In today's era of live-streamed meetings, phone calls, emails and endless private message chats, it can be easy to forget just how important communication is.
And you may be surprised to know that one of the BIGGEST parts of communication is what you are NOT saying...
So what do we mean when we say "what you are not saying"??
When we are talking, we all display body language to varying degrees. The person you are speaking to will show non-verbal communication through their body language - and remember you are also showing body language to that person as well.
If you are listening to them, saying all the right things to seem interested, but you are yawning, looking at your watch, then looking around you, your body language is not matching your words.
Body language and non-verbal behaviour are basically the same thing. Non-verbal communication is communication without words. We communicate with our face (i.e. raised eyebrows, scrunched nose, furrowed brow, pursed lips), head movements, hand signals, shrugs and so on.
Our non-verbal communication is often (but not always) subconscious and
can be used to:
- Demonstrate a personality trait – e.g. a "thumbs up" signal to show everything is OK, or to say hello
- Express emotion – e.g. smile to show happiness, or frown to show disapproval
- Support verbal communication - e.g. raised eyebrows and eyes opened wide when explaining a scary situation
It's important to be mindful and have awareness of different cultural interpretations of different gestures. Non-verbal communication varies from culture to culture. For example, holding four fingers of one hand up (not the thumb) means four to many people, but in Japan it is an insult.
With a large portion of our communication being non-verbal (estimates vary from 50% to 80%), you can now see why what you DON'T say is so important.
*Hint - this is a really handy thing to remember when in an interview setting or an environment where you are meeting clients or potential employers face to face - regularly check in to make sure your body language / non-verbal communication matches what you are saying or the message you want to convey*