One of the most essential skills for a leader is the ability to communicate professionally. It makes sense since leaders tend to spend most of their days talking along with giving numerous speeches and presentations. Leaders who understand how to communicate in motivating and inspiring ways are generally considered strong leaders.
Alright, so we all understand the power of the spoken word, but what about nonverbal messages such as one’s body language, gestures, tone of voice, or eye movements? According to several studies, we are constantly using nonverbal communications to correspond, even if we’re not speaking. Some even state that nonverbal actions are the most powerful form of communication.
If you’re surprised by that claim, let me ask you something – have you ever heard someone complain and say, “It wasn’t what they said, it’s the way they said it.”? The reason for that reaction is sometimes verbal messages get overshadowed by nonverbal cues.
Leaders must become masters of all forms of communication, no excuses. You don’t want to take a chance of customers, direct reports, and the public misunderstanding the messages you are trying to send.
Here are some nonverbal communication tips to remember:
We’re not talking about the words that are said, but rather the vocal characteristics one has, which can include tone, pitch, volume, etc. Your tone of voice is crucial; it can range from showing your enthusiasm to disinterest to annoyance. Your voice can change the meaning of words, for example, from genuine to sarcastic. Try to pay attention to how others respond to your tone of voice, and concentrate on your tone of voice when speaking.
They say eyes are the mirrors of our souls. Whether that is true or not, eye contact is another important communication quality as it can specify interest and involvement. If you fail to look at your employees in the eyes, they might believe you are trying to hide something or have bad news to tell. On the other hand, too much eye contact is not only intimidating and uncomfortable, but just flat-out strange. Not sure of how to look at someone? Some experts recommend intervals of eye contact lasting up to 5 seconds. Go ahead, give it a try!
We all know smiling typically means you’re happy, while frowning shows your disappointment. However, if you are talking with an employee who just told you some good news, but your thoughts are elsewhere and causing you to frown, your employee is going to be pretty confused on how you feel about their news. Make sure you are truly listening when someone talks so you won’t be giving off the wrong facial expressions.
Body and Movement
You have to pay attention to how you move and carry yourself. In some cases, a person might say one thing, but their body language is saying something else. For instance, you may be slouching in a meeting just because you’re tired, but your direct reports view it as a sign of disinterest. Proper posture not only displays confidence but also trustworthiness.
To help you further develop your nonverbal skills, start observing the actions of others and how they act toward one another. It might give you some insight into how you present yourself to others.