances for success.
Nonverbal communication can either confirm your verbal communication or it can discredit it. When both of these types of communications align, however, your message is all the more powerful. Begin to observe those around you and how their nonverbal communication makes you feel. Also notice your own practices and how you might be presenting to others through these nonverbal behaviors. Do you have any words of advice on the topic? I would love to hear from your experience. Share in the comments below!