Research shows that the better you are at communicating, the more likely you are to have a successful marriage, high self-esteem, and a good paycheck! This free communication skills test will show you how you score – but be aware that great communication skills aren’t just restricted to verbal and written ability. Around 50% of our interaction with others is non-verbal.
We communicate with our hands, nods, glances, and body language – and sometimes these actions speak louder than words. It’s surprisingly easy to communicate the wrong message through your body language. This is why it’s crucial that you are aware of your gestures and actions. If you have good non-verbal communication skills, you’ll be more successful in interviews and meetings, and find it easier to establish solid rapport with others. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of non-verbal communication. Some people maintain eye-contact naturally while others prefer not to, and look around when they’re speaking with someone. While you might not mean anything by it, avoiding eye contact conveys the wrong message to people and gives the impression that you’re dishonest and evasive.
When you speak with your friends, family, and business associates, make sure you maintain eye contact with them. Even when you’re speaking to a large group of people, you should connect via your eyes with several people in the audience to convey that you want to communicate directly with them.
2. Body Posture and Position
Body posture and position can also reveal a lot about your thoughts and preferences. If you face the person you’re speaking to and lean forward slightly, that indicates your interest in the topic. If you cross your arms when you talk with someone, you convey that you’re not interested in the conversation or refuse to consider their opinion.
A hunched or slouched posture indicates defensiveness, submission, or lack of interest. If you lean back and away from the person, you indicate that you dislike them or want to maintain your distance. While people don’t notice these cues, their subconscious mind registers them and they respond accordingly. You should pay careful attention to your body language and make sure it’s relaxed and confident.
3. Personal Space
Personal space is also an important consideration when you communicate with someone. Everyone has a space bubble, although the size of this bubble can vary from one person to the next – you’ll find some interesting research on this here. The rule of thumb is to place yourself around 3-4 feet away from the person you’re communicating with and determine where to go from there. It’s never a good idea to get too close, especially in professional environments. In personal and social situations, you can step close and be more tactile if your companions don’t show any signs of discomfort.
4. Avoid Distractions
Distractions can hamper the flow of a conversation and make you seem discourteous. If you want to establish good communication with your companions, you should tuck your phone away and focus on your audience. This shows that you value their opinion and are interested in what they’re saying.
Some people obsessively check their phones and watches, and focus their attention elsewhere because they’re not comfortable or confident. This is common in situations where you need to speak with people that you are intimidated by. These actions will clearly showcase that you’re nervous or simply not interested. Force yourself to let go of the phone and other distractions and maintain eye contact with people you are interacting with.
5. Facial Expressions
Facial expressions are the clearest form of non-verbal communication and it’s not easy to control them. If you’re bored, your face won’t be as animated and your eyes will appear distant. If you’re amused, your lips will try to form a smile and the corners of your eyes will crinkle. If you’re angry, your brows will come together in a frown and your lips will curl downward.
Myriad expressions can cross your face during a particular conversation, especially if you’re expressive and open. You need to learn how to control your expressions and keep your features calm and interested in social or professional environments. The last thing you want is your face to betray your thoughts before you can carefully form words to express them.
6. Different Cultures, Different Meanings
We live in a multicultural society and while it’s not easy to keep up with the mannerisms and expressions of people from different cultures, you do need to be careful. The best way to avoid a faux pas is to mirror the gestures and preferences of the person you’re communicating with. This will allow you to learn how they communicate and ensure you don’t inadvertently offend people.
Nonverbal communication skills will help you connect with your friends, family, and colleagues better. People usually take subconscious cues from gestures and expressions so you’ll be more convincing and compelling if you know how to use these effectively.