Any leader worth their salt takes the time to learn and master the art of non-verbal communication techniques. Sure, it feels a bit weird at first, but these subtle changes can make a big impact on the way people perceive you and interpret your message.
The correct use of non-verbal communication techniques is a game-changer in the workplace, so keep on reading to learn three that you can get started with today.
Non-verbal communication techniques for leaders.
#1: Gestural hand movements
Our hands are incredibly powerful in our spoken conversation, especially when we consider how hand movements impact our vocal tone. When we speak with our hands up, gesturing as we speak, our voice tends to finish on an upwards inflection and the result is a bouncy voice pattern.
This is considered an ‘approachable’ voice pattern. It’s the voice pattern we use when building rapport or when meeting someone for the first time. Think about the tone you use when you’re at a networking event and you say ‘hey-there-nice-to-meet-you’ – a certain voice pattern is used that is very likeable.
A study analysing TED Talks also found that the most popular, viral speakers used an average of about 465 hand gestures, which is near twice as many as the least popular speakers used.
If you want to engage your team when you’re leading meetings and having coaching conversations, consider how you can use the power of gestural hand movements.
Quick Tips – Gestural Hand Movements
In order to use hand gestures effectively in conversation, you’ve got to be strategic. In the same way that you’d create bullet points for a presentation, use hand gestures to demonstrate a point or to bring life to a story.
Be sure to practice speaking with a couple of hand gestures thrown into your dialogue before you bring out the jazz hands in a Monday meeting. You’ll want your hand gestures to flow with what you’re saying, and to appear as natural as possible.
To analyse your practice sessions, do them in front of a mirror or better yet, film yourself and watch the recording back. Practice is key with any form of non-verbal communication.
#2: Making eye contact
If you’ve ever uttered the phrase ‘I don’t know why they took it so personally…’ it is likely that you were making direct eye contact while delivering some tough feedback.
When using direct eye contact, the person on the receiving end tends to take what you say personally. This is because direct eye contact, otherwise known as two-point communication, is the most personal exchange we can make.
As a rule of thumb, eye contact should be reserved for when we’re giving positive feedback and having general conversations.
It may sound strange considering most of us were likely taught to look others in the eyes at all times as it comes across as confident. However, if you use two-point communication as your dominant medium when having a tough conversation, it is likely to lead to escalated conflict or personal anguish.
Quick Tips – Making Eye Contact
If you’re wondering what on earth you’re meant to do instead of eye-contact when giving tough feedback or discussing a problem with a team member, you can stop fretting right away.
Rather than using eye contact, otherwise known as two-point communication, you should get comfortable with three-point communication. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s what we’re going to jump right into as our next form of non-verbal communication.
#3: Three-point communication
If you’ve got to have a tough conversation or deliver some negative feedback, three-point communication should be your go-to.
Three-point communication is where the speaker and the listener both ‘share’ an independent visual medium.
The single greatest effect of three-point communication is that it creates a sense of distance from the issue at hand. Both the speaker (manager) and the listener (employee) are able to refer to the problem rather than the person. It’s incredibly powerful in achieving behaviour change and depersonalising feedback.
Quick Tips– Three-Point Communication
Whether you’ve spotted a typo in a report, need to give some negative feedback or have a tough conversation on your hands, three-point communication is needed.
You could print out the report and have a discussion with the team member. You could map out a solution on a piece of paper during a tough conversation. If you’ve got a problem to solve within your department, making use of a whiteboard can help to direct the focus towards fixing the problem without blaming anyone.
The value of non-verbal communication in the workplace.
While we can achieve great levels of clarity through spoken language, we can undo all of this with incorrect or inopportune use of our eyes, hands or body posture at a critical point.
Non-verbal communication is like baker’s yeast: all of the base ingredients can be present, but the end product can rise to great heights or fall flat if the non-verbal component is left out of the mix.
As a leader, it’s important that you implement non-verbal communication during key conversations in order to get the best outcome possible. Better yet, if you can share the power of non-verbal communication with other leaders and managers in your organisation you can make a positive impact across the board.
If you really enjoyed this blog post be sure to give it a share on LinkedIn, you’ll have five years of good luck if you do.*
*Well, maybe. Can’t really guarantee it, sorry ’bout that.