A Serious Business Advantage
Whether it is called intuition or just good judgment, the ability to perceive and to use nonverbal cues to one’s advantage gives the business person the power and the skill to be more successful. T.S. Eliot wrote in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, “There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” Perhaps he meant that those in business must be prepared in such a way as to make their face agree with the message that the consumer expects to receive. The communication experts agree that when two people have a face-to-face conversation only a small fraction of the total message they share is actually contained in the words they use. A portion of the message is contained in the tone of voice, accent, speed, volume, and inflection. However, approximately 93 percent of it is understood through nonverbal communication behaviors (Source needed). The combination of gestures, postures, facial expressions, and even clothing can support or interfere with the verbal messages that a person delivers. The importance of nonverbal cues in the business world has not been studied extensively, but it only makes sense that it can have a strong impact on any communication within or outside the business realm. For instance, selling is an area where the nonverbal actions can make or break a deal. People are unlikely to want to buy from a sales person who refuses to make eye contact, who has poor posture, who lacks energy, and who seems unconvinced about the products and services represented. The importance of nonverbal communication in conjunction with appropriate verbal skills can make a difference to the success of a business transaction. Therefore, this paper will
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examine nonverbal communication as an important and integral component for business organizations and will determine nonverbal cues that are beneficial for successful business interactions. The ability to perceive and use nonverbal cues to one’s advantage gives the business person the power to be successful. Nonverbal communication includes any part of the body used by a person to send a message to another person. A person’s dress, attitude and movements are all contributions to personal business transactions. These cues can help a business owner get the message across or be able to correctly interpret a message received from a customer. Often the nonverbal messages express true feelings more accurately than the actual words. A study by Fatt (1998), notes that any communication in interpersonal relationships is insufficient with just mere words (p.1). Consequently, he states, “Nonverbal communication thus becomes the yardstick against which words and intentions are measured” (p.1). The most common use of nonverbal communication in business has been in marketing research. It is used to determine consumers’ attitudes towards new products. For example, executives watching a focus test group pay more attention to the nonverbal cues of the group. They are able to more closely identify the test group’s true feelings by observing their body language, facial expressions and eye contact. Facial expressions especially are particularly helpful as they can show hidden emotions that contradict their verbal statements (Remland, 1981, p.18). Additionally, in business settings, the way one is viewed affects his transactions. Martin Remland (1981) writes that as much as 90 percent of a manager’s time is spent
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communicating with others face-to-face (p.2). Therefore, business people especially managers have to present themselves as a complete package that includes knowledge of their products, appropriate dress, and adequate use of nonverbal behaviors that depicts sincerity and trustworthiness. Nonverbal behavior is a major...