From body language to non-verbal communication
If a medical representative can read the cards in the doctor’s face, he can dominate and mediate the business conversation towards his goal, writes P Ray Chaudhuri in the first part of the article
MAN speaks not only to express his feelings, judgement, information or any message but also because he likes his voice to be heard by others, people respect him due the importance of his speech. The speaker would show displeasure and dissatisfaction if people withdraw from hearing him out.
A social boycott is a severe punishment for any individual when he finds no one is ready to listen to him. In ancient days, a man under communication boycott imposed by tribal leaders would be seen roaming along the sea-shore or lonely places and ultimately turn into a lunatic.
Communication in real life is a must and the importance of communication which is always a two-way process, to speak and listen, has been established as a prime quality for medical representatives (MR) as he is to exert body language and watch the same in customer’s face during sales-talk for his success.
In the past few decades theoreticians have included other strong signals through which one may communicate, originating beyond the body (eg. space languages etc) which cannot be either a verbal communication (VC) or a body language. Therefore the caption is non-verbal communication (NVC) under which one can include body parts and go beyond it to convey strong meaningful signals in support of verbal delivery.
The most important part of a successful MR is his ability to verbally express with chosen words appropriately with modulation of voice supported by his proper NVC. He should not only speak well but also read and monitor customer’s NVC successfully and adjust his behaviour accordingly. He must simply be a good communicator keeping constant watch to understand the reaction of the customers’ NVC.
Precisely, VC and NVC travel simultaneously. One component potentiates the other. Thinkers believe the influencing capacity of NVC is more than VC, since VC is more dependant on NVC for its success, whereas NVC can travel alone if needed. That is the possibly the reason why business community in their promotional advertisements focus heavily on NVC components.
During a medical visit there is a complex human interaction and the MR, if he can read the cards in the doctor’s face, can dominate and mediate the business conversation towards his goal. Like the physician who is expert in clinical observation, the MR should also possess the expertise to continuously understand the physician’s NVC from his eyes and different parts of face along with his verbal language.
There is an increased need of this as the MR knows himself as a paid employee to communicate everything about his products in his basket, but the doctor is not obliged to fully express his opinion or thoughts. Then how to take the feedback, to know about his customer-doctor’s reaction? The solution here is to collect maximum feedback from the doctors NVC and monitor accordingly.
The MR can handle the customers with few words (VC) by watching for more reflection of NVC to discriminate the customer’s scepticism, acceptance, objection or indifference. Signals of NVC training begins in childhood and becomes more or less automatic without our full consciousness. VC on the other hand is a system through which we learn from formal education.
In medical communication, the most difficult doctor an MR would face is the one who keeps mum and who is expressionless – may be called ‘‘a steel face’’. How to handle such situations? This requires a close probing.
The components of NVC
Eye language: In NVC the most important part of the body is the eye. The eyes can show anger, happiness, surprise, sorrow, laugh or fear etc and that is why we can term these as eye language.
During the training session of a MR, the trainer may say ‘‘always keep eye contact with customers’’, surely he does not mean to keep the contact constantly without interruption, since looking above or below the ground or even eye completely closed voluntarily have got different communicating message.
For example, we sometimes look above when recollecting something. Looking below the ground may mean – shyness, lack of self-confidence, or guilty-conscious etc, whereas in profound sadness we may close the eyes completely with tears flowing on chins. While occasionally closing the eye lid for a few seconds, may convey the feelings that listener or speaker is deeply scanning the environment.
Eyes have some basic functions: For example; information seeking, attentive, signalling the partner that the channel is open or recognition of social relationship. In selling, the salesperson while monitoring the conversation, may look at the customers’ face to enable him to know how his words have been received by the customer. Knowing the reaction he can modify or alter his logic in communication. Thus, in selling, the seller may convey different attitudes of friendship, dominance, submission etc.
The MR should always keep in mind during discussions that the customer is powerful in negotiating table and he must monitor his non-verbal behaviour according to the situation. The key factor is in persuasion.
The MR for a closer, better relationship in opening business talk, should maintain a steady eye contact until he finds ‘‘no interest’’ in the customers eyes whereas in the concluding portion or sales close situation, the MR may look away from the customer as he has been looking at. If the MR is at the receiving end, it is the indication for him to end the discussion.
The writer is head of Training, CARREOGRAPH.