According to a study done by Harvard Business Review 93% of our communication is what comes across from non-verbal and only 7% are the actual words we say. That blew me away – that our tone, inflection, facial expressions and body posture is such a huge part of what comes across to others.
As HR professionals, we have the opportunity to “read” others, be it with the executive team, a room, or individuals. Joe Navarro who is a former FBI Agent and expert on reading non-verbal communication shares that the limbic brain is where the action is and gives us the true response as our emotional center.
We can learn the language of these cues by being aware of how we experience people at their most comfortable, and how behavior may change when the environment changes to stress or discomfort. Navarro’s book “What Every Body Is Saying” provides some great tips on reading others. The one I found most helpful was to watch other’s feet. If pointing away or toward the door, chances are they do not want to have the conversation or may be hiding information. It may also mean they are late and must go to another meeting. If their feet are pointing toward you, they are more apt to feel comfortable.
The key is to make others comfortable, look for changes to their base behavior, ask questions and watch their feet. It is best when there is an unobstructed view, so you have full observation of others. Now we can all practice in reading others and that is how we get better by learning the language of non-verbals.
Look forward to seeing you soon – Heidi
Heidi Hartman, OKHR District Director Elect