Humans have used communication to relay messages since the beginning of time. thousands From cave paintings and sign language to sonnets and dissertations, all communication can be grouped into two types: verbal, and nonverbal. Both types are equally important when communicating, especially in the workplace where a lag in communication can cost billions of dollars, your best client relationship, or even a lawsuit.
The dance between nonverbal and verbal communication is easy to understand, but hard to put into practice. This is especially true in 2019 when people are used to communicating behind screens rather than face-to-face.
In order to see the benefits of effective communication, you must make it a habit to be self-aware. We often assume that others understand what we’re trying to say, how we’re trying to say it, and why we’re trying to say it. But, that simply is not the case.
Here are 5 ways you can improve your verbal and non-verbal communication in the workplace.
In order to see the benefits of effective communication, you must make it a habit.
Listening is the most underrated communication skill there is. When you have a conversation with someone, how often are you thinking of how you will respond rather than truly understanding what the other person is saying?
This is breeding ground for miscommunication, interruption, and overall a bad conversation. When you truly listen to what someone has to say, it’s a sign of respect to the other person involved in the conversation. Giving yourself the time to process their words will also set you up to ask a better follow-up question, or answer their question more logically. Remember, a good conversation is a balance between talking and listening.
To really understand the importance of body language consider the old adage,” Actions speak louder than words”. Your body language sets the tone for your conversation. Picture this, your candidate walks into your office and sits down, slumped over in the chair, arms crossed, and eyes rolling.
Is this the candidate you want to hire? Maybe they will surprise you with their words, but their nonverbal communication is already telling you that they do not want to be there. Likewise, when you are interviewing a candidate you want to pay attention to the messages you are giving off with your own body. For example, greeting candidates by standing up, giving a firm handshake, and a smile while introducing yourself.
Another form of good non-verbal communication is eye-contact. Be sure to look your candidate in the eyes as you are having the conversation, to signal that you are interested in what they are saying. Good eye contact will also make it easier for you to stay present in the conversation rather than your mind wandering to your to-do list.
When you are asking questions, try to make them open-ended. Avoid questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Rather than asking someone “Did that make you upset?”, to which they can answer “yes” or “no”, ask “how did that make you feel, and what did you learn?”, which requires a more in-depth response that will help you get to know the candidate and how they think.
Use their name in the conversation. Not only will this tip help you to remember the candidate or co-worker’s name, it will also make them feel good. People love hearing their own name and talking about themselves. Use this to your advantage to have a good conversation. Ask questions that intrigue the other person and allow them to share about themselves, and always end by wishing them well and using their name.
Try not to repeat yourself. Unless absolutely necessary, or you think that the other person missed what you said, avoid repeating yourself in a conversation. This often gives off the impression that you are focused on what YOU have to say versus what your candidate or employee has to say. This could be true, and you could have the most important point in the world to make, but remember we want to balance speaking and listening (see Tip #1). When you repeat yourself, you are also signaling that your focus is elsewhere. Are you repeating yourself because you forgot that you already told that story or made that comment? The other side of your conversation will be asking themselves these questions.
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