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Non-verbal Communication Essay


In communication, a reasonable percentage of understanding is derived from non-verbal communication. This kind of communication works always. However, it is not always the case that one speaks before people can derive the thoughts of that person. A lot of these thoughts can simply be derived from gestures, signals, or expressions.

This kind of communication can be very effective if one sends the appropriate signals aimed at the right target (Abramovitch 1977, p. 82). This form of communication can easily be misunderstood if the wrong signals are sent to the recipients. Hands are significant in conveying non-verbal communication as they are used for gesturing. The facial expression and body language also play a big role in this form of communication.

It is possible to know someone’s private feelings simply by looking at that person’s facial expression. For instance if a colleague is not in a good mood, one will simply need to look for the nonverbal communication that that person portrays. For communication to be effective, attention has to be given to that which is communicated non-verbally, good examples being the use of space, gestures and body language.

Non verbal communication may differ according to different cultures and this may be the main cause of misinterpretation. There are cultures that take the nodding of the head vertically as an agreement while others take it as a refusal. There are those who would perceive a minors direct look into the eye as honest while others while perceive it as disrespect.

For one to mask feelings or spontaneous reaction to information, the attention must be paid to the nonverbal behavior. It might be easy for one to control his/her voice or words yet still that person’s body language, facial expression as well as movement can expose his/her real thoughts and feelings.

No matter the position that one holds at the place of work, the ability to interpret non-verbal communication adds to the ability of that individual to share meaning with others. This is because the shared meaning is what constitutes communication (Abramovitch 1977, p. 87).

Significance of Nonverbal Communication

To understand nonverbal communication, one needs to recognize that different people communicate on different levels. Every gesture usually communicates something and all that is needed is to pay close attention to it. If the verbal and non-verbal communication is not in harmony, it is more likely that the communicator will be lying or is of a different idea from that being communicated. It might therefore be reasonable for the listener not to pay attention to that person’s non-verbal communication.

Non verbal communication might play a significant role during a job interview as the interviewer will be able to deduce the kind of person the candidate is, as well as his/her strengths and weaknesses. During a criminal investigation, the non-verbal signals that are relayed by the person under investigation may be even of greater importance that the verbal statements that that person gives.

It might be easier for the investigators to determine if the person being investigated is lying, is hiding some information or if the person is speaking the truth. This will only be possible if the investigator understands and rightly interprets the non-verbal signals.

When one is issuing a speech the nonverbal communication relayed by the audience might of great importance in helping the speaker know if the audience is paying attention, if the people are bored, exhausted, irritated or when it is time for another speaker to take charge. Listening to them is very important if the speaker needs to be effective. If the nonverbal communication is effectively used while delivering a message for instance through speech, that message will be effective and memorable (Abramovitch 1977, p. 90).

Features of Nonverbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is complicated and it may be challenging to understand its signals. This type of communication involves the whole body, the space occupied, the time taken, what is left out and how it is left out. Non-verbal communication flows from one to another and this makes it difficult single out one element and interpret it correctly from the series of other elements. This type of communication is constantly in motion just as human beings are and it does not replicate itself in the same place.

This kind of communication unlike the spoken or written communication is irreversible. For the written communication, the communicator might be in a position to clarify, correct or retract the message that is conveyed. For the oral communication, one is able to give an explanation or restate with the intention of clarifying the point. It is therefore possible to correct oral communication, as much as the original message remains with its impact as well.

It is not possible to separate a single non-verbal action from its context correct it and take it back. In speech, this kind of communication is always occurring and it becomes difficult to tell when a single non verbal message starts or stops and to exactly determine when the next one starts. The communication is only relevant in its context and if it is singled out then it might easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood hence leading to a wrong conclusion being drawn.

One usually expresses himself or herself first through the nonverbal communication always without even consciously thinking about it. This communication portrays ones feelings and thoughts way before the person becomes aware of it.

This kind of communication usually brings out the intentional as well as unintentional messages. It is common for people to concentrate on how someone says something than what that message is really. It is surprising that human beings use more non-verbal communication than the verbal one and in some cases this type of communication may add up or even replace the verbal one (Bull 1987).

Forms of Nonverbal Communication

Illustrators which are nonverbal gestures are used to communicate the message in an effective way as well as reinforcing the points. This could for instance be a node which confirms acceptance. The response to this may be in the form of an emblem, which may be by using the O.K. sign to signal.

Regulators which are nonverbal messages may also be used for controlling, maintaining or discouraging interaction. One the speaker is irritating the listener could for instance hold up his/her hand and the speaker will interpret it as a request to stop (Benjamin & Craidler 1975, p. 27).Regulators may also be used by the audience listening to a speech. They may for instance look away, make drawings at the book margins or tap their feet, and all these regulators will be representing boredom or disinterest (Kelly 1982).

Adaptors can also be used in the non-verbal communication and they help one to adapt to the environment hence ensuring that the communicator is secure and comfortable. A good example would be the hairstyle or a behavior that is self adaptive. One may also use object-adaptors to convey a message of disinterest for instance.

They may use an object for a different purpose to show disinterest. A good example may be when the audience starts chewing the backside of their pens to signify disinterest. All in all, non-verbal communications are universal. They be used differently by different people in different places or they may take a different form but they will remain to be non-verbal communications.

Nonverbal communication forms a basis for communicating emotional massages as people rarely express their emotions through the spoken word. Most of the time people express their emotions none verbally. This is contributed to by the fact that some emotions might not be expressed well or fully in the verbal form. It is very easier to deduce deception for a speaker by keenly observing the person’s non-verbal communication.

Such a person may for instance avoid eye contact, awkwardly pause during the conversation, and delay while responding to questions, changing body movement and posture frequently. They person might also smile less and reduce the rate of his/her speech. When such behaviors are noticed in the speaker, the listener(s) may be required to be a bit keener. People’s speech patterns speak a lot concerning the truthfulness in the messages being conveyed.

This type of communication is very significant in the relationship that exists between the speaker and the audience. When people meet for the first time, the first conclusions that are made about the different parties are usually derived from the non-verbal messages that are displayed (Scheflen 1964).

This is usually based on the dressing code, the physical characteristics and the posture. Nonverbal communication therefore affects the first impression made, for better or for worse. Assumed expectation is usually derived from the speaker’s maintenance of personal space, the dressing code as well as the physical characteristics right from the time the speaker meets the audience. As much as these expectations may neither be fair nor accurate, they always exist.

Controlling the verbal and nonverbal communication is important in forming a good rapport with the audience (Ekman & Friesen 1969). Maintaining eye contact with them, using space appropriately and being formal enhances this kind of relationship. Nonverbal communication is usually perceived to be part of the message and it has the capability to contribute to or lead to detraction from the overall goal.

Samples of Nonverbal Communication

It is believed that whatever is not said is just as significant as what is said. Words just form a section of communication. From a facial expression, it is possible to determine whether someone is happy, surprised, fearful, angered, disgusted, interested or sad. Interpreting nonverbal communication needs no special communication.

It may however require extensive training for one to be self aware of portraying nonverbal communication to others. Agreement between the two forms of communication enhances the establishment of a common understanding. A genuine and positive smile could indicate an agreement with an idea or a person.

The attire that is worn also plays a significant role in bringing out a nonverbal message. What someone puts on is what people call a ‘fashion statement.

A formal dressing code could be adapted while speaking in an official meeting. On the contrary, a casual code could be adapted if the message is targeted to people within an informal setting. Eyes have always been perceived to be windows to the soul. Maintaining an eye contact could be a show of interest or attraction, while disgust is indicated by an upward nose wrinkle and raising of the upper lip.

The element of time keeping also falls under nonverbal communication. When a speaker arrives at a meeting on time, and sticks to the stipulated time, it speaks a lot about that person.

It implies seriousness and commitment on the speaker’s side. It also says a lot about the gravity of the topic under discussion (Scheflen 1964). Culture plays a very significant role in any communication. In the case of nonverbal communication, culture determines what is and what is not allowed. Some cultures give room for lateness while others do not (Argyle & Kendon 1967).

Nonverbal communication concept

Nonverbal communication just like the verbal one is a section of a society’s backbone. This kind of communication is necessary for helping people to coexist and build their own culture. For any communication study to be effective, one needs to grasp the basic concepts of not only the verbal but the nonverbal communication as well.

Most of the time, these two forms of communication occur together. The non verbal communication is usually composed of three major components which include; the one creating the communication, the communication itself and the recipient (Darwin 1872). There has always been a misconception that sign language falls under the nonverbal communication. This is however not the case as sign language is categorized under the visual language-based communication.

There needs to be a complementary relationship between the verbal and the verbal forms of communication. If not, then the result is confusion, disappointment and mistrust. Whatever is said must be complemented by the actions (Benjamin & Creider 1975).

Nonverbal communication is significant in the clarification and making the verbal communication to be well understood. Facial and hand gestures are used to illustrate whatever is communicated. It offers the cues that assist in ensuring that the message is understood.

This type of communication is important as it portrays one’s perceptions, beliefs and the person’s world view. They expose whatever is in a person. If one pulls back when a hug is offered it may signify that the person has an aversion to the physical touch which could be attributed to his/her past experiences (Argyle & Kendon 1967).

The non verbal communication plays a big role in affirming a message. For instance, verbal communication demonstrating how to use online purchasing tools could be affirmed by the speaker taking a computer and demonstrating the same to the audience. It helps in reinforcing the message.

Nonverbal communication at the Workplace

At the workplace, violating ones personal space is a nonverbal communication that might be offensive. Slumping in a chair could be a sign of fatigue or an indication that the person is sad. Boredom at a meeting could be expressed through yawning while anger could be expressed by folding the hands.

Such clues can be used while encouraging someone positively respond when asked to do something. While at the workplace, it is possible to know the feelings of workers just by observing their body languages or facial expressions. This is significant I determining whether the workers are displeased or please either by the working conditions or the rules and regulations that are in place at the workplace.

Reference List

Abramovitch, R., 1977. Children’s recognition of situational aspects of facial expression’, Child Development, Vol. 48. No. 4, pp. 77-98.

Argyle, M., & Kendon, A., 1967, The experimental analysis of social performance. in L.Berkowitz (ed.). Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Benjamin, G.R., & Creider, C. A., 1975. Social distinctions in non-verbal behavior.

Semiotica, Vol.14, No. 3, pp. 22-46

Bull, P.E., 1987, Posture and Gesture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Darwin, C., 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Ekman P., & Friesen, W., 1969. The repertoire of nonverbal behavior. Semiotica, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 66-80.

Kelly, J. A., 1982, Social Skills Training: A Practical Guide for Interventions. London: Macmillan Publisher London.

Scheflen, A. E., 1964. The significance of posture in communication systems. Psychiatry Vol.27, No. 2, pp. 200-205

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