In my last blog post, The Message is the Medium in Business Communications, I wrote that our words significantly impact the success of our business communications. But, there are times when actions speak louder than words.
A few weeks ago, while on a weekend getaway, my friends and I stopped at a favorite small gallery famed for its beautiful art works, crafted by local artists and artisans. When we entered the store, the proprietor was so absorbed in a phone call, he failed to acknowledge us even with a glance, let alone put the caller on hold. At first, his obvious lack of interest in us wasn’t too bothersome. Actually, we were quite content browsing and admiring all the outstanding art pieces. But, when I did find something I really wanted and I approached the proprietor, he ignored me. No luck — he just continued talking on the phone. Even when I politely said, “excuse me,” he still ignored me. It was as if was no one was there.
If I hadn’t been so intent on purchasing the art piece I selected, I would have left well before he hung up the phone. Without a doubt, I will not be in a hurry to return to the store, despite its beautiful wares. Why would I shop at a place where I’ve been told, without a word being said, “You really don’t matter!” And “I don’t really care whether or not I have your business.”
This incident highlights the fundamental role that non-verbal communication can play in daily life and in business. The way you listen — or you don’t, and the way you react — or you don’t — are immediate clues that tell the other person you are, or you aren’t interested in that person’s needs. And all the subtleties of nonverbal communication — facial expressions, body movement and posture, eye contact, touch, etc. — will have a significant influence on whether or not a person wants to work with you.
Albert Mehrabian, a noted researcher on non-verbal communication, posits that communication is based on three things: words, tone of voice, and body language. According to Mehrabian, about 55% of what we communicate comes from body language. It’s the reason we need to be acutely aware of our own non-verbal communication in meetings and presentations. We need to be thoughtfully attuned to how our nonverbal communication helps us to share our messages.
I recommend taking a look at the following resources in order to gain a better understanding of non-verbal communication, and how you can best put it to use, in your business communications:
Our words may be an expression of our thoughts. However, it’s our bodies that convey what’s not being said. And if your non-verbal communication is broadcasting, “I’m not that really interested in your business,” your customer or your client or your employee is going to get that message loud and clear. And that’s the kind of action you don’t want speaking louder than your words.
Do you need advice on nonverbal communication in your business communication? You can contact me at The Language Lab.