“I’m fine”. A common retort when a colleague asks us if we are okay. Our words maybe saying it, but our non-verbal cues are likely saying something very different. Most experts agree that at least 70% of all communication is nonverbal. In addition to knowing our virtual love language, we also have to keep in mind what we are communicating when we are using no words at all.
In the workplace nonverbal communication is essential to successful relationships. The virtual working environment, non-verbal communication is even more important as our interactions with colleagues are relegated to succinct virtual meetings, there is no “water-cooler” conversation, or the ability to catch-up while walking to your next meeting. Understanding the impact of non-verbal communication can make or break business-critical conversations with clients, managers and internal partners.
Here are 6 forms of non-verbal communication that are on display even while working from home:
- Vocal Tone – Your voice pitch, speed, volume and word choice (especially when written) all contribute to how others perceive your words. Keep a calm neutral tone during work conversation unless you mean to convey your excitement, disappointment, etc… with your tone. Reconsider starting that 8am message with “Per my last email”.
- Dressing the part – While we may be much more comfortable in our WFH sweatpants, conveying professionalism on video calls is still important. Put on a nice shirt, make sure your hair is neat and when possible, clear clutter from view of your camera.
- Eye Contact- Most of us are busy looking at ourselves on video calls, but eye contact shows confidence and interest. Look directly at the computer camera during video calls, not your emails, your phone or out the window.
- Facial Expressions – Our emotions are most quickly displayed through our facial expressions. On video calls there is a laser focus on our face so be aware of how your facial expressions may be perceived. A friendly smile goes a long way!
- Body Posture – The degree to which someone is engaged in a conversation can be observed from their body posture, even virtually, it is noticeable when someone is slouching behind the camera. Set yourself up for success by taking work calls from places you have a comfortable chair that will allow you to sit upright and lean forward.
If you are not sure what your non-verbal gestures are communicating, a leadership coach can provide honest feedback on your communication delivery, help you create more self-awareness and provide skills to help you communicate with intention in your business-critical conversations. Reach out to us to learn more. #LetsEllavate