Nonverbal Communication


Do the top leaders and successful managers use specific nonverbal communications skills and tactics to maximize on-the-job performance and professional success?  You bet they do, says Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (AMACOM). She shares lessons learned from more than 20 years of working closely with top corporate executives and leaders helping them present themselves and their message more effectively.


Whether you’re making a formal presentation, wooing a client, closing a sale, or proposing an idea, persuasive communication can make the difference between success and failure. Well Said! shows readers how to put themselves in their audience’s shoes and tailor their message to the needs of decision makers. It reveals simple but powerful techniques anyone can use to prioritize, organize and economize their words so that their communications are concise, clear, and, most importantly, convincing. Complete with real-life examples, this handy guide teaches readers how to use the words and phrases that get people to listen; capture and hold attention; gain instant credibility with decision makers; optimize body language; handle Q&A with finesse; connect with the audience; shine with or without PowerPoint; perfect their elevator pitch; and much more.


Studies show that nonverbal communication carries between 65 percent and 93 percent more impact than the actual words spoken, especially when the message involves emotional meaning and attitudes. These nonverbal cues include facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, body movement, tones of voice, dress, grooming, touch, and even your environment — all wordless signals that speak volumes. “You cannot avoid sending nonverbal messages to others,” Price says, “However you can train yourself to send the right ones.”


Here are her top five nonverbal communication tactics for achieving maximum performance in the workplace:


Look ’em dead in the eye. When speaking to others, ideally look directly into their eyes at least two to three seconds before looking away or moving to the next person. Glancing at someone for one second or less is known as “eye-dart” and conveys insecurity, anxiety or evasion.  Smile with your eyes.

Keep your cool even in the face of monumental stupidity. Because your facial expressions are closely tied to emotion, they are often involuntary and unconscious. For example, in a meeting with your boss, he or she may say something to make you angry. However, a pensive scowl, rolling eyes, and pursed lips may not help matters. If instead you want to convey a positive collaborative attitude, choose to hold a slight smile, nod occasionally, raise your eyebrows to show interest, and maintain good eye contact.


Pay attention not just to what people are saying, but how they are saying it. Separate the emotion from the actual words being used. Focus and seek to understand the nonverbal elements of your voice and how others are talking include the tone, pacing, pausing, volume, inflection, pitch and articulation. Try recording your side of several conversations throughout the day. Listen to the recordings and identify what emotions and attitudes your voice tone communicates.


Dress appropriately for the occasion. Make sure your clothing fits the situation. Make sure “business casual” is not “business careless.” Choose high-quality, well-tailored garments that convey professionalism. Depending on your corporate culture, wear a business suit or at least a jacket for important meetings and presentations, especially with senior leaders and customers. Avoid showy accessories, busy patterns, and tight or revealing garments. If career advancement is your goal, convey a polished professional presence in the workplace. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.


Turn all of your electronics off. Turn your smartphone, notebook, laptop, iPhone, iPad and even your iPod off! Don’t be the one who causes a distraction. Don’t check email, look at your phone, send a text, check the scores, or disengage in any way. Stay focused and attentive using open body language. Square your shoulders and point your toes directly toward the people you are meeting with. Lean into the conversation, focusing your eyes, ears and all your energy on them.


To ensure your colleagues and key stakeholders receive the maximum value you bring to the table, be sure to send the nonverbal cues that convey confidence, credibility and professionalism.