[Name of writer]
[Name of institute]
Non-verbal communication involves many different 'channels' that convey meaning beyond what is being said. These include gestures, body movement, facial expressions, and even vocal tone and pitch. It's not an exact science, although we sometimes make judgments as if it were.
It's widely understood that the majority of information is conveyed through non-verbal signals, most of which come from the eyes. This explains why it's often hard to convey subtle meanings over the telephone or through the written word. Because the person receiving your message can't see your body or face, your meaning may well be misinterpreted.
If you can learn to employ non-verbal channels consciously, you will add a new dimension to your persuasive skills, enabling you to build rapport and assert your opinions to much greater effect. In addition, as part of the learning process, you will also develop skills that will enable you to read and interpret the non-verbal communication of others.
Step one: Match and mirror
If you watch two people talking in a relaxed and unselfconscious manner, you may notice that their bodies have taken on a similar demeanour. Both may have crossed their legs, or settled into their chairs in similar postures. If they are eating or drinking, they may do so at the same rate. This is called matching or mirroring, and it occurs naturally between two people who feel that they're on the same wavelength.
[Y] Matching and mirroring can be used consciously as a technique to achieve rapport with someone, but you need to be subtle. Exaggerated mirroring looks like mimicry, and the other person is likely to feel embarrassed or angry.
[Y] Observe what your counterparts do with their bodies as they're talking. Then follow the pattern of their non-verbal communication and reflect it back. Once this feels natural, try to take the lead by changing your body position and watch to see if they follow. You may well find that more often than not they do.
Once you begin to get a feel for this process, see if you can use it in a situation that is problematic. Perhaps there is someone at work with whom you do not have a good rapport. See if you can lead that person into a more relaxed exchange by practising the matching and mirroring technique.
Even with a large audience, you can still build rapport. Suppose you are addressing a group of professionals from a podium. Make sure you seek information from everyone, acknowledge every contribution, give anyone who hesitates plenty of space, and support anyone who finds it difficult to speak in front of a group. If there are too many people in the room to pay attention to each one, invite contributions from those who are most extrovert and build rapport with them. This will give others confidence in your ability to connect with people.