Monday, January 17, 2022

Non-Verbal Communication Cues

The Eyes Have It

Not all cues from others are seen correctly and may be well hidden, but the eyes can often give them away. Common eye behaviors such as rolling the eyes or looking around frequently can be signs of boredom or discomfort. If a person looks at you while talking or moves their eyebrows while listening to you talk, this can be a sign of interest or curiosity. However, since these feelings may not be articulated or even gestured, it is helpful to be aware of them.

Common eye behaviors:

• Eye-rolling

• Blinking too much or too little

• Wandering eyes, not looking directly at a person

• Long blinks

Non-Verbal Cues

It has been said that non-verbal communication is the most powerful form of communication since it can expand beyond voice, tone, and even words. It accounts for over 90% of our communication. Although the differences in non-verbal communication can be different in certain situations, such as personal space allowed or use of hand gestures, most cues can send the same message across the board. Nonverbal cues can include facial expressions, body movements, eye movement, and various gestures and are not always associated with the spoken words. 

Common non-verbal cues include:

• Folding the arms

• Looking around frequently

• Tapping the feet or clasping hands

• Fidgeting

• Moving closer or farther away

Verbal Cues

Verbal cues are cues that we are more likely to pick up on and notice right away. They are usually done with some sort of emphasis or tone that causes an effect within us and is mostly likely to stick with us in the future. Phrases such as “Did you see the new rules in the handbook?” or “I can’t wait to see the projections for this week” add emphasis to certain words to stress a point or effect. Other verbal cues can include appropriate pauses when speaking, pitch, or volume of the voice or even speaking too slowly or quickly. These are cues that we can control and use with our voices to get a message across. 

Common verbal cues:

• Voice tone or pitch

• Word emphasis

• Volume

Uncomfortable pauses or "filler" words such as "um," "uh," "you know," etc.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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