Influence: A Picture’s Worth a 1,000 Words
You’ve probably heard this quote hundreds of times, but have you ever stopped to consider what it means? The phrase has actually been attributed to several sources throughout the years but refers to the power of visual (nonverbal) cues to communicate large amounts of data.
Humans are sensitive to things like body language, facial expression, posture, movement, and tone of voice. We have the ability to communicate many emotions without saying a word. Is there ever any doubt in your mind as to the mood of an employee when they walk into the office? Or the ability to get children to behave by simply giving them “T-H-E eye”? Research shows that verbal communication – the actual words – accounts for approximately 10% of the message. This is the “surface” of communication. Science tells us that the “nonverbals” account for up to 90% of the real meaning in what is communicated.
Being a successful dental leader requires you to influence people just about all of the time. You need to persuade your patients and your employees to take action based on what you say. To deliver the full intention of your messages, use the following nonverbal behaviors to raise the impact of your communication.
Eye contact. It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. By making eye contact, you show interest in the other person and you convey empathy and sincerity.
Facial Expressions. When you smile, you convey approachability. Your employees and your patients will feel more comfortable around you and they will listen more attentively. Be careful, however, to avoid smiling when the message is serious.
Voice. The volume, rate, tone, pitch, and inflections of your speech are major factors in communication. When you use a soft voice, you may be seen as lacking confidence. On the other hand, using a slower, quieter voice in stressful circumstances signals strength and control. A strong voice shows confidence. Yet in matters of disagreement, a booming voice often escalates the conflict.
Body Language. The way you stand, walk and move speaks volumes. If you are too fast-paced, you convey tension much more than efficiency. A relaxed, calm posture signals confidence and receptivity. Your posture also influences whether you are seen as competent. Slumped shoulders undermine credibility. Stiffness conveys nervousness. Unfold your arms and uncross your legs when engaged in important conversations.
Gestures. When gestures are natural and flow with your words, they enhance the impact of your message. But be careful of distracting gestures - fiddling with pens and clothing, foot-tapping and fingernail clicking. These are seen as signals of discomfort. They show a lack of confidence and diminish your credibility.Photographers and artists try to influence us by choosing the setting, the subject and even the light conditions in which they ‘paint’ their pictures. All of those choices influence how we see what the photographer wants us to see. Increase your influence in business and personal relationships by adjusting the ‘picture’ you give others through your nonverbal communication. Over the next week, practice one aspect of your body language or facial expression or voice. Be mindful and deliberate. It may feel awkward but with consistency it will become more natural over time.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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