A topic that comes up frequently in corporate communication training is how to effectively listen; often people put so much effort into learning how to communicate their own ideas, that they neglect the other side of the coin. Learning to listen effectively is a skill that must be developed any other, and is critical to strong professional communication skills. However, listening is much more than simply attending to the words coming out of your conversation partner’s mouth. People often say far more than they realize with non-verbal communication. Learning to recognize and read non-verbal cues is a critical part of effective listening. Over the next two weeks we’ll discuss some strategies for reading other people’s non-verbal cues:
Minimize distractions: In order to read another person’s non-verbal cues, you must first and foremost pay attention. This seems obvious, but often in conversation we are endlessly distracted: by our cell phones, by activity in the room, or even by our own thoughts. If you aren’t fully engaged in the conversation, you’re likely to miss subtle aspects of body language that may be critical to the message being conveyed. Make an effort to truly focus all of your attention on the speaker when in a conversation.
Look for discrepancies: Body language can either confirm or contradict a person’s message. The latter is particularly important, as it may clue you in to how a person is actually feeling. For example, your conversation partner may verbally express that they’re in favor of a particular idea, but if they say so while tensing their jaw, slightly furrowing their brow and avoiding eye contact, there’s a good chance that they’re not being entirely upfront about their opinion. Pay attention to these subtle discrepancies to better understand your conversation partner.
What’s your opinion? How important do you find non-verbal cues in communication in the workplace? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
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