By Goke Ilesanmi
Failure to send the right messages will often result in loss of business, low morale in the workplace or soured friendships. If you are in customer service section, for instance, you need to think about the message you are giving customers. Do you really try to do everything possible or is your voice telling the other person to please move on so that you can help the next customer? Do you make the other person feel welcome and comfortable to voice complaints?
To build a customer-focused company through enviable customer service, you need to know that the phone is not an interruption in your work, rather, it is the reason why you are in business. To be perceived positively with body language, you need to make eye contact, smile, nod occasionally during (business) conversation, lean slightly in to your customers and tilt your head to one side as you are listening. Shifting eyes, making eye contact less than 50 per cent of the time, shifting your weight from hip to hip, sighing, and fidgeting are all signs the person will interpret to mean that you do not care about what he or she is saying. Remember that nobody cares if you have all the answers, all that people want to know is that you would do whatever you could do to help them out.
So, reflect now on the messages you send every day to your employees, your co-workers and your friends. Do you stand with your shoulders back, walk with a lilt, make eye contact and smile? If you do, you will be seen as more forceful and energetic, and more of a leader. If you walk with your shoulders slumped, head down, speak in a flat tone, and/or fidget a lot, you will be seen as a person that cannot make up his or her mind, that is more negative or that needs a lot of guidance.
Mrs. Anne Warfield, a leading outcome strategist, who shows people how to present their ideas, products and services so that people want to listen to them says, the other day, a sales person told her she (the sales person) would do whatever it took to make her happy and that really ticked her (Warfield) off. Why would that be? One would have expected Warfield to be excited that the sales person was offering to do whatever it took to make her happy.
The sales person could not achieve the desired result because her words did not match her body language. As she was telling Warfield she would do whatever it took to make her happy, she (the sales person) had her hands on her hips, her legs spread apart and was looking down at Warfield. Wrong body language! This salesperson will probably not realise why she lost a customer. Always remember that a person will listen more to your body language than to your spoken words.
Over 65 to 90 per cent of every conversation is interpreted through body language. We react more to what we think a person meant than to the words that are used. So you need to think about how your body language matches the words you are uttering.
If a person tells you “You are doing a great job” with a big smile on his or her face and a relaxed body, you will probably believe him or her. On the other hand, if a person says “You are doing a great job” and his teeth are gritted, and he or she has a half smile and a stiff body, you will be confused as to what he or she really meant after he or she has walked away.
Body language is one of the best communication tools we have, yet so few of us ever learn how to deploy it well or read it. Actually only few people understand how to read body language. Think about the last messages you received from others that you did not like. Was it really the words, tone of voice or the body language? By changing our voice tone on certain words or by adjusting our body language we can give a whole different meaning to what we say.
Take the statement “I did not tell him not to come to the party.” If you say, “I did not tell him not to come to the party”, it simply means that someone else told him not to come. If you say, “I did not tell him not to come to the party”, it implies that you may have suggested he should not come, but you did not tell him not to come.
If you say, “I did not tell him not to come to the party”, it means you told someone else not to come to the party. If you say, “I did not tell him not to come to the party”, it implies that you told him not to come to another event. So you can see that many different interpretations can result based on which word you emphasise. Note: Words emphasised here are in italics.
As a manager, it is imperative that you look at the body language you use and make sure it tallies with your message. If you shift your eyes and look away a lot, your people will not trust the message being given. If you raise your voice in a question while giving out quotas, it will sound as though you do not believe they are achievable. Warfield says she once worked with a manager that had a terrible morale problem in the office. She adds that it turned out this manager asked his people what they wanted from him and they requested that he should drop in their offices every once in a while and that they would schedule regular meetings with him. He was doing both things but the morale got even worse.
Warfield explains that when she came in to study situation, she found that his body language was what was causing all the problems. It was very domineering! Whenever he dropped in to people’s offices, he would take up the whole doorway and look them in the eye even if they were on the phone. This was very discomforting to people and definitely sent the message that he was invading their space and privacy. At the meetings he would sit with his hands behind his head, cross his legs, lean back and look at the ceiling. This gave the impression that he knew all the answers, and this frustrated his people. Just by changing these few body signs he was able to change morale.
Try as much as possible today to grow your business through effective communication reinforced with accurate body language.
PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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