Nonverbal communication Gestures
business colleagues preparing for business meeting image by Vladimir Melnik from Fotolia.com
Nonverbal communication, or the expression of messages through facial expressions, gestures and body language, is essential to successful relationships in the workplace. Examples of this type of communication include eye contact, posture and voice speed. Employees and managers should be aware of how they communicate in these nonverbal ways in the workplace.
Importance in the Workplace
“About 65 to 75 percent of all communication is nonverbal in nature, ” says Susanne Jones, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota. Nonverbal cues give us information “to make sense of how we feel and think about others, ” she adds. “People use nonverbal cues to arrive at judgments about how they relate to co-workers” or to interpret employee performance, she says.
For example, an employee may conclude that a new worker doesn’t like him because that person doesn’t make eye contact or keeps a physical distance. But the person could be shy or introverted and may have been interpreted incorrectly. Jones says it is important to remember that it takes two people to communicate: one to express and the other to perceive.
Examples of Nonverbal Communication
Jones emphasizes that in our culture “eye contact is very important.” We learn “display rules” as children about how to appropriately express emotions and respect. These expressions come into play in the workplace, such as in a job interview. Someone who makes eye contact has open eyes and blinks appropriately, and in our culture this expresses that she is paying attention, Jones says. “Preening gestures” such as quickly patting your hair or your shirt, are also perceived positively. Behaviors such as gesturing or fidgeting express nervousness, while speaking loudly and quickly expresses aggression.
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