The key to a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are supported by strategy and structure. When an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.
Here are some types of nonverbal communication and the effects they can have on the success of your communication:
Facial expressions: Your teenage cousin we referred to at the beginning of this section might have told you he was happy, but his apathetic facial expression may have communicated different information. Facial expressions—happy, sad, angry—help you convey your message. Be aware of your facial expression when you talk and particularly when you listen, which is when it’s easy to forget.
Gestures: When you speak, a gesture can make your message stronger. Pointing out something you want your listener to look at more closely is an example of nonverbal communication that makes your message understood. Motioning warmly toward a coworker who deserves special recognition, making a fist to show frustration or anger, such gestures help further engage your audience when you speak.
Proximity: How close you are to your audience when you speak sends a nonverbal message. If your size is imposing and you leave a very small distance between you and your listener, it’s likely your nonverbal communication will be a bit threatening. On the other hand, giving someone too much space is an awkward nonverbal communication that might confuse your listener.
Touch: Shaking an audience member’s hand, putting your hand on his shoulder: these are nonverbal cues that can affect the success of your message. Touch communicates affection, but it also communicates power. In fact, when women touch a listener, it’s often assumed that they’re being affectionate or conveying empathy, but when a man touches a listener, it can be taken as a sign of communicating power or even dominance.
Eye contact: Making and maintaining eye contact with an audience when you’re verbally communicating or listening communicates to the other party that you’re interested and engaged in the conversation. Good eye contact often conveys the trait of honesty to the other party.
Appearance: Your clothing, hair, and jewelry are also a part of nonverbal communication. If you put a dachshund pin on your lapel each morning (because you have a pet dachshund), that says something about you as a person. Similarly, the quality and condition of your clothing, how it fits, if it’s appropriate for the season—all of these things speak nonverbally about you as a communicator.