What’s Your Organizational Body Language Saying

Paul Barton Internal Communications Organizational Body Language

By Paul Barton, ABC

In the public speaking coaching side of my business, I often talk about how 80% to 90% of what we communicate as humans is done with our body language, not with our words. But what’s even more important to understand is that body language is more credible than our words.

Simply put, we believe the body more than the mouth.

The same is true for organizations and internal communications. Yes, 80% to 90% of what an organization communicates to its employees is done with its organizational body language, not with its words (formal employee communications). And, just like interpersonal communications, an organization’s body language is by far more credible than the words a company uses to communicate to its workforce.

So, what is organizational body language? It includes things like policies and procedures manuals, compensation and benefits programs, systems and processes, the number of resources and support, actual values, day-to-day priorities, trust, a willingness to listen, and the tone an organization takes when speaking to its own employees. Just like with people, the “unwritten rules” are the most credible — what does it take to get hired, what does it take to get promoted, and what does it take to get fired?

Companies make a lot of claims about how they value: employees, diversity, employee well-being, hard work and dedication, and so on. So the question of organizational body language comes down to this: Does what an organization says match up to the personal experience employees have?

Why It Matters and What We Can Do

So why does any of this matter to internal communications professionals? Because the gap between what an organization says and what it actually does is the single biggest determinant of how effective our internal communication efforts will be. It is key that we understand this alignment if we are going to fully engage employees and affect change. What is your organization’s body language saying? Is it different than your organizational plank messages?

As strategic internal communicators, it is our responsibility to recognize and point out credibility gaps and suggest ways that can help to narrow those gaps. We can’t always control what our organizations practice but we can directly impact what they preach. We can control the nuisance of our messages and we help our organizations determine their authentic internal brand voice.

It’s crucial that we do so. Because without credibility, a message has no value.

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Paul Barton Communications internal communications book


I was doing a vanity search on my book recently and came across this — you can buy a used version of Maximizing Internal Communication for just $744.44. The No. 1 book on internal communications retails brand new for only $34.95 but, if you’d like to spend an additional $709.49 for a used version, you can at GlassFrogBooks. There also is a $34.94 used version for those shoppers seeking to save 1 cent from the new book price.

I know there are some interesting pricing strategies on Amazon. For instance, some authors lower the price of their Amazon Kindle eBooks to free for a couple of weeks to boost “sales.” This can propel the eBook to the top of its category and once it has risen to the top, the authors restore the original price. I’m guessing there is some sort of gamesmanship going on with a $744.44 book as well but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.

If you have ideas regarding this bizarre pricing strategy, please share them with me. But whatever you do, please don’t buy a $744.44 book. Rest assured, you can always purchase my book for just $34.95 right here on this website or on Amazon.