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Non-verbal communication at work

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Published: 2 December 2021

Students in a class

At the University of Sunderland in London, we want to help you get ready for the world of work, every part of it.  

We’ve written before of the importance of communication in the workplace, but what about the things we say without even speaking?  

Non-verbal communication is a phrase that encompasses everything from body language to tone of voice.   

It also plays a huge part in successfully getting your meaning and emotions across, something vital for success.  

What does it look like?  

There are lots of ways you can communicate without uttering a sound, but some of them might not be obvious to you.  

Take a look through our list and think about how you can convey meaning in the way you move.  

Eye contact  

People need to feel like they’re being heard. We all want to be listened to and understood, especially at work.  

You can show your co-workers that you care by maintaining eye contact with them as they speak.  

Avoid looking at your screen or notes, look right at people and pay attention to what they’re saying. You’ll notice a difference straight away.  

Be positive  

Although this involves actually speaking, positivity is a non-verbal skill because it’s about the tone of your voice rather than the content of your words.  

Being positive can guide the whole conversation away from difficult things like blame and stress onto more productive topics.  

If you want to convince your new boss that your project is worth investing in speak with an uplifted tone and a smile on your face.  

Personal appearance  

You might know the old phrase ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have.’  

Appearance is a form of non-verbal communication, and a simple one to work on.  

Make sure whatever you wear at the office is neat, ironed and ready the day before. This can extend to your desk as well.  

Keeping a clean and organised space won’t only tell people you’re serious but will help you concentrate on the tasks at hand.  

Posture  

The way you sit or stand tells people a lot about your attitude and how much attention you’re paying to the work.  

Keep a straight spine and your shoulders back when talking to your boss or colleagues.   

It will show them you’re engaged with what’s happening rather than simply daydreaming about signing off for the day.  

Of course, just like speech, non-verbal communication goes both ways. When you’re speaking with a colleague pay attention to their body language and what it’s telling you of how they’re feeling.  

It will help you put yourself in their shoes, thinking about the things that are concerning them.   

Whatever you decide to do with your future, the University of Sunderland in London Careers and Employability Service is here to help.     

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass, email careers-london@sunderland.ac.uk or visit the website to find out more. Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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