Friendly tips for convincing the person you’re talking to
Our verbal communication can put across our ideas, but our body language and attitude often say a lot more. It’s by controlling all three aspects that great orators have a singular power of persuasion. What’s the importance of non-verbal communication in our interpersonal discussions and how can we control it?
The role of non-verbal communication in our everyday lives
Well-known social psychologist Albert Mehrabian has determined that interpersonal communication comprises 7% words, 38% intonation and 55% non-verbal signals. To give a better idea of what this means, let’s take a simple example: imagine you have a friend and you’ve got some good news you want to tell him. You see him coming towards you, your eyes meet, you both hold a hand out, but then you realise that he looks unhappy. You haven’t said anything yet and you had no inkling something might be the matter, but your neurones tell you he seems unhappy. You immediately decide to change your approach and you say to him “you look a bit tired this morning!”.
During a conversation, the information you receive and send are ranked by emotional criteria and this means that non-verbal communication can make a huge difference to words that are spoken.
The effects of non-verbal language in everyday communication
Why do you think some people are thought to be trustworthy by just about everyone, while others aren’t? #quite simply because certain faces inspire trust and these people, by their behaviour and body language, make us want to open up. They send body cues which translate their emotions.
Body language and interpersonal communication
While certain expressions can have a negative effect on the person opposite, what non-verbal language should be used? One European consultancy firm used 80 headhunters in Switzerland to study the effects of different elements of non-verbal language used by job applicants. The applicants who used turn-off body language were given short shrift, while those who used non-verbal language in keeping with the situation attracted the headhunters’ interest. This means that we can control some of the micro movements our body makes to make ourselves more likeable in the eyes of the people we are talking to.
Here are some of the most important points
The look: it’s important make eye contact with the other person, without staring at them. Eye contact is often considered to be a gauge of interest level and also indicates confidence and self-esteem.
The head and facial expressions: keep your head up straight. Just like the look, nodding also is also a gauge of interest level. Maximise the number of positive expressions your face displays. A nice smile will also create a good impression.
Posture: sit upright, without leaning backwards or forwards. Don’t cross your arms or legs and keep consistent eye contact.
Moving: stay active during the conversation, without fidgeting. This sends a message that you’re dynamic. Use your hands to explain what you’re saying and to add weight to your arguments.
Touching: avoid touching your hair or scratching yourself. Also avoid playing around with objects on the table. It is not recommended to touch the other person, always maintain a certain distancing.
Intonation: vary your intonation. Vocal intensity, or voice loudness, is correlated to extroversion and status.
Personal attitudes: people are more attracted by somebody who seems intelligent, sociable and persuasive. Every detail has to mirror these criteria, including haircut, hands and scent. The person opposite will involuntarily judge you through cognitive and stereotyped factors.
Dress: the way you dress is also a major communication factor. You should tailor the way you dress to the situation, bearing in mind that someone who is credible is always clean, well-dressed and elegant
Non-verbal language is essential if you want to further your interpersonal skills. It’s a key factor in all personal and professional interactions and gives you a better platform for expressing your needs and desires.
Awareness of the importance of non-verbal language will help you stand out as a good communicator, gain credibility and win people over to your side.
How do you rate your own non-verbal communication? Do you have open or closed body language? Does it reflect your self-esteem?