Most of us think about corporate communication as something we do formally in meetings, in discussions, via email, via app, or over the phone. But one constant and key aspect of corporate communication is commonly overlooked. It’s ambient, vague, hard to pin down, extremely important, and happening all of the time.
Nonverbal communication, according to a wide variety of experts over the years, is responsible for about 60-90% of overall communication. The importance and weight of of nonverbal communication is significantly overlooked, given how much it matters. It’s the quieter side of communication in general – and corporate communication specifically.
So how can you use nonverbal communication to your advantage in the workplace? Below is a list of some nonverbal communication elements to consider while on the job. Whether it’s how you keep your desk, what you wear, or how you move around the office, it’s good to be aware of the nonverbal cues and messages that you’re sending to those around you.
- Facial expressions: Feeling something intense? Perhaps keep to yourself for a bit. Feeling positive? Let your face tell your team how happy you are at work. Take care with any accidental facial expressions that could cause tensions among your coworkers.
- Posture: Slumping in your chair? Adopting a power pose? Make sure that your posturing matches the image you’d like to convey at work. You may be subconsciously communicating that you’re lazy – that you’re not feeling well – or that you don’t respect your boss. Posture tells others more about you than you might think!
- Gestures: Gestures can be used in a wide variety of ways. Many powerful leaders consciously use gestures to encourage trust and confidence. Subconscious gestures, on the other hand, can reveal insecurities, discomforts, or other information that you may or may not mean to share with your coworkers.
- Clothing: We all get dressed every day and of course we think at least a little bit about what we are wearing. But simple color and accessory choices can say a lot about you. Are you open-minded, conservative, tidy? Are your clothes ironed and free from animal hair? Does your outfit match? Does it fit? All of these things provide information to those around you – coworkers and clients alike.
- Movement: Are you broad and fast with your movements or restricted and slow? The way you move through space conveys a lot about how you feel at work. Take a moment to watch those around you. What do their movement styles say about them?
- Desk Decor: Although it may not always be thought of as part of nonverbal body language, your personal space conveys a lot to others about who you are. Is it tidy? Is it colorful? Do you have a lot of items, notes, trinkets… or is your desk almost empty? Leaving trash from lunch or personal items out can say a lot about you. Consider consciously curating your space to send the message you’d like to send to your coworkers.
- Physical Contact: This is not a major nonverbal element at work, right? Well, a great deal of information can be conveyed through one handshake. Is your handshake firm or limp? Touch makes a big first impression both with coworkers and with clients. If you pat a co-worker on the back, it may be seen as supportive; or it may feel awkward for the other person. Take care to use touch in a way that conveys your level of professionalism. Touch is an important part of workplace communication – and one that should be used very wisely and carefully.
At MeetingPulse, we believe in healthy communication and cooperation in the workplace. We provide easy-to-use interactive live feedback tools that support healthy corporate culture for employees and administration alike. If you want to know more about your employees’ thoughts, ideas, and preferences, try out our browser-based audience response system. We provide real-time survey and polling software for any device, so your audience will never need to download an app. Contact us for more information about our audience response system or click on ‘Keep Me Posted’ on our blog page to receive blog updates and our free ebook.