One of the most powerful languages of all time is non-verbal language. It is the language of facial expressions, gestures and the subtle movements of our body. The beauty of non-verbal communication lies beyond the realm of words and what is said. It is what is not “said” that matters the most – the cues, the meaning and the additional information over and above the spoken or verbal communication.
Estimates suggest that over 90% of our communication is Non-Verbal. When we think back to the most engaging interactions from our past – whether we were the speaker or the audience, the most memorable instances are those where “how” the message was conveyed left a lasting impression. Inspiring and evolved leaders are aware of this important aspect of communication and therefore they tap into mindful non-verbal communication in a deliberate manner to reinforce their message. This amplifies the impact of their communication and makes them memorable as leaders.
The art of cultivating mindful non-verbal communication involves thinking about how our body language, our expressions, our voice, and our gaze makes other people feel. It is about being more intentional while we present ourselves. Being mindful of our non-verbal communication helps us become aware of the way that we affect other people and vice versa. When practicing mindful non-verbal communication, one also begins to notice how our body language makes us feel and that can be a powerful tool to delve deeper and understand our relationship with ourselves.
As a leader, learning to integrate mindful NVC (Non- Verbal communication) in our interactions enhances our ability to communicate meaningfully, to inspire and to influence. It helps us transcend beyond language proficiency and fluency to a state where the verbal component is congruent with the non-verbal cues such as eye-contact, body language and voice modulation. And all of this happens in a way that is authentic. Manisha Singh, from Shenomics, discusses Mindful NVC and its potential to help women lead with confidence.
The Link between Mindful Non Verbal Communication and Confidence
Mindful non-verbal communication (NVC) and confidence feed into each other. The confidence that feeds into mindful NVC is born out of authenticity, compassion and kindness. And, mindful NVC makes practicing authenticity, compassion and kindness almost effortless (by effortless, I do not mean that it takes zero effort; by effortless I mean a state of least resistance) and therefore one comes across as confident and self-assured. Let’s go deeper:
Mindful Listening : We sense, when someone only gives us their partial attention. Checking the phone for messages or opening the mail while we are sharing something doesn’t feel authentic, compassionate or kind. It feels labored and incongruent. It doesn’t reflect genuine interest or care. Mindful listening involves resting attention lightly, being fully present and without distraction. A mindful listener responds when the person they are listening to has said everything they had to. They are tuned in to the conversation. This sort of an engagement translates into authentic heartfelt listening. A mindful listener is confident and instills confidence in the person in front of them, because he/she knows that they have been “present” and “authentic” throughout the conversation.
Listening and Speaking with Our Body and Our Senses
Mindful listeners and speakers bring their “whole bodies” to the conversation. They face their audience. They do not sit with their arms folded, slouching or slumped down in the chair. They do not have their mobile phones in their hands. They often gently lean towards their audience, which subtly communicates genuine interest and engagement as opposed to the withdrawal. Their entire body reflects their act of mindful listening and speaking. They use their hands, they smile generously and express wholeheartedly with facial expressions. Their body language consistently communicates what their attention is towards and that their audience is important enough to merit their full attention. This kind of engagement opens up channels for deeper connections. The response that listening and speaking of this nature creates is what makes one confident from “deep within” because it begins with the act of “giving” one’s attention before receiving anything.
Listening with The Eyes
Mindful eye contact is neither forceful and intense nor distracted or fleeting. It has a focus that is just enough to take in what the other person is saying. It also allows the listener to take breaks easily and naturally as the conversation unfolds. At no point in time does it feel like being locked in a harsh gaze. What it creates is an organic conversation that instills confidence in both the communicators because it is genuine, kind and compassionate.
Listening and Speaking with Mindful Body Movement
Giving someone your undivided attention doesn’t mean being locked into just one posture. Mindful listening is not rigidly attentive. It is possible to listen without breaking your attention and still move at the same time. One can communicate connection with nods, gentle smiles, and even relaxed and natural changes in their posture, sometimes with postures that mirror the person one is listening to or speaking to. This ease of maintaining fluid movement while listening keeps the conversation flowing naturally. It is this ease of the conversation that births confidence in both the communicators because it allows them to be their natural selves while being mindful and present.
The mindful NVC and confidence relationship is like an interesting feedback loop that has a bearing on the signals we send while we are communicating with others as well as signals to our own brain. The beauty is that if we are mindful and we bring our awareness to our body and our mind, this feedback loop gives us an opportunity to take control of what we are putting out there in terms of messages to the external world and to ourselves.
How to use non-verbal communication to project confidence
NVC that reflects confidence possesses the following qualities – (a) Authenticity and Clarity, (b) Genuine Interest and Curiosity in the person in front of us, (c) Compassion and Kindness, and (d) No room for distraction.
Mindful Listening, Mindful Eye Contact, Listening and Speaking with our whole bodies allowing natural body movement is born out of authenticity, stillness in the mind and wholehearted genuine interest. When there is kindness, compassion and a distraction free environment, one is more intentional in what one is doing and saying. It is this alignment that creates confidence for leadership from within.
The fact that Mindful NVC is born out of values like kindness, compassion and authenticity ensures that as leaders we create a deep and lasting connect with those whose lives we touch.
This article was originally published on Shenomics.com