Proxemics : In the images seen here, on the basis of the distance shared we can deduce the relationship between the sender and the receiver. Proxemics is the study of use of physical space around us. We use space around us in the manner we are culturally conditioned , our exposure to the world and also our mental state decides how much physical distance is maintained. We know when and where to draw a line between us and others.
On the basis of the physical distance between communicators Edward T Hall has classified space as Intimate distance which is within a radius of up to eighteen inches around the person ,this space can be trespassed by people who are intimate ,very close to the individual ,i. e close family relations, close friends .In the image we can see the mother and child which is undoubtedly the closest bond. We should try and not invade into some one’s intimate space, by not holding someone’s hand for long or by touching people while communicating, especially subordinates should know where to draw the line between them and their superiors. Also we should be alert to the non –verbal signals that people give when we unknowingly trespass into their personal space like shifting in their seats, avoiding eye contact, looking away during a conversation best example of invading intimate space is celebrities trying to cover their faces , when cameras are literally thrust on their faces.
Personal Distance: This distance starts where the intimate distance ends and extends till four feet away from the body. This space is again reserved for family and friends. People don’t like their personal space to be invaded, the most common invasion of personal space happens in public transports, elevators and on crowded streets. The best defence mechanism that we unknowingly adopt is we start ignoring others presence and in a crowded sea of people make our way as if we are wading through deep waters ,ignoring others presence ,completely!
Social Distance: This distance is between four to twelve feet away from oneself. People kept at this distance are acquaintances, colleagues, sales executives, superiors. It is this zone that most of the formal business is transacted.
Public Distance :This generally extends from twelve to twenty five feet .This is the farthest distance where one can communicate with the other person on a face- to- face basis However ,in today’s world where distances are reduced by technology we can’t really limit ourselves to physical interaction. Vera Birkenbihl says ,”The extent of the public zone can almost reach infinity ,namely as far as the camera can broadcast images .At the moment ,the public distance is as far away as the moon, the place farthest away from which we have received broadcasts” Today, with web cameras and video conferencing the boundaries between virtual and the real world are blurring rapidly so public distance need not be limited to twenty five feet away from the self!
The knowledge of Proxemics , will help you to find the right personal distance to others and to judge others in their behaviour based on the distance shared . However , this study should be conducted together with other verbal and non-verbal cues.
Paralanguage : The study of paralanguage focuses on how you say ,what you say .Although it is an accompaniment to verbal communication ,it is part of non-verbal communication as the focus is not on what is being said ,but on how it is being said ,which actually lends a great deal of meaning to the conversation. To understand what exactly paralanguage is, imagine a forced apology to someone when you know that the other person doesn’t deserve one .The difference between a forced apology and a genuine apology - is exactly what paralanguage is all about.
What exactly differentiates a genuine apology from a forced one? It is the speed of the speech, pitch and volume of speech . In a genuine apology you enunciate each sound , the rate of delivering the speech is slow ,well thought out and the pitch isn’t high but is low .It’s the exact opposite in a forced apology. The above example indicates that paralanguage has several aspects to it , they are:
Volume: This could be loud or soft .Loud voice attracts attention on the other hand , soft voice conveys a sense of peace and calm. The volume generally reflects the social background to which an individual belongs. It’s prudent to regulate volume in a conversation for desired impact. Teachers for instance should modulate their volume according to the number of students present in class, which they seldom forget!
Rate of speech: People can roughly speak 150 words in a minute ( unless one is rendering the Breathless number by Shankar Mahadevan ). One should be conscious about the rate at which words are delivered, as too fast a speech creates confusion and there is less clarity regarding the message. Too slow a speech creates doubts about the speaker’s credibility. It is observed , when we try to give excuses or lie , or are forced to say something, the rate of speech automatically increases.
Voice Pitch: Question yourself as to “When do you raise your pitch?” , answers are either when you are excited ,agitated ,surprised. Pitch is an indicator of one’s emotions .We can observe that people who are sorted ,confident are generally in control of their pitch ,which is generally moderate. Pronunciation: How many times have we caught people pronouncing the H sound in honest, and T sound in subtle? Or people pronouncing the ‘’e’’ sound as ‘’ ae’’ in the word message? i.e maessage instead of message Or elongating or contacting vowels at wrong places. One must be careful about these nuances ,while speaking ,as these are minute pointers of the speakers depth of understanding and use of the English language, moreover it also raises questions about the quality of the speaker’s educational background.
Besides using the above described features ,we also sprinkle our speech with vocal segregates like er .. . ohh… or a chuckle or hmmm.. these sounds punctuate sentences .Also we use filler expressions like – I mean ,okay, yes or no? you understand ? frequent use of these expressions indicate a lack of confidence and exhibit a feeling of stress on part of the sender.