In this day and age, time is of the essence. Because of this, most of us end up using what we consider the most efficient forms of communication, such as emailing and texting, to get our messages across. But is this burying of our faces in computers and phones really the best way to communicate? Are we being as efficient as we think? On these devices it’s easy for our minds to wander somewhere else, taking us out of the present moment. What if I told you there was another, more efficient form of communication that doesn’t require you to even open your mouth? Yes, we’re talking nonverbal communication
. (And we bet you just sat up straighter and thought about your facial expression after reading that.)
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for emails, but a face-to-face meeting
where everyone is truly present in the moment is incomparable. Here you can see everyone’s body language and get a sense of how engaged they truly are. Believe it or not, a person’s eyes can say it all. Are they looking around? They’re probably bored or distracted. Are they making direct eye contact? They’re probably genuinely engaged and interested in what you have to say. Eye contact is one of the most powerful tools in human face-to-face interaction. It exudes confidence, respect, engagement and trust and is key to effective engagement. It goes without saying, it is a key component to any client relationship.
Even though eye contact is a good thing, there is such a thing as too much or too little of it.
Here are some tips to help you find the right mix:
Use the 50/70 rule. To participate in appropriate eye contact behavior, maintain eye contact for 50 percent of the time while speaking and 70 percent of the time while listening.
Maintain it for 4 to 5 seconds. Once you establish eye contact, maintain or hold it for 4 to 5 seconds then slowly look away. During that time jot down a few notes and then establish eye contact again. Don’t stare off into the distance daydreaming about puppies and gumdrops. Focus!
Listen with your eyes. Communication is just as much about eye contact as it is about actually talking. Be sure you show you are truly listening by following these guidelines.
The Benefits of Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace
An in-person meeting could mean the difference between an unsure potential client and one who feels confident, engaged and trusting of you and your team after meeting face-to-face. Eye contact establishes trust and helps individuals remember your message. Think of eye contact as a skill. It is not something that comes easily to everyone and should be something that is practiced and mastered in a business setting. An easy way to practice non-verbal communication would be with your husband, wife, kids or friend.
Here are a few tips:
When your partner looks at you, look back at him or her. When they look away, look away as well.
Pause for a few seconds before matching your partner's eye contact.
As you develop more experience with eye contact, rely on your instincts and follow what feels natural.
So the next time you are deciding what the best approach is for your client meeting, a call or in-person, think about eye contact and how it can break down barriers, establish trust between you and a client, and maybe even build a new business opportunity.
Want to know more about how you can build client relationships and discover new business opportunities? Contact us today at 888.321.8422.