Avoid Being Misunderstood at Work: Negative Nonverbal Communication – Auckland, Wellington – Body Language Training Course


How we say and do something is as important as what we say and do.

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What we say is generally considered important. We choose the right words, and weigh the positive or the negative connotations of our words. What we miss is the tone of voice that we must use to communicate those words. Tone of voice and gestures that accompany our words are so powerful that they can turn a positive communication into a negative one.

Negative Tone of Voice

No matter what words you choose to communicate or what your intentions are, if there is negativity in your tone of voice, then the words will fail to have a positive impact. That is why, you must pay close attention to how you are communicating. When communicating a positive message, try to keep your tone upbeat and friendly. Using a positive facial expression, such as a smile, will make your tone of voice naturally cheerful. Even if your words are not impactful, the tone of voice will cover up for that.

Intimidating Posture and Gestures

If your purpose is not to intimidate the other person, then you must check your posture and gestures. The intimidating posture and gestures that you must avoid at work are:

  • Standing with both hands on the table
  • Standing too close to the other person
  • Staring silently
  • Maintaining an unusually long silence
  • Pointing fingers at the other person
  • Face palm
  • Speaking in low tones slowly
  • Making a disappointing face

Intimidating posture and gestures create a dark atmosphere where you do not allow the other person to open up. If you want to re-establish your authority, then intimidating gestures can help, but if you want an open communication with the other person, then you must avoid any of these gestures.

Avoiding Eye Contact

People interpret avoidance of eye contact in different ways, and none of them are positive. If you make very little eye contact with the person you are communicating with or with the people around you, then they may misunderstand you as being arrogant, proud, lacking in confidence, or disinterested.

Many shy people and introverts avoid making eye contact. As it does not work in your favour, it is best to make a conscious effort to look at people in the eye when talking to them. It will help you to maintain better relationships with others.

Speaking Too Fast/Slowly, Loudly/Softly

It is natural that some of us speak faster, louder, softly or slowly than most people. Even though your family and friends might be accustomed to the pace or loudness of your speech, you may want to have a balanced speech at work.

How you speak impacts your professional image. Generally, people who speak too fast are thought of as nervous, people who speak too loudly are considered dominating or bad-mannered, those who speak too slowly are considered unintelligent, and people who speak too softly are considered pushovers. Even if none of these stereotypes apply to you, it is better for your professional standing that you avoid extremes. A well-paced speech and clearly spoken words are a pleasure to listen to. Therefore, it is best to speak how you want to listen to others speak.

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