Nonverbal Communication in Business:
How You Unconsciously Communicate to Your Staff

Understanding how nonverbal communication in business works can really provide useful insights for business owners. Being open and attentive to subtle body language messages from others can give you an edge when it comes to managing any of your business relationships whether they be staff or customers.

Business Coaching Insight:

Whatever you think of staff or customers will be subliminally communicated to them through your body language.

Also, given that only 7% of what you communicate comes out your mouth, there are also some important implications to be aware of in terms of your own communication and interpersonal skills.

Your staff, for instance, judge most of what you're saying on what you don't say!

They can sense if you're nervous, being defensive, feeling important or superior, annoyed, stressed, withholding information and a whole host of other factors even if you're doing your best to sound grounded and measured.

It's worth bearing in mind that none of us can really hide our true feelings. 

Types of nonverbal communication

People make subtle changes from moment to moment in their body language and even those who aren't trained in body language intuitively pick up on these signals.

The signs of nonverbal communication in business that we make include:

  • Facial expressions
  • Facial skin colour
  • Body posture (how you hold yourself)
  • Gestures and how you touch things
  • Your breathing (fast, slow, high or low in your chest)
  • Pupil dilation
  • The movement and focus of your eyes
  • Tone of voice
  • The pitch, speed and volume of the way you're talking

All of these nonverbal types of communication account for 93% of what we communicate.

When someone's not believable it's because there is a disparity between their words and their nonverbal cues. They're sending us mixed messages and we intuitively know that we can't trust what they're saying.

So what are the implications?

  1. Make your words and body language consistent

    The easiest way to do this is to speak authentically. Obviously if there is a disconnect between your words and your body language, people may not believe or trust you.

    The need to be honest causes some business owners to feel concerned because, of course, there will be times when its not appropriate to divulge certain information.

    In these situations it is better to tell people that there are things you can’t tell them and explain why. They will respect you for this instead of thinking you’re being deceptive.

  2. Be aware of your own body language

    This is particularly important when you're giving instructions to your employees.

    Given that "the meaning of communication is the response you get", if your staff don't seem to be getting the message, then it may be because you're words and body language are not clear and consistent. 

  3. Be aware of other people's body language

    Your effectiveness as a manager can be greatly enhanced by being aware of nonverbal communication in business.

    For example, do your staff look you in the eye or do they try to avoid eye contact and focus on their computer? Is their body open and turned towards you or do they seem tense?

    The more you sense and consciously interpret nonverbal cues from your staff the better equipped you will be to manage them.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • Are you comfortable speaking the truth even if it contains negative feedback?
  • How does it make you feel when people seem to be putting a positive spin on things?
  • What nonverbal cues are you picking up from your employees?

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