Author and motivational speaker George Torok said “your body leaks messages.” That is, it’s not only what you say that’s important; it’s how you say it.
Nonverbal communication is equally, sometimes more, important in the exchange of information. Often, people understand more about what you’re trying to say from how you look than from the words you speak.
We communicate with our eyes, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, and physical space. [This is not an exhaustive list.] Each of these behaviours influences how we exchange information.
We’ve all heard the expression “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” They are also a way of connecting with the person(s) to whom you’re speaking. Making eye contact opens the flow of communication, conveys interest and confidence, and increases credibility.
If eyes are the window to the soul, then a smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.
Smiling is a powerful communicator, indicating friendliness, warmth, and approachability. This is how you should be communicating (even when you’re on the telephone). Be wary of facial expressions denoting anger, frustration, confusion, or boredom. If you note any of these expressions on your listener(s), you should investigate further.
Tone of Voice
How you speak, specifically the tone of your voice, conveys emotion and will affect how your message is received. Therefore, it’s important that you speak in a tone that suggests confidence.
Posture refers to the way we move our bodies – the way we sit, stand, lean, or bend. Each posture speaks volumes about your emotions and will influence the message you deliver. For example, assuming a stiff and immobile posture may suggest you are uncomfortable.
Physical space refers to the distance you put between yourself and the other person. This will vary based on how well you know the other person and culture. There are basically three zones – intimate, personal, and social. In North America, most business transactions take place in the social zone, which is between one to three metres. It’s wise to stay within this zone in your business transactions.
For More Information
For more information on nonverbal skills, including physical space, please consult our A Mentoring Kit for New Salespeople: Training For Success at http://www.orea.com/index.cfm/ci_id/14362/la_id/1.htm. This is a valuable resource for both brokers and salespeople.
Do you have any additional pointers on how to improve communication skills? Please let us know.