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Non-Verbal Communication

Saurav Roy
19/12/2017 0 0

We all have read in history books that human beings, before the introduction of words, used to express feelings with the help of gestures and postures. They used their bodies to communicate. They gritted their teeth to show anger. Grimmed to display their happiness and touched one another to exhibit affection. You have also read previously that communication can be both written and spoken. The history of language reveals that the written form of communication developed much later than the spoken form. Language became more refined with the passage of time when the notion of correctness ie, grammar came into being.

What is non-verbal communication?

Communication without the use of words or speech is called non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication doesn’t follow any fixed structure. The response to a piece of good news can be expressed by giving a small smile, whereas sometimes evoking a whole-hearted laughter.

As in written communication, punctuation marks convey the message left out by words, in non-verbal communication, body movements, gestures, postures, environment, time , space and tone of voice convey more than words do.

Studies suggest that there are 7,00,000 forms of non-verbal communication. As it is difficult to interpret all of them, let us group them in the following 3 categories:

1. Kinesics: Remember the first time when you were asked to make a speech, the way your limbs trembled and vice shook. It was your teacher who noticed and said, “Don’t be nervous”. Our body keeps giving indications of emotions which we can feel and others can see. These movements of our body can be studied under ‘Kinesics’ or in simple terms called as ‘ Body Language’ coined by Ray Birdwhistell. According to him, kinesics is the science that analyses the movements of our bodily organs. Body language can be further divided into: Appearance, Eyes, Posture and Gesture.
a) Appearance: There is a famous saying that ‘Appearance are deceptive’. Let us analyse this adage. Those who make use of their facial expressions often deceive their listeners for their own advantage. Since your face speaks even before your words, it can convey emotions of all sorts. Much of our sincerity or gratitude, love or dislike appear visible on our eyes. Imagine your first impression of the speaker who comes to deliver a speech. You often tend to judge the speaker on the basis of his dress, shoes, hair and even the colour of his suit. A look of weariness or anger on his face makes the listeners lose interest in what the speaker wants to convey.
b) Eyes: Eyes are an essential ingredient of your appearance. Your eyes are the lamp of your whole body – Bible. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be healthy. While making a conversation, delivering a speech or presentation, an eye contact with the receivers makes you accountable or responsible to them. Nobody likes a speaker who buries himself in his notes or is glancing at the screen. Your eyes helps in establishing rapport with your listeners and ensuring credibility of your words.
c) Gesture: The movement of our body: such as hands, arms head and shoulders have a vital role to play in communication. Imagine a dancer who moves her arms and makes various corresponding movements to convey the intended meaning by head and patterning her shoulders. We use our hands to indicate or point to something, raise them to say hello, wave to say good bye etc. You often scratch your hands outwards to express comfort but squeeze them to show discomfort and restlessness.
d) Posture: It is the positioning of your legs while standing or sitting. For every occasion a particular posture is appropriate. When attending a meeting you sit properly, your nervousness or confidence can get displayed in an interview by the way you sit. Likewise while participating in a group discussion you show your active or inert participation by your sitting or bending posture.
2. Proxemics: Proxemics is the study of nearness or distance in a communication scenario. The word ‘proxemics’ has been derived from proximity which means the state of being near or distant. An important aspect of non-verbal communication proxemics deals with the amount of space we usually occupy or demonstrate while communicating. Think of being in a crowded bus when a stranger slightly touching you seems to anger you. Do you know why it happens? All of us want some amount of space around ourselves. In communication, the space signifies relationships. When communicating with friends, parents or close relatives there is not much space between them & you. But we always leave more space while communicating with our teachers, elders & seniors. We maintain more space while communicating with strangers and outsiders. The veteran American anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, coined the word ‘proxemics. He classified the spatial needs into4 zones: Intimate, Personal, Social & Public zone.
3. Chronemics: Imagine how your professor behaved with you once when you reached late in his class. Also consider telling somebody about his unkempt hair in the midst of a meeting. It is only later that you realize it was not the right time or place to tell your friend about his hair and dress style. In communication, it is not only words and actions that communicate. Time is an important feature of communication. People judge you on the basis of how much importance you attach to time. Many people have succeeded because they have used time dexterously. Chronemics is the study that tells how human beings utilize time while communicating. Time reflects our sincerity and our punctuality. It can hint at a person’s devotion and dedication to his job or assignment. In many organizations, executives appreciate completion of a job within the stipulated period.
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