The more delicate nuances of conversation are often missed by many people. A subtle glance, an uncomfortable swallow, or a slight step backward all mean something, and sometimes they mean a BIG something. But what happens when leaders aren’t cognizant of body language and words left unspoken?
Learn to observe others,
and let neuroscience lead the way
You can’t be a leader in a vacuum, leading an army of silent workers who never have an opinion. The leaders needed in this Imagination Age have to be on top of their communication game. Collaboration is expected across the world in many cases, and leaders who are clueless about what is really going on will not be sufficient.
With our increased understanding of how our brains works, we are learning more about how communication means more than just words. The nuances of unspoken communication are unclear to many people, and we are potentially missing out on half the conversation.
A recent study that examined the impact of nonverbal communication in teaching found that teachers could make a positive change in students’ attitudes with supportive body language. The study also emphasised the need for teachers to learn and practice effective communication skills (Bambaeeroo, 2017).
“Before you get into the mind, you have to inhabit the physicality. Body language is a great way of speaking.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re a leader, a teacher, an actor, or a parent. Being able to pick up on body language cues is important, no matter what role you are currently occupying. You probably wear many hats in life, and when you put on your leadership cap, so to speak, you can’t suddenly wall yourself off. Look around and realise how much conversation is happening without any words at all.
It may be an eye-opening experience for you, especially if you tend to focus on your tasks for the day and you kind of block out other thoughts. When you communicate and interact with others, are you really giving them your attention, or is your mind already at the next meeting? Are you missing important cues that are meaningful to the people you are around?
Non-verbal cues are more than loud sighs and eye-rolls, and being able to observe others will improve your own communication and therefore your collaboration skills. Maybe you are the one giving the negative signals and you don’t even realise it!
Bambaeeroo, F., Shokrpour, N. (2017). The impact of the teachers’ non-verbal communication on success in teaching. Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism, 5(2), 51–59.