I’ve been in a few meetings where I perceived very clearly that it wasn’t going well. The person I’m talking to is looking at me and even has a slight smile on their face. Shouldn’t that be sufficient evidence that I have their attention and they’re interested in what I have to say? Not really. While I might not have been an expert in communication skills, there were subconscious signals this person was sending me that told me they were not really engaged in this conversation even though it looked like they were. They were facially expressing that they were but their other gestures screamed otherwise.
Eye Contact: Even though this person was looking at me, I could tell he was distracted because his eyes were darting around and glancing at other people behind me. Eye contact is probably the most crucial aspect of non-verbal communication techniques. When we hold eye contact with the person we are talking or listening to, we communicate that we are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Open Posture: This person also had their arms crossed over and seemed rather rigid. He was also tapping his foot sporadically as if he was itching to go somewhere. This is usually an indication that they are not really open to what I have to say and could be perceived as disagreement, disinterest and/or impatience. It is vitally important to maintain an ‘open posture’ (free arms/open chest/open palms) while talking to people to show that they have our attention and we are interested in listening even if we don’t necessarily agree with the content.
Facial Expression: When someone is disinterested in what is being said his or her expression usually tends to give it away. A smile could be forced but most of us can usually tell when that is the case. While listening to someone it is helpful to nod as they speak to show them that you acknowledge what they’re saying and respond emotionally according to the content (smile at something good or show more seriousness at something sober). Nothing displays disinterest than an impassive and emotionless expression. Communication Skills Training is an important aspect of equipping people with the right tools to be effective communicators in the workplace. For more information on how this is done, please refer to the following link: http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/03/18145.html
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