By Mike Komnick on Sep 24, 2021 9:15:00 AM
In the business and personal world, we talk a lot about communication. As a society, we communicate in many different ways and they each pose unique challenges. Whether you are writing an email, talking on the phone, or talking in person to a friend or colleague, we all follow some pretty basic rules. We craft the message carefully, as we want to be sure our intentions are known and the other person understands our message. We spend a lot of time on what words to choose and how to deliver them.
But, there is one aspect of communication we don’t always think about, especially when we are talking directly to each other. Our body language, eye contact, gestures, and posture all play an important role in how our message is received. Oftentimes, we don’t even think about these things. We just let it happen, so to speak. In certain situations, that goes well but that’s not always the case.
I'm sure you are wondering why I am talking about communication on a material handling blog. Communication is key in ALL situations. 🔑 For example, if you are working in a material handling operation and a supervisor or coworker is going over safety precautions, today's to-do list, finances, or even the lunch menu and he/she is using an annoyed/aggravated tone, standing with arms crossed, and/or looking at the ground, chances are you are going to take that message less serious. Why even bother giving the speech if you aren't sincere? It is like just "checking a box." Not good!
It Doesn't Always Go As Expected
I’m going to share a story about one time things didn’t go as planned. I’ll set up the scene a bit for you and then detail what happened. I am very active in my community and I was at an evening fundraiser. It was a meet-and-greet type of event with drinks and appetizers, so not a very formal thing. I had a friend tell me he wanted to introduce me to someone so we could talk about some upcoming fundraising ideas. I walked across the room and my friend introduced me, then went off on his own.
I was pretty excited, as I had some fun ideas to share. As we started talking, I noticed his eyes would drift to look around me. He was nodding as I talked like he was following me, but his eyes were a huge distraction. In the back of my mind, I was thinking “is something going on behind me?” I lost all focus on what I was talking about shortly into the conversation as I was trying to figure out what he was looking at. After a bit, he shook my hand and said it was a good talk and he went on his way.
So, what signal did his non-verbal cues send me? It definitely wasn’t one of confidence that he was paying attention. I felt like he was looking for a better conversation elsewhere. I felt like he was not listening to me, nor did he want to continue to listen to me. I really didn’t share many of my ideas with him as I was disappointed with the whole interaction.
It’s important that we recognize what signals we are sending out in our conversations. Whether we are face-to-face, over Zoom, or even on the phone, we have the ability to change how the person receives our message based on how we send out our nonverbal messages. Lack of eye contact, arms crossed, and constant shifting in your standing all send a message.
I know I know, I could/should take my own advice and use these suggestions at home with my wife and kids. 😊
With your next interaction, stop and think about what message you are sending. Is it what you want to send? Don’t take for granted that the other person understands what you are saying, instead make a conscious effort to make sure you are sending the message you want to send. I also urge you to consider this when you are on the receiving end of a conversation/message...be open to listening and accepting.