Language holds an essential position in routine lives communication and developing interactions. However, words and literal language is not the only form of communication that a person can have. There are other forms which need to be specified for the purpose of understanding the meaning of communication. Body language is another type that is regarded of more importance than words only because it reflects the extent of involvement and interest of a person in the communication. There is no doubt that words are important to discuss feelings but the expression in these words is placed through nonverbal communication. This type of communication is known as nonverbal communication and every field of personal and professional life is utilizing this form to generate meanings from words. Education, negotiation, healthcare, market sales, law enforcement, customer services, and business meetings are all the areas using nonverbal communication as significant part of their dealings. An important aspect of nonverbal communication is that the quietness of a person can be determined through it showing that words remain of no significance. The respective paper will discuss the important aspects of nonverbal communication for a person and along with its importance in relationships. The first section of the paper will highlight the specific factors of nonverbal communication and then the importance and influence of cultural norms will be discussed. For achieving this purpose books and articles from journals will be utilized.
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Body language, facial expressions, postures, and eye contact are all incorporated in nonverbal communication but these are the terminologies that do not require words so the definition of nonverbal communication is,
Nonverbal communication is the act of exchanging information without utilizing spoken words for the purpose of enhancing collaborative impacts (Carney, et al., 2005).
This shows that nonverbal communication involves the exchange of information without words. The word information is holding a specific meaning in terms of feelings and emotions which words are, sometimes, unable to depict. This is the reason that importance of nonverbal communication cannot be neglected at any point. Similarly, expressing certain phenomenon requires body language or some form of regulations that determine a certain interpretation. Five Cs are operative pertaining to the use of nonverbal communication that provides information on various regular activities. These include the following (Goman, 2008):
Context: It refers to the settings or surroundings that alter the meaning of the gestures and responses of a person.
Clusters: It is the amalgamation of various gestures and glances that comprise of a specific meaning to a phenomenon.
Congruence: The use of words and body language forms a message which in turn is known as the accumulation of verbal and nonverbal aspects from a person.
Consistency: It is known as the repetition of certain gestures in a particular situation which indicates various stressful or excited conditions and helps in determining one in later experience.
Culture: Nonverbal communication is influenced by cultural norms as culture is a specific notion of depicting a persons behavior and actions.
These all are operative in some form and generates the overall aspects of nonverbal communication from a specified setting.
Aspects of Nonverbal Communication:
Nonverbal communication has deep effect in accentuating words as manners in which words are spoken holds no interesting, amusing, or reflecting modes in them. An element of surprise is dominant in the fact that if a person is unable to show facial expressions, it is regarded as a disease known as Parkinsons disease. In this disease, a person lacks the ability of facial expressions and this is due to damage in brain cells. Nonverbal communication is a form of integration between words and expressions which, if affected, can suppress the natural abilities of mind and body coordination (Dujardin, et al, 2004). Similarly, it is interesting to know that even the attire of a person sends messages through which personality can be perceived. If a person is not expressive then his outlook and physical gestures dominate his personality in such a way that people can judge him from it. Neat and clean attire or professional attire in business setting can depict the seriousness and interest of a person in business. Therefore, it is not just words that can help a person in showing himself but the way he presents himself (Sundaram & Webster, 2000).
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There is no denying to the fact that looks can be deceiving and if a person is already known to all the tactics involved in nonverbal communication then he may use these tactics to misguide other person or may deceive him in believing which is not true. However, it is acting in favor of the person who is deliberately doing it. In this way nonverbal communication is not referring to a reliable source of perception about any phenomenon (Vrij, 2004). In contrast, a person who does not know about the basics of nonverbal communication may present certain gestures which are not helpful for him and the other person may perceive him wrong. There is not statement showing that this phenomenon is positive or negative because it depends on the person who is facing the particular situation. Police officers interrogate the culprit using such techniques that helps them determine whether the culprit is lying or not. In this way, it is beneficial for the interrogator but portrays negativity for the culprit (Geerts, et al., 2009). Psychiatrists are also utilizing nonverbal communication for the analysis of a patients behavioral and metal condition. Certain gestures are indicative of the extent of the problem they face (Vrij, 2004). This all is surprising that such a common and simple act is containing in it several phenomena that cater to everyday needs and demands from a personal and professional relationships.
Face-to-Face versus Computer Mediated Interaction:
Technology has revolutionized the forms of communication prevalent in society. The media use in communication has been regarded as effective in transmitting information efficiently. Advancements in the current media raised debates over the effectiveness of means of communication especially computer-mediated communication over face-to-face communication. Computer-mediated communication is defined as,
A type of communication which allows people to combine numerous media in a single message when conversing through global interactive networks (Ean, 2010).
Similarly, face-to-face communication is known as,
A conversation that one has while having one-to-one session with other person for perceiving messages conveyed and respond with feedback straightaway (Ean, 2010).
The main aim of this type of communication is to convey information but these two types of communication represent different extents of perception and deliverance of messages. Computer-mediated communication is through various internet networks of chat and may be audio or video conversations. The major difference between these two is the presence or absence of the visual contact. Although technological advancements have lead to an increase in the interaction level through computer based communication yet the level which one can have through face-to-face interaction is not possible. Face-to-face interactions allow a person to determine the response of other party through body language and physical gestures that are impossible to gather through audio conversations or through less visual available in video conversation (Goman, 2008).
Social presence is a significant matter in educational and business purposes and it has been recognized that the overall performance and quality of a task is improved through face-to-face interaction as it helps in generating rapid response and feedback. Business dealings are most finalized through face-to-face interactions as the level of involvement and interest of the client as well as the physical presence of the dealers is regarded crucial for making negotiations. These factors regard face-to-face and computer-mediated communication different in terms of involvement, social presence, interaction, and perception of notions (Ean, 2010). Collective induction is a process of carrying out discussions in a group setting where interaction is determined through participation and various nonverbal gestures delivered by a person. Computer-mediated communication is lacking effectiveness in such kinds of social interactive discussions and face-to-face interactions are preferred (Daly, 1993). Therefore, it is concluded that although advancements have lead to the development of fast and efficient means of communication yet face-to-face communication is still regarded as the effective form by educators, healthcare professionals, and businessmen.
Importance of Nonverbal Communication in Relationships:
Nonverbal communication, as indicated earlier, is important in maintaining relationships as these involve gestures that indicate the level of intimacy, honesty, and trust. Touch, in nonverbal communication, is a strong tool which depicts childcare, courtship and comfort. The importance of touch can be analyzed from the fact that premature babies who are stroked grow 40 percent faster than those who do not receive this touching stimulus (Goman, 2008). Relationships need trust and love which is better shown through specific gestures as compared to spoken words. A simple example of this can be attributed to the fact that expressing love by gifts is more impactful as compared to the use of words. Similarly, rapport is build by using gestures of touch, head nod, and facial expressions. This is useful in conducting business meetings and developing relationships between individuals. Therefore, it is concluded that relationships whether professional or personal are strengthened using nonverbal communication.
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Effect of Culture on Nonverbal Communication:
The understanding of the effect of culture on nonverbal communication is gained after knowing what culture is actually representing. Culture is a set of characteristics of particular group living together and sharing beliefs, attitudes, and social habits (Cheng, 2001). The cultural aspects are regarded of significance as these are important in various actions and determining values and norms. There are two types of body language mediators including acquired and instinctive. Acquired signals are the ones that are socially mediated and depend on cultural norms and values. These signals vary from region to region and religion to religion and an action may represent one thing to a person while different to another. However, there are six universal expressions of nonverbal communication that hold similar meaning in all the cultures and languages. These include; joy, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger. The difference in culture portrays difference in various actions and nonverbal gestures. A simple example of this is the variation in contact and noncontact cultures. The countries that prefer contact and touch include France, Latin America, Israel, Greece, and Saudi Arabia whereas noncontact countries are Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, and North America. Similarly, a social distance is also necessary to maintain in some cultures and various length of distances determines whether a relationship is business oriented or intimate (Goman, 2008).
Culture is also prevalent in normal manner of greeting one another. Handshake is a universal sign of greeting. However, other gestures including bending a little is known in Chinese culture, joining hands in front of a person is a common gesture of Indians, kissing on cheek is common in French, Scandinavian and Spanish people. These are the cross cultural norms important but each one of these also represents the level of interest, confidence and satisfaction in it. For example, handshake, although universal, depicts various forms by just strong grip, pumps to arms, number of pumps, pressure exerted on the hand by greeter. These are indicative of different perceptions about a persons behavior and attitude in greeting other person. This shows that culture has a great influence on nonverbal communication and cross-cultural norms are important to consider while carrying out communication (Goman, 2008).
Nonverbal communication is the exchange of information without spoken words and holds significance in depicting involvement, interest, honesty, and respect for values. This type of communication is stronger than spoken language and incorporates the use of body language, facial expressions, and eye contact in signaling other person. These all gestures use the principles of five Cs that are operative in nonverbal communication including; context, clusters, congruence, consistency, and culture. Nonverbal communication holds significance not only in performing routine tasks but also for achieving professional targets. Police officers in interrogation and psychiatrists in counseling and assessing a person use certain nonverbal gestures unintentionally passed. This is the reason that face-to-face communication is still regarded as the better form as compared to computer-mediated communication. Although advancements have lead to the development of fast means of exchanging information yet face-to-face communication is preferred by most professionals. Relationships are also strengthened by physical presence and touching as it indicates the extent of intimacy. However, the touch factor may vary from culture to culture and certain cultural norms do not regard it a nice gesture. Therefore, it is concluded that nonverbal communication is an important phenomena in our lives which is affected by cultural values.