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Pros And Cons Of Non-Verbal Communications

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Questions:

1.Describe a Communication incident that was very frustrating to you, focusing on the Communication behaviors of the parties.
 
2.Repeat the exercise but, this time, relate a positive, successful Communication incident.
 
 

Answers:

Introduction:

Communication can be defined as the mode of receiving and sending pieces of information, including concepts, opinions, ideas, emotions, beliefs and instructions, between two or more individuals (Remland 2016). Depending on their nature, communications can be verbal, written, and non-verbal. Non-verbal communications include voice tone, throw of speech and word articulation, facial expressions, body language, gestures, and eye contacts, which indirectly and subconsciously conveys an array of information while communicating (Eunson 2012).  The report discusses the pros and cons of non-verbal communications, especially in a work place, taking reference of two specific incidents.

1.Negative Incident:

A girl, working in a research institute in a research project under a professor, had submitted the analytical portion of her thesis and after a couple of days of no response; she went up to her guide to ask whether her analysis was up to the mark. He was doing some work in his computer and without taking his eyes off the screen; he nodded his head once and said yes in a cold non-responsive voice. This distant gesture did not answer the girl’s question rather it increased her confusion and made her skeptic whether he was satisfied with her performance. However, after referring to her grade card, she came to know that he was actually satisfied. The fact that while answering her question, he was staring at the computer screen and did not make direct eye contact or did not take time to answer her question in a warmer tone, made the girl feel that he was uninterested to answer. This in turn made her doubt her own performance and her guide’s satisfaction and perception about her efficiency.

Analysis:

Non-verbal communications and gestures, though a vital part of communication, often create a lot of misconceptions and confusions regarding the intension of the sender and the perception of the receiver. In general, only 7% of any message is conveyed from the sender to the receiver through direct words, which the sender is saying (Patterson 2012). The rest of the information is conveyed through the tone of the voice of the sender and his or her body language and eye contacts. During a conversation, a receiver not only listens to the direct words said to him by the sender, but also stresses more on how it is said, the pitch and tone of the voice, the hand and body gestures of the sender and other non-verbal signals (Guffey and Loewy 2012). This helps the receiver to analyze how genuine the information is or what the sender is thinking while conveying the message. In this process, often the non-verbal hints are misinterpreted as the gestures and tones are highly person specific and may differ from one person to another (Skinner 2014). Information is lost or distorted between encoding (by the sender) and decoding (by the receiver) (Eunson 2012).

Non-verbal communications are ambiguous in nature (Knapp, Hall and Horgan 2013). The above incident clearly depicts this ambiguity. When he was asked about the quality of the analysis, the professor did not say any negative or harsh words. However, as people in general tend to go by the no-verbal gestures more, she got confused by the cold curtly behavior of her professor and assumed that he was not happy with her. It may have happened such that at that point of time the man was pre-occupied with some other important work in his computer and did not want his concentration to be deviated. For that, he answered short and ended up the conversation with the girl abruptly. Personally, he might not have had any other problem or issue with the girl (Guffey and Loewy 2012).

Strategy taken:

Instead of going completely by the gestures, the girl also took help of her scorecard, which showed that her guide was impressed by her works. Had she have gone solely by the gestures, she clearly would have made false perceptions about what her guide thinks about her efficiency (DeKay 2012). Therefore, non-verbal communications should not be over-emphasized upon as that may lead to severe mis-conceptions at times (Guffey and Loewy 2012). Trusting the words, which are actually said, with other direct signals (In this case the score card), along with the non-verbal hints can be helpful as they decrease the possibility of wrong decoding of messages by the receivers.

 


However, non-verbal communications have their benefits too as in many cases they help in making the intension of the sender and the content of his or her message more clearly to the receiver. A lot can be said with un-said expressions and gestures than by direct words themselves (Thebusinesscommunication.com, 2017).

2.Positive Incident:

Before presenting his project proposal in front of the board of directors of a company, the junior employee was quite nervous, as he was doing this for the first time. The situation in the room was highly formal and tense and the employee was in doubt whether his proposal would be at all heard or paid attention to, by the members of the board. However, just before his presentation, his supervisor patted his back slightly and while presenting the employee noticed that his supervisor and almost majority of the board members are looking in his eyes when he is talking. This added a boost in is confidence as he felt heard and significant and he succeeded in presenting his proposal with ease and clarity.

Analysis:

Sometimes small and apparently, insignificant actions can have more impact in conveying information or a message than the words said while conveying. In the above incident, it is evident that a simple pat from the supervisor and the encouraging eye contacts from the board members made the employee feel comfortable and indirectly boosted up his confidence which was reflected in his performance (Leathers and Eaves 2015). The people sitting I front of him did not say any words of encouragement, but, their simple non-verbal communications and gestures conveyed the message that they are listening to him and his ideas will be heard. Thus, the positive aspect of non-verbal communications is that without saying anything a lot can be expressed and if interpreted correctly can have extensive positive implications on the receivers as well as the senders as their objective of sending out the information will be fulfilled (Eunson 2012).

Summary:

Non-verbal communications, due to their ambiguous nature, may lead to positive as well as negative outcomes. The first incident shows how distant and negative body languages can turn a positive verbal response of the sender to a negative perception by the receiver, while the second incident is an example of how positive body languages and non-verbal hints help in conveying subtle messages which, verbal communications fail to express sometimes. Therefore, while communication, both the sender and the receiver have to emphasize on the verbal as well as the non-verbal aspects as both have their own significant roles in building up a successful communication thread and delivering information with clarity.

 

References:

DeKay, S.H., 2012. Interpersonal communication in the workplace: A largely unexplored region. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), pp.449-452.

Eunson, B., 2012. Communication in the Workplace. John Wiley & Sons.

Guffey, M.E. and Loewy, D., 2012. Essentials of business communication. Cengage Learning.

Knapp, M.L., Hall, J.A. and Horgan, T.G., 2013. Nonverbal communication in human interaction. Cengage Learning.

Leathers, D.G. and Eaves, M., 2015. Successful nonverbal communication: Principles and applications. Routledge.

Patterson, M., 2012. Nonverbal behavior: A functional perspective. Springer Science & Business Media.

Remland, M.S., 2016. Nonverbal communication in everyday life. SAGE Publications.

Skinner, B.F., 2014. Verbal behavior. BF Skinner Foundation.

Thebusinesscommunication.com, T. (2017). Advantages and disadvantages of non-verbal communication. [online] The Business Communication. Available at: https://thebusinesscommunication.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-non-verbal-communication/ [Accessed 9 Aug. 2017].

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