Only a small part of what you are saying; the words or content is part of communication. Albert Mehrabian, the famous psychologist and Professor comes to the conclusion in his studies that there are three elements in any face-to-face communication; words, tone of voice and non-verbal behaviour.
Words only account for 7%, tone of voice 38% and your non-verbal behaviour accounts for a mere 55%. A good thing to know but even more importantly, how can this be useful to you.
This means that 93% of what you are saying doesn’t have anything to do with what you are saying but with non-verbal behaviour. And of course most of the time your meetings with supervisors is about content. It doesn’t seem fair, but this is how it works.
A great way to improve your communication will be by improving your body language. Quite a few things can go wrong with non-verbal communication. A few examples:
If you are sitting like a bag of potatoes, with your shoulders hunched, you come across as insecure and feeling unimportant. Straight up with shoulders straight and head up will make a big difference.
You can improve your confidence – for example prior to a meeting – by standing in the power pose, pretending you are ‘Superman’. Legs apart, hands on your hips or straight up with our hands in a V form raising upwards.
Too many grand gestures
Swaying your arms too much won’t help you. By keeping your gestures small and calm with open arms and showing the palms of your hands, you will have more effect and make sure that people will listen to you. Having clear gestures will also mean that your thoughts will be clearer.
Wiggling and fiddling
When you are nervous, you might start to wiggle, fiddle, twist your hair or dangle your leg. It’s OK but you seem uncertain. The moment you notice you are getting restless, focus on your breath and keep your hands quietly in your lap or on the table. That will show that you are calm and unshakeable.
Eye contact is one of the most important parts of non-verbal communication. In our culture looking somebody in the eye shows confidence, sincerity and authority. At the times you need to collect your thoughts, look away and make eye contact again the moment you will start to speak. This will give your words more weight.
Next time you have a meeting with your supervisor, after standing 2 minutes in the ‘power pose’ and making sure you are using the mentioned tips, I can guarantee you that you will have a different conversation.
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