GESTURES: How to add power to your words.



As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Research figures support this idea and suggest that managers, during most of their speaking time,  use non-verbal communication techniques to strengthen their oral messages.


A study in Management World magazine showed that only a small fraction of all messages communicated by managers are spoken with only words. 


To be clear, non-verbal communication is defined as gestures and body movements; changes in loudness, tone, speed or emphasis of voice; and facial expressions.



However, remember that verbal and non-verbal cannot be evaluated individually.  They work well and effectively when combined.


The following five skills will assist you in communicating by using non-verbal tactics.


1) EMPHASIZING.  Adding emphasis or stress to your spoken words gives the same effect as making written words boldfaced, italicized or underlined. 

Examples are pointing at a visual and gesturing towards a person during a presentation; tapping on the table as you make a point; or, saying one word louder or softer than the others to convey a special importance.

CAUTION: do not overuse this, because it will weaken the tactic’s power.


2) REPEATING.  Moving you head up and down as you say “yes” or shaking your finger at someone as you blame him are classic examples of using physical actions to repeat the meaning of words. 

This visible connection between verbal and non-verbal communication illustrates the power of Repeating in a most natural way. It is so natural, that repeating can be done with little effort and virtually no practice.


3) REPLACING.  Facial expressions frequently replace or substitute indirectly for verbal communication that may not be socially acceptable or is not easy to talk about. 

For example, if you are displeased with the actions or speech of a friend you work with, you may not like to tell him directly.  So you lack of eye contact or frowning expression will “say” it for you without words.


4) SUPPLEMENTING.  The non-verbal signals come from the RECEIVER (audience) rather than you, the sender/communicator in this one.

For example, when a manager rewards an employee and his face beams with a smile; or, when it is necessary to reprimand (punish), the difference in facial expression indicates the listener’s change in attitude toward the manager (communicator).


Importance for the communicator: A good manager or supervisor must notice these changes, especially the negative ones, and deal intelligently and effectively with them to quickly eliminate an uncomfortable situation for the employee.  In this way, bad feelings will not interfere with productivity.


5) RESPONDING & ADJUSTING.  Non-verbal responses are vitally important when Responding to verbal messages from others.

When you speak with someone, surely you look for positive feedback from them such as nodding of the head, eye contact and facial expressions which communicate “I understand you” or “I agree.”

Particularly in the local environment, eye contact is most important, because it is linked closely with listening itself. [Example: how many times have you seen, or have you done this yourself?  You are talking with someone and he turns away for a moment.  You touch his shoulder or grab his hand to get his attention so he will “listen” to you.  Or, while driving (and this is dangerous) looking directly into the eyes of the listener and speaking, rather than looking at the road.]

In these examples, the words seem to have more power because the speaker and listener are maintaining eye contact, a powerful non-verbal tactic.



By adopting these strategies, you will be taking your first steps toward actively understanding and using both verbal and non-verbal communication to increase the power of your words. 


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