London school of business and law
Master foundation programme
Nonverbal communication in the context of managerial communication
Table of Contents
1. Communication: Verbal and Non-verbal
2. Why non-verbal communication can be considered relevant
3. Why non-verbal communication can be considered irrelevant
References and Bibliography
The purpose of this essay is to analyse why non-verbal communication can be considered relevant or irrelevant in the context of managerial communication.
In the first part of the main body we the definitions of communication will be given as well as the types of communications will be presented. And also we will see what role plays communication in an organization.
In the second part the relevance of non-verbal communication will be examined and examples will be given for every statement and argument. Here the statements will be supported by academic arguments.
In the third part the irrelevance of non-verbal communication will be analysed, and similar to the previous part all the opinions will be supported by academic arguments.
In the final part a conclusion will be made whether non-verbal communication is relevant or irrelevant in the context of managerial communication through bringing together the statements both from second and third parts.
A little about communication: Communication can be considered as one of most important and basic needs of human beings. It can be defined as exchange of information between entities. (Khan, 2001)
Usually when we say "communication" we imagine things connected with verbal communication, like talking on phones, listening to radio, etc. Verbal communication needs language; however it is not the only type of communication. Also non-verbal communication exists which does not need language and ideas can be expressed independent of a language. Non-verbal communication is always connected with the senses of humans, because through that senses one gets information. (Khan, 2001)
Through the sense of sight we can see motion, colours, shapes, which are all means of non-verbal communication. The sense of hearing is usually thought to be more verbal than non-verbal, but it is proved that many feelings like calmness or cheerfulness can be communicated through using some rhythmic sounds. Some people think that sense of smell can recall our memory best of the others. Sense of taste is connected with the sense of smell, and tasting food and drink can communicate friendship, agreement and approval. Sense of touch is also used as a mean of communication. Examples are a kiss, a handshake, a hug, etc. (Khan, 2001; Hibbitts, 1992)
Communication in an organization: Communication plays central role in every organization especially it is important for management as it is necessary for effective management. It has been shown that communication, especially oral skills have significant impact on success in business environment. (Hargie, Dickson & Tourish, 1999)
Study of Stanford University MBA graduates was carried out and it showed that good communication is the most important skill for success in business. (Hamilton, 2008)
Communication is considered to be the organization’s oxygen, blood, brain, central nervous system, arteries, highways for transacting a business, fuel or glue. These comparisons all show how important is the communication in management. (Hargie, Dickson & Tourish 1999)
2. Why non-verbal communication can be considered relevant
Almost every management textbook mentions that non-verbal communication plays a significant role in an organization. Communication itself is very important in an organization as it takes 80% of the managers’ day. (Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
There is an opinion that non-verbal communication is the most powerful form of communication and it makes you understand people better than words. Good communicators are always sensitive to the emotions. (Heathfield, n.d.)
Let us see why non-verbal communication can be relevant in everyday life and especially for managers.
First of all it helps to interpret the verbal means of communication right. In our everyday life we usually use body language to give a full meaning to our words. And saying the same word with different facial expressions and different movements can mean totally different things. For example when we call someone an "idiot" with smile doesn’t mean the same when we do the same with anger. (Khan, 2001)
Secondly it helps to develop good interpersonal relationships not only at work place but also at home. It’s worth mentioning the famous cliché that says "actions talk louder than words". For establishing good relationships it is crucial to be able to understand and use non-verbal communication in a proper way. For example, if someone always talks with angry manner or with intonation of blaming everyone, he/she can never have good relationships with people, no matter how kind his/her words are. (Non-verbal communication in building relationships, n.d.)
Non-verbal communication is very important during hiring and evaluating the personnel. Usually people think that during the jog interviews the verbal communication is the only important thing. However, researches show that the applicants, who show more expressive non-verbal behaviour, such as eye-contact, smiling, interview-focused, usually receive more favourable evaluation. For example, during interviews the HR manager of the bank where I used to work first of all was paying attention on cloths of the applicants as she considered it an important factor for understanding the nature of the applicant. (Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
Understanding non-verbal communication helps managers to be more sensitive. If the manager understands his/her employees’ emotions he/she can easily surpass the managers who are short of sensitivity. In cases when the manager-follower relations have high quality the managers provide emotional support and motivate their followers. These high-quality relations are usually led by mutual trust and respect. What is more, some suggest that non-verbal communication skills are the most important skills that a leader must have to create good relationships with followers. (Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
My sister’s example is the brightest example of successful leadership. She became the head of customer service department of a bank at the age of 23 after working with that bank only one year. That was mainly because she had a strong sense of understanding emotions of not only her colleagues but also other managers and the CEO. Every employee respects and trusts her. Of course her promotion was not built only on her sensitivity; however this specification played a huge role on her career.
Non-verbal communication is very important for attracting customers. It is not a secret that polite and "with smile" service always has better impact on customers. Studies with waiters show that even little things like crouching down to the customer’s table, slightly touching the customer always bring to getting more tips from them. (Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
For example, when looking at the statistic in our bank we could always find out that one of our customer service employees always was doing more job than the others. At the year end, taking into account the opinions of other employees, that girl won the prize "Smile of the Bank". As all the employees of our bank were also the clients of the bank they can reflect the opinion of other customers, and taking into account the volume of work done by that that employee, we can come to a conclusion that she could easily attract customers by her smile.
Non-verbal means of communication sometimes seem more trustworthy. Usually people first try to rely on non-verbal communication to express their feelings and emotions. They seem to be more trustable as they are usually unconscious and people think that they never lie. (Besson et al., 2005)
Here the brightest example will be the American television series "Lie to me", which is about a firm which employees accept assignments from third parties and through their ability of interpreting micro expressions and reading the body language they always find the truth because the unconscious nature of human non-verbal behaviour always betray what they want to hide.
Summarizing all the above mentioned and looking at non-verbal communication in the context of managerial communication, we can see that non-verbal communication plays a significant role both in hiring a staff and earning respect and love of the followers and getting promotions in the career.
nonverbal dialogue gesture mimicry
In this part of essay analysis of the reasons why non-verbal communication can be considered irrelevant will be done.
First of all cultural differences have huge impact on non-verbal communication. They often lead to miscommunication. An example of a student and an employee of a university can highlight this statement better. A multinational student was trying to explain a white woman in the university that he had paid the bill and he was doing it by waving his hands and minimizing the distance between him and the woman. There was an impression that the student was chasing her, but in reality minimizing the distance between people was considered to be respectful from the point of view of the student’s culture. Also there are lots of signs and movements that differ from culture to culture and using them incorrectly can lead to miscommunication. (The importance of Nonverbal Communication. N.d.; Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
Wrong interpretation may bring unwanted results. This statement can be connected with the previous one but can be considered from another point of view.Wrong interpretation can be both because someone is understood wrong and because someone sent wrong signals. In both cases business, career, relationships, and even self-esteem may suffer. (Hogan, 2010)
For understanding this statement better let’s study the example of my friend. She is a very hardworking person, and she never liked to sit without a work. Her manager always gave her as little work as possible, because he always thought that my friend didn’t like to do much work. Even after she told him that it was quite opposite he didn’t believe as he misinterpreted the emotions of my friend. And finally my friend gave up the work and moved to another firm. This example shows that in this case giving more relevance to non-verbal behaviour was wrong and because of that suffered both my friend and the firm. (Hogan, 2010)
Other statement that shows the irrelevance of non-verbal behaviour is that during interviews and employee estimation verbal behaviour is much more important than non-verbal. The aim of the interviewing for a job or evaluating existing employees is to find out if the applicant is "hireable" or qualified enough for the specific job. In such cases most managers give more relevance to verbal behaviour than to non-verbal, because the qualification and the readiness to answering questions is sometimes more important for a job. (Riggio, Feldman, 2005)
For example, once I was watching a television show about dress-code in organizations. It was telling about a woman who was working in a bank but she liked to dress colourful dresses, and as she was very high qualified professional the management excused her colourful appearance in the bank.
Summarizing the above mentioned we can see that non-verbal communication has aspects that make it to become irrelevant both during every day life and within an organization.
Looking at all the above mentioned points of relevance and irrelevance of non-verbal communication, we can come to a conclusion, than verbal and non-verbal communication behaviour can not be separated from each other.
Though we say that non-verbal communication has a cultural meaning we also know that body language has universal components and there are signs and gestures than do not vary from culture to culture.
Though we say that non-verbal behaviour can be interpreted wrong, we also can say that without them people would misunderstand each other much more frequently.
And though we say that during evaluating or interviewing employees verbal behaviour is much more important, we can say for sure that though some employers can excuse the dress-code violations, no employer will excuse more serious non-verbal misbehaviours such as talking on phone during the interview even to the best qualified employee.
In my opinion not only in the context of managerial communication but also in our everyday life non-verbal communication can be considered more relevant than irrelevant, because it helps to understand each other more frequently than brings to misunderstanding. As it is always good not to be very extreme let’s always try to remember about negative results of non-verbal communication.
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2. Hargie D. W. O., Dickson D., & Tourish D, 1999, Communication in management, Hampshire, Gower Publishing Limited
3. Riggio R. E., Feldman R. S., (ed.), 2005, Application of nonverbal communication, Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
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