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Experts tell us that of the total impact of a presentation, only 7% is determined by the words we use (verbal communication).
Another 38% is determined by the tone of our voice (verbal / nonverbal) and a full 55% comes from totally nonverbal communication (various cues).
The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says that people don’t need to be conscious of sending a message in order to send nonverbal communication.
The report says that nonverbal communication is the transfer of information between persons without the use of words which takes place by means of facial expressions, head movements, body positions and acts, tones of voice, clothing — and even odor!
Restaurants send non-verbal communications to prospective customers. I remember going into a pizza place on a dirty, slushy, end-of-the-winter day.
While I was waiting to get my take-out, I saw the drivers at the back, in between deliveries, kneading and rolling dough, with the dirty cuffs of their winter parkas trailing into the pliable dough and floured counter, with bacteria-infested hands from the car handles, steering wheels, home door knobs and countless dollar bills and coins encountered in their travels.
Same thing goes for a friend’s home. Do you go and eat at a place where the host/hostess prepares foods while handling the cat and the dog and the baby’s diapers — all without washing hands? That’s non verbal.
In another eatery, my husband and I walked into the restaurant and there by the kitchen door stood one of the cooks, picking in his ears and face with his “hygiene gloves”… why wear gloves if you’re going to misuse them in the same way your bare hands? Again, strong non verbal communication. Here it is actually hurting business, because people just don’t go back there again.
Another type of non-verbal communication is illustrated by something I recently saw on my way to work. A woman with three children were edging a School Crossing to cross the road. A car stopped to let them go. As they began to walk across, of course other cars had to stop too.
This non-verbal move trains the youngsters to expect cars to stop for them whenever they want to cross a road. The old training “stop, look and listen” still goes first, even at a pedestrian crossing.
There is also deliberate use of NVC (non verbal communication). People such as actors, politicians and salespersons use it to create particular effects; often the receiver of a nonverbal message is unaware of it and knows only that he/she feels a certain way about the sender — or the message being sent.
For example, enthusiasm is a great influential non-verbal element of a presentation that creates positive responses. Depression is another — but of negative response.
Saying one thing while doing another is a powerful non verbal communication. The supervisor tells the subordinate “always clear the adding machine before running a new total”, yet the supervisor doesn’t do it.
Or management agrees with an employee’s request to have staff meetings but does not implement them, etc.
In one company the manager gave a deadline for the production staff to come out with certain price lists. Yet, that same manager held up the production by not providing the necessary input on time.
All of the above business examples can also be applied within our homes and social events.
The nonverbal inconsistencies speak louder than the verbal words. Again being aware of our non-verbal communication should instill a desire to observe ourselves and begin a personal training program to improve on these critically weighty areas of non verbal communication./dmh
Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site http://communication-verbal-nonverbal.com which is the home of her e-books “Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal” and “Improve Communication, Organization and Training”, and her 296-page printed book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training”.