Non-verbal communication is an important part of communication. It’s not talked about very often - a great deal of the attention on communication is on speaking skills. On the other hand, learning what non-verbal communication is, and how it will help you, will likely be yet another way you can improve your IT career.

What Is Non-Verbal Communication?

Non-verbal communication is interaction techniques that don’t include speaking. Two of the significant areas of this are written communication and body language. In this article, I’ll be centering on the body language element.

Body language is essentially the signals that your body transmits when you’re communicating with others. They are usually subconscious - that is, you don’t usually realise you’re doing them when you speak or listen. They send an impression to other people of your attitude, and these signals have a major influence on your overall message you’re communicating to others.

How come you should know this? I consider that non-verbal communication is vital and worth learning about since it can improve your communication with others, and might help give you the important information or decision you need from whoever you’re conversing with. This can be achieved in two ways - being conscious of your own body language, and being aware of the body language of others.

Be Aware Of Other People’s Body Language

We’ve established that body language is the category of signals that someone sends when communicating with others. The key reason why they are important to learn is that what somebody says and what someone thinks may not be the same. This is an important point - it’s where body language comes in.

Let’s say you’ve questioned your boss for a day off, and the response is, “I’ll see what I can do.” This may be taken either way - it’s hard to tell when it’s written down. Let's say, as your boss says this, they’re masking their mouth with their hands and looking away rather than at you? These signals may indicate they're not dedicated to your request and may not even be thinking positively about it? The words alone seem encouraging, but combining it with the body language, it could be a negative result.

Then again, should they were to look right at you, and nod their head as they were saying this, it could indicate a more beneficial response. There could possibly be more chance to get exactly what you need or what you’re requested from them - the day off.

If you left the conversation there, you would be depending upon that response or as the conversation finished. Yet, if you’re alert to your boss’ probable adverse body language (things such as crossed arms, looking away, covering their face, etc), you could potentially continue the conversation and try to steer them to something more positive. You might tell instantly that it was not going to end in your favour, and maybe talk about something else or get them to feel at ease with having the day off.

Be Aware Of Your Own Body Language

The other part of this non-verbal communication strategy is to keep in mind your own body language. Quite a lot can be written on body language and its positive aspects, and one of these is being able to notice and control your own body language.

Your body language will share your attitude - no matter what you’re saying. This can affect the person you’re talking with.

If someone has approached you, looking for advice, you'll be able to provide your response to them. Your body language, however, will usually display what you really think. Having your arms crossed, for example, is typically a defensive signal - when you have your arms crossed it means you don’t accept something or don’t wish to do something. It can affect your dialogue with someone in a bad way.

Being conscious of your own body language will assist you to not only see how you really feel about something, but it will assist you to be considered a better communicator. People will feel at ease with you, because they notice you say what you mean. You'll be easier to talk to - because your body language reflects what you’re saying. The action of turning and facing people, and having a relaxed and comfortable pose, will help your conversation and improve the attitude of the individual you’re talking to.

There's much more that can be written on body language. A lot of books have been written on the topic. I actually read one some time ago, and learnt a great deal from it that I consider it’s actually developed my communication, as I’m aware of both my own and other people’s body language.

The most important point of this story is that if you’re aware of the non-verbal communication signs, such as body language, you can turn into a better communicator.

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