Nonverbal Communication Skill Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2560 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] For example, a number of research studies indicate that there is a significant gender difference in the nonverbal encoding decoding skills among humans, with women being far more competent than men in both nonverbal skills

. This is, perhaps, the reason behind the common complaint among women about the supposed "insensitivity" of their spouses. Nonverbal sensitivity is also believed to be a key component of empathy and some researchers believe that nonverbal decoding skill is at the core of social intelligence. (Archer, Sternberg & Smith quoted by Riggio, 1992)

Familiarity with the "building blocks" of non-verbal skills -- encoding and decoding of nonverbal -- is necessary for a proper understanding of the subject. Only when one is familiar with the fundamentals of a subject can one put the knowledge to effective use by applying the knowledge for self-improvement or teaching others to better their non-verbal communication skills.

How Does Nonverbal Communication Help Us Improve Our Interpersonal Communication Skills?

Communication is one of the most important human activities as most people spend a large percentage of their time communicating with others in one way or another. A number of studies show that people working in organizations spend as much as 70% of their time in some form of communication. Since nonverbal communication constitutes a major part of the total communication process, there is little doubt that people who score high in their ability to communicate nonverbally would be skilled interpersonal communicators as well.

Nonverbal communication skill is important in almost all facets of our lives: ranging from social encounters with strangers, business meetings in the workplace to long-term relationships such as in friendships and marriages. It is the key to success in our social life and psychological well-being since communication skills in general and nonverbal communication skills in particular, determine to a great extent the quality and quantity of our interpersonal relationships.

At the same time, it is important to consider nonverbal communication skills as part of the overall communication process. A speech maker can read out or deliver an extremely high quality verbal speech (that may be written for him by skilled professional speech writers) but he/she can never leave a positive impression on the audience if he/she cannot reinforce the message with the appropriate nonverbal cues. In the absence of such reinforcement, the speaker shall be perceived as a fake or an insincere manipulator. Research shows that when the verbal message of a sender contradicts with the person's nonverbal vibes, the receiver is more likely to trust the nonverbal signals. (Dulek and Fielden 1990)

Nonverbal communication is particularly important in creating "first impressions" both in social as well as business situations. It has been clearly established that people often make sweeping and often definitive assessment of other persons by making use of a limited sample of their behavior based on their first encounter. This aspect of human psychology is extremely important from the point-of-view of people who are desperate to leave a good impression on their first date or in a job interview. Since nonverbal communication plays the most crucial role in creating the "first impression," which usually occurs even before people start to speak verbally, the advantage a skilled nonverbal communicator has over a non-skilled person in such situations is obvious. Quoting a number of authoritative studies on the issue of first encounters, Riggio conclusively states that "there is some evidence that emotionally expressive, and nonverbally skilled, individuals are more desirable dating partners" and that "persons with nonverbal encoding abilities are evaluated more favorably by others in initial encounters." (Riggio, 1992, p. 11) This attractiveness to strangers in first encounters is attributable to the "encoding" skill of the individual which some researchers say is the same as what is commonly refer to as "charisma." In other words charismatic people are no more than people having good "encoding" skills. Decoding skills play just as important a role as the encoding skills in the first encounters since most of the nonverbal cues get decoded rapidly in the first encounter -- leading to the first impression. The third and final building block of the nonverbal communication skill -- the controlling or regulating function -- also comes into play by preventing the "expressive" person from going overboard with his 'expressiveness.' Those who lack the 'controlling' function tend to lose their initial positive impression as they are soon viewed as frivolous or shallow.

Conclusion

Nonverbal communication skill is just as important a feature in the overall process of communication as verbal skill. Although largely neglected in the past, the field of nonverbal communication now occupies an important part of research among psychologists, sociologists, linguists and business mangers among others. All of them recognize the importance of the subject and agree that it plays an important role in human interaction. While stressing its importance, it is also appropriate to recognize that nonverbal communication is difficult to interpret and one should be skeptical about simplistic theories about the subject. There is no doubt, however, that nonverbal communication skills help us to improve our interpersonal communication skills as we saw in our essay.

References

Bull, Peter. (2001). "State of the Art: Nonverbal Communication." The Psychologist. Vol 14:12, December 2001. Retrieved on October 3, 2004 from http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/bull.pdf.

Dulek, Ronald E. & John S. Fielden. (1990). Principles of Business Communication. MacMillan Publishing Company: New York:

Dunn, Laurel J. (1999). "Nonverbal Communication: Information Conveyed Through The Use Of Body Language." Missouri Western State College. Retrieved on October 3, 2004 from. http://clearinghouse.mwsc.edu/manuscripts/70.asp 'Mehrabian Communication Research." (2004). Professor Albert Mehrabian's communications model. Businessballs.com Retrieved on October 3, 2004 from http://www.businessballs.com/mehrabiancommunications.htm

Riggio, Ronald E. (1992). "Social Interaction Skills and Nonverbal Behavior." pp. 3-30.

Applications of Nonverbal Behavioral Theories and Research. Ed.: Robert S. Feldman - Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Hillsdale, NJ.

Robbins, Stephen P. (2002). Organizational Behavior. Ninth Edition. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: New Jersey

Trimby, Madeline J.(1988). "What Do You Really Mean?" Management World 17, 12-13, July/August 1988. Retrieved on October 3, 2004 from http://www.strath.ac.uk/Faculty/Education/FICT/Articles/ReallyMean.pdf.

The term nonverbal communication became popular only in the 20th century

On the other hand, men have been found to be more skilled in the third basic nonverbal skill, i.e., appear to have an advantage with certain aspects of emotional control and regulation. This ability to inhibit emotional expressions may be advantageous in certain social encounters where emotional reactions are inappropriate [END OF PREVIEW]

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