Verbal and Non – Verbal Communication

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Communication is the study of the transfer of meaning (Eunson, 2005, p. 2). This consists of verbal communication, which is the exchange of ideas through written or spoken words and non – verbal communication, which is conveying a message through cues such as facial expressions (a smile), head movements (shaking left to right), proxemics (closeness in proximity) and eye messages (a stare). It is virtually impossible to not communicate, as further proved by the axiom – “You cannot not communicate”.

There can also be considerable misunderstanding due to the noise factors that obstruct easy flow of communication, which can be dismissed if the misconceptions are understood and remedied. Verbal cues can be easily controlled; where as the non – verbal cues have little or no control as they are exhibited by the speaker more or less without his or her knowledge. These are more spontaneous and the individual has less control over them, thus making it more genuine and real.

Consequently, at times when the verbal cues and the non – verbal cues are contradicting, it is the general practice for the listener to perceive the message displayed by the non – verbal cue. In a face to face conversation or verbal exchange, the words take only 7% of the effectiveness of delivering the proper message, where as the tone of voice and non – verbal communication consists of 38% and 55% respectively (Bradbury, 2003).

The aim of this presentation is to examine how communication of messages could be carried out effectively with the maneuvering of both, verbal and non – verbal cues, in the absolute correct way. Some methods to ensure proper communication would be to listen attentively to the speaker, keep eye contact, keep an open attitude to both the speaker and the listener, body language and feed back. This would enable us to communicate better with others by minimizing the possibility of delusion and thus we are able to read their thoughts and feelings, which they might be hiding and vice versa.

Also, this teaches us about the ways we might be subconsciously portraying ourselves to be to others as further confirmed by the famous saying “World is a mirror of yourself”. Consequently, we are able to create better rapport with others and this also provides a gateway to understand our inner selves, which sometimes we would be clueless about. The use of words in terms of speaking or writing can be rephrased if necessary, to alter the meaning that the speaker needs to get across to the listener.

Yet, there can be noise factors, which cause distortions in the actual message the sender is trying to put forth to the receiver. This is because the words have two different meanings, the denotative meaning – the dictionary definition of a word and the connotative meaning – feelings or associations each individual has about a word (Kimberley, 2003, p. 145). For example, if a person talks to another person about “love”, the listener would always relate it to his or her personal experiences about love and thus there is a higher possibility of ineffective communication.

In contrast, if the word “a pencil box” is mentioned there is not the least possibility of misunderstanding the information as, a pencil box has a definite meaning. On the other hand, in non verbal communication it is inevitable to stop oneself from communicating with others. For example if an individual keeps quiet in an attempt to not communicate, this is not possible because this mere act sends a message to the listeners around that he or she is not willing to talk now (Dr. Shaler, 2005).

This means that an individual is constantly communicating even though he or she may not be saying anything verbally. Their physical characteristics such as the hairstyle, dressing, accessories or the touching behavior and body movements might say something to the person he or she is communicating to without even realizing it. The speaker might even be saying something undesirable without knowing. This makes us vulnerable to people’s assumptions and interpretations.

This is especially difficult when our non-verbal messages conflict with our verbal ones as it sends mixed messages, which further confuses the other party. There are many ways of communicating. Different parts of the world have their own set of nonverbal cues. Different cultures have different ways of interpreting and understanding non-verbal cues. For example when meeting a person for the first time, Americans put high value on eye contact and usually limit their touch to firm handshake (Kimberley, 2003, p. 82) while in Japan it is considered rude to look directly into the eye.

A simple gesture of thumbs up might mean “OK” to the rest of the world but is a rude gesture in Mexico. Understanding cross-cultural non-verbal cues is really important, especially when communicating with people of another culture in order not to offend them resulting in unintended communication failures and conflict. This might tarnish the relationship between people. Thus we have to be careful with our actions.

By studying this, we are able to gather the kind of impression we might be projecting to people and hence improve it. Conclusion Effective communication is very important especially in order to build a good foundation between parties. Verbal and non – verbal communication is equally important in the process of failure free information transfer between parties, but non – verbal communication takes up a major role in this procedure. In conclusion, we should ensure that both these types of cues are appropriately put into action to enhance better communication and interaction.

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