Imagine yourself in a classroom, attending a lecture. You are unable to pay attention in spite of trying to do so, the reason being, you woke up late, skipped breakfast, missed your regular transport to your institute ,in short it’s not your day. To add to it, the fight with hunger pangs that distract you from the first lecture onwards. You find yourself un usually restless , unable to pay attention ,thus resorting to slouching on the desk, scribbling on your notebook instead of taking lecture notes, and intermittently doodling away to glory, also at the same time try to “ look” interested, and nod as if you follow every word the teacher has uttered. To add to your woes ,the hawk eyed/seasoned teacher, chooses you to recapitulate the entire lecture for the class and you are left with no option but apologize and hang your head down in shame as you are unable to do so. Why does the teacher single you out to recapitulate? Does she do it with the intention of sending across the message that she can see through your attention paying garb /posture? How does she actually come to know that you are actually not paying attention? Are you a poor actor or is she a better judge? The answer to all these questions, very simply put is -non-verbal cues .The trained eye of the teacher catches all non – verbal signals i. e your slouching ,scribbling ,your forced nodding of head in affirmation when not required, after gathering these cues ,she purposely puts you in a tight spot ,so that you do not repeat the same behaviour. This example explains how useful non-verbal communication is in correcting behaviour. One can play around with words - but the same is not always possible with non-verbal communication.
Learning objectives: To explain the concept of non-verbal communication. To expose students to different types of non-verbal communication. To provide tips on adopting situation appropriate non-verbal signals. To enable students to identify non-verbal cues in day to day life and use them to their advantage.
Simply put non-verbal communication takes place in the absence of words (written or/and oral).Thus non - verbal communication is communication, by using means other than that which is usually used i.e language(written/spoken).Communication researchers have found that non - verbal cues have more impact in conveying meaning than verbal content. The example mentioned above proves this adequately (the teacher, could quickly identify on the basis of non –verbal signals who was paying attention or otherwise) . However, this doesn’t mean that verbal and non-verbal messages do not co – exist ,in fact much of non-verbal communication depends for its meaning on verbal messages and vice versa. Today ,non- verbal communication is so vital to business communication, that many pro- active organisations try to train their employees to understand it.
Characteristics of non- verbal communication and behaviour:
1 Non-verbal communication emanates from the sub conscious, therefore is persuasive and continuous- Unless one is life less one keeps exhibiting non- verbal cues continuously. It is possible to stop communicating verbally, but an abrupt halt in communication is indicative that something is surely amiss. Example : It is easy to delineate on the basis of non- verbal communication ,whom you are comfortable with in a group of people and with whom you are not on the basis of subtle non- verbal cues like eye contact ,less consciousness of one’s physical self and mind you, often ,all these non-verbal signals are spontaneous and not studied. Of course, once we learn more about non-verbal communication ,we can be more aware of it and use it consciously, to make verbal communication effective.
2 Non – verbal cues are` real’ therefore reliable- It is said that only part of what we tell those around us is conveyed by the spoken word, rest is loudly put across through actions. When there is a mismatch between verbal and non – verbal cues then we tend to believe non-verbal cues .This is because it is difficult to feign non-verbal cues. It is for instance, very easy to identify a student trying to lie and excuse himself for coming late to class, through the speed of speech ,that is too fast, there is more blinking of eyelids and generally gestures are more defensive. As Sigmund Freud said, `` No mortal can keep a secret .If his lips are silent , he talks with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
3 Non –verbal cues communicate subjective responses: Non –verbal cues generally communicate myriad emotions and feelings across the spectrum, ranging from anger, dislike, hatred, love, disgust, fear and so on, in response to a particular situation. Objective ideas or concepts cannot be conveyed through non-verbal channels ,for instance the Theory of Relativity ,cannot be explained only by using non-verbal cues .On the other hand, an extra lecture on the Theory of Relativity can evoke emotions ranging from relief to boredom ,which can be clearly expressed through non- verbal behaviour.
4 Non –verbal cues make speech more meaningful as they supplement speech -Very often we regulate the flow of conversation non-verbally by raising an index finger , nodding and leaning forward, raising eyebrows and changing eye contact. In fact, use of gestures comes so naturally to us that even while speaking over the phone, we tend to use gestures and facial expressions as if the other person is present bang in front.
5 Non –verbal cues can replace speech-If students start murmuring loudly in the library, a raised index finger on lips by the librarian, in the students direction, is enough to hush the murmur.
6 Non-verbal cues could also contradict speech -Shakespeare has said, ‘’ Smile ,smile and still be a villain”. Outwardly , you may congratulate your colleague on his promotion, but your facial expressions betray your speech.
7 Non –verbal cues could often be vague- Non-verbal cues could at times be difficult to understand. The variety of non-verbal cues available makes it difficult to classify them. Some – times, meanings that are not intended at all are conveyed. For instance, very often when we try to catch someone’s eye, by waving our hand in a crowded hall, some other person waves back at usassuming that we are waving at him, here, the friendly gesture was not meant for the stranger. In contrast, people fail to exhibit non-verbal cues when they experience some emotion strongly-they cannot just express-they go blank ,a student who gets to know that she has topped a crucial exam is just stunned after looking at the results for a while.
8 Non-verbal behaviour is intentional or unintentional – When for instance you shake hands with your business associate when you meet the hand shake is an intentional gesture , intended to greet .It is said that verbal communication carries a lot of intent, whereas non-verbal communication is more primitive and less controllable than its verbal counterpart. For instance while concentrating while studying ,may be an individual has a habit of playing with her hair ,which is a non- verbal signal that the person is trying to concentrate ,which is unintentional.
9 Non-verbal Communication is not universal: Just as there are different languages, different cultures have different non- verbal coding systems .Non-verbal messages that are normal in the U.S. may not be acceptable socially and could have an entirely different meaning in Asian culture.
Points to ponder:
1.Can the meaning of non-verbal cues,be taken on their own? 2.Can we consciously separate non-verbal communication from verbal communication for a long time? 3.List real life examples to match each characteristics mentioned above.
After having understood the characteristic features of non-verbal communication, we will now examine the ways in which non-verbal messages are transmitted. The study of non -verbal communication can be broadly classified as:: Kinesics- -the study of facial expressions and body movements.
Proxemics- this refers to the study of use of physical space .
Paralanguage- the way we say, what we say.
Other forms of non-verbal communication include-The use of time, dress and grooming, silence and colour.
Human beings communicate a lot through facial expressions and body movements. Kinesics is the study of this kind of communication . Let’s see how our facial expressions and body movements convey different messages effectively.
Facial expressions: The face plays an important part in communicating various emotions. The forehead , eyebrows , eyes, the nose ,the lower face all put together create a gamut of expressions. The emoticons that express our feelings :-),:-( , ;-) ,are handy when we have to express our pleasure or displeasure instantly.The eyes of all parts of the face are used to give information. Eyes are very pivotal in conveying subtle messages. Eyes have been a source of inspiration to many a poets. A Spanish Philosopher puts it as ‘ The eye is a whole theatre , with its stage and actors .The eyes themselves do not show any emotion, but together with other parts of the face ,they are windows to the soul.’
Our eyes do not only receive impressions of the world around us: they also transmit signals about our innermost feelings to the outside world. We all have been in situations where we have communicated only with our eyes, it could have been making eyes at others , or having winked at your friend ,while wanting to fool other friend present.
Several variations in eye expressions can be observed according to the extent we open our eyelids. Let’s take a look at some of them: Normally open eyelids: The normally open eye can receive all incoming images. We see everything without any critical distinction.
Eyes opened wide: These eyes try to take in as much as possible from the surroundings as a reaction to a feeling of joy, fright , surprise, amazement .We also open our eyes wide after a sudden or unexpected happening .A warning look accompanied by wide –open eyes signify reprimand.
Eyes Closed: Such eyes signal that no outer impressions are wanted .They show the need for some isolation and contemplation to think about something .When we wish to enjoy sensory or intellectual stimuli like food or music our eyes shut automatically.
Eyes screwed up : This is in response to unwanted irritations from outside, that could be purely physical. We also screw up our eyes when we experience or imagine unpleasant feelings like fear, reluctance, displeasure.
Blinking: Rapid and repetitive involuntary movement of the eyelids. This could again be a reflex action to get dust off your eyes. But it could also convey embarrassment , insecurity . Also it is observed that people tend to blink more than normal when they lie.
An exchange of glances between two people reveals the character having the upper hand in a conversation . In principle, the stronger personality creates eye contact more quickly, more often and more persistently. You can also find out that:
1 Those who look away when speaking are un sure of their opinion or its reception.
2 Those who look at others can support the validity of their statements and appear more confident.
3 Those who look at the floor are overcautious and try to avoid new ideas, experience or risks.
4 The popular person within a group, maintains high level of eye contact.
5 An open look comes from an open person.An interesting study on Gaze and Aversion by Argyle and Cook, reveal the type of personality and the attitude of speaker and listener at that moment. Their study revealed that :
Females gaze more than males.
Adults gaze more than adolescents.
Supervisors gaze more than subordinates.
Arabs gaze more than Westerners or the Japanese.
Staring at someone for a long period of time is considered to be impolite and rude.It is observed that Indians stare more than westerners.
Messages by nose and mouth:
Wrinkling the nose: Clearly depicts reluctance ,displeasure , aversion or disgust. However, the defence is passive, the signal is that the other person has already agreed to suffer something.
Flared nostrils: This is typically an accompaniment of eyes wide open and stand for serious/severe anger, disgust it is an expression of unpleasant emotions.
One’s lips can be expressive even when they don’t say a word. Silent lips adopt a variety of postures that reveal a wide range of emotions.
Lips pressed : This position of lips clearly indicates that the person disagrees .It is clear that the discussion is over.
Lips pursed : They are a sign of disapproval, that the person concerned has fixed views and nothing you say will change them. Self - important people usually purse lips.
Biting your lips: Reveals embarrassment or a lack of self-confidence .In order to prevent rash words people control themselves by biting their lips. We also unknowingly tend to bite lips when we try to think very hard to say something.
With a laugh and a smile:
We have all heard the famous Jagjit Singh ghazal , where excessive forced smiling is claimed to have hidden inner turmoil . Most of us must have experienced this at some point in time. It is said that ’ Laugh and the whole world laughs with you’.
Just carry out a small experiment :Imagine being insulted by one of your seniors at the work place ,to the extent of tears having welled up .But you hold back your tears and after the argument is over just try to SMILE ,it might even sound difficult at the first shot ,but if you just wipe your tears and force yourself to smile, you will observe your whole approach to the situation changes .Try doing this whenever you face a difficult situation in life, a smile can really be uplifting.
Even an infant laughs and smiles , when it is warm , well –fed and generally content. A smile is thus rightly called a curve that can set any wrong right. Laughter can be classified as follows:
Ha-Ha laughter: This type of laughter is free , open and hearty. It is open- hearted laughter.However, even this should be used/done with discretion, as it is said that’ a fool is known by his laughter’.
He-He laughter: This is usually laughing at somebody , something. This is condescending ;the tone is mocking and challenging.
Ho - Ho laughter: This conveys surprise and disbelief in what one has heard .It is usually connected with a tendency to express critical astonishment , protest or even challenge.
The Smirk: Smirking is a form of laughter with lips pressed together , expressing a certain resoluteness .A certain degree of mischief and joy of observing others make a smirk. The source of amusement is only known to the smirker.
Activity 1 Match the following expressions with the corresponding images : (estimated time to complete the activity- max 5 minutes). Surprise Fear Disgust Anger Happiness Sadness
Activity 2 : Come up with adjectives describing different eye expressions. (expected time to complete the activity -5 minutes)
Kinesics is also related to the positioning of the body called Posture .It refers to the way we move, walk, bend ,stand or slouch. Posture reveals a lot of people’s attitudes and emotions. Posture performs the following functions :
a)Defensive: If you all of a sudden see some object being hurled at you ,instantly you try to adopt a different posture ,obviously, to save yourself from the object, either by ducking ,or slouching or trying to get out of the way. Best example is when your teacher tries to reclaim your attention by aiming a chalk piece at you ,you immediately change your posture by hiding under the desk.
b)Adaptive: You adapt your posture according to the space available .Example: When travelling on a local train we can adapt our posture to allow a fourth person to sit on a three seater space. We have to give in to the “Please adjust” appeal ,by our fellow passengers.
c)Expressive : When we feel low ,automatically our shoulders droop ,our face falls and our pace slows down. Thus, our overall demeanour expresses our mental state.
Let’s take a look at the different ways in which people stand and balance their bodies and what it reveals about them:
Balanced Posture: This is portrayed by a person standing firm on both feet with a fair distribution of weight on both heels. The body is relaxed , torso is upright. Arms should be relaxed and hanging down at the sides .This posture reveals level –headedness , self -confidence and inner freedom.
A Stiff Posture: One adopts this when one is under extreme tension automatically our muscles stiffen , this results in a rigid posture. People who display this posture often are said to be determined have lack of flexibility and have a great desire to prove themselves.
A Jiggling Posture: This posture is characterised by up and down movements as a result of shifting weight from side to side on back of the feet. Upward jiggling of the body is carried out in constant and abrupt movements. This is an unbalanced stance, generally visible in public speakers.
Standing with Legs Apart: This posture is adapted when people are eager to assert themselves. It reveals heightened self- awareness and arrogance. It is a defensive posture against an assumed threat.
Crossed Legs: Body tension is concentrated in crossed legs in this posture. It can reveal a defensive attitude but the tension also expresses a certain readiness for contact. Generally, a newcomer in a group unknowingly adapts this posture.
According to psychologists the way a person walks shows a great deal about his mental state and personal attitude. The pace of one’s walk reveals temperament and power. Swift movements reveal activity. Quiet movements reveal calmness, Lethargic movements stand for sluggishness, carelessness and insecurities . Distracted movements reveal nervousness and insecurity.
Different styles of walking are :
Stepping Out: People who take big steps are generally decisive, ambitious and have the ability to take action .Big steps display initiative and dislike of narrow mindedness.
Hesitant Walk: people who take little steps are cautious , adapt quickly .However, these people lack confidence but are meticulous.
Relaxed Walk: Generally this signifies a casual and carefree attitude. Young people are generally found walking in this manner. Paired with other expressions it could also stand for immaturity, indolence , carelessness.
Dragging Walk: People who walk in this manner are usually under tension, their back is rounded, chest is hollow, their movements have little variation. Round shoulders show despondency and dislike of effort , such people are usually sluggish and inactive.
Similarly the way we Sit also reveals a lot about ourselves. It is found that women sit differently than men .It is not only due to difference in anatomy or style of dressing but gender roles play an important role here.Generally, Closed legs reveal anxiety, Crossed Legs stand for self -confidence, Wrapping legs around the chair stand for inflexibility, strong inner tension and by wrapping legs around the chair the individual seeks for support against insecurity.
Gestures: We use our hands and arms to gesticulate. Gestures supplement and intensify speech. Gestures convey a lot about speakers , their interest ,attitudes and emotions .For instance a teacher may use forceful hand gestures to emphasize her view like banging on the desk , or pointing at an erring student . Shrugging shoulders signify resignation or wringing of hands standing for nervousness .If you ever get caught in a foreign country due to language problems ,you could fall back on gestures to bail you out!
Positive gestures include patting on the back, shaking hands, waving fervently on seeing a friend in excitement or a usual hand shake.
The way we position our hands also reveal our attitude and emotions :
Hands open: People showing their palms i. e keeping hands open during an argument reveal an open minded individual, ready to trust others and interested in others arguments.
Hands covered : Back of one or both hands raised against one another is representative of concealing feelings and covering insecurity. Such a person is difficult and keeps his distance.
Clinging hands: Depicts confused and insecure people, longing for support .Such individuals generally cling to handbags, files or even a hand kerchief .Such people are scared of the present and clinging to things is part of their coping activity.
Fists clenched: This is a forceful gesture .When an individual tries to prove a point vehemently automatically fists get clenched .
Hands twisted: People who twist arms are complex, people trying to hide something .Twisted hands reveal a difficult emotional life .
Fists clasped: This is a defensive gesture .Clasped hands create a barricade.
Fingers also communicate effectively. The usual thumbs up gesture stands for authority and encouragement .Upward index finger held right up to the middle of the cheek stands for a self -opinionated individual. Pointed index finger draws attention to something. Index finger across the mouth is a sign of restraint.
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.
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 .
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