The definition of nonverbal communication can be as short or as elaborate and specific as one wants to make it. In general – the nonverbal communication describes any and all communication that occurs outside the realm of written or spoken words and is expressed by generation of either intentional or subconscious cues and their recognition. Commonly, nonverbal communication is divided into subcategories describing individual areas that transmit communication cues. These areas, among others, include kinesics, paralanguage, proxemics, haptics, oculesics, and physical appearance. Understanding and effective application of nonverbal communication skills is becoming increasingly important in the modern world of business for various reasons. The number of studies suggests that nonverbal cues have a significant effect on sales by creating a filter through which the following information is perceived (Leigh 1). Managers must also be efficient not only in understanding the dynamics of nonverbal communication by their employees, but also in determining how customers interpret the employees nonverbal cues (Sundram 2).
Types of Nonverbal Communication
The purpose of this report is to examine the significance of the nonverbal communication in the business setting. The topics discussed include: types of nonverbal communication, the importance of recognition and use of nonverbal communication elements, potential problems with nonverbal communication and solutions for effective nonverbal communication.
Kinesics, meaning - body movements, represents one of the largest areas of “ “leakage” – signals that escape from a deceptive interviewee despite his or her attempts at control.” (Waltman 1). One must realize, however, that “leakage” is not limited to interview subjects, but is natural human behavior (Waltman 1). In turn, torso movements, gestures and facial expressions are commonly viewed as the most important areas of kinesics in terms of generation of nonverbal cues that, when combined with other cues as well as context, suggest a meaning to what is being communicated (Sunduram 4). Ray L. Birdwhistell, in his research, also stresses that kinesic communication must be viewed in terms of “contextual meaning” (Jolly 6). Additional benefit of using “contextual meaning” in interpretation of nonverbal cues is realized when trying to read a skilled communicator (Jolly 6). Experienced presenters can control their facial expressions and eye contact to reduce or, perhaps, prevent altogether the amount of leakage (Waltman 3). Therefore, by analyzing the context as well as the separate cues, one is more likely to perceive the true picture. William Nolen, in his advice to the auditors, suggests that based on previous studies “synchronization of kinesic cues, such as rhythmic hand gesturing and head nods, heightens the perception of credibility. Synchronous displays are perceived as more competent, composed, trustworthy, extroverted, and sociable than dissynchronous displays” (Nollen 2-3).
In addition to general kinesics, oculesics – eye movement and behavior, is widely considered to be “single most powerful and persuasive way to gain attention and win approval” (Raudsepp 3). The behavior of a person’s eyes can either strengthen what is being communicated verbally, or diminish the importance or credibility of the subject. In American culture, a direct eye contact translates into confidence, competence and honesty (Raudsepp 3). On the contrary, in other cultures a direct eye contact with superiors may be considered as daring or disrespectful. Such cultural nuances are incredibly important in the modern global business environment, where many cultures, traditions and customs often existing side by side. Another important factors influencing eye contact are – relative heights of the people involved in the interaction and the distance between the individuals. The height gives the taller person a benefit of position of control or power and...
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