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Importance of Non-verbal communication in work environments

Communication is the production and exchange of information with meaning by the use of signs and symbols. It involves encoding the message and sending them and receiving the message and decoding them and interpreting the information and the meaning.

What is Non-verbal communication?
Non-verbal communication can be best defined as a silent form of communicating with a person or a group of people without any form of speech to grab the attention of audience or to deliver a message. Non-verbal communication is often used to express thoughts or to make the message more intriguing to the person you are speaking to. There are many types of Non-verbal communication: paralanguage, body movements, facial expressions, clothing, space and distance, touch, smell and manners.

Importance of Non-verbal communication:
Non-verbal communication has a great impact over our social environment and the whole communication process. Non-verbal communication regulates relationships and can support or even replace verbal communication in many situations. Different genders and cultures use Non-verbal communication differently and these differences can effect the nature of interpersonal communication. Non-verbal communication can become or tear down barriers to an effective communication.

Effective Non-verbal communication in workplaces
At work, one may find himself communicating with colleagues throughout the day without saying a word. Their body language, facial expressions, posture and eye contact can enhance and reinforce their workplace conversations. Whether leading a presentation at a meeting, chatting with co-workers in the hallway, or talking to the boss in his or her office, nonverbal communication affects the interaction. Nonverbal communication also plays a vital role in social surroundings like lunches, office parties and after-work activities. According to Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist at University of California, approximately 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, while words account for only 7 percent. Tone of one’s voice makes up 38 percent of communication, and body language and facial expressions constitute 55 percent of it.

Good verbal communication skills allow employees to share information across the company, and help them strengthen relationships with their workmates. However, the ability to communicate without any words could effect how employees perform. Successful reciprocations at work depend on both the managers and their team’s ability to use and read body language properly. A manager communicating positive nonverbal cues while speaking with the employees can increase employees’ morale, as well as their performance in the workplace. There are
some nonverbal cues that convey confidence in workplaces. Those are –
• Appropriate facial expressions: One can show that they are paying attention to their colleague by their facial expressions. Like holding a smile or nodding their head by agreeing whatever they are saying and maintaining eye contact.
• A confident handshake: In the workplace, when congratulating someone, the handshake is the only appropriate expression of touch, so it is important to have a good one.
• Strong eye contact: Eye contact conveys interest and involvement towards a subject. Some People often consider eye contact as tool of trustworthiness. So, talking while maintaining good eye contact is effective in a workplace.
• Commanding presence: This is reflected in the way a person sits and stands, as it creates a dynamic presence and an attitude of leadership. Employees convey messages by the posture they are sitting in, whether they are leaning back in their chair or sitting stiffly on the edge of their seat. One should stand up tall and straight to send a message of self-assurance, authority and energy.
• Purposeful gestures: Hand gestures is one of the important non verbal cues. Avoid disturbing mannerisms like, fidgeting, tapping on the table, playing with objects, wringing hands and twisting a ring, finger-pointing.
• Respecting personal space: During one-on-one conversations, moving closer to a person helps a lot, rather than remain far apart. This shows attentiveness towards that particular person. Try to maintain enough space so that there is a comfortable environment.

Using a positive tone of voice: How someone speaks can be considered nonverbal communication. Whether communicating in person or in a video conference, one should always be aware of their tone of voice so it reflects the intended message. Maintaining a positive tone while talking with a co-worker or supervisor can affect the energy of the whole conversation.

By accurately interpreting the nonverbal cues of your co-workers, you can gain a shared understanding of their feelings, emotions and attitudes toward certain situations. Ability to communicate with shared meaning can encourage collaboration with team members, which boosts productivity, Being aware or your own communication strategies can also help you convey your feelings on various subject matters or situations. It can also help you exude confidence when talking with supervisors or express empathy when listening to a co-worker.

Aritri Ghosh
Amity University, kolkata


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