Why non-verbal communication is important

Why non-verbal communication is important

Why non-verbal communication is important

Communication is something you do constantly. Even when you're not verbally communicating, you're still communicating non-verbally. This includes your body language, facial expressions, and eye contact. Non-verbal communication supports your verbal communication, but it can also tell a completely different story. In fact, people are more inclined to believe your non-verbal communication than your verbal communication. That's why it's crucial that your non-verbal and verbal communication are aligned. But how do you ensure that your non-verbal communication conveys what you intend? We provide you with some examples, tips, and exercises to improve your non-verbal communication.


Non-verbal communication

What is non-verbal communication?

Before we can tell you how to effectively use your non-verbal communication, it's important that you understand the definition of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is any form of message exchange between people or animals through non-linguistic signals. This means, for example, that sign language is not considered non-verbal communication, but body language and facial expressions are. Your appearance and clothing also play a role in this.

Non-verbal communication is very broad, encompassing everything you convey to your conversation partner. Sometimes you do this consciously (for example, wearing neat clothes to make a good impression or shaking your head 'no' when you disagree), but most of the time, non-verbal communication happens unconsciously. It may happen that something is visible on your face that you don't want to communicate. Perhaps you accidentally appear critical or skeptical, or you come across as insecure when you actually want to make a strong impression. At that moment, non-verbal communication becomes a problem. When your verbal and non-verbal communication don't align, you may appear unreliable. Moreover, in most cases, people believe the non-verbal signals. This can be detrimental, both professionally and personally.

Types of non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication encompasses much more than just facial expressions and body posture. To effectively use your non-verbal communication, you need to be aware of the various types of non-verbal communication. Therefore, we list the different types of non-verbal communication for you here.

  • Appearance and clothing: How you look has a significant impact on the first impression someone gets of you. Whether someone has neatly combed hair or looks unkempt, wears a suit or walks around in overalls, all of this says a lot about how someone wants to be perceived. Consider, for example, the specific status that certain clothing brands have among young people. By wearing a particular brand, they show that they belong (or want to belong) to a certain subculture. The colors of clothing also contribute to this.
  • Facial expressions: Your face often reveals more than you might want. Consider the position of your mouth or eyes, your eyebrows, and a frown on your forehead. The way you look says a lot about your emotions and thoughts. If you look angry but say you're not, it comes across very differently than if you smile and say the same thing.
  • Eye contact: Eye contact is crucial in interacting with others. It can confirm the connection or attract someone's attention. On the other hand, too much eye contact is often perceived as uncomfortable or intrusive.
  • Body posture: Body posture reveals a lot about how someone feels. Is someone looking down or optimistically scanning the room? Does someone take up space, or does he seem to want to hide? All of this reveals a lot about how someone is in the moment.
  • Gestures: You can support verbal communication with gestures. Some gestures (like giving a thumbs up) are a non-verbal translation of a verbal statement. Other gestures, like moving your hands to emphasize a story, may not have a specific meaning but are intended to support your narrative.
  • Physical distance and touch: Do you sit very close to your conversation partner, or do you keep your distance? Do you touch someone briefly on the arm? All of this says something about how you see the other person or what you expect from a conversation.

Examples of non-verbal communication

As you can see, non-verbal communication encompasses more than just body posture. When you think about it, you'll discover that you see non-verbal communication constantly and everywhere around you. Both in your private life and in a professional environment, non-verbal communication is extremely important. You constantly witness examples of non-verbal communication around you.

Everyone knows plenty of examples of non-verbal communication. Can you visualize the critical look from your partner? Or that colleague who showed immense interest by nodding along during the presentation? Do you think about the automatic distance you keep from a stranger or the signals the friendly store employee gives off? Non-verbal communication is always visible, from the nod from your partner indicating they heard you, to the skeptical look from your manager. By paying attention, you'll see that people communicate much more than just with their words. Unconsciously, you often pick up on this quickly, making what someone says much less important than how someone says it.

Examples of non-verbal communication

Exercises and Tips for Non-Verbal Communication

Improving your non-verbal communication can be valuable both in private and professional situations. As a sales professional, you try to convince someone of your story, but this won't work if your non-verbal communication conveys something entirely different from what you're saying. Therefore, it's wise to practice aligning your non-verbal communication. To help you with this, we provide you with some tips and exercises to enhance your non-verbal communication.

  • Tip 1. Observe: By observing others, you learn to recognize non-verbal communication better. This can help you improve your own non-verbal communication and also aid in understanding others.
  • Tip 2. Be aware of yourself: Improving non-verbal communication is not a one-time task. Often, non-verbal communication is something we do unconsciously. Things like your clothing are easy to adjust, but keeping a straight face is different. That's why awareness is crucial. Become aware of the signals you're giving and try to adjust them step by step to the situation.
  • Tip 3. Ask for feedback: You might not want to apply this tip in that important sales conversation, but it can work well with colleagues, trainers, or friends. By asking others how they see you and what signals they pick up on, you become more aware of your non-verbal communication. This makes it easier to work on improving it. Test the communication on someone you know well to understand the effect.
  • Tip 4. Mirror your conversation partner's behavior: By consciously mirroring the non-verbal communication of your conversation partner, you show agreement. Think about mirroring word choice, hand gestures, speaking speed, and posture. Do this only when the other person's non-verbal communication is positive.
  • Tip 5. Don't rely on one non-verbal signal: Someone sitting with their arms crossed may be angry, defensive, or just relaxed. Never rely on just one signal. Someone sitting with crossed arms and a frown on their face gives a completely different signal than someone sitting with crossed arms and laughing.

To improve your non-verbal communication, you can also use exercises or even a game. If you're with a group of people who want to improve their non-verbal communication, try playing the game "Met Z'n Vieren" (With Four). In this game, no verbal communication is allowed. All communication happens non-verbally. The goal is to have four people standing at a time, while the rest of the group is seated. Each person can stand for a maximum of ten seconds. Afterward, four (no more and no less) new people must stand. Communicating who these people are must be done non-verbally.

Non-Verbal Communication in Sales

In sales, non-verbal communication is crucial. Both picking up and interpreting signals from the other party and conveying the right signals play a role in the success of a sale. Practicing your non-verbal communication is therefore immensely important as a salesperson. As a seller, you always want to convey 'safe' and 'open' signals. Consider, for example, smiling and building trust by showing your palms. If you want more advice on using non-verbal communication or have other questions about sales techniques, feel free to contact one of our experts. This way, you can become the best salesperson you can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is non-verbal communication?

Non-verbal communication refers to the transmission of messages without the use of spoken words. It includes the expression of feelings, thoughts, and intentions through body language, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and eye contact.

  • It is the form of communication that takes place without spoken language.
  • It encompasses aspects such as body language, facial expressions, gestures, and intonation.
  • Non-verbal signals can be consciously or unconsciously transmitted.

What does non-verbal communication mean?

Non-verbal communication means expressing messages, feelings, or thoughts without using words. It is a powerful way of communicating that often complements or even surpasses the verbal message.

  • It involves the use of body language, facial expressions, voice intonation, and gestures to convey meaning.
  • Non-verbal signals can have different meanings in different cultures and contexts.
  • It plays a crucial role in creating connection, understanding, and empathy.

Why is non-verbal communication important?

Non-verbal communication plays an essential role in human interaction and impacts how messages are understood and interpreted. It is important because:

  • It can reinforce, complement, or even contradict the verbal message.
  • It contributes to the expression of emotions, moods, and intentions.
  • It helps build trust, empathy, and meaningful relationships.
  • It provides context and additional information that makes communication more complete.

When do you use non-verbal communication?

Non-verbal communication is constantly used in various situations and interactions. Some examples include:

  • During presentations to enhance impact and promote audience engagement.
  • In job interviews to convey confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism.
  • In negotiation situations to demonstrate dominance, willingness to compromise, or agreement.
  • In social interactions to show empathy, interest, and engagement.

By being aware of non-verbal signals and using them effectively, we can strengthen our communication and build better relationships.