Decoding Nonverbal Communication
Successful leaders know that being a good communicator is at the very foundation of any meaningful relationship, whether it be personal or professional. Not only are these leaders great communicators, they also have the ability to read and decode the nonverbal communication being expressed in relationships.
What is nonverbal communication? Nonverbal communication relates to everything that you communicate to your audience or counterpart, other than the words that you speak. When we connect with others, we are continuously sending and receiving wordless signals.
So often we think of leaders who are great communicators as being great speakers, but that's only part of what makes them great leaders. In reality, the best communicators are those with the patience and ability to really listen, to hear what is being said and most importantly, what is not being said. If you want to improve your leadership communication skills, practicing your presentation style will help you polish your delivery. But, if you want to be a truly exceptional leader, practice your listening skills and focus on a more profound element of communication … the words not being spoken.
Decoding nonverbal communication is not an exacting science. If an employee is not looking at you during your conversation with her, does it mean that you can't trust her? That she lacks confidence in her working relationship with you? Or is it cultural - has she been taught not to make eye contact with a person in authority? You make an announcement about a policy change during a team meeting, and an employee pushes back his chair and crosses his arms over his chest. Is he disagreeing with you? Is he taking some time to think through what you've just said? Or, is he just cold?
Decoding Nonverbal Communication by Peter B. Stark
Copyright © Peter B. Stark
Copyright © 2015 The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine March 2015