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How Non-Verbal Messages Are Effective Communication


Non-verbal communication involves the transfer of information from a transmitter to a receiver through the use of body language, facial expressions, symbols and pictures.

Non-verbal communication techniques are sometimes employed by communicators consciously and, at times, unconsciously. Non-verbal communication is an example of routine and non-routine communication.

In this instance, each person involved in the communication process is a facilitator of non-verbal communication. Moreover, the various forms of diagrams, pictures, graphs and slides facilitate the effective transmission of non-verbal communication.

Areas of Non-verbal Communication

Many writers use various categories to classify non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is classified as:

  • Body language (Kinetics): This involves the movement of the body and may be divided into the following areas:
  • Facial expression: facial expression coveys meaning. A snarling face says something different from a smile. Facial expressions such as smiles, frowns, narrowed eyes may be intended to transmit friendliness, anger or disbelief respectively.
  • Gestures: This involves pointing fingers, shaking ogf the head to transmit and emphasize focus or disagreement.
  • Movements: Quick pacing up and down, finger drumming, leisurely strolling may all transmit impatience, boredom or relaxation and are all non-verbal communication techniques which may be used to send messages.
  • Proxemics: This involves physical contacts such as shaking of hands, prodding with the forefinger, clapping to transmit greetings, insistence or friendship.
  • This also involves how people use space and distance around them in communicating. A student who enters a lecture theatre and decides to sit in the back now instead of the front may be indicating his reluctance to be involved.
  • Positioning: keeping a respectful distance, looking over one’s shoulder, sitting close to someone are all forms of using non-verbal cues to communicate. They transmit awareness of differing status, a close working relationship [ or relaxed mutual trust respectively.
  • Posture: Standing straight and erect, lounging, sitting hunched up, leaning forward, spreading oneself in a chair are all means of communicating non-verbally. These convey alertness and care, self confidence, nervousness or case respectively.
  • Paralinguistic: Feedback sounds of surprise or agreement or annoyance or impatience, for example, ‘uh-uh ooop!.
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A heightened awareness of what people are saying non-verbally would greatly assist the manager to read a situation and to act- perhaps to ward-off a personality clash or to calm an irate customer.

Features of Non-Verbal Communication

The following summarizes the important characteristics of non-verbal communication.

  • Non-verbal communication can be international. The sender may be unaware that he or she is sending non-verbal message and consequently may be aware of the impact that it may have.
  • Non-verbal message may be more honest than a verbal one. Since the message may be transmitted unconsciously, the sender will not have planned it. Therefore, a non-verbal message can be more reliable than an oral or a written one.
  • Non-verbal communication is always present. Neither oral nor written communication exists without non-verbal communication. Examples of non-verbal messages being sent even when the communication may not be face-to-face include: tapping the phone receiver, loudly rearranging papers or keeping quiet.
  • Non-verbal communication reinforces oral communication by providing non-verbal cues to emphasise what is being said orally.
  • Non-verbal communication provides additional visual stimulus. The presence of diagrams enhances the quality of what is being communicated.

Advantages of Non-Verbal Communication

  • Non-verbal communication can help the communicator to overcome language barrier.
  • Non-verbal communication makes a possible for information to be conveyed to many audiences.
  • Non-verbal communication may be more reliable, at times, than verbal or oral communication because it is mostly transmitted unconsciously.
  • \Non-verbal communication is always present because this form of communication is always associated with oral or written communication.

Disadvantages of Non-Verbal Communication

  • Non-verbal communication can, at times, be difficult to interpret without reinforcing it with written or spoken work.
  • Non-verbal communication may require additional skills of comprehension and interpretation.
  • Non-verbal communication does not allow time for evaluation.

Written Communication

Written communication is a form of communication in which the information to be transmitted it documented. It includes letters, memoranda, fax transmission, electronic mail, and organizational periodicals.

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Since letters and memoranda are discussed elsewhere in this pack, fax, e-mail, and periodicals are discussed here.

  • Fax transmission is an electronic means of sending an exact copy of a document by scanning it. In this case, a bonding is established between the sending and receiving machines.

The sending machines first scans the document, converts it into data and thereafter, both machines start printing it out simultaneously at their  respective locations. In recent times, this mode of transmission, which was initially done via telephone lines, has now been incorporated into computer systems.

  • Electronic email (e-mail) is the transmission of written messages via messages. It is also possible to transmit diagrams and photographs by e-mail.

E-mail may be sent to and many people or many on a world-wide basis. Only one message is required for this purpose. E-mail takes less time to prepare and transmit and it is relatively cheap.

  • Organisation journal//periodical: An organizational journal is an internal magazine or newspaper printed by the organization to inform employees about various work place issues.

Advantages of Written Communication

The following are the advantages of written communication among others.

  • Communication provides written record and evidence of receipt
  • It is capable of transmitting complex ideas.
  • It provides analysis, evaluation and summary.
  • It disseminates information to dispersed receivers.
  • It can confirm, interpret and clarify oral communication.
  • It serves as the basis of contract or agreement.

   Disadvantages of Written Communication

The disadvantages of written communication include

  • Communication can be expensive and take time to produce.
  • It tends to be formal and distant.
  • There is the tendency for misinterpretation to take place
  • There is no instant feedback.
  • It does not allow for exchange of opinions, viewer’s attitudes except over a period of time.

Facilitators of Written Communication

Almost every organization, every business or non-business person facilitates the successful operation of all forms of written communication.

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