Motivating Without Words: How to Master Nonverbal Communication

As a small-business owner, you know that clear and positive communication helps you connect with your employees and engage them with their work. But you might not realize the importance of nonverbal communication in reinforcing your messages and creating a productive workplace.

Powerful communication

According to The Wall Street Journal, nonverbal cues can have a substantial impact on how individuals work together and how employees feel about one another. They can also affect the way different employees’ ideas are received. For example, a confident, charismatic individual is more likely to have his or her ideas received positively than someone who appears nervous during a presentation.

Unintentional power cues

Because nonverbal communication is so powerful, leaders must be especially careful. For example, if you continually send signals that indicate “you're the boss,” you may prevent employees from presenting new ideas that could help bolster your business, according to The Harvard Business Review.

As a business owner, you want to be a strong leader. However, you don't want nonverbal communication to send a message of intimidation. Maintain eye contact with those who are speaking and avoid standing over employees or meeting with them from behind a desk. A friendly, open attitude and “power neutral” meeting environments encourage employees to be honest and to take risks.

Through your nonverbal communication you can help employees feel valued or disrespected, comfortable or threatened. Take stock of the signals you may be sending when you meet with employees. Small changes can go a long way toward helping employees feel valued and engaged at work.