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Q2. Explain the different aspects of non-verbal communication


Non-verbal communication,  defined as communication without words. It refers to any way of conveying meanings without the use of verbal language. The game of “dumb charades” is a perfect example. Non-verbal communication is generally unintentional, unlike verbal communication. All of us tend to communicate silently and unknowingly send signals and messages by what we do, apart from what we say. Gestures, facial expressions, posture and the way we dress, are all part of non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication can have a greater impact than verbal communication, since “how you say something” is sometimes more important than “what you say.” Although non-verbal communication can affect both our personal and business relationships, it is particularly important in the workplace.
while the spoken or written words may be perfect, the non-verbal aspects could convey the exact opposite meaning.
Aspects of non-verbal communication:
1. Kinesics
This is the most often studied and important area of non-verbal communication and refers to body movements of any kind. Different body movements can express inner states of emotion.
Facial Expressions can convey feelings of surprise, happiness, anger and sadness. If you meet a long lost friend and say “ I’m very happy to meet you again”, but with a sad facial expression, it conveys the exact opposite meaning.
Eye Movements, such as wide open pupils express feelings of surprise, excitement or even fear. The importance of eye contact with one’s audience was pointed out earlier. Direct eye contact is an indication of intensity and interest, while lack of it can convey feelings of nervousness and guilt.
Gestures, such as movement of the hands while giving a lecture or presentation indicates a high level of involvement in what you are saying. On the other hand, shuffling of the feet is a sign of nervousness and speaking with one’s hands in one’s pockets is considered to be casual or even rude.
Head Movements like nodding the head can convey interest, appreciation, agreement or understanding.
Body Shape and Posture – Body shape is not within one’s control but can be stereotyped to convey certain meanings. For example, someone who is strong and muscular is generally thought to be athletic, as opposed to a person who is short and fat!
Posture on the other hand is within our control. In formal settings such as job interviews or classroom settings, it is essential that you maintain an erect posture to convey that you are attentive, since slouching or a relaxed posture conveys a casual attitude.
Physical Appearance – Our outward appearance, including the way we dress and the jewelry and make-up that we wear can convey an impression of formality or informality. Going to a job interview dressed in blue jeans or not sticking to a stipulated dress code at the workplace can convey that you are a rebel, non-conformist or a very casual person.
Therefore, it is important to take care of your appearance, so that you convey the right meaning to others.
2. Proxemics
Proxemics is derived from the word “proximity” or closeness and is the communication term for personal space and distance. The space and distance which we choose to keep from people is also part of non-verbal communication. Each of us has our own inner and outer circles, which differ for different people.
Our inner most circle is an “intimate space”, into which we generally admit only select people such as family and close friends. Next comes a “personal space” which might include other friends and colleagues or coworkers. These two spaces involve communication of an informal nature.
Most of us also have a “social and public” space, which includes official or workplace relationships, where the communication is of a more formal nature.
In a business context, it is more relevant to understand the concept of “fixed space” and “semi-fixed” space.
Fixed space means that the physical features of the work environment such as furniture, room size and seating arrangement are permanent.
3. Time Language
This refers to the meaning or importance attached to time and varies between different people. One person may value time more than another. Similarly, time language also varies across cultures.
In most western cultures for example, punctuality is considered to be important. Arriving late for a business meeting is inexcusable. In other cultures, it is more relaxed and time is not given that much importance.
We convey messages to others through the time we spend on a work related activity or by the importance that we give to time. Arriving early at work or for a job interview shows interest, involvement and seriousness. Spending time with an employee and giving him suggestions on how to improve his performance shows interest and involvement in his career growth.
4. Paralanguage
 Para means “like” or “similar to”, therefore paralanguage means “like language”. Of all the forms of non-verbal communication, paralanguage is closest to verbal communication. It refers to the tone of voice with which something is said. In other words, it is “how” something is said, and not “what” is said. The tone of voice includes the pitch (high or low pitch), the pace (slow or fast) the emphasis on words and the volume (soft or loud) and can convey different moods and emotions, as mentioned earlier in this unit.
Example: The statement “I practice good business communication” can be understood in different ways, depending on the emphasis on certain words.
Saying “I practice good business communication” means that I alone practice it above anyone else. On the other hand, saying “I practice good business communication” could be interpreted to mean that you communicate particularly well in a business context, rather than in a general context.
The important point to keep in mind regarding tone of voice is to avoid mixed signals – that is, making sure that what you say is consistent with how you say it.
5. Physical Context :
 This refers to the physical environment or surroundings within which we communicate and includes two aspects – 1) color and layout and 2) design.
Colors are known for their symbolic meaning and have associations with different feelings. For example, colors like black and grey are associated with death, mourning and negative feelings. Yellow and green are associated with more positive feelings. Of course, these can also vary across cultures. The point to remember is that you can make the right impressions with use of the right colors.
Layout in a work environment refers to the size of an office, or the arrangement of furniture. Design refers to the type of chairs, desks or carpeting. All these can convey status, formality or informality.
We have seen how the types of non-verbal communication outnumber the types of verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is an important supplement to verbal communication and can enhance verbal communication, if used in a positive way. The sender should use the right non-verbal cues to convey a positive message, while the receiver should learn to look for unintended messages conveyed by non-verbal communication.

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