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    How your nonverbal cues may be choking your practice



    Evaluating nonverbal signals2

    Eye contact

    Is eye contact being made? If so, is it overly intense or just right?

    Facial expression

    What is their face showing? Is it mask-like and unexpressive, or emotionally present, genuine, and filled with interest?

    Tone of voice

    Does their voice project warmth, confidence, and interest, or is it strained and blocked?

    Posture and gesture

    Are their bodies relaxed or stiff and immobile? Are shoulders tense and raised, or slightly sloped?


    Is there any physical contact? Is it appropriate to the situation? Does it make you feel uncomfortable?


    Do they seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or over-the-top and melodramatic?

    Timing and pace

    Is there an easy flow of information back and forth? Do nonverbal responses come too quickly or too slowly?


    Do you hear sounds that indicate caring or concern?


    It is almost impossible not to communicate. Albert Mehrabian never claimed that words weren’t important. The way you listen, look, move, and react tells the other person whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, they generate tension, mistrust, and confusion.

    Becoming a better communicator

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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