We mostly focus on verbal communication, the words we speak, as the most important element of how we communicate. However, verbal communication accounts for only about a third of our communication.
So why do we focus on it so much?
Because focus is something we do in the conscious mind. The conscious mind is exactly that, our focus of attention.
Demonstrations of hate are unsettling and most of us will shake our heads and say wtf? We ask the question “What do we do about this?”
When we speak, we’re focused on the words and we’re also communicating nonverbally with our voice tone, posture, and gestures; body language in other words, though we’re usually not aware of it.
It might seem that nonverbal communication is a subtle way to communicate, but I would disagree. It’s quite powerful, usually more powerful than verbal communication. You can test this for yourself.
Walk up to anyone, even a stranger if you’re feeling outgoing, and extend your hand to them to shake it. Watch how they will most likely extend their hand as well and shake yours without hesitation.
Then try walking up to someone- again if you’re feeling ballsy walk up to a stranger- and say “Shake my hand.”
Some people will but probably most won’t.
I’m not trying to say that verbal communication is unimportant. It’s very important, but without aligning your body language and voice tone to it, it tends to be weak.
When your verbal communication aligns with your nonverbal communication you become a powerful and influential communicator and this is something you can do immediately. It doesn’t have to take years of practice
How does one do this?
It’s starts with being congruent.
Have you ever been in the presence of someone who was talking to you or a group of people and even though you had no logical reason not to believe what they were saying, you just didn’t believe it? There’s a good chance it was because their nonverbal communication did not align with their verbal communication. It’s like saying “yes” while you shake your head from side to side.
A friend of mine who learned NLP back when it was being created in the 1970s said they used to mess with hostesses at restaurants by walking in and saying table for 5 as he held up 4 fingers. The hostess would get confused and would often seat them at a table for 4.
Try this trick. Tell a friend to do as you do and hold up your finger and say “Touch your chin” as you bring your finger to your cheek. They will most likely copy your nonverbal communication and bring their finger to their cheek instead of their chin. You could win a few bets like this.
I highly recommend that you watch powerful orators like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and John F. Kennedy. Watch how their nonverbal communication aligns with their words and you will begin to understand what made them so powerful. People believed them and did not doubt them for a second when they spoke.
Become conscious of your own nonverbal communication. Are your gestures symmetrical? Does your voice tone sound more apologetic or like you’re asking a question when you want to declare something?
Becoming conscious of your nonverbal communication as well as the nonverbal communication of others is a huge first step to becoming a more powerful communicator. The next step is to consciously work at being congruent and communicating with alignment, verbally and nonverbally, with your message.