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Watching Nonverbal Communication

Digital Library > Building and Inspiring an Organization > Communication skills “Watching Nonverbal Communication”

Studies reveal that verbal communication conveys only 7% of a typical message’s meaning, while nonverbal cues convey 93%. Are you listening completely? Are you being heard completely?


Verbal communication conveys only 7% of a typical message’s meaning. The remaining 93% is transmitted through nonverbal cues. In other words, when your expression says one thing and your words another, people believe the body language.

Fortunately, for most of us, understanding body language is an innate trait, so learning to use it to your advantage isn’t complicated. When you control your body language, you control not only how well you work with employees but how you are perceived in meetings, sales presentations, job interviews and performance reviews.

"You can say some fairly stupid things, but if your nonverbal language indicates you pay attention to the other person, they’ll let it go," assures Kevin Polk, Ph.D., and president of Time Doctors in Maine. In the same vein, you can be positively brilliant, but if your nonverbal language suggests otherwise, you can be sure others will underestimate you. It’s important to have what you say match the manner in which you say it.

In this Quick-Read you will find:

  • Descriptions of common body language signals.
  • Tips for recognizing and controlling your "hidden" messages.


Common body language signals

The minute we wake each morning, our nonverbal detection meters click on, and we begin to watch for signals that tell us more about people than just their words. Body language encompasses:

  • Actions (smiling, standing close to others, pointing, shaking hands).
  • Appearance (hair style, clothing, posture).
  • Voice quality (soft, fast, jerky).
  • Environment (office d
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