Canter Banter

Hidden Wisdom! Nonverbal Communication in Leadership

Posted by Janet Murray on Jan 15, 2018 12:37:59 PM

Did you know that up to 90% of all communication is nonverbal.  As leaders in the workplace how we use this information is critical in relaying information and  sharing our vision with our co-workers. You do not have to be the boss to be the "leader". There are many situations in the workplace where a varitety of employees will be  given a task that requires a leadership role, and those who succesfully communicate their message to the team are more likely to accomplish the goal set out in the task. If we rely entirely on verbal communication to share this vision  then we are at risk of only communicating 10% of that plan.

Many studies support these numbers:

  • Words (the literal meaning) account for 7% of the overall message
  • Tone of voice accounts for 38% of the overall message
  • Body Language accounts for 55% of the overall message


So the 90% that we are talking about is comprised of tone and body language. Anyone who has ever been a parent, husband, or wife, has at some point learned the hard way.  It's not WHAT you say but HOW you say it. Take a  compliment and wrap it in a sarcastic tone, add in an eye roll at the end and you have anything but a compliment.

One of the most important things we can learn from working with horses is the power of body language. Our gut has just as much information concerning  our decisions as our brain and our heart does. When we have to do something uncomfortable our gut is usually the first to let us know that this is not something in our comfort zone.  If we have to do something that makes  our gut wrench and our anxiety levels rise, we have the ability to control those messages through breathing.  A horse has the ability to read the anxiety level of a situation through our breathing. The more anxious we are, the faster we breathe and this raises the the flight instinct in a horse. If we calm our breathing the horse will calm and we can better communicate what it is we are trying to relay to the horse.

In the workplace our nonverbal communication has a similar effect. If our body language is standoffish or the tone is aggressive then the words we are saying will be received in the same manner. When you need to have a conversation with a team member that you know may be difficult.... start with a deep breathe and be aware of your body language. This awareness can give you greater success and create a positive outcome in a difficult situation.  Listen to your gut and adjust your thoughts accordingly.

This is a small but important part of our leadership series, "The Gifts of the Horse". Our Eponaquest instructors who trained and worked with Linda Kohanov can guide you through a life changing experience.  Taking time to learn about our body language, breathing, and emotions puts us in a power position to create true leadership skills and lead in a positive direction.  Once we are armed with this information we naturally find ways to transfer this knowledge into everyday situations we all face every day.

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Topics: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Gifts of the Horse

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A place of discussion and learning for all those interested in Equine Facilitated Learning

At Lodestone Leadership we take leadership training out of the lecture hall and into the arena. Step into the round pen with your 3000lb training partner, and witness first hand how your emotions and body language impact those around you.  

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