Non-Verbal Communication

Over the weekend, I went to a restaurant. Like in many restaurants, the manager came by and asked how everything was. I recently wrote about the action of asking how everything is and what the answer should be, but I left out a key element: how to ask.

The how to ask seems pretty simple, right? Just say “how is everything so far?” or “are you enjoying your experience?” However, it is quite a bit more involved than that. The asking requires more thought and effort than just asking.

This particular manager’s posture was not good. He was standing up straight, but his non-verbal actions did not suggest that he cared. He almost walked right by my table before he asked, his hand was on the edge of the table (because the majority of his body was already past it), and he wasn’t looking straight at me. The manager’s non-verbal communications did not suggest that he cared or was paying much attention.

Various studies show that a vast majority (like 90%) of communication is non-verbal. This manager’s non-verbal communications did not suggest that he cared. They suggested he was in a rush and had other things to do.

However, you can be better. Your non-verbal communication can be far better that the manager’s I saw.

Stand in the middle of the table.
I was sitting in a booth, which on one side has a wall and the other side is the walk way. He was on the very edge of the table in the walk way. He should have been standing near the middle of the table facing at the wall.

Don’t seem rushed.
While this may technically be verbal communication, you don’t want to seem rushed. If you are running around and seem excited, out of breath, etc., don’t ask customers how their meal or their experience is going.

Look friendly.
You want to look friendly and smile while you are asking customers how their experience is going so far. If you look upset, bored, intimidating, etc., you are a lot less likely to get honest feedback.

Say it sincerely.
Your tone of voice should suggest that you are interested in the customer’s feedback and want them to enjoy the experience. You don’t want to seem like you are being forced to do it.

If you can’t do it right, don’t do it.
If you are having an off day, ask someone else to ask. You want to only ask if you are feeling your best.

What does your non-verbal communication suggest about you?

Photo courtesy of jaroslavd.

2 Responses to “Non-Verbal Communication”

  1. Ankit said:

    Sep 24, 07 at 1:24 pm

    I have to see confidence and as odd as it may sound, a mutual respect. We all work hard to get to where we are, and if I’m asked how I like the service, and take a minute out to answer it, I want him to be serious about it and if need be, ask a question on how to fix it. I want to see that he speaks confidently and makes me feel important – I know I’m [i]just a customer[/i], but when he asks a question on how things are, he should treat me like more than just a customer.

    If I reply with some kind of answer that he feels is good, he should thank me, and be willing to take criticism. Do *not* argue with me, I came to your restaurant, and I’m out to enjoy myself. Hear me out, and take it for what it’s worth. If you really want to discuss it, give me your card and tell me that if I take out a few minutes to talk to him about the issue, he’ll give me dinner on the house the next time that I’m there.

    I feel that a lot of times, people aren’t serious (just doing it out of requirement) or they aren’t willing to take criticism. Only ask for my thoughts if you’re going to take them, otherwise what’s the point in asking?

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Sep 24, 07 at 3:18 pm

    Exactly. Too many managers ask just for the purpose of asking instead of the real reason (hopefully to improve the experience and deal with any issues).