Nonverbal Communication – Short essay
Organizations involve a group of people who interact together to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals (Free Management Library, Authenticity Consulting, LLC, 2009). Communication plays a major role within any type of organization; an organization can be majorly affected by friendly gesture or a handshake. 65% of communications are nonverbal; which indicate a majority of internal affairs are caused by nonverbal communication and that it plays a major role in the success of any organization (Crossman, Bordia & Bretag, 2009). Nonverbal and verbal communication both form a relationship in which an expression of verbal language, comes along with a nonverbal component (Robbins, 2000). Nonverbal communication within a workplace contains many factors which influence the way communication is interpreted. Occasionally, the transmitter who performs the actions, do not recognise the messages they are sending, as nonverbal communication comes naturally. Due to globalization many different types of cultures, genders, age, ethnicity and religions are entering the workplace. It is of great importance to understand how to interpret nonverbal communication and how to respond to it.
The most obvious form of nonverbal communication is physical factors which may include appearance, characteristic, body shape, and odours. Physical factors in the work place include first impression and occasionally trust. For example, a customer receiving a bad impression from an employee may not offer the chance for another impression. Physical factors are used for listeners to see a speaker’s credibility (Krizan, Merrier & Jones, 2005). For example employees within any organizations have a dress code, employees must follow a standard or guidelines that will explain what dress and grooming practices are appropriate for the workplace. The purpose for implementing these standards is to provide a professional, identifiable appearance for customers, to promote a positive working environment and to ensure safety while working (Personal Policy Service.Inc, 2009).
Physicals factors may contribute to an employee’s potential and position. For example, if we compare an attractive woman with no work experience with an unattractive woman with little work experience for a job position to a male employer. In some cases the unattractive woman would be employed, however in other cases, the attractive woman may be employed because of her physical features. Employing on physical factors may impact the organisation negatively, having a bad reputation or no potential growth because the organisation chose to employ based on physical factors regardless of their experience as explained in the example.
Physical factors also influence and contribute to another nonverbal communication within the workplace, haptic communication (touch behaviour). This is described as stroking, hitting, holding, guiding, and other touching behaviours, and may cause serious dilemmas (Dwyer, 2009). Haptic communication can be easily mistaken, misinterpreted, and misunderstood, as the form of communication can be expressed in different ways and may possess several meanings. For example, a gesture such as a handshake can be expressed as gratitude, dominance or equality while a pat on the arm can be interpreted as feeling controlled (Dwyer, 2009). A misconception involving haptic communication within the workplace may leave a bad impression if the transmitter is unaware of his actions between the receivers, it may be resolved in some cases and in others, have serious consequences.
The impact of globalization has lead many cultures into the workplace. Different cultures share different beliefs and values, it is important to understand these values as haptic communication is transmitted and received differently in every culture. Some cultures contain different levels of contact behaviour and others may not use any contact behaviour at all indicating that physical contact is inappropriate in that culture. Statistics indicate that German, Japanese, and English citizens have a lower level of touch than those citizens within the Middle East (Crossman, Bordia & Bretag, 2009). For example, some Asian cultures have a strong belief that contact behaviour is a disrespectful manner and interpret it rudely, while people in India see touching behaviour as a polite manner and use it commonly. It is common for men in India to hold hands as a sign of friendship. In a workplace where an employee uses touch as an expression to touch a fellow employee who has a cultural background that disregards touch may cause the transmitter to feel unaccepted or ignored. However the transmitter may also influence the receiver to feel uncomfortable or violated. It is now common that a majority of work environments are multicultural and that each culture has its own conflicts, therefore it is important to learn the culture and understand how to avoid unnecessary dilemmas and prevent conflict from arising within the workplace.
One form of misinterpreting haptic communication may lead to a misconception of sexual harassment. In almost every organisation, there are guidelines and rules that emphasize on touching. In some cases, reports of sexual harassment indicate that victims receive mixed signals from the suspect, which may simply be a misunderstanding of one’s culture. Therefore in some organisations touching is limited to reduce claims of sexual harassment.
In regards to limiting touch, proxemics is described as an individual’s use of space. It is described as the length that an individual uses to conduct and to maintain a conversation and may be limited to the relationship the individuals share. Hall’s distance model explains that, with loved ones proxemics contain a length of 0.60m, with close friends a length of 1-2m, with strangers a length of 3.3metres and more (Cited Mohan, Mc Gregor, Saunders & Archee, 1997).
It is ideal that every individual has their own level of personal space. Different cultures, gender, age, colour, may contribute to different proportions of length between individuals. Statistics indicate that women communicating with men prefer side-by-side conversations, while men prefer face-to-face conversations (Clark, 2005).
Consequently, many forms of communication are conducted within the workplace verbally and nonverbally. Physical factors, haptic, and proxemics are a small proportion of the factors involved in nonverbal communication that were discussed. It is evident from the examples that physical appearance, touching behaviour and cultural beliefs, and personal space all contribute to an organization either positively or negatively. Managers within organisations need to take a closer look into nonverbal communication to prevent any unnecessary disputes and to maintain a friendly work environment as it may impact the organisation internally and externally.
Pretty interesting stuff hey?