Why Are Non-Verbal Communications So Important to a Manager?
While a strong business education can help you operate your company, it's no substitute for effective people skills, especially the skill of non-verbal communication. This includes posture, facial expressions, vocal tone, eye contact and gestures. You and your managers can be aware that many of the messages you deliver to employees are non-verbal.
When a manager looks an employee in the eye and stands just outside that employee's personal space, he conveys the idea that he has respect for the employee. Similarly, he can avoid turning away or looking off into the distance while the employee is speaking. With such non-verbal messages, even a reprimand can be delivered with respect.
When a manager chooses a low tone of voice and speaks loudly without yelling, she lets listeners know her message is important. An upright posture, square shoulders and steady eye contact convey that the speaker thinks she has a right to say what she is saying and that the listener should pay attention. This can add authority to whatever the speaker says. These non-verbal cues especially help when conveying directives.
Managers can build rapport with employees through a technique called mirroring. This means standing or sitting in the same way as staff members do and using similar gestures to theirs. This does not have to be so overt that it becomes mimicking, but the manager can "try on" an employee's body language to gain an understanding of how it feels to be that employee. At the same time, the employee may come to see the manager as someone who is similar to himself. In this way, non-verbal communication can be essential to establishing a shared sense of culture.
Communications can go awry when the non-verbal aspects conflict with the words being said. For example, if a manager tells someone she likes him while using an angry tone of voice, the listener will receive conflicting messages. However, when a manager takes the time to match non-verbal messages to verbal ones, the result can be powerful. To give an example, if a manager sits forward and smiles during the part of an employment review regarding an employee's strengths, the employee may accept the praise as genuine.