Thursday, October 18, 2007

Non-verbal communication

Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the process of transmitting messages without spoken words, sometimes called body language, messages can be communicated through facial expressions; gestures; gaze; and posture; Many include the space we use around us; object communication includes clothing, hairstyles, adornment, shoes, and other communicative props (Ottenheimer, 2007, p. 120-122), or even architecture; symbols and infographics; prosodic features of speech such as intonation and stress and other paralinguistic features of speech such as voice quality, emotion and speaking style. According to Guerrero and Floyd,2006, nonverbal communication is a subset of nonverbal behavior.
You cannot say nothing! Try to sit for one minute without speaking. Even if you are able to keep from moving you will still communicate rigidity, anxiety, or something. We are always saying something. It is important to observe and try to understand what is being communicated. In many situations people say what they think intellectually rather than what they feel emotionally.
There is some truth in the old cliche ``actions speak louder than words.'' Body language, carefully observed and interpreted, can tell a lot about what others are feeling.
Nonverbal communication is learned and practiced often on an unconscious level. We attract people by using these nonverbal signals, and sometimes those we attract (or who are attracted to us) are unwholesome. As we grow older and become more aware of ourselves we should be able to recognize and weed out the unwholesome in favor of those for whom we have an affinity.
Body language can be disguised behind a mask out of a fear of rejection. This can discourage wanted and needed relationships from developing. Those who want and need certain relationships to develop must relearn their nonverbal skills and unmask themselves in order to avoid alienation.
Nonverbal Communication:

Body Language
Body Language of Proxemics
Books by Albert Mehrabian
Center for Nonverbal Studies
Exploring Nonverbal Communication
Eye Gaze
Facial Analysis
Facial Expression
Graphic Symbols
Nonverbal Communication Links
Nonverbal Communication Research Page
Categories and Features G. W. Porter divides non-verbal communication into four broad categories:

Physical. This is the personal type of communication. It includes facial expressions, tone of voice, sense of touch, sense of smell, and body motions.

Aesthetic. This is the type of communication that takes place through creative expressions: playing instrumental music, dancing, painting and sculpturing.

Signs. This is the mechanical type of communication, which includes the use of signal flags, the 21-gun salute, horns, and sirens.

Symbolic. This is the type of communication that makes use of religious, status, or ego-building symbols.

Some major areas of nonverbal behaviors to explore are:

*Eye contact:Eye contact, an important channel of interpersonal communication, helps regulate the flow of communication. And it signals interest in others. Furthermore, eye contact with audiences increases the speaker's credibility. Teachers who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.

*Facial expressions :Smiling is a powerful cue that transmits:
Thus, if you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable, friendly, warm and approachable. Smiling is often contagious and students will react favorably and learn more

*Gestures :If you fail to gesture while speaking, you may be perceived as boring, stiff and unanimated. A lively and animated teaching style captures students' attention, makes the material more interesting, facilitates learning and provides a bit of entertainment. Head nods, a form of gestures, communicate positive reinforcement to students and indicate that you are listening.

*Posture and body orientation :You communicate numerous messages by the way you walk, talk, stand and sit. Standing erect, but not rigid, and leaning slightly forward communicates to students that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. Furthermore, interpersonal closeness results when you and your students face each other. Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided; it communicates disinterest to your class.

*Proximity :Cultural norms dictate a comfortable distance for interaction with students. You should look for signals of discomfort caused by invading students' space. Some of these are:
Leg swinging
Gaze aversion
Typically, in large college classes space invasion is not a problem. In fact, there is usually too much distance. To counteract this, move around the classroom to increase interaction with your students. Increasing proximity enables you to make better eye contact and increases the opportunities for students to speak.

*Paralinguistics :This facet of nonverbal communication includes such vocal elements as:


For maximum teaching effectiveness, learn to vary these six elements of your voice. One of the major criticisms is of instructors who speak in a monotone. Listeners perceive these instructors as boring and dull. Students report that they learn less and lose interest more quickly when listening to teachers who have not learned to modulate their voices.

*Humor :Humor is often overlooked as a teaching tool, and it is too often not encouraged in college classrooms. Laughter releases stress and tension for both instructor and student. You should develop the ability to laugh at yourself and encourage students to do the same. It fosters a friendly classroom environment that facilitates learning. (Lou Holtz wrote that when his players felt successful he always observed the presence of good humor in the locker room.)
Obviously, adequate knowledge of the subject matter is crucial to your success; however, it's not the only crucial element. Creating a climate that facilitates learning and retention demands good nonverbal and verbal skills. To improve your nonverbal skills, record your speaking on video tape. Then ask a colleague in communications to suggest refinements.
Static Features
Distance. The distance one stands from another frequently conveys a non-verbal message. In some cultures it is a sign of attraction, while in others it may reflect status or the intensity of the exchange.

Orientation. People may present themselves in various ways: face-to-face, side-to-side, or even back-to-back. For example, cooperating people are likely to sit side-by-side while competitors frequently face one another.

Posture. Obviously one can be lying down, seated, or standing. These are not the elements of posture that convey messages. Are we slouched or erect ? Are our legs crossed or our arms folded ? Such postures convey a degree of formality and the degree of relaxation in the communication exchange.

Physical Contact. Shaking hands, touching, holding, embracing, pushing, or patting on the back all convey messages. They reflect an element of intimacy or a feeling of (or lack of) attraction.
Dynamic Features
Facial Expressions. A smile, frown, raised eyebrow, yawn, and sneer all convey information. Facial expressions continually change during interaction and are monitored constantly by the recipient. There is evidence that the meaning of these expressions may be similar across cultures.
Gestures. One of the most frequently observed, but least understood, cues is a hand movement. Most people use hand movements regularly when talking. While some gestures (e.g., a clenched fist) have universal meanings, most of the others are individually learned and idiosyncratic.
Looking. A major feature of social communication is eye contact. It can convey emotion, signal when to talk or finish, or aversion. The frequency of contact may suggest either interest or boredom.


Pramila Mathew said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about Communication skills
. Thanks you

Ramesh Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanya Singh said...

Thanks for sharing this useful info. Keep updating same way about Non- Verbal Communication Skills
Regards,Sanya Communication skills