We have been taught since we were children proper grammar, how to speak to one another, how to use an “inside” voice, and various verbal communication skills. However, nonverbal communication is equally as important as verbal communication but sadly is not taught as frequently or in depth to students.
Have you ever heard that actions speak louder than words? Well it can be true. I learned in Dr. Beverly Graham’s Interpersonal Communication class that nonverbal communication is often times more believable than verbal communication.
We can think of examples where this can be proven true. Think of when you have had something bothering you and in result your body language told others that you are not happy. This could be shown through a scowl on your face or having your arms crossed, etc. We muster out the words, “I’m fine” but our bodies tell a different story. Often times our body language is more believable than the words we use. This is just a silly example but it helps support how highly important nonverbal communication is to people in everyday life but more importantly in the professional world.
There are seven types of nonverbal communication that we must all be familiar with which include: body movement/posture, direct eye contact, facial expressions, voice, space, gestures and touch. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm
To understand the best use of these I will go into greater detail:
- Body Movement/Posture- be sure to sit up straight. You want to appear like a professional and a simple way to do that is to use good posture. This indicates that you are there for a purpose as well as showing that you are not intimidated but assure of yourself.
- Eye Contact: Make sure to use direct eye contact with your interviewer. This shows respect to the person speaking. Be sure not to stare at the interviewer; connect with them to show your interest in the subject. You do not want to look away too frequently though so try to keep a happy medium.
- Facial Expressions: Your face says it all. Emotions are hard to hide on the face. They can show signs of happiness, sadness, concern, anger, boredom, etc. Be sure to control your facial expressions. This is a tough one for me because how I feel is always written all over my face.
- Voice: This involves pitch, tone, volume, and more. The tone sets the mood so be sure to use a confident tone. Also remember not to speak too loud or too soft so you are not hurting the interviewer’s ears but also to where they do not have to strain to listen to what you are saying.
- Space: We all have our comfort zones and do not like for people to invade them. Try to keep enough distance away from the other people in the room without distancing yourself too much. You do not want anyone to feel cramped but you do not want them to feel like you are trying to keep your distance from them either.
- Gestures: These include waving, handshakes, pointing, the use of talking with our hands, etc. It is important to use gestures sparingly and at the right time. Try not to talk with your hands as it can send a sense of nervousness. Also, when you shake the interviewers hand be sure to have a firm shake (not limp like a fish) and look them in the eye with a smile on your face. This is a great way to show that you are confident.
- Touch: This can go along with number six. Touch can share a lot of emotion. There should not be too much touch during the interviewing process but perhaps a pat on the back or a nice firm handshake could be considered appropriate. Make sure not to cross the line with a big bear hug or kiss on the cheek.
Learning the use of nonverbal communication is important. I hope that you can learn from this blog and carry with you some of the tips mentioned. Remember that actions speak louder than words and nonverbal communication can help make a lasting first impression.