Entrepreneurship Etiquette Series, Volume III:

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    Nonverbal Communication -­‐ What People Tell You Without Saying Anything!

    Are you ready for some action? Come on, give me your best shot! In The Matrix, actor Laurence Fishburne gave all the non-­‐verbal signals that he was ready to do battle. The actor showed confidence, swagger, and technique, and he made direct eye contact with his opponent. These non-­‐verbal characteristics are essential for entrepreneurs trying to make a sale, give a presentation, or communicate with an audience filled with business prospects.

    Non-­‐verbal communication is everything, but our use of words and numbers in written and verbal communication. Regardless of what we say or how we say it, our bodies and gestures tell a great deal about what we really feel, which is not necessarily what we say. In business, an entrepreneur’s body language—such as posture, stance, gestures, motions, facial expressions, eye contact, and use of personal space—helps determine how well a small business owner will engage a potential customer.

    ”The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” —Peter F. Drucker

    Have you ever felt like you were being hustled or had just met the salesman who
    was going to try to seal you a bag of rocks? Have you seen the homeless man go from one person to another, using the same line with everyone he encounters, hoping to get a dollar or a few cents? When you looked at these people, no matter how good they sounded or how well they told their stories, their non-­‐verbal presentations made you second-­‐guess the sham. Perhaps, instead, you read someone’s resume for

    a potential hire at your firm, but when you met your potential recruit face to face for the interview you found somebody who was shy, scared, nervous, and not confident in his or her experience and qualifications. All of these interactions can be seen as non-­‐verbal negatives in communications.

    It is not just what you say, it is how you say it. When an entrepreneur speaks with confidence, poise, power, strength, and conviction, people listen. Substance, however, must accompany these traits. We cannot use empty words or slick sales pitches in doing business. We have to be experts in our products, commodities, services or other chosen endeavors, while conveying that expertise in how we speak, dress, and deliver. This is the key to successful non-­‐verbal communication.

    Pay attention, and be sensitive to signals when people are talking. Look at people’s body language and hand gestures as they speak. Watch for sweating or nervous gestures. Be engaging, and if you are not sure of something, ask for clarification, just to make sure you are not incorrectly interpreting those non-­‐verbals you are sensing.

    Look for common body language and what it means when you are conducting business. You can tell a lot about a person just by paying close attention to non-­‐ verbal communication. If someone is defensive, confrontational, reflective, suspicious, open, cooperative, insecure, or nervous, these characteristics will show in the conversation or presentation. What is most important is listening. Learning to observe and interpret non-­‐verbal activity is key to successful communication and relationship building.

    “But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” —Abraham Maslow 


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