They say that nonverbal physical activity is much more important in human communication than the spoken word. And intuitively, we all know it's true. We've all had the odd meeting where someone wouldn't make eye contact, or edged to the end of the conference room table, far from you. Or the reverse. With that in mind, we thought we'd share this cool infographic by James Marston that we found on Infographicdaily.com.
It's all about understanding body language, and how to use body language in critical business situations. As a bonus, we've included four super valuable nonverbal communications tips from Theresa Zagnoli, CEO of Zagnoli McEvoy Foley, below the infographic. Enjoy, and learn.
Theresa Zagnoli's 'Big Four'
Below is what I refer to as the “Big Four.” Learn to use, identify and manage these nonverbal elements of communications.
1. Sitting Position
What you should do: Take up space to communicate that you are in control. Put your bag on one chair and your coat on another. Do not cross your legs or arms, keep your shoulders back and your head up. Taking up space shows confidence, and gives the impression that this is your turf.
What to look for: The use of space is all about context; putting your jacket on one chair and bag on another to convey authority doesn’t matter as much in a job interview compared to a meeting with a subordinate or colleague, in which if you put your feet up on the desk, it may send the wrong signal.
2. Eye Contact
What you should do: Force yourself to make eye contact with whomever you are talking to. Make it while you are speaking and while you are listening. Eye contact is so important because the meaning of making it and not making it is misread constantly. Shy can be misinterpreted as aloof or uninterested. A downward gaze, while one might be simply thinking, is incorrectly thought to be a sign of deceit.
What to look for: Watch for a different gaze during different parts of the conversation. Whether the person is making eye contact is less important than what she is saying while making or avoiding a direct look.
What you should do: This category includes handbags, jewelry, wallpaper, furniture, or anything in the immediate environment that the person to whom you are talking may be, say, tugging, peeling, squeezing, and sending nonverbal messages about how they’re responding to what you’re saying.
What to look for: Big and bold or little and precise, it all depends on perception and your audience. For example, women who wear big, bold scarves, sizable and colorful necklaces, and/or large brooches are usually said to be trying to set themselves apart. On the other hand, women who wear little, pointy, hardly visible artifacts are said to be sending a message of preciseness, shyness and/or one reared with a puritan view of what’s proper.
What you should do: A tricky subject in today’s environment. Do you touch or not? People who touch, and those who appreciate touch, are more open to ideas, said to be better-adjusted socially and, of course, beloved by most of their family and friends. Gestures such as backslapping exist for a reason and are strong demonstrations of appreciation. Touch things around you to make them more noticeable to the observer and when appropriate provide a pat on the back, literally.
What to look for: Be wary of someone who stiffens or recoils from a hug or a lingering handshake; there is likely more to this than meets the eye. While it might be a preference to stick to the [no-touch] rules, be aware that this person is absolutely sending a message by withdrawing from an appropriate touch.
As with all communication, verbal and nonverbal, context is key. My parting advice: If the room is cold, don’t think the person sitting with his arms crossed is in a defensive position. He’s just chilly.