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5.3: Improving your Nonverbal Skills
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- Explain the areas of nonverbal communication that can be assessed and improved.
- Discuss the importance of observation when it comes to improving nonverbal behaviors.
- Understand that nonverbal communication is a skill that requires practice.
The Nonverbal Mindset
- Voice, body movement, eye contact, and facial expression can be assessed and improved upon to become a more effective communicator.
- Successful communicators can be observed and modeled.
- Practicing nonverbal communication is no different from practicing other skills, such as playing an instrument or cooking.
- Record your voice and listen to the recording several times. Use the questions included in the “analyze your voice” section of this chapter. Make a note of areas where you believe you are doing well and areas where you may need improvement. Ask a friend to listen to your voice and respond to the question for additional feedback.
- Video record a conversation between you and a friend/s. (Make sure everyone approves of being recorded.) As a group, review your facial expressions, body movements, and gestures. Discuss your nonverbal behavior as a group being certain to compliment areas of success and ask for constructive feedback if you are comfortable doing so.
- Select a nonverbal specific behavior such as greeting through a wave or eye contact. Use this nonverbal behavior in a manner that is inconsistent with the accepted use of this nonverbal behavior. For example, avoid eye contact completely with a friend or kiss a friend on the cheek instead of simply saying hello. Make a note of your reaction as well as the reaction of your friend. (Be prepared to explain your behavior to your friend.)
- Take an inventory of your nonverbal communication skills by answering the following questions. Do you believe nonverbal communication is important? Why or why not? Which subcategories of nonverbal communication are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve on these weaknesses?