January 30, 2012
Communication is more than the words that are sent and received. Messages are conveyed through appearance, gestures, and attitudes. Nonverbal communication is unavoidable. People communicate nonverbally before they can utter a single word. Words contribute surprisingly little to communication; about 2/3 of communication is nonverbal (Cheesebro, O’Connor, & Rios, 2010). The messages encoded in a person’s facial expressions, posture, and attire send a message about that person.
Unwritten communication can contain several dimensions of nonverbal messages. The speed ...view middle of the document...
A person expresses interest by maintaining eye contact throughout most of the message, nodding with agreement, and smiling frequently; their feet will be pointed toward the speaker and their heads will be tilted slightly forward (Endress, 2011). When the person is slouching in their chair, fidgeting, and glancing around a lot, they are most likely bored with the conversation. When a person has their arms crossed, this shows resistance to the message. If a listener suddenly changes their facial expression or looks away, it might indicate they do not want to comment on something that was said. With these cues, the speaker can make adjustments to their message or address the concerns of the audience.
When delivering a message, the nonverbal cues that you send are perceived by the listener. This occurs faster than you can speak. People who align their nonverbal messages with the words they speak are more likely to be trusted. Because the words you speak constitute only a small portion of the message that people receive, it is important to be aware of the nonverbal messages that you send. The nonverbal signals can override the words that you speak if they are not congruent. People will see you as more approachable if you have a genuine smile and express genuine interest when they speak. When receiving a message, facing the speaker, making eye contact, and keeping an alert pose will show that you are paying attention (Cheesebro, O’Connor, & Rios, 2010).
Nonverbal communication exists in every culture; however, the individual gestures may have different meanings across cultural lines. In America, the thumbs up is a good gesture, but in South Africa, it is very offensive (Cheesebro, O’Connor, & Rios, 2010). The OK gesture in America means money in Japan; in France, it means zero (Hu, 2007). When communicating across cultures, you need to be aware of their customs to avoid...