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Generally, there are two forms of communication, the commonly known verbal communication which uses sounds or spoken language to relay messages and the non-verbal communication which will be discussed throughout the essay.
Non-verbal communication comprises all types of communication which doesn’t engage any spoken word (Greene et al. 1994). The observation of non-verbal communication engages all the senses, such as hearing which is used to identify the vocal characteristics of the spoken messages (Sundeen et al. 1989).
Peter Bull (2001) states that nonverbal communication can be unpremeditated, idiosyncratic and unaware. Individuals may perform non-verbal behaviors unintentionally such as trying to look as if he/she is concentrating on the talk or lecture but unable to suppress a yawn. In some occasions, the observer aren’t able to describe the nonverbal cues that transmitted an identified message. For an example, an individual may felt that his partner is angry but unable to state how he/she get the intuition. Nonverbal communication can also be unique to one individual. Different individuals has their own unique nonverbal cues to transmit certain messages they intend to send.
The process of non-verbal communication is a chain of cues intentionally or automatically encoded by the sender and consequently decoded by the recipient. Accurate coding and decoding of the signals by both parties determines the flow of communications initiated.
There are researchers who emphasizes that apart from spoken language, non-verbal language is also an essential component of natural language. Communication seems artificial without the functioning of non-verbal cues (Bull P., 2001). Thus, this essay will be discussing on the functions, non-verbal cues, importance and limitations of non-verbal communication.
FUNCTIONS OF NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION
First and foremost, it functions as a way to convey emotions. Neurocultural model of facial expression holds that there are at least six primary emotions with intrinsic facial expressions, both which are common to everyone. The six primary emotions identified are happy, sad, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. We convey much of our emotions through facial expressions during our conservations with others.
Next it functions as an aid for people facing physical incapability such as hearing disability to convey or interpret messages. In other words, as a substitution for spoken language when verbal communication is impossible (Argyle, 1972) Sign language which uses the hands and fingers to perform are primary example.
Furthermore, it functions as an identifier which identifies types of interpersonal relationship between individuals and others. There goes a saying that the physical contact of the hands, the mutual glance of each other eyes and a kiss enable to conveys the intimacy of two or more individuals successfully then thousand words. Apart from that through status differences, and association or hostility, types of inter-personal relationships could be reflected and they also shows an individual keenness to establish which type of relationship (Argyle, 1972). Peter Bull (2001) also states that an identity of an unseen conversational opponent can be identified just by observing the non-verbal behavior of one individual alone.
Lastly, non-verbal communication function in integrating with verbal messages. They integrate with verbal messages by acting as a support and in maintaining conversations. Supporting as in to reinforce a verbal message such as showing 2 fingers to the waitress to order 2 beers in the bar. The aim in this circumstances is to increase the probability of the accurate response of the verbal message. While maintaining as in initiating and ending of conversations, intruding, turn-taking are all negotiated mostly by non-verbal cues (Argyle, 1972). Besides that, they act as a direct replacement for words to integrate with verbal messages. For example pointing directly to a place to give clearer directions or refer to an object immediately without describing too much. Furthermore, it also enables the individual to give emphasis to the verbal message by physical touch, leaning forward and increase the volume of the voice.
Non-verbal cues are broadly defined as all communication excluding those coded in words (Eisenberg & Smith, 1971, p.20). Non-verbal cues includes three main variables such as non-verbal behavioral variables, physical appearance variables and demographic variables.
NON-verbal behavioral variables includes non-verbal cues such as body movements, facial expressions, eye contact or gaze, space, gestures, touch and paralinguistic.
Body movements consists of head nodding and shaking, body postures and gestures.
Head nodding and shaking act as reinforces, praising and cheering of what has been said and listened. They play a significant role in controlling and coordinating speech. For example, a nod may indicates permission for the speaker to continue speaking, whereas nods that are rapid indicates the individual who nods wants to have his turn to speak. Schabracq (1987) differentiate three roles in head nods which are regulating communication, assist spoken communication and make non-verbal comments. Next, postures are body’s position of an individual. Ekman (1969) revealed that a person’s body position differ with their emotions and thus displaying their emotional state. Body postures may also indicate if one is listening, attending and involved in the communication. (Von Cranach, 1971). Lastly, gestures are the motion of the hands or body. In scaffolding students with Down Syndrome effectively, research revealed that usage of hand gestures are significant as students are more quick to respond to the teachers’ directions, longer concentration span and able to successfully accomplish on the tasks and activities given. An emotional state can be observed too from body gestures. For example a person feeling angry will clench his fist.
Facial expression consists of smile, frown, raised eyebrows, pursed lips, grinning. It function as an add on to verbal and body movement messages and act as “fine tuners” of the individual’s feelings. People perceived smiling positively and is regard as an indication of wittiness, kind and propinquity (Mehrabian 1972, Reece & Whitman 1962). Besides that a lack of facial expression signify attentiveness on conversation. Lastly, a speaker whom support his statements with proper facial expressions will facilitate on the atmosphere such as funny, urgent, serious of the conversation (Vine, 1971).
Gaze engages eye contact which could be directing at someone or may not. Knapp and Hall (1997) state that gaze has five main functions which are regulation of exchange statements by two or more individuals, supervising feedback, mirror the functioning of cognition, conveying emotions and corresponding the characteristics of relationships. Besides that, is also functions as an indicator on the level of interest, concentration, engagement, processing cognitive activities during the communication. Von Cranach (1971) states that gaze indicate the willingness to begin an interaction with others. Argyle & Dean (1965) suggests that looking can be an indication of the level of intimacy between individuals. Next, gaze coordinates with verbal messages and by indicating a need for more information and feedback or to provide extra information during the interaction. Lastly, gaze are able to emphasize verbal messages or convey feelings. For example, nurses uses eye contact to express warmth and empathy with patient.
Space between two or more individuals in conversations can also transmit messages. During a video tutoring, getting closer towards the screen signify a desire to stress a point or increase the level of involvement in the conversation. Jon Nichol and Kate Watson suggests that individuals feels more secure by the space created from the technological communication tool.
Touch is physical contact between body parts. It is an important aspects in developing and enhancing relationships between two or more individuals. It also functions as a method to express affection, concerns and to relieve mental or physical pain (Mc Cann & McKenna, 1993). For example, nurses are able to sooth patient using instrumental touch when performing medical tasks on patient (Watson,1975). Lastly, touch helps people with visual deficiency to interpret or convey messages.
Paralinguistic includes speech rate, volume, intonation and talking duration. During a performance appraisal interviews, the perception between the subordinate and superior can be affected by the formation of statements and pauses (Adams, 1981). Besides forming perceptions a wisdom on the usage of paralinguistic enables a facilitator to guide the classes effectively as it functions to attract the students and lead them to be attentive during class.
The next variables in non-verbal cues is the physical appearance variables. The physical appearance variables comprises of non-behavioral cues that could be temporally and able to go through regular changes by an individual such as hair color, dressing style, make up and physical attractiveness. Physical appearance affects the perceptions, behaviors and ratings of an observer to an individual being observed and communicate to (cf. Walster et al., 1966). Individuals that process attractive appearance have high chances to attain high-status occupations and were supposedly, in nature, own personalities that are desired by the society (Dion et al. ,1972). Apart from that, they have high chances in successfully making persuasion compare to others (Mills & Aronson, 1965).
The last variable is demographic variables are generally not under an individual’s control and they consists of sex, race and age. Demographic variables able to communicate distinct messages to receivers without the awareness or consciousness of the individual observed and affect on the receiver’s reaction, perception and evaluation. Race owns common understanding and communally shared meaning and this creates culture and racial stereotypes which affect their evaluation in the society (cf. Campbell, 1967; Cauthen et al.,1971). Age plays a major role in peoples evaluation of the individuals capability. Employers favor in employing the young then the old employees (Rosen &Jerdee,1976b). Comparing to young employees, old employees are commonly judge to own lower creativity, decline to changes, low physical capability for tasks and harder to train (Rosen &Jerdee,1976b). Gender creates gender role stereotypes such as their personalities, working, physical, etc ability. Gender role stereotypes plays a major criteria in the performance evaluation in workforce and tasks and thus lead to certain sex for certain jobs. (de Meuse, K. P. ,1987).
IMPORTANCE & ADVANTAGES OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNCIATION
Understanding non-verbal communication leads to proper applicant in daily communication and hence creating benefits of a good quality interaction with others which is important as we are constantly interacting with others who we know and the public consciously or unconsciously. Using proper non-verbal cues leads to handling difficult situation successfully and smartly and It promotes an effective way to convey messages quickly rather than making long descriptions. It’s important as we will be benefiting from various aspects such as using them to convey important messages during a conversation without interrupting the flow of others, knowledge of it enable us to identify nonverbal behavior and used appropriate feedback or replies in conversation and understanding the meanings non-verbal cues for different cultures and statuses will less likely the occurrence of accidental insults. For different people in different profession such as teaching and in business, non verbal helps them to convey activities more successfully and produce better outcomes. Study has found that facilitator’s non-verbal behavior can bring out greater student reactions during teaching period comparing their verbal behavior (Wang, X., Bernas, R., & Eberhard, P. ,2001) For an example correct choice of non-verbal cues can uphold a spirit of teamwork between the teachers and as they guides a nice, secure and comfortable atmosphere in the classroom. Hence, proper training should be prepare for the people in every workforce to create better outcomes. Lastly, we are always trying to expand our social network and thus creating different relationships, thus applying the proper non-verbal cues enable to develop, sustain and enhance a good quality relationships between individuals and others and guide the right atmosphere of the interaction.
LIMITATIONS OR DISADVANTAGE OF NON VERBAL CUMMUNICATION
There are individuals who are paralyzed in their facial parts which prevents them to put on facial expressions that reflects their emotions, leading to misinterpretation of situations, their characters and messages. An individual lacking in the understanding of non verbal cues may lead to misinterpretation and create wrong perceptions of others, the situations and messages. Non-verbal cues creates socially known stereotypes which lead to wrong decision making in employment and also creates wrong perceptions in every aspects. In an interview, first impression create by non-verbal cues tends to direct the decisions of the interviewers before accessing the individuals being interviewed. Sometimes, unintentional transmit of non-verbal cues can lead to misinterpretation of observer as being rude or challenging the authority of the observer. Different cultures varies in meaning for certain non-verbal cues. For example, pursed hand means good in Greece, doubt in Italy and feeling afraid in France. So it would be misinterpreted wrongly when a certain non-verbal cue is shown in different region to express certain meaning (Morris et al. 1979). Certain rules set by the society will lead to individuals hiding their expression, and therefore deceiving the messages transmit from the mask non-verbal behaviours (Ramsey 1984).
In conclusion, It is vital that verbal and non-verbal communication coordinate together for effective communication. The right amount of non-verbal cues lay out the way for a meaningful communication. Although non-verbal cues can result in misinterpretations, but the with the support of verbal messages the misinterpretation can be decrease. Understanding and equipping the knowledge of non-verbal cues lead to a much more accuracy in encoding and decoding them which hence results in a good quality communication with others and building good relationships in daily life. Trainings and workshops can be prepared or attain to enhance on personal knowledge and proper application of non-verbal cues in daily life which benefit almost in every aspects of life.
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