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For our work we have chosen the topic of nonverbal communication, because nonverbal communication is a type of interpersonal interaction, resulting in communication with a help of non-language means. It includes all forms of human's self expressions, which do not rely on words. Psychologists believe that reading non-verbal signals is essential for effective communication.
Nonverbal communication plays an important role in exchanging of emotions between people. It is believed that in the process of communication only 7% of the information is transmitted verbally. About 38% of the information we receive through intonation, the remaining 55% is allocated to other types of nonverbal communication. The fact is that the effect of the majority of the messages is created by non-verbal information. This is particularly evident in cases where the verbal part of the message is contradictory. In this situation, to understand the meaning of the message the recipient relies on non-verbal part.
In non-verbal communication all means and characters other than words are used. Often the nonverbal transmission occurs simultaneously with the verbal and can enhance or change the meaning of words. Exchange of views, facial expression, for example, smiles and expressions of disapproval, raised eyebrows, live or frozen gaze, eyes with an expression of approval or disapproval - all these are the examples of nonverbal communication. Using your finger as a pointing finger, shielding the mouth with a hand, touching are also non-verbal ways of conveying meaning.
Psychologists believe that reading non-verbal signals is essential for effective communication because:
â€¢ about 70% of the information a person perceives with a help of optic (visual) channel;
â€¢ non-verbal signals can help to understand the true feelings and thoughts of the interlocutor;
â€¢ our attitude to the interlocutor is often shaped by the first impression, as it is the result of non-verbal factors, like gait, facial expression, look, attitude, dress, etc.
Non-verbal signals are especially valuable because they are spontaneous, unconscious, and, unlike words, they are always sincere.
Nonverbal communication includes five subsystems:
1. Dimensional subsystem (interpersonal space).
3. Opto-kinetic subsystem, which includes:
- The appearance of the interlocutor, facial expressions), pantomime (postures and gestures).
4. Paralinguistic subsystem, which includes:
- Vocal quality voice, its range, tone, timbre.
5. Extralinguistic subsystem, which includes:
- Rate of speech, pauses, laughter, etc.
2-3. To illustrate and demonstrate that this issue is not only theoretical but also practical one, i will give a few examples from my personal experience. First I'll describe the situation, behavior and attitudes which bind me and other person, and later i will try to analyze it from a scientific point of view. Let's consider two different stories with different people and different types of relationships that bind us.
The first story concerns a complete stranger to me, the man I had never met before that situation. A few weeks ago I had bought a new computer, which a few days after that began to work poorly. I went to the store to return it. Seller immediately walked me to the manager of the store. Manager greeted me with a smile, invited to come in and sit down. I was sitting not directly in front of him, but as a little side of him. The distance between us was a little closer than it was necessary. When I explained the situation to him that I want to return a purchase, he stopped smiling, but continued to talk to me in a polite way. His tone and facial expression changed, he became less friendly. The biggest problem in his behavior was that he could not sit on one place. He bended towards me, then leaned back in his chair, while talking to me. Finally he took my computer, so he did his job. But I have no desire to meet him again, because I felt uncomfortable and unpleasant when i was talking with him.
The second story is connected with my dad. We have a very close-knit family and we love each other. But once when I was in high school I tried to smoke, it was just to support the company one time thing, but my father became aware of this. I did not know that he knew. He called me, when I came to him I immediately realized that something was wrong. His posture and facial expression told me that. He sat on the sofa, his arms were folded, his brows were knitted, his eyes looked straight at me. For some time he was silent, then took a deep breath and then spoke. He spoke quietly, but confidently. From the tone, I realized that he was angry and disappointed me. I explained the situation and promised that it would not happen again. Perhaps because of such his reaction and I kept that promise. I felt ashamed and I didn't want to disappoint my father again.
4-5. Considering the first situation, I now realize what made me feel uncomfortable. Location face to face is the most commonly practiced locations, although not the only possible one of the consultant and the client. Position face to face is an invitation to dialogue. "I am disposed to you, I'm with you right now" - that is the message that the consultant is transfering to the client. Such a position indicates the willingness of the consultant to contact, says about his involvement in the conversation and invites the customer to start a conversation.
One of the problems could be solved if the manager had changed the position of seats and increased the distance between us. With a certain angle of a seat and by changing the distance you can change the degree of openness and participation in contact. The original seating arrangement at a certain angle and at a certain distance determines the subsequent possibilities of regulation the contact of the two parties, so usually chairs are placed at a distance of 1.5 - 2 meters between each other and at a slight angle.
In the conversation is more difficult with those who lean back in his chair. The slope of the consultant towards you sends the message "I'm with you, I am interested in you and what you want to say." A deviation back often says "I'm not quite with you" or "I'm bored." Too fast, sudden slope reduces the distance between the manager and client, which can disrupt the contact, and be perceived as a challenge. Conversely, if a consultant swings sharply back after a phrase, the customer may perceive this as an unwillingness to listen to his complaints and disregard for the explanation. This is exactly what that manager was doing. Sometimes I could not understand whether he listens to me at all or not. Sometimes because of his sudden movement, I lost a few seconds and then tried to return to what I was saying.
A good consultant respects the psychological boundaries of another human being, he is careful with distance comfortable for the client. Obviously, the manager i ran into didn't fit this description.
In the case of my dad my emotions after the conversation were also not very positive, but in quite a different way. After talking with the manager, I was displeased with him, but after talking with my father, I was displeased with myself.
Let us look at my dad's non-verbal communication, let's see what it has expressed. He sat with crossed arms. Hands folded on his chest is a classic gesture of closeness, it shows that the person is not available. By placing one or both hands at the chest we form the barrier. This is an attempt to dissociate yourself from an impending threat or undesirable circumstances. One thing is sure, if a person is nervous or takes a critical or defensive posture he crosses his hands at his chest. This is a clear signal that he feels the danger or threat. In our case, my father was afraid to be disappointed in me even more. He tried to dissociate himself from my arguments and clearly he was not in the mood for a constructive conversation. He was going to talk, but was not going to listen. Frown usually transmit disapproval and our example is not an exception. There is a difference between an open direct sight and its excesses - gaze. Gaze gives us an impression of active participation in contact, but in fact it often indicates a "dead contact." This is precisely our case, my father just stared at me. His eyes expressed some resentment and even some aggression and not the desire to talk and interest in the conversation.
Eyes are a mirror of the human's soul, so eye contact is a key element of nonverbal communication. The research identified a number of features of visual contact. Typically, more often people look in the eyes when are listening than when they are talking themselves. Look in the eyes is often used to "send words" to the companion. Friendly-minded interlocutors look at each other's eyes more often than people who have a mutual antipathy, and women do it more often than men.
Eye contact is a means of mutual regulation of the process of conversation. The time given to the visual contact in communication varies from 28% to 70%. Dyad usually "agree" on how much and when to look at each other, and such an alignment is carried out without a word at the unconscious level. Lack of eye contact can lead to the fact that the recipient feels that the listener is not interested. While in a result of an overabundance of visual contact the recipient may feel uncomfortable, feel an attempt of domination, control, implementation, and even absorption. These two extremes I felt for myself in the above situations. Lack of eye contact demonstrated the manager of an electronics store. A gaze of my father made me very nervous.
We all know from the experience of everyday communication that visual contact is easily maintained while discussing a pleasant topic, but people usually avoid it when it comes to complicated or unpleasant matters. If the speaker is looking into the eyes, then looking away to the side, it usually means that he has not yet finished speaking. When the speaker finishes his idea, he usually gives to know about it through direct gaze in the eyes, as if asking for a reaction.
Talking with my father or rather listening to what he said I nodded, not consciously I showed that I was listening to him and agreed with him. Nod is a very good way to show the recipient that you are listening to him. These movements express the reaction of "Yes" and "I understand". No nods tells your partner the lack of understanding and the need to clarify.
When I entered my father's room, he was silent for a while, as if he was thinking about what to say, then took a deep breath and only then he spoke. This period of silence was the most difficult, I did not know what to expect and was very nervous.
In the conversation with my father I saw and felt that his nonverbal communication confirms what he was saying, unlike the first situation with the manager. Since the manager was at work he could not tell me anything bad. Although it was clearly seen that our conversation was not bringing him pleasure. Verbally, he was polite to me, but his non-verbal communication did not match the words. And it was more than enough to understand his true emotions.
And the last thought. It is important not only to think what you say, but also to controll how you do it.