Nonverbal Communication in the Hospitality Industry
By Prince A. Sanders, Managing Director at Park Lane Hotel New York
Anyone in the hospitality industry will tell you how important communication is to high-quality service. Our goal is to serve others and meet their needs, which is impossible without strong communication abilities.
Be Conscious of Guests' Body Language
It's vital to remember that nonverbal communication is automatic and ongoing. Speech may be turned on and off at will, but oftentimes we don't think about what our body language is saying. Therefore, reading guests' body language becomes even more essential to ensure we are providing them with a great time. These unspoken cues will help provide clues to how they feel and possibly even how we can make their experience an even better one.
For example, if a guest is mirroring our body language, it shows that the two of us are "in sync" or on the same page. The subconscious matching of movement usually displays friendliness and trust.
On the other hand, if someone's body language is mismatched, it displays conflict. Gestures such as touching the back of their head, ear, or eyes also indicate that someone is ready to move on.
Watch Your Own Body Language
As important as it is to monitor our guests' body language, we also should be aware of the messages that our bodies are sending. One of the easiest and most effective things we can do is maintain friendly eye contact when speaking to someone. This shows a guest that we are genuinely interested in what they have to say and that we are giving them our full attention.
We should refrain from hunching our shoulders forward and crossing our arms, as these postures make us appear "closed-off" or unfriendly. Additionally, we need to make sure that we aren't saying one thing while our body language indicates another. When presented with two conflicting signals, individuals are more likely to listen to nonverbal cues than verbal ones.
Communication is a pillar of the hospitality industry. Without being able to communicate properly with our guests, we will fail in our mission to provide exceptional service. As an industry, we need to focus on observing our guests' body language and reacting accordingly, while also keeping a close watch on the signals our bodies are sending them. With the right nonverbal cues, we can ensure that our guests feel welcome and at home with us.