Improving interpersonal skills Part 3
by Lea Sicat Reyes

So we’ve been talking about the positive im pact of excellent interpersonal skills in the workplace. While there is no perfect working environment, interpersonal skills somehow soften the blow, so to speak, particularly when difficult situations arise. The first two skills under this umbrella that we’ve already covered were assertiveness and verbal communication. Now, we proceed to the next which we sometimes overlook: non-verbal communication.

Recent studies will show that we speak more with our body expressions compared to words. In fact, we can sometimes deduce what a person really feels even if s/he doesn’t verbalize it just by looking at his/her reactions. We call this body language. This particular language easily betrays us. We might try not to say what we mean to say but our body language does the screaming for us. It encompasses facial expressions, tone of voice, movement, appearance, eye contact, gestures, and most of all, posture. All these when observed as an aggregate gives us the biggest clue as to what the person is really thinking or feeling.

Here are some common postures and their most probable meaning (via http:// Stress on PROBABLE:

a. Arms crossed in front of the chest – I don’t agree with you at all.

b. Nail biting – I’m freaking nervous or I’m terribly anxious.

c. Finger tapping or drumming – I‘m bored.

d. Head in hands – I’m upset or I’m mad as hell.

e. Standing straight with shoulders back – Today is my day!

f. Head nodding – I get what you mean.

g. Hand on chin – Give me time. I’m still thinking.

h. Placing fingertips together – Keep on talking but at the end of the day, I’m still in control.

And the list goes on. This is why we have to be careful not only with what we say but how we say it. We can be easily misunderstood if we don’t keep ourselves in check. For example, a gentle “Can you please pass the stapler?” is a lot times better than a demanding, “Stapler please!” Another example is when a boss shows an active, listening posture while an employee shares some of his/ her work concerns. Just by showing an empathetic posture, this boss just made somebody’s load a lot lighter, somebody’s day a lot better. Communicating using body language can be very applicable at home. When you show how interested you are with your child’s day, imagine how your child will feel.

As mentioned earlier in this article, a large chunk of communication is non-verbal. It really is true. For the most part we speak with actions. In fact 65% of our communication is non-verbal. Isn’t that an amazing thing to realize? That’s why it’s essential that we keep in mind the maxim, “actions speak louder than words.” If we want to be clear about what we want to convey, our whole body, and not just our mouths, should do the talking.

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