Language, Paralanguage and Non-Verbal Communication

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26th Nov 2019 Psychology Reference this

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The Importance of Language, Paralanguage and Non-Verbal Communication in Various forms of Communication – A Practical Study

  • Toby Williamson

Access to Psychology

Abstract

This study examines the role of non-verbal communication, language and paralanguage in conveying information. To this end, the study examines how people use these three forms of communication in the context of sharing ideas, expressing joy and happiness as well as persuasion. The study involves a field work that studied dialogues between 10 pairs of persons.

The findings identify that people generally utilize a combination of the three forms of communication, namely non-verbal communication, language and paralanguage in conversations where they need to express their emotions. This includes sharing joy as well as persuasion. However, in cases where persons must express facts and ideas in a factual form, communication can be done through the use of language only and in this case, non-verbal communication and paralanguage might not be very essential in conveying meaning and ideas.

Introduction

Non-verbal communication (NVC) involves direct communication not exclusively relying on written or spoken words (Berry, 2010; Rimondini, 2012). Non-Verbal Communication (NVC) is a situation where the expression of the inner emotions of people are presented through the use of bodily descriptions and trends that shows the way people feel at a give point in time (Littlejohn & Foss, 2010; Wood, 2009).

Paralanguage on the other hand involves non-verbal voice qualities, voice modifiers and independent utterances that are produced by various parts of the body to convey various understandable messages (Poyatos, 2012; Wilson, 2011). Therefore, paralanguage involves the modification of voices as a means of presenting various forms of messages to other people.

Language is the use of words in a given dialect to transmit information and present data and information to different people in order to convey meaning(Phifer, 2007). Language refers to conventional dialog and speech that is carried out to present information from one person to another in mutually intelligible dialect(Perkins, 2010).

These three different approaches to communication are used by communicators to complement each other in order to provide meaningful communication(Zimmerman & Uecke, 2012). This is because communication involves the presentation of various ideas and concepts in order to convey meaning. Hence, there is the need for these different approaches to be put together in order to gain the best forms of meaning.

Aim

The aim of this research is to examine how these different elements and aspects of communication work together to attain good and proper results in communication. In order to attain this end, the following objectives will be reviewed:

1. A critical analysis of the different approaches to communication and how they work together;

2. An identification of circumstances where one might be used solely without the use of other forms of communication;

3. An evaluation of the options and processes that might come together to define good communication

Hypotheses

A hypothesis is a tentative statement that is made by a researcher at the beginning of the research and it is tested for its truthfulness and falsity throughout the research(Kothari, 2009). This research hypothesizes that the best means and the best form of communication occurs when you combine the three elements of communication: NVC, paralanguage and language.

The alternative hypothesis is that each of the three elements of communication is best used alone in most circumstances.

Methodology

In the study, there is the need to examine and review the way people use the three components of communication:

– Non-verbal communication

– Paralanguage

– Language

In order to do this study, a practical fieldwork is employed to analyze and review how people mix these three tools of communication in sharing ideas and information. First of all, there is the need to identify how these three elements of communication work in relation to:

1. Sharing Ideas

2. Expressing Joy/Happiness

3. Suggesting a better view

In order to study this, a fieldwork is conducted and a collection of data, analysis of data and drawing conclusion is conducted.

Data is collected through the conducting of a dialogue amongst ten pairs of people. In each of the situations, the participants are asked to present information under one of the three themes and from there the importance and significance of the three elements of communication are identified and discussed.

Secondly, the dialogues are documented in the form of classification of the various headings and the various pointers in the NVC. The details of the documentation for the collection of information for this study are presented in Appendix 1 below.

The findings are to be classified according to the number of times and the respondents chose an option. These options are summed up and they are analyzed and reviewed in order to lay the foundation for critical reviews and analysis.

In the analysis the frequency of occurrence or choice of each option is discussed and this adds up in order to provide an overall view of whether a given element of communication is viewed as important or not. This is all critiqued and analyzed in order to draw conclusions on whether the hypothesis is valid or not.

Results

The field work was conducted over a three-day period. Twenty participants were involved in the process and they were asked to have a dialogue with each other in order to test the three approaches to communication and information sharing. Each of the respondents were monitored by the facilitator to pose as s/he was communicating with another person. And in the process, they went through all the three forms of communication and exchange of information. Afterwards they were asked to identify whether they considered each of the three approaches to communication as important, quite important or very important in each case.

The findings were tallied and they were put together to justify and discuss each of the three approaches. This includes the compilation of each of the responses. They are presented in the treatment of results section below.

The table below shows how the different respondents presented their views on how communication can be conducted with the different tools and the different elements of communication. This is graded and presented on the scale of very important (A), quite important (B) and not important (C).

Communication

Type

NVC Paralanguage Language
A B C A B C A B C
1 – Sharing Ideas 2 3 15 0 1 19 20 0 0
2 – Expressing Joy or Happiness 3 4 13 1 4 15 16 3 1
3 – Suggesting a Better View 4 7 9 3 6 11 14 3 3

Treatment of Results

The different elements and different aspects of communication are presented in this study and the way this information is presented by the various respondents in the research. These respondents indicated the relative strength and the relative importance of the different approaches to language sharing and information sharing and this shows some degree of variation from the various classifications and the different methods of sharing information and ideas.

Sharing Ideas

In sharing ideas, it is identified that most people saw non-verbal communication to be unimportant. This showed that over three quarters showed that you could share ideas without having to resort to non-verbal communication. The vast majority of respondents indicated that ideas could be shared without the use of paralanguage and the changing of tones amongst other things. However, it was decided unanimously that the use of language is vital and important in sharing ideas and there could practically be no sharing of ideas if language was absent.

Expression of Joy or Happiness

Although the vast majority of respondents indicated that sharing expressing joy can be done without the use of non-verbal communication, most of the respondents indicated that laughter is a universal sign of expressing joy and language and the way you speak in such a situation is one in which your happiness reflects in your actions and the tone used by speakers. Hence, although most participants in the experiment wrote that language is the most important tool for expressing joy, happiness and emotions, most respondents conceded that the three elements, non-verbal communication and paralanguage and language all work together to convey emotions and express joy and happiness because that is the natural component and the natural attitude that people express these feelings.

However, in the collection of the data, the vast majority of respondents identified that communication in expressing emotions was almost done with language. This is apparent in the fact that about 65% of the respondents stated that non-verbal communication is not important in expressing joy and happiness and 55% of the respondents identified that paralanguage was not important. However, 70% stated that language is important in expressing happiness and joy and another 15% found it to be somewhat important (say 85% of the respondents at this point). This shows that language is still important and vital in helping respondents to express their joy and

Suggesting a Better View

This section was quite complicated. This is because the respondents were split in discussing whether non-verbal communication was important or not. They showed that almost 50% of the respondents said that non-verbal communication was not important. However, 35% said it is quite important and 20% said it was very important. Although over 50% state that paralanguage is not important in suggesting a better view, 70% stated that language is very important in suggesting a better or improved view.

Discussions

From the study, it is identified that the respondents showed that language is important and vital in almost all the scenarios and situations at hand. This is because language is the main measure or means through which communication and the exchange of information is done in most situations and contexts.

In sharing ideas, it seems to be pervasive that the use of language is universal and pervasive. This is because language is vital and important in sharing such views and in getting people to understand a person’s thoughts and ideas. In this context, the use of non-verbal communication and paralanguage tools are not very important because the individual sharing the ideas is able to express everything in succinct terms and the listener can deduce the idea through language without much modification or additions.

However, in expressing joy and happiness, most respondents indicated that language is vital. However, language is not the only means through which these emotions can be expressed. This is because expressing joy and happiness come with a high degree of emotions that can be expressed through bodily actions (non-verbal communication) and intonation (paralanguage) as a means of making the emotions and sentiments more felt by the listener. Hence, it is conclusive that non-verbal communication and paralanguage are important in expressing emotions and feelings in circumstances where a person needs to do so.

Finally, suggesting a better view on a matter is a matter that is persuasive in nature. And it is identified that most respondents identify that language is important. However, they concede that some degree of non-verbal communication as well as paralanguage. This shows that in persuasive discussions, there is the need for some degree of communication tools to be employed other than the use of language.

Conclusion

The research indicates that communication involves a degree of utilization of different approaches and methods of sharing information. This means that in most forms of communication, language, non-verbal communication and paralanguage are used together in order to express views and ideas.

The fieldwork does not justify the null hypothesis per se. This is because in some forms of communication, it is identified that language can be used without much reliance on non-verbal communication and paralanguage. This particularly happens in factual contexts where there is the need for people to communicate ideas. However, in other forms of communication like the expression of happiness and persuasion, the hypothesis is honored and justified because they all work well in order to provide a reasonable communication of the sentiments of the speaker to the listener.

The alternative hypothesis states that each of the three elements of communication can best be utilized independently. This only stands in the case of factual communication or the sharing of ideas where language is an important and vital method of communication and can stand alone. However, the alternative hypothesis is refuted when it comes to persuasion and the expression fo joy and happiness.

Bibliography

Berry, D. (2010). Health Communication: Theory and Practice. London: McGrawHill.

Kothari, C. R. (2009). Research Methodology. Delhi: New Age Publishing.

Littlejohn, S. W., & Foss, K. A. (2010). Theories of Human Communication . Mason, OH: Cengage.

Perkins, P. S. (2010). The Art and Science of Communication. London: Wiley.

Phifer, E. (2007). Boosting the Mind’s Eye: Visualizing for Social and Emotional Intelligence. New York: Universal Publishing.

Poyatos, F. (2012). Textual Translation and Live Translation. New York: John Benjamins Publishing.

Rimondini, M. (2012). Communication in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. London: Springer.

Wilson, E. O. (2011). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Boston, MA: Yale University Press.

Wood, J. (2009). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. Mason, OH: Cengage.

Zimmerman, C., & Uecke, R. A. (2012). Asserting Yourself At Work. New York: AMACOM.

Appendix 1

Dear Respondent,

As part of the study on the importance of non-verbal communication, paralanguage and language in communication, this research will seek to involve you in an experiment. In this experiment, you will need a communication partner and you will have to conduct a two-way dialogue. The first should be about sharing ideas, the second should be about expressing joy or happiness and the third will involve suggesting a better view in a debate.

The findings must be classified under headings A, B or C and this must be mutually agreed. The end is to examine the importance o these three elements of communication in sharing information.

Communication

Type

NVC Paralanguage Language
A B C A B C A B C
1 – Sharing Ideas
2 – Expressing Joy or Happiness
3 – Suggesting a Better View

A – Very Important

B – Quite Important C – Not Important

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