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Nonverbal Communication Basics

Nonverbal communication is a way of conveying information achieved through facial expressions, gestures, touch, physical movements, posture, body decoration, and even the tone, timbre, and volume of a person's voice.

Pay attention to facial expressions

Facial expressions such as joy, sadness, and anger can help you get your message across. Pay attention to your facial expressions when you speak and especially when you listen, which is when it's easy to forget.

Pay attention to your body language

Be aware that the way you sit, stand, move your arms, hands, feet, and other subtle movements can convey many meanings. Posture, or the way you move, including attitude, poise, rigidity, and sincerity, can express your emotions and confidence.

Use hand gestures to emphasize your message

When you speak, a gesture can reinforce your message. Unintended messages can be conveyed through less conscious gestures, such as scratching your nose, stroking your hair, tugging at your clothes, or putting your hands on your hips.

Use the power of touch

When you shake someone's hand or put your hand on their shoulder, you are sending nonverbal signals that can influence the success of your message. Always be mindful of cultural customs and be aware that touch can convey affection, but it can also communicate power.

Make and maintain eye contact

When you make and maintain eye contact while speaking or listening, you signal to the other person that you are trustworthy, interested, and engaged in the conversation. Good eye contact often gives the impression of sincerity.

Pay attention to your appearance

Non-verbal communication also includes your clothing, hair and jewelry. Pay attention to the quality and condition of your clothing, how it fits, and whether it is appropriate for the season.

Pay attention to the physical distance

Pay attention to your distance from your audience. If you are standing very close, your nonverbal communication will most likely come across as threatening. The social space for professional relationships is 1.2 to 1.8 m, and the public space for strangers is over 3 m.

Do not mismatch your verbal and nonverbal communication

Develop an awareness of matching your nonverbal communication to your words. If your verbal expressions and the nonverbal signals you send out do not match, the nonverbal communication will resonate more with your audience.

Consider paralinguistics

Pay attention to paralinguistics - vocal communication independent of the words you use, i.e., tone of voice, pitch, tempo, pauses, and volume. This is important in both telephone conversations and face-to-face conversations.

Imitate body language to improve rapport

Use imitation of others as a nonverbal communication method to improve the relationship and feelings between you and the other person. In particular, imitating the customer's body language can make them feel welcome and increase the chances of closing the sale in the negotiation.

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