Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Non-Verbal Communication - Kinesics, Para Language and Proxemics

Types of Non-verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication is mainly of three types
a)      Kinesics
b)      Para language
c)       Proxemics
The word kinesics literally means body movement. It stands for the way the body communicates without words, and through various movements of its parts.
Importance of Kinesics:
1.       The importance of kinesics can be put brought forward by the words of famous psychologies Paul Ekman who says, “We talk with our vocal cord but we communicates with our facial expression, tone and pitch of voice, our whole body.”
2.       The importance of body language lies in the fact that one can play fast and loose with words but body language speaks truth.
3.       When managers consciously read what others are conveying by body movement, they can easily deal with issues before their become problem.
4.       Non-verbal communication is also important because it is efficient. A message can be very well transmitted more economically than any other means of communication.
Role of different parts of body in Communication:

 1. Head: Head occupies a very important place in our body. Similarly it also plays a very important role in communication. The way we hold our head conveys a lot. The movement of head is very important in face to face communication. Posture of head conveys:-
i. A head held up: Sign of honour, self respect and self confidence.
ii. A head bent low: Sign of modesty, politeness, or guilt.
iii. A stiffly head, held or drawn back words: Sign of pride, or naughtiness.
2. Face: A popular states „the face is the index of mind‟ i.e. the face is the mirror of mind. The face is indeed the primary site for expressing emotions. It reveals both the type and intensity of the feeling. Facial expression conveys a lot without speaking a single word. A manager can very well practice to interpret these signals by first observing his own expression in a mirror.
3. Eye Contact: Eye command particular attention as a source of non verbal communication. Eyes communicate our deepest feeling. In face to face communication eye contact is of great importance. They are especially effective for indicating attention and interest, influencing others, regulating interaction and establishing dominance. Eyes adopt different position in different situations such as:-
i. Fixed eye: Show concentration.
ii. Raised eyes: Indicate fear or surprise.
iii. Smiling eyes: Reflect happiness.
iv. Long fixed gaze: Show interest.
v. Evasive eyes: Nervousness or lack of interest.

4. Gestures: The physical movement of arms, legs, hands, torso and head are called gestures. They also play a very important role in conveying meaning or messages without using words, examples:-
i. Pounding fist on the table shows „anger‟
ii. Arms spread apart means wide.
iii. Shuffling from one leg to another means nervous or restlessness etc.
5. Body shape and postures: Behaviourial scientists have studied the shape of the human body and have broadly put there in the following three types:-
i. Ectomorph: thin, youthful and tall.
ii. Mesomorph: strong, athletic and muscular.
iii. Endo morph: Fat round and soft.
A person can make both positive and negative impression of himself or others through his body posture. Therefore we should make efforts to ensure that our body does not send out wrong or negative signals especially during interview, meeting and other formal or informal interactions.
Advantages of Kinesics:
1. Body language communication is easily visible. It helps the receiver of the message in decoding the message.
2. It adds intensity to the process of communication.
3. People are for the body language so it goes a long way to improper the overall atmosphere.
Disadvantages of Kinesics:
1. No one can totally rely upon the body language because it is non verbal. It cannot be taken seriously.
2. There are chances of misinterpretation because people belonging to different cultural backgrounds send different body signals.
3. If the listener is inattentive, these body languages become ineffective.           

Para Language
Para‟ means „like‟. Para language means „like language‟. It is non-verbal communication which is closely related to verbal communication. It is non verbal communication because it does not comprise words.
It is „like‟ verbal communications because it is related to way the words are spoken. Without it words do not convey their intended meaning. While verbal communication consists of „what‟ or the contents of words, paralanguage involves the „how‟ of a speaker’s voice or the ways in which the speaker speaks. Example of paralanguage is voice, words stress etc.
Elements of Para Language:
1. Voice: Voice is the most important element of Para language. Voice tells us about the speaker’s sex, age, background, education; temperament etc. voice conveys the message in a more effective way. However these points have to be considered.
i. Pitch variation: Pitch means highness or lowness of sound i.e. quality of sound. Wide variation in pitch should be made during a speech. This is essential and helps in catching the attention of the listener and maintaining the interest in the speech.
ii. Speaking speed: The speaking speed should neither be too fast nor too slow. The speed should be such which ensures fluency. As a rule the easy parts of the messages should be delivered at a brisk pace as it is likely to be understood easily. On the other hand, the difficult complicated, technical part of the message should be delivered at a slower rate.
iii. Pause: Pause is an important aspect of speech. One cannot and should not go on speaking without pause. But pause have to be at the right moment. A pause at the right moment can be very helpful in emphasizing the upcoming subject. Where as an arbitrary pause or unnecessary frequent pauses spoils the speech.
iv. Variation in volume: an efficient speaker varies his volume while delivering his speech. Volume means loudness of voice. Volume variation puts life into one’s speech. However the loudness of voice should be adjusted according to the size of the audience. While speaking one should be loud enough to be audible but not too loud to put the audience off.
v. Non fluencies: speech is not always a continuous string of meaningful words. There are pauses scattered at intervals. These pause are very often inserted with sounds or utterances like „ah‟, „oh‟, „uh‟, „hum‟, „you know‟, ok etc. These sound or utterances are called „Non fluencies‟. These non fluencies if used carefully and sparingly add to the fluency of the speaker, gives him time to breathe or relax and makes the listener more alert and gets the message conveyed overtly or covertly.
2. Proper word stress: Proper word stress is at most important in communication. A speaker can change the meaning by putting stress on a word here or a word there in the same sentence.
A good speaker should put stress on words or parts of words. One should also improve one’s word stress by listening the good speakers and participating in discussion.
a)      No oral communication is complete without Para language.
b)      A speaker education and background can be judged from his way of speaking
c)       Para language of a person indicates his place in hierarchical structure of the organization.
d)      Knowledge of person’s Para language is helpful in dealing with him.
e)      One can improve his Para language by listening to good speakers.
a)      Para language is like a language nut not a language we cannot rely on it.
b)      Unless the listener is open minded, voice quality, speaking speed, pitch, etc may prejudice him, causing poor listening. Voice quality and speaking speed etc cannot be a substitute for intellect or wisdom. They can only complement it.
c)       Speaker belongs to different speech communities due to which it is difficult to maintain uniformity in Para language.
d)      It is difficult to blend what is said and how it is said. Therefore, extra care is required to get to the exact content of the language.

Proxemics or Space Language
Non verbal communication involves not only body language and Para language but also the space around us Proxemics is the study of how we communicate with the space around us. The space here means the distance between the sender and receiver of the message in oral communication. This distance is called proximity.
Edward T. Hall has done very useful and interesting work in his idea. Placing ourselves in the centre he has presented the space around us in the form of the following concentric circles: - Distance wise it can be stated as below: - Intimate: Physical contact to 18 inches. Personal: 18 inches to 4 feet. Social: 4 feet to 12 feet. Public: 12 feet to as far as one can see or hear.
1. Intimate space language: In this very close contact is maintained within the space of 18 inches. It is most suitable for the use of body language as most of our body movement originate within this area. Only very special people like our family members, relatives and close friends enter into this area intimate space is very suitable for highly confidential talks and decision concerning sensitive matters.
2. Personal space language: Personal space extends from 18 inches to 4 feet. People have normal conversation with close friends, colleagues and visitors. The nature of communication is more or less personal and is generally relaxed and casual. It permits informal spontaneous talking. Some important decisions are also taken in this.
3. Social space language: Social space extends from 4 feet to 12 feet. It is used for formal and official relationship. Most of the communication in the organization takes place in this space. Communication here is dominated by reason and planning rather than by emotion and feeling.
4. Public space language: public space extends beyond 12 feet. Communication in public space is highly formal and objective. Public address system may have to be used. Public announcement and election rallies are best examples of public space language.
Proxemics is also concerned about the use of space by groups of people. Different people make use of space around them in different ways. The way a group uses the space assigned determines their respective position and interaction pattern. For example: people seated in front are considered to be bold and are the ones who initiate the conversation. Fixed and semi fixed spaces have important implication in communication. Let us analyse it further.
a)      Fixed spaces: Fixed spaces refer to permanent features like room, walls, and buildings and its total capacity, length, breadth etc. These features determine who interacts with whom, why, how and for what purpose.
b)      Semi Fixed Species: Semi fixed spaces refer to physical features which are not permanent and can be changed or re-arranged. For example, furniture decor etc. In other words semi fixed spaces are flexible that permits the use of a variety of spaces to conduct different types of communication. For example, some furniture can be arranged or rearranged as per the need of communication.