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Excellence in Business Communication

As part of a business e-chart group you have recently joined to advance your skills and increase your business contacts and savvy for the future, the topic comes up about how nonverbal communications can affect business relationships, and ultimately, business outcomes. Describe an experience in which you have had where non-verbal (or non-verbal combined with verbal) communications impacted a business relationship and business results in a specific way. This may be a positive or a negative example or an example in which a turnaround took place .

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We are sensitive to body language, facial expression, posture, movement, tone of voice and more. To effectively communicate, these interpersonal communication dynamics must match our words.

In general, nonverbal symbols perform five functions in communication [1].

Five functions of nonverbal communication

1. Accenting-calling attention to the message source using some device (hitting the table for example)
2. Complimenting-using nonverbal cues to enhance the meaning of verbal symbols
3. Substituting-a nonverbal symbol replaces a verbal symbol
4. Contradicting-the nonverbal symbol sends a message different from the verbal symbols
5. Regulating-the nonverbal symbol is used to regulate or, even, terminate the verbal communication process. [Fisher, 1992]

Three Basic Types of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal symbols can be arranged among three general categories:

1. Paralanguage--nonverbal enhancements to language symbols
2. Kinesics--nonverbal symbols of body movement
3. Proxemics--nonverbal symbols of distance, space, and time


The inflection, tempo, emphasis, or insertions to add meaning to oral language. Paralanguage includes any device that can be used to modify the meaning interpretation of a verbal symbol. These devices include inflection or emphasis added to spoken symbols or highlighting, bolding, or all capital letters added to written symbols. For example, look at the following sentence and read it while emphasizing each word in sequence.

I didn't say she stole the money.

When emphasizing the word "I," the sentence takes on a shaded meaning from its non-emphasized state. Emphasizing the word "didn't" changes the meaning of the sentence, as does emphasizing the word "say." Depending on which word is emphasized (paralanguage), the sentence carries a different meaning interpretation. The problem of symbols is best understood when you realize that the paralanguage effect can be introduced by the encoder (purposefully or inadvertently) or by the decoder (purposefully ...