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I want to greatly improve my non-verbal communication in my workplace.

From Wikipedia: "Speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume, and speaking style, as well prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation, and stress."

In non-verbal communication my first priority is to improve quality of my voice as most of time I need to discuss with clients and my project manager on the phone. I would like to know about tone and pitch, and what tone and pitch should I carry while my discussion with clients, project manager and my sub-ordinates.

Are there any good video tutorials available which can help me to improve my non-verbal communication?

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Consider joining Toastmasters, they are experts in this kind of thing. –  Jim In Texas May 22 '12 at 22:00
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6 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The best way I know of to do this is to video tape yourself. Then practice speaking, then watch, decide what to try to change, then practice again and repeat for several hours or several days until you have the control you want. When I was in my 20s, I did this for two solid days before I was due to give a presentation to a Navy Admiral. and I learned a lot about all sorts of non-verbal communication signals I was sending and was able to correct them.

I believe it is best if you can do this by yourself (but you have to be ruthless in analyzing what you are doing) because that way you can experiment with less self-consciousness. One technique I found helpful (and that I learned from my riding lessons) is to exaggerate in the opposite direction. So if you don't gesture enough then practice using huge gestures deliberately. Eventually you will settle somewhere in the middle. If you think your voice doesn't sound confident enough then practice sounding overconfident. If your tone is too high, then go for too low, etc.

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I have to second this, 100% true. It can be truly eye-opening to watch yourself on tape. I even used my laptop web-camera and it sufficed in giving me a "third-party" self-picture. –  Adel May 21 '12 at 19:16
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Of course, expect the first time you do it may make you want to never appear in public again (at least it did me, I was really very shy and couldn't even look at the camera let alone a real person when I did it), but that's what the practice is for. It's also amazing how quickly you can improve once you are aware. –  HLGEM May 21 '12 at 20:32
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While this was not during workplace but during my years of college i used to feel the same way.

Generally, issues related to personality, body language, having a good public presence and charm are all linked to something within. I used attend the classes for that, but i think with a special touch from the teacher eventually it turned out this has nothing to do with my language understanding or there wasn't any formula for it.

Through my own experience and the others i have seen, essentially, it boils down to two things:

1. Confidence: Once you really has self confidence to face people, accept and respond to what is being told - you slowly realize that your body comes to rhythm; you don't fear to express yourself, to tell truth and you are not conscious and hold back yourself while you are speaking.

Tip: have a close friend whom you can trust and keep talking to him/her. Expressing them you would feel much easy and while they should be critical, they should look from your point of view, you will begin to gain the confidence.

2. Clarity of thought: There are others who doesn't really lack confidence, but while they are saying something several threads in their mind go on. The way they present themselves becomes like a spaghetti to reverse. This eventually leads to being upset about not being able to communicate.

Tip: Rehearse and rehearse before every important meeting, talk and try to write down stuff. This allows you to look at yourself as the other person and slowly you will improve upon how you express yourself.

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In all, all aspects of personal skills always get more by practice rather than learning some theory about it. Find a buddy whom you think has got it all, and whom you can trust. And keep constant communication to him/her they can guide you how to improve in those small but important things.

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For improving the non-verbal skills, one must identify the areas where you are lacking. These include establishing eye contact when speaking to others, and facial expressions that can convey a person emotions.

Most importantly, your posture matters a lot. Take for instance, Dangle posture, which states that you are not interested in what a person is saying. Voice quality of a speaker does matter a lot too. The voice tone can cause a message to be misunderstood or even contradicted if the message is not clear.

Physical appearance also matters a lot, as we have heard the about a phrase, "first impression is the last impression".

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You got most valuable suggestions from the other community members. However, I feel that we both are in the some boat. I would like to share with you a couple of exercises that I used to do to improve my nonverbal communication skills, like including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume, and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation, and stress.

Exercise 1: I used to take newspaper of favorite novel and try to read it aloud unless I reach desired tone, pitch, volume etc. I will do it for a period of 2 hours daily.

Exercise 2: If I have any telephonic meeting, I will write all the questions that needs to be answered, and I record my answers and check. I repeat the same process until I reach perfection.

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Choosing the "right" body language is often a function of culture. What is considered the desirable behavior in the US can appear offensive in, say, Japan. This compounds if you are in meeting room with a bunch of guys+gals from China, Germany, Poland and the US. In this case overly fine tuning your body language can actually be counterproductive and you are better off going for "authenticity" and "consistency": try to be yourself and stay that way.

Of course, there a few things that are good to portrait in every culture (that I've come across): Confidence, honesty, respect, humility, and attentiveness. The details can be all over the place: For example, I was in a meeting in Italy where English was spoken, just not particularly well. I closed my eyes so I could better focus on listening and auditory input. That was a really bad idea and some of the attendees got really mad. On the other hand I've spend part of a meeting in China lying flat on the floor since my back hurt like heck after a 14 hour flight. This worked quite well since we already had a decent working relationship and it showed that we were mutually comfortable with each other that we value work & results more than form.

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The true meaning of Non Verbal is no sound, so pitch and tone don't come into it.

Improving your own body language can be tricky as everything you do is habit now, try choosing one thing at a time to change, the way you use your hands or make eye contact. Then once you are happy with the changes, very important to notice exactly what changes you see, move onto the next area.

Yes, it's a good idea to video yourself or have others watch you and give feedback on what they notice.

There's a free ebook on one of my sites, Body Language for Power and Love bodylanguagecourses.com/blspl.htm

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Verbal is "spoken words" or "language", not "sound". You're thinking of "vocal" most likely. –  Yamikuronue Dec 17 '12 at 14:35
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