Why is Non Verbal Communication So Important?

We are constantly being bombarded with different messages all day, every day. We receive sales messages all of the time even if we are unaware of the “sell” message. Product placements in our favourite television programmes have long been a very subtle way of reminding us that products exist (and even endorsing their use, although that is something that is highly questionable and certainly unethical!).

In much the same way we are also bombarded with a range of complex (and not so complex!) non-verbal communication messages that then shape our interactions and the way in which we relate to others, find companionship and conduct business. In the workplace and in the course of business this can take on huge significance for us all; remember the interview where you did not get the job, despite your best, valiant efforts? Despite extensive practice, research and giving it the big talk you were not successful, very probably down to the way in which you sent out non-verbal communication messages. Interviewers will push for answers and then wait to see how the answer correlates with the non-verbal clues that you then put out.

Non-verbal Communication is broadly made up of two separate but interlinked parts;

  1. “Kinesics’ (human posture, gesture, body language). This can be observed and used to assess how staff interact, how they perceive each other and their feelings for the task and the person(s) they are working with.
  2. “Proxemics’ (the physical distance between people as they interact). The general rule of thumb is that the physically closer two people are the more comfortable they are and the more likely it is that a strong collaborative relationship is in place. This can also be promoted through a range of non-verbal sensory stimuli such as sounds and smells. In recent years Thomas Cook retail branches used a selection of sounds and smells to appeal to potential holiday buyers to stimulate an appreciation of foreign climes. This included smells of coconut oil, bird sounds and a very strong heating system to raise the temperature of the store. An experiment with perhaps low-volume music and variations in the heating/air conditioning might be worth experimenting with and recording any differences in working patterns?

If you are aware of the two factors above you will be able to gain an insight into how they inter-relate and how you can assess how well individuals and groups are working together.

Watch, record and modify your work practices!

Good Luck!

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