Explore BrainMass

Important information about Nonverbal Behavior

What constitutes effective nonverbal behavior? Ineffective behavior? Please provide references.

Solution Preview

1. What constitutes effective nonverbal behavior? Ineffective behavior?

Communication is "the transfer of information from one person to another. Most of us spend about 75 percent of our waking hours communicating our knowledge, thoughts, and ideas to others. However, most of us fail to realize that a great deal of our communication is of a non-verbal form as opposed to the oral and written forms" (http://www.bizmove.com/skills/m8g.htm).

For example, Tortoriello, Blott, and DeWine have defined non-verbal communication as:

". . . the exchange of messages primarily through non-linguistic means, including: kinesics (body language), facial expressions and eye contact, tactile communication, space and territory, environment, paralanguage (vocal but non-linguistic cues), and the use of silence and time" (http://www.bizmove.com/skills/m8g.htm).

Nonverbal behavior can be either effective or ineffective. It is effective when it communicates what you intend to communicate to the other person(s). If the message intended and the message received is congruent, it is considered effective nonverbal behavior. Whereas verbal communication is organized by language; non-verbal communication is not. Instead, non-verbal communication is organized around non-verbal behaviors, which includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, body posture and motions, and positioning within groups. It may also include the way a person wears her or his clothes or the silence the person entertains (http://www.bizmove.com/skills/m8g.htm).

For example, in person-to-person communications our messages are sent on two levels simultaneously. If the nonverbal behavioral cues and the spoken message are incongruous (not matching-- e.g. spoken words are positive, but tone is angry), the flow of communication is hindered. That is, it is ineffective behavior. Right or wrong, the receiver of the communication tends to base the intentions of the sender on the non- verbal behavioral cues he receives. If, for example, you are saying pleasing words, but your tone is judgmental and accusing, this is ineffective behavior. The receiver of the message will interpret the nonverbal cues as threatening, regardless of the spoken words that might be positive (http://www.bizmove.com/skills/m8g.htm). However, as mentioned above, when the nonverbal behavioral cues (e.g., happy tone, smiling, leaning forward) are congruent with the verbal message ("I am interested in what you have to say, tell me more"), the non-verbal in interpreted by the receiver as effective.

There have been many proposed categories of non-verbal behavior. However, each non-verbal behavior can either hinder or benefit communication depending if it is congruent or incongruent with the intended message. In other words, nonverbal behavioral cues can either be effective or ineffective. One proposed categorization of non-verbal behavior is based on kinetics. for example, Lamb believes the best way to access an executive's managerial potential is not to listen to what he has to say, but to observe ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains in detail the things that constitute effective and ineffective nonverbal behavior.