Annual Report of the Information Commissioner 2016

Non-Verbal Communication

Over 90% of your message is communicated non-verbally. This is influenced vocally (38%) by factors such as volume, pitch and rhythm, and by body movements (55%), specifically facial expressions.

Use a friendly smile and welcoming voice

It puts people at ease. All members of the public would like a good customer experience.

Be patient

Be aware that some people may take a little longer to understand and respond.

Listen to the person

Your body language is an important part of your listening behaviour; be aware of your posture, eye contact and facial expressions.

Face the person when speaking

Make eye contact and face the person when speaking to them.

Keep background noise to a minimum

Try to speak in an area with few competing sounds. This is particularly important as one in seven members of the public have some level of hearing loss.

Find a way of communicating that works for the person

For example, keep a pen and paper handy to write information down if necessary. Alternatively, provide images that may help get your message across.

Use alternative ways to communicate

To accommodate different languages, where appropriate, offer information using non-spoken forms of communication; such as sign language, universal symbols, translation software or phrase books.

If you offer assistance, wait until you receive permission

Never touch a person, service animal (for example a guide dog) or their assistive products (for example wheelchairs) without permission.

Understand cultural norms

Be aware and have an understanding of the diversity and cultural norms of the customer base.

Consider the distance you are standing from the person

Do not stand too close but also make sure you do not stand too far away.

Treat all members of the public equally

Avoid stereotyping, racist attitudes, prejudice and discrimination.

Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service – A Universal Design Approach

Verbal Communication

Non – Verbal Communication Checklist

back to top