NonVerbal Communication

Category: Education

Presentation Description

This presentation is based on excerpts from the book "Basic Business Communication" by R V Lesikar & M E Flatley, and other miscellaneous sources.


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Presentation Transcript

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Non-Verbal Communication A Presentation by Rajiv Bajaj

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Nature of Non-Verbal Communication

Does Not Use Words : 

Does Not Use Words Non-verbal refers to any communication that does not use words. Takes place extensively at every level – individual, family, social and organisational. One of the oldest forms of communication - developed much before oral communication or languages came into being.

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Constitutes gestures, postures, signals and facial expressions – anything but spoken words. Accounts for more of a total message than words do - plays a reinforcing role. It is a broad subject, and because it is so broad, it is quite vague & imprecise.

Universal in Appeal : 

Universal in Appeal Verbal communication has limitations in terms of reach. Non-verbal communication has no such limitations. Words have boundaries, but non-verbal communication rises above language & cultural boundaries – because it does not use words.

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Best example - Silent movies of the olden times – they were understood by everyone. However, the meanings we give to non-verbal communication will depend on how our culture has conditioned us.

Relies on Observation & Interpretation : 

Relies on Observation & Interpretation It is closely associated with the power of observation. The receiver should be in a position to see, hear, and even feel the communicator. It may be both intended and unintended.

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Intended When the communicator tries to convey certain messages to the target audience through – Conscious gestures, Postures, Attire; And other forms of body language.

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Unintended When body language, posture or appearance of the communicator is interpreted by the receiver, even though not done consciously. A sloppy posture or casual attire may be interpreted as lack of seriousness, although the speaker may be quite intent.

May Complement or Contradict : 

May Complement or Contradict Although non-verbal communication can take place independent of other forms; It often goes along with oral or verbal communication. Body language & non-verbal messages can supplement and complement the verbal messages.

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Together, they make the message loud, clear and forceful. However, if they are not consistent, the resulting message would be ambiguous or garbled. Interpreting each non-verbal message provides a useful clue.

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However, listeners or observers should not jump to conclusions. They should take note of the totality of the messages communicated. It takes conscious effort on the part of the communicator to convey the message; And keen attention on the part of the receiver to interpret the messages correctly.

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One needs to make some allowance for errors in the meanings one receives from non-verbal messages. As a listener one needs to go beyond the obvious to determine what non-verbal symbols mean.

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Realise that nonverbal symbols can have many meanings. They communicate feeling – the primary way of expressing our emotions or instinctive reactions. They are more reliable – difficult to fake ! It means we can never Not Communicate.

Types of Non-Verbal Communication : 

Types of Non-Verbal Communication There are many ways to classify non-verbal communication. However, we will examine four of the more common types: Body Language, Space, Time and Paralanguage.

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Body Language

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Much of what we send to others without using words is sent through physical movements of our bodies. These are sent through our arms, fingers, expressions, postures and so on.

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When we wave our arms and fingers, wrinkle our foreheads, stand erect, smile, gaze at another person, dress well etc; We convey certain meanings; and others convey meanings to us in return. The face and the eyes are by far the most important features of body language.

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For example, fear, happiness, surprise, anger and sadness usually are accompanied by definite facial expressions and eye patterns. One should be aware of these two aspects of body language as one speaks and listens to others.

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Gestures are another way we send non-word messages through our body parts. Gestures are physical movements of our arms, legs, hands, torso and heads. Through the movement of each of these body parts, we can accent and reinforce our verbal messages.

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And we can observe how others punctuate their verbal efforts with gestures. By observing gestures, one can get a good picture of the internal emotional state of the person. Moreover, speaking and gestures appear to be linked. The louder someone speaks, the more emphatic are the gestures used. And vice versa.

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Another aspect of body language is physical appearance. Appearance of our body indicates how our body movements are seen. For example … How would you perceive a speaker at a formal function dressed in faded jeans?

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No doubt, the speaker’s gestures, facial expressions, posture etc would be perceived in relation to his attire. Ensure that your appearance fits the situation. It is an important part of body messages that we send out and receive in oral communication.

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Each of us has a space language, just as we do a body language. This space language is crafted by our culture.

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We create 4 different types of space: 1. Intimate – Physical contact to 18 inches. 2. Personal – 18 inches to 4 feet. 3. Social – 4 to 12 feet. 4. Public – 12 feet to the range of seeing and hearing. In each, our communication behaviours differ and convey different meanings.

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For example, consider the volume of your voice when someone is 18 inches from you. Do you shout ? Whisper ? Now contrast the tone of your voice when someone is 12 feet away. Unquestionably there is a difference, just because of the distance involved.

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Our behaviours in each type of space are learned from our cultures. One needs to be sensitive to the spaces of others – especially those from other cultures. When people’s attitudes towards space are different, their actions are likely to be misinterpreted.

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There is also a time language – how we give meaning to time communicates with others. How do you manage your time ? Do you arrive early for appointments ? Do you prioritise telephone calls ? Do you prepare an agenda for meetings ?

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Your response to time in these ways communicates to others; And, of course, others’ use of time communicates to you. Recognise that time orientations are not always the same – especially in the cross-cultural arena – but they do communicate.

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Monochronic people tend to view time as linear and always moving ahead. They expect events to happen as scheduled. Polychronic people have a more indefinite view of time. Time orientations become parts of the messages that we send to and receive from one another.

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Paralanguage means “like language”. It is the closest to communication with word symbols. It is associated with the speaker’s voice, the “how” of it – those hints and signals in the way words are delivered.

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For example – Same words, but the emphasis differs !

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Emphasis or stress on highlighted words in each statement can change the meaning of the statement from the others… …even though you used the same words. You do so by the way in which the word sequence sounds.

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Paralanguage is the communication effect of the speed, pitch, volume, and connectivity of the spoken words. Are they fast or slow ? High pitched or deep ? Loud and forceful or barely audible ? Smooth or disjointed ?

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The symbols become a part of the meaning that is filtered from a spoken message. Depending on circumstances, a person’s voice may or may not be consistent with intended word meanings. Make every effort to avoid inconsistencies that will send a confusing message.

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Consistency among words you choose, and how you deliver them to create clear meaning should be your goal.

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Whether real or imagined, people infer – 1. Background factors (race, occupation etc); 2. Physical appearance (age, height, gender etc); and 3. Personality (introversion, social orientation), when they receive and filter voice patterns.

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Do whatever you can to influence these expectancies positively. Active listeners will also want to listen between the lines of a spoken message to determine the true meaning a speaker is sending.

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Questions ?

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