Communication plays a pivotal role in the development of personal and professional relationships. It creates a connection that allows access between persons or places. Research has established that a big percentage of all the communication done between people is often nonverbal (Halbe, 2012). Nonverbal communication refers to the wordless signals that people use to convey a certain message. This involves numerous stimuli that provide information about the things that one should do. Some of the common nonverbal communication cues include facial expressions, signals, eye contact, postures, tone of voice, dressing style, and handshakes among others.
Silence also applies as a form of nonverbal communication. The ability of people to understand and use their body language plays a crucial role in developing successful relationships with others (Halbe, 2012). Organizations use various forms of communication to convey messages during meetings, conferences, and interaction with their customers. Some of the common forms of communication used are telephones and face-to-face interaction (Halbe, 2012).
The main difference between the two forms of communication is the way people use and interpret various cues. In some cases, people can use nonverbal cues that are hard to interpret, thus leading to misinterpretation of the information (Halbe, 2012). It is challenging for people to interpret all the cues used in telephone conversations because there is no physical interaction. On the other hand, nonverbal cues used in face-to-face communication are easy to identify and interpret.
Communication is a crucial element in businesses, especially during meetings and conferences. Participants in such events often interact and share a lot of information. For example, during conferences, participants tend to form focus groups in order to deliberate on various issues of discussion (Halbe, 2012). Communication in business meetings involves agreeing to contributions made by participants, assessing the credibility of the information shared, comprehending the attitude of various participants, and emphasizing on a point made. All these activities involve extensive use of nonverbal cues (Halbe, 2012).
Nonverbal communication is a very complex concept that requires careful consideration with regard to the interplay of factors that influence its various forms. Communication in meetings is often characterized by use of conference calls and face-to-face interaction, which apply various nonverbal cues to convey messages (Halbe, 2012).
Types of nonverbal communication
There are various types of nonverbal communication, which people use to pass a message to others. First, there is facial expression. This entails the outward feelings someone articulates through their face. Facial expressions are an influential form of nonverbal communication because the look on someone’s face always sends a message even before saying anything (Halbe, 2012). The interpretation of certain facial expressions can vary from one individual to another. For people that use computer mediated communication such as use of telephones, it is challenging to tell whether the person on the other end is honest or not from their facial expressions.
On the other hand, it is easy to tell the credibility of information shared by someone through face-to-face interaction by analysing their facial expression. Facial expressions of feelings such as delight, sorrow, resentment, and nervousness have a universal interpretation. The second type of nonverbal communication is gestures (Halbe, 2012). This entails deliberate movement of hands and other body parts with an aim to emphasize or express a feeling. In both telephone and face-to-face communication, gestures apply to indicate an intention. Some of the most notable forms of gestures that people use in communication include directing, beckoning, and indicating numerical figures using fingers (Halbe, 2012).
Gestures have different meanings across various cultures. This means that one gesture can be used to send different kind of messages depending on the user. Gestures are a common feature of telephone and face-to-face conversations. In telephone conversations, gestures cannot be noticed by the person on the other end. However, in face-to-face conversations, it is easy to notice and interpret gestures made by a communicator (Halbe, 2012).
Third, there is paralinguistic communication, which entails nonverbal elements of a spoken intention such as the tone of one’s voice, pitch, and loudness. Communication experts argue that these elements have a huge impact on the way people interpret a message passed by the conveyer (Halbe, 2012). For example, a strong tone in the voice of a communicator can indicate enthusiasm and confidence. This makes it easy for a recipient to approve a message delivered using such a tone. On the other hand, a weak tone in the voice of a communicator can indicate a lack of certainty and interest. This reduces the chances of the recipient approving the message (Halbe, 2012).
Tonal variations during telephone conversations often affect the meaning of a message depending on the interpretation of the recipient. In face-to-face communication, someone can combine the communicator’s tone and other cues such as facial expression to determine the correctness of information shared. I believe that tonal variations are the best form of nonverbal cues that someone can use to understand the message passed by a communicator. Fourth, there is body posture.
Communication experts argue that the manner in which someone walks, stands, and sits can be used to send a certain message (Halbe, 2012). In addition, people tend to establish someone’s character from their body posture. For example, you can tell a confident person from the way they walk with their head held high and maintaining eye contact. Psychologists describe postures such as crossed legs and arms as an indication of someone with insecurities about certain things (Halbe, 2012). In telephone conversations, body postures have little influence on the way someone interprets a message. On the other hand, the impact of information shared during face-to-face conversations is highly influenced by the posture of the communicator.
Another type of nonverbal communication is the personal space. Research has established that everyone requires an amount of space to themselves, which other people should respect at all times (Halbe, 2012). For instance, people like to keep a certain amount of distance when having casual interaction with people close to them. On the other hand, the amount of personal space required when friends and family members are talking is often lesser (Halbe, 2012).
Communication experts argue that someone can tell the importance of a conversation or someone’s character depending on the amount of personal space kept. Invasion of the personal space can affect the efficiency of communication because some people find it very hard to say something when someone else is listening (Halbe, 2012). Personal space is often used to convey feelings such as affection, dominance, and intimacy. I believe that personal space should be respected during communication. I once experienced an infringement on my personal space while having a conversation with a doctor over the phone. I was explaining my health condition to a physician, when a friend suddenly entered the room and stayed to listen to the rest of the conversation.
Another type of nonverbal cue that people use to communicate is eye contact. Eyes are a crucial element of communication whose role cannot be ignored. Eye contact applies in sending messages such as attraction, honesty, and interest among others. Communication experts argue that people who maintain eye contact are effective communicators. The reason for this is that people tend to believe them easily (Halbe, 2012). On the other hand, people who fail to maintain eye contact when talking are often considered to be liars. I believe that this is one of the most fascinating nonverbal cues because it plays a crucial role in creating a deep connection between communicators.
People who communicate using telephones tend to have a deeper connection when they meet face-to-face. Touching is another form of nonverbal communication that people use to convey information (Halbe, 2012). Although this form of communication is commonly applied by children, experts argue that adults also use it to pass various forms of messages that they do not wish to convey verbally. Touching applies in conveying feelings such as fondness, acquaintance, compassion, and confidence among others. Other notable forms of nonverbal communication include appearance and artefacts (Halbe, 2012). It is possible to tell a lot about someone or something using their appearance.
Nonverbal communication cues are very important in terms of helping people develop stable relationships. Face-to-face communication and conference calls are commonly used during meetings. It is important when participants and the presenters have good comprehension of the various types of nonverbal communication cues, as well as their impact on the credibility of the information they convey. It is important to ensure that one looks presentable, uses the right tone while speaking, maintains an appropriate posture, and always develops eye contact with everyone. The main reason for observing the above elements is the fact that nonverbal cues apply in conveying a lot of information about someone.
Depending on the interpretations that people develop from various nonverbal cues, the meaning of the information conveyed can be easily misinterpreted or misunderstood. It is important for people who speak in business meetings to use their body language in the most effective manner possible.
Halbe, D. (2012). Who’s there? Differences in the features of telephone and face-to-face conferences. Journal of Business Communication, 49(1), 48-73.