Believe it or not, all of us speak to the world without having to say a word through non-verbal communication. Almost every facet of our personality is revealed through our appearance, our body language, our gestures, our facials expressions, our overall demeanor, and our posture and movements.
In our professional and personal lives, we’d like to think we could make friends and influence people if we verbally articulate our message with optimism, enthusiasm, charisma, poise, and charm. However, did you know that the verbal impact of communication only accounts for 7% of your overall message? The bulk of our communication comes across in our appearance and body language, comprising 55%. Tone, speed, and inflection of our voice make up the remaining 38%.
Since non-verbal communication encompasses 93% of our overall message, here is a closer look at what that entails.
It can include your attire, tone of voice, clearing your throat, rubbing your eyes, crossing your arms, tapping your toes, scratching your nose. Eye contact, or lack thereof, gestures, crossed legs, open arms, and the scent we transmit are all forms of non-verbal communication. Through your choice of clothing, hairstyle, glasses, accessories, and makeup if applicable, your appearance also communicates a strong message. The way you dress plays a vital part in how listeners receive you and how others respond to you.
According to author John T. Molloy, who is responsible for Dress for Success, clothes are used as a tool to control how others react to you and treat you.
In an interview situation or during a business meeting, it is very important that you send out the right signals. Always look attentive and interested in the opportunity or conversation – do not slouch in your chair. If you fib, your body language, the tone of voice or choice of words will probably give you away. Classic body language giveaways include looking everywhere other than the person you are speaking to and concealing your mouth behind your hands while speaking.
Not only is it important for us to be aware of our own body language, but it is as important to understand what body language means so we can effectively assess and react to others. For example, we may pass a negative judgment on someone because they slouch, fidget, or pout. If we are aware of why we made the judgment, we can filter out our biases and understand what their body language means and what it is telling us about that individual.
The most significant fact you should remember is that non-verbal signals have five times the impact of verbal signals. When the verbal and the non-verbal parts of the message are congruent, the listener believes your message. If they are not congruent, usually your words are saying yes, but your body language is saying no.
Always remember, actions speak louder than words.
What kind of experiences have you had with comparing verbal and non-verbal communication?