We all are judged by our first impressions. People react to us just on how we look physically. This is a type of non-verbal communication. We receive information non-verbally first and foremost. This means one does not have to use language to communicate. Non-verbal communication skills are just as important as verbal communication. When we transmit information to a person; how we say something is also transmitted in addition to what was said to them. In fact a lot of times the receiver interprets what we have said to them by how we have said it and not the words themselves. If our non-verbal communication skills are less than adequate, then there is more of a chance that the person who receives the information will misinterpret what was said.
Non-verbal communication skills include a common system of symbols, signs and gestures. Even the way we dress conveys non verbal communication. People make conclusions and assumptions by the way they perceive our clothing. That is where the term dress for success has come into being. People think if you wear suits, you look the part of the business world. This is true but unfortunate. Many a brilliant mind has been lost in the sauce due to the fact that they don’t want to wear a suit.
Non-verbal communication skills give expression to our messages that we are transmitting to be received as a communication. Virtually anything that we can communicate and receive with the senses is a form of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication involves what we call body language, which includes things like facial expressions, hand gestures, tone and pitch of voice, smell; essentially anything non-verbal. Things such as clothing are symbolic representations meaning our society recognizes certain clothing to mean certain things. An example is a police uniform. It is associated with upholding law and order. Some people associate it with police brutality.
Scientific studies have shown that verbal communication is 7% of a verbal communicative transmission. The other 93% is attributed to non-verbal and symbolic communication also called listening skills. Listening is the most complicated and hard part of the communication process. Many people are not good listeners. Just because one does not have a hearing problem does not mean he is listening. Listening is a skill that is also acquired. When one listens they have to hear the emotion in the words and read between the lines of the words to get the full meaning of a transmission that is received. Listening consists of 5 key elements. Hearing, attending, understanding, responding and remembering are all components of effective listening. The actual process of hearing is a physiological process when sound waves hit the eardrum at a certain frequency. Attending is a filtering process. It includes filtering in and filtering out certain messages. Understanding happens when we interpret the message with our capabilities. Responding is acknowledging the message with the appropriate response such as eye contact or gesture. Remembering means we can recall the message given to us. All these are factors in non-verbal communication skills as well.
In order to be proficient with our non-verbal communication skills we must remember we are what we look like and what we do as well as what we say. Our body language must match our words so the listener can receive our message correctly. If we do not match in our non-verbal communication with our verbal communication that there is sure to be misunderstanding between ourselves and the one we are communicating to. In fact this is the reason most people don’t understand one another because the words do not match the body.