High-Quality Written Communication
Today, it is almost impossible to go into a meeting without knowing a little bit about the other party. Whether it is through an e-introduction through mutual contacts or through primary research online. At the developing stage of relationship building, you want all your digital collateral to represent your quality image. Your counterpart is going to make up their mind about you based on your documents, based on your website, based on the email exchanges. You must ensure these reflect you, the company and business in your best light. Some key questions to ask yourself beforehand if you are an entrepreneur, do you use the same tone of voice as your brand’s or company’s communication? If you are an employee, are you reflecting the same professionalism as the colleague or business who introduced you? If not, you might be sending a confusing message to the other party.
There are endless amounts of information and research available on effective non-verbal communication. It can get overwhelming. Studies ranging from eyes, posture, mirroring, facial movements (lips, eyes, mouth, eyebrows), and even hand gestures play a big role in making a positive first impression. To keep things simple, I have narrowed it down to a ‘fantastic four’:
- Maintaining a healthy amount of eye contact. It may seem uncomfortable but more often than not we tend to not make enough eye contact. According to a Texas study of over 3000 people, “Adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time in an average conversation, people should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time to create a sense of emotional connection.” Set cues for yourself to reengage and make eye contact with your counterpart.
- Have a great posture! Not only does this work for your own personal health, but improving your posture and staying straight communicates power and confidence. In an Ohio study, Prof Richard Petty outlines “body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves, if you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.” We often concentrate too much of what we can do to communicate confidence to others, sometimes it is the simplest act of keeping yourself up that makes all the difference for you to perform well in the meeting.
- Mirroring your counterpart’s body language. We want our counterpart to feel comfortable in the environment they are in. Verbally, we attempt to find common interests or goals to connect with the other party. The same approach is used for mirroring. If you are sitting up straight and leaning forward, yet I am soft and slouching in my chair, it communicates disinterest and fatigue. Reflect (when positive) the body language of others to make a conscious effort to connect non-verbally.
- Hand gestures. For anyone who feels they are the shortest person in the room, listen in, there’s a small trick to make others perceive you as taller than you actually are. TED talk presenters Markus Koppensteiner of the University of Vienna mentions that if a speaker uses vertical arm movements “with lots of expansive arm movements, (they) seem to be judged as being taller.” It does not necessarily mean that you should become an orchestra conductor in the boardroom. However, the use of hand gestures adds another layer to when you present or talk.
Using Your Voice
The voice is a huge component of conveying a positive image to your counterpart. Dr Branka Zei Pollerman (PhD) (vox-institute.ch) outlines that others “pay attention to your pace, your tone and inflection, and your fluency. Our voices also convey emotional meanings: joy, sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence.”
Through her research and tools, she is capable to “detect the difference between a left-wing and right-wing politician in France without knowing their identity.” For more tips on strengthening the credibility of your message through your voice, see the video below:
Fast Company. 2020. 3 Surprising Ways Your Posture Impacts Your Success. [online] Available at: <https://www.fastcompany.com/3049548/3-surprising-ways-your-posture-impacts-your-success> [Accessed 28 April 2020].
Shellenbarger, S., 2020. Just Look Me In The Eye Already. [online] WSJ. Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324809804578511290822228174> [Accessed 28 April 2020].