Non-Verbal Communication5

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The other forms of non-verbal communication are:

Dress and grooming: Assume that you are new to a place, don’t know your way around and have only two options either ask for directions to a beggar dressed in rags or ask a decently dressed and well groomed individual. In most cases, the first option will not be even considered as an option. Without giving a second thought to the first option you would have already approached the decent looking individual and would have taken your instructions. What really prevents you from approaching the first individual? It is obviously the appearance, ’’The apparel oft proclaims the man” advices Polonious to his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is observed that our perceptions and evaluation of people are influenced by physical appearance, which impacts the communication process positively or negatively.

Today, the way we dress and present ourselves has assumed great importance ,especially in the corporate world .Physical fitness is also gaining equal importance ,people don’t like to be associated with people who are obese, out of shape and such people are generalised as being inefficient and lazy, due to their body structures. Such sweeping generalisations shouldn’t be made , although, people should be aware of their body size and shape ,purely out of medical concerns. It is observed that people who are attractive ,who take care of their dress and appearance are found to be more competent, more successful and have professionally desirable qualities- attractive people are more likely to be hired.

People should take care to be appropriately dressed for occasions, if the occasion is  formal -formal clothing   should be worn, for example one shouldn’t face an interview in a pair of torn jeans and bathroom slippers .Instead one should be dressed in formal clothes ,men should be dressed in formal shirts and formal trousers; if the position calls for, a blazer suit along with a matching tie should be worn. The shades should be pastels and subdued, the dress should not be too flashy. For women preferably a   sari  or  a formal salwar kameez   should be worn . Again, if the position and the organisation calls for it   , the dress should be a neatly tailored blazer suit .In case of both men and women accessories should not be too many and flashy. Personal hygiene should be paid attention to, hair should be in place and neatly trimmed, body odour should be eliminated, oral hygiene should be paid utmost importance to, nails should be trimmed- in case of women nails shouldn’t be too long and gaudily painted.

One should not be overdressed or under dressed and if the dress code is specified ,it should be strictly adhered to.


Silence:’’ Silence communicates’’, an oxymoron it might seem , but is a proven fact that silence is more powerful than speech and lends speech its meaning. There are proverbs in abundance expounding the importance of silence. To quote Shakespeare once again , ’’ there was speech in their dumbness, and language in their very gesture’’, in a Mid -summer Nights Dreams.. Richmond and Mc Croskey point out that people use silence to communicate many things. We may use silence to establish interpersonal distance ,to put our thoughts together ,to show respect for the other person ,or to modify others’ behaviours. Silence can be warm , when you meet a long lost friend all of a sudden at the airport, for a while you do not know what to say. Silence can be cold ,when you cross paths with your arch rival at a party, you choose to be quiet. Silence can be demanding ,when there is a silence after a demand is made and you are not in a situation to answer ,ex .teacher asking student for an assignment ,that is in complete. Silence is natural, when we travel by train ,we need not share our thoughts with our co- travellers ,who are strangers.

Silence should be used judiciously in speech ,for speech to acquire it’s intended meaning .It’s prudent to listen to the other completely before expressing our ideas.

Use of time: The way an individual uses time provides others clues about the kind of person one is and what can be expected from him/her in terms of dependability .At the work place juniors are expected to conform to time guidelines .As people climb the organisational hierarchy they have greater control over both their own and juniors time. Different cultures view time differently . The notion that is still commonly held about Indians is that they are flexible about time , while, westerners are very punctual about time ,if their time is disrespected ,it is taken as a personal insult. However, we can see these notions eroding rapidly in a globalised context ,these boundaries are blurring and we see that the world is coming together as one unit ,today increasingly people all over the world respect time. It is sensible to use time with a lot of care I .e if you wish to achieve your goal in life.


Different colours communicate different states of mind, and different emotions .For instance ,when we feel low it is said ,we feel blue or when we sense something is wrong we see   red or we describe someone jealous  as green with envy. The relation between use of  colours is also cultura,l for instance in certain cultures brides wear white as it symbolises purity of mind and soul. Certain  other cultures it is considered inauspicious. It should be kept in mind that while dressing for work, pastels and light coloured clothing should be preferred.

We have taken a look at different ways of communicating non-verbally. One thing can be safely deduced out of the entire study is that it is not easy to fake non- verbal communication for long. As a conclusion,we can also state that women are more accurate in their interpretation of non-verbal cues and more responsive to non-verbal cues than men. Stangl rightly says “Body and soul are one…. The driving force for our body language comes from our inner being , which cannot be changed or “created” out of the blue. In this superficial sense we can hardly achieve anything.” Bearing this aspect /shortcoming of non-verbal communication in mind, yet ,the study of body language and its impact on the communication process can prove to be stepping stone towards making our gestures, posture ,facial expressions- pleasant and acceptable.

We could consciously take steps towards improving our body language ,by practising by standing in front of the mirror . Simultaneously assess ourselves by asking questions like:

When in conversation, do I maintain eye contact with others? Yes/No. Do I get overtly conscious about myself while talking to strangers? Yes/No. Do I fidget with things when conversing  ? Yes/No. Is my speech natural or affected  ? Yes /No. Do people feel I have a transparent face? Yes/No. Do my gestures match my personality  ? Yes /No. What tone do I adopt while speaking  ? Yes /No. Do I exaggerate the use of gestures , to prove to be an effective speaker ?Yes/No. Do I think I am an effective speaker  ? Yes /No.

Answers to these questions will surely provide a fresh perspective on our assessment of our own non-verbal behaviour and surely help us improve in the positive direction. Thus, a study of body language can help us communicate effectively,. The study of body language can help us in harmonising the inner and outer self. It can enable us to differentiate between spontaneous and studied body response. It could help us overcome personal inhibitions by correcting the wrong . Also ,we can build our own body language and communicate more easily with others. Finally , we should remember that while judging others non-verbal communication ,we should be very careful and should sharpen our senses to capture nuances of behaviour .Body language should never be studied in isolation ,it should always be taken with other verbal cues.

Activity: When you are at a lecture jot the gestures ,posture ,the dress and general appearance of the main speaker.Draw conclusions on the basis of them. At a party , get to gethe r note the distance between individuals .Does the space maintained suggest the kind of relationship that exists between the group? Which means of communication would you opt for ,if you were asked to persuade a group of students to maintain silence in the library? State reasons .