To be a successful worker today company’s look to hire people who poses the skills of good eye contact, dress the part, are confident, and can have appropriate tone, facial, and posture. These are all examples of nonverbal communication. We use nonverbal messages to share information without speaking. This kind of communication can be found anywhere from at the grocery store to the workplace. It can affect anything from culture, to different communication channels or our nonverbal competence. Nonverbal communication is a critical process for building and maintaining relationships we form in life.
Most of our life relationships are lived and fulfilled nonverbally. We can expression nonverbal messages through support, affection, love, hate nonverbally. Verbal conversation contains many speaking ques, and signals as to what to say next and how to respond to the speaker. It is our nonverbal messages that can greatly influence and even deceive the speaker. At a previous job my nonverbal communication skill played a large role as being a sales associate. I used the different channels of nonverbal communication to interact with my employees and customers differently. My body messages did a lot of the communication for me by providing different body gestures and different affect displays. Kinesics, “is the study of communication through body movement” (Devito, 114). I would use emblems such as the “okay sign” or “hand wave” to interact with my employees and customers. Affect displays, “are the movements of the face that convey emotional meaning” (114). Examples are facial expression for happiness, sadness, or even shock. When checking out a customer is was common to give the customer different facial expresses while they spoke about their day or something that is happening to them. This shows them that I am listening while working. At the nursing home it is common to see the “be quiet” sign with the hand to mouth. I use this with older patients who are raising their voice without realizing. This lets them know to quiet down and not to disturb the others around. I did not have to say a word and interrupt them, but my nonverbal message is received. “Regulators monitor, maintain, or control the speaking of another individual.” If you are listening to someone speak you are active, responding with “uh-huh” or nodding your head are actions of regulators. Every culture has their own regulators and speakers take these actions receive these actions as nonverbal messages. We can affect the speaker with our regulator responses.
We the people are forever changing and because of this the way we communicate verbally and nonverbally will also continue in a forever changing state. Our cultural differences result in different meanings of gestures in different cultures. For example, “waving your hand would be insulting in Nigeria and Greece. Gesturing with your thumb up would be rude in Australia” (Devito, 115). Our day to day actions here can mean the quite opposite there. Our body appearance also plays a role in nonverbal communication. Things like height, weight, ethnic appearance help people infer suitability, or likeliness. Height is one of the most important features in body appearance and is seen as superior. Devito states in the text, “When corporate recruiters were shown identical resumes for people some of whom were noted as being 5’5” and others as being 6’1”-everything else being the same-the taller individual was chosen significantly more often than were the shorter individuals” (117). The taller person was chosen more frequently solely based on that person height advantage. In more and more culture’s height is becoming a positive body appearance that is perceived as importance. To be perceived as an emotional person in a positive way we communicate with our nonverbal facial ques. “In fact, facial movements alone seem to communicate the degree of pleasantness, agreement, and sympathy a person feels” (117). When communication with children we often go by their facial expression to infer how or what they are feeling. As humans we can make at least eight emotions with just our facial expressions. The most common is the smile, it is tied with the sense of pleasure, happiness, and being friendly. “One study, for example, found that participants rated people who smile as more likeable and more approachable than people who don’t smile or who only pretend to smile” (Devito, 118). A person’s smile is often the first thing you notice when meeting someone new, or the first action when you see someone you know. Thus, being the most common form of nonverbal communication.
If one seeks to improve their communication abilities it is important for them to learn the importance of the nonverbal messages of the speaker and receiver(s). When being active in nonverbal communication there is a process of encoding and decoding going on in our unconscious. In the encoding process were taking in information like facial expressions, hand gestures, and the person poster or tone of voice. Decoding is the interpretation we infer from the encoding process. When in the decoding process of nonverbal messages, it is important to, “mindfully seek alternative judgements” (Devito, 143). When working with a classmate on an assignment some may just want to split the assignment up evenly and have their space. They may act distant or avoid eye contact. But this could also mean they are not comfortable with the material and are wanting you to take the lead on the assignment. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the nonverbal signals. It is important to be patient and be openminded to the different channels of the nonverbal messages. When in the encoding state of nonverbal messages, it is also relevant to, “keep your nonverbal messages consistent with your verbal messages avoid sending verbal messages that say one thing and nonverbal messages that say something else” (143). It is important to keep eye contact and to refrain from judgement. As an employee at a nursing home and working with kids at libraries I have learned to watch for the consistency between verbal and nonverbal messages. While working with older people sometimes their answers to the question, “How is your pain level?” do not match up. Sometimes I get, “I am okay” but followed with an unease look upon their face. This can also be found among my peers in class. A fellow classmate while speaking about a topic, spoke with positive body gestures and a smile but talked about her distain toward the topic in passion. The verbal and nonverbal messages were on two different channels.
Nonverbal messages can be between two or more people and it is the exchange of information using cues such as body language, kinesics, body appearance, decoding and encoding. Examples of nonverbal communication are facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and hand shakings. The point of nonverbal communication is to get you point or message across without having to verbally say it. Being able to communicate well nonverbally allows you to be perceived as attractive, likeable, and someone who can handle cultural differences. Another benefit of the skill set of nonverbal communication is the closer relationships and perceived as an organized speaker. Nonverbal communication is a critical process for building and maintaining relationships we form in life.
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