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Nonverbal Behaviors of Communication

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To deliver the full impact of a message, use nonverbal behaviors to raise the channel of interpersonal communication:

  • Eye contact: This helps to regulate the flow of communication. It signals interest in others and increases the speaker’s credibility. People who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth, and credibility.
  • Facial Expressions: Smiling is a powerful cue that transmits happiness, friendliness, warmth, and liking. So, if you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable, friendly, warm and approachable. Smiling is often contagious and people will react favorably. They will be more comfortable around you and will want to listen more.
  • Gestures: If you fail to gesture while speaking you may be perceived as boring and stiff. A lively speaking style captures the listener’s attention, makes the conversation more interesting, and facilitates understanding.
  • Posture and body orientation: You communicate numerous messages by the way you talk and move. Standing erect and leaning forward communicates to listeners that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. Interpersonal closeness results when you and the listener face each other. Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided as it communicates disinterest.
  • Proximity: Cultural norms dictate a comfortable distance for interaction with others. You should look for signals of discomfort caused by invading the other person’s space. Some of these are: rocking, leg swinging, tapping, and gaze aversion.
  • Vocal: Speaking can signal nonverbal communication when you include such vocal elements as: tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness, and inflection. For maximum teaching effectiveness, learn to vary these six elements of your voice. One of the major criticisms of many speakers is that they speak in a monotone voice. Listeners perceive this type of speaker as boring and dull.
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12 Comments

  1. Grace says:

    Thanks for this article … eye contact is good but perhaps the most difficult of all the pointers that you have outlined. It is difficult for a shy person to have so many eyes on him/her… how does one go about this then?

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