Over 90% of communication, as a whole, is non-verbal. Depending on who you study, what statistics you’ve read, or how much information you’ve read about this field of communication, anywhere between 90 to 93% of this whole umbrella of communication is non-verbal. Master communicators understand that non-verbal communication is the most powerful aspect of communication as a whole.
We’ve heard this from the time we were young, the time we were kids. It’s amazing how, as we grow older, we still have to relearn those same lessons that we learned when we were kids. I’m sure your mom and dad have said this to you tons of times. “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”
I want to be very clear with you. It’s important that you understand several different components of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication includes things like paralinguistics. Paralinguistics are things such as, the tone of voice that you’re using and the pitch of your voice. When you speak, do you talk with a high-pitched voice? Or, do you talk with a low pitch voice? With your rate of speech, do you speak fast and intense or, do you speak with a mellow tone? If you speak with a soft tone when going through your material, sales presentations and, business proposals, then you can’t expect people to get excited about your product or service when it’s obvious that you have zero level of power, passion, and excitement in your voice. It’s not what I’m saying. Your non-verbal should always match your verbal.
The next skills you must master are your proxemics. Proxemics is how you use your body and space. In other words, when people interact with you, do you understand and respect their personal space? When you shake someone’s hand, are you in his or her face, or are you too far away? How do you deal with space when you deal with people, especially business professionals? We have to be very mindful of personal space. You don’t want to get too close, but you don’t want to be too distant.
As it relates to personal, it’s also significant that we understand that personal hygiene is critical for that as well. Make sure you’ve got the deodorant on. Make sure that you’ve got a lovely perfume or cologne on. Make sure that your breath is fresh; you should always carry mints or gum. Especially when you’re communicating with people, in person, close proximities, meetings, board meetings, on airplanes, and in elevators. It’s significant that you’re mindful of people’s personal space.
There also other elements of non-verbal communication, which include things, like body language. Are the person’s arms folded, or unfolded? Do they have their hands in front of them, or behind them? What gestures are they making? People are always communicating something to you even when they are not verbally communicating to you. Master communicators have an ability to do what I like to call, facial gymnastics. They can make their face do some incredibly amazing things. They’re eyebrows, their forehead, their eyelashes, their eyes themselves, their cheekbones, and their lips. They can use their entire face to communicate what it is that they’re trying to say. Master communicators utilize all facets of communication, not just words, to get their message and their point across.
Another key component of non-verbal communication is your appearance, your attire, the way you dress, and the way you carry yourself. You are communicating things, whether you realize it, or not. People judge a book by its cover; unfortunately, they do. They make up a first, and initial impression about you, and normally that’s what they keep. In your non-verbal communication, it’s important that you master your image.
How do you demonstrate your body gestures? Are you more passive or aggressive? People can tell if you’re a passive, aggressive, assertive, or an authoritative type of leader based on the way you shake hands, based on the way you use your body. Do you give a firm grip, two or three pump handshake, or do you give people the limp fish? All of these are communicating powerful things about you, whether you realize it or not. You must come to an understanding that you’re never not communicating. You are always communicating something.
We’ve got to be on the cutting edge, and powerful communicators and great leaders in communication understand the power or non-verbal communication. They use what they say, and how they say it, why they say it when they say it. They use all of those things to communicate to their customer, to communicate to their teams, their employees, their employers, their business partners, their vendors, their potential clients and customers, conference attendees, your family members, spouse, significant other, and children. Communication is something that we’re always using, with everybody else that’s around us. It’s significant that we become master communicators, and understand that 90% of what we’re doing every day, is non-verbal. My challenging question is, in what ways can you become more aware of what you’re doing non-verbally? Think about it.