BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes Study Material
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BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes Study Material
The Original forms of communication are mostly non-verbal. By non-verbal communication we mean that the whole communication is performed without words. Non-verbal communication is more effective than the verbal communication. It transmits 93 percent part of the communication through emotional and sensual gestures or expressions. Most of us are able to communicate message/information through our body language more easily than through words. From the point of view of sender or receiver, non-verbal communication is more efficient than the verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication can be divided into many forms, but for the convenience of our study we may divide it into four groups:
I. Body Language
III. Para Language
IV. Sign Language.
Body language refers to communicating the message/information through body movements of various parts of our body conveying feelings and emotions.
Proximity refers to transmission of message/information through places around, distant and subject matter around us, which means using the atmosphere/environment.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
Para language means communicating through the quality of tone, voice, slow or high speed of delivery of words, the style of speaking, i.e., characteristics of tone of speech.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
Sign language refers to expressing our experiences, ideas, emotions, feelings through signs, signals symbols etc.
Detailed description of the above forms of non-verbal communication is as follow:
I. BODY LANGUAGE
This is a form of non-verbal communication for which George Terry has given the term “Body language”. It includes twinkling of eyes, biting and moving lips, clapping and other movements of hands, noddings of head, etc. It is also known as ‘kinesics’. In this a person sends his message to other persons or groups through interpersonal activities and movements.
According to J. Fast, protruding eyes for disbelief, rubbing the nose when feeling tense, crossing the hands for feeling secure, moving the shoulders up and down for showing that you are indifferent, putting the hand on forehead for distress, closing eve-lids for proximity etc: are examples of body language. It is supplementary to verbal language because when it is linked with words being spoken then it makes the real meaning of the message of the sender more clear.
The opinion of scholars in the field body language, is that ‘words’ contribute only 10 percent effectiveness of a message in communication process, whereas pitch and tone of the voice contributes 40 percent and the major contribution of 50 percent is by the body language. Thus, the absence of body language will reduce the effectiveness of any message by nearly 50 percent and the whole communication process will remain incomplete.
Nature of Body Language
Body language is a natural process which is gained by self-practice. Although it is not totally controllable, yet it is controlled by social behaviour. Its characteristics are as follows:
- A person learns body language without any formal training. Persons can learn verbal language in some years, but they are not much aware about gaining or learning body language. They are also not aware of its effectiveness in communication process, although it is very effective.
- Although body language is uncontrolled, yet its expression is somewhat controlled by social rules and traditions. For example, nobody will smile on the death of a person. The use of body language differs from group to group and person to person. Some persons are relatively more efficient in understanding signs or symbols of body language than the others.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
There are researches which prove that women are generally efficient and clever in transmitting and understanding the body language.
Types of Body Language
- Postures. It refers to the ways of standing, sitting or lying. Different styles of standing/sitting/lying express different meanings. Even our legs movements convey many types of non-verbal communication. Postures and their movements express persons self-confidence, independence status and his interests.
For example: (i) When a listener is taking much interest in listening to a speech of communicator, then he will sit erect and learning a bit forward. If a listener is restless and looking at the wrist-watch or at the wall-clock time and again, it means he is not taking interest in the speech.
(ii) Our facial expression clearly reveals when we are absorbed in deep thinking.
- Gestures. Gestures are related to the movements of our hands, legs, arms, torso and head. Hands, arms, legs and head movements communicate important messages without words.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
For example: (i) Trying to cut the nails by hand or teeth is a sign of our internal tension and depression.
(ii) Making a circle by joining tips of thumbs and fore finger conveys the message ‘OK’.
(iii) By stretching the forefinger straight shows caution or direction or a place.
- Facial expression. It is an important part of body language. We receive number of messages through non-verbal communication looking at somebody’s face. “The face is the index of heart.” Face clearly transmits the message whether the person is engrossed in thinking or otherwise face to face communication conveys messages without using words. Facial expressions convey happiness, anger, fear, depression or dejection. Smiling promptly conveys happiness. Expressions of lips and eyes and cheeks all convey number of messages without speaking a word:
Facial expressions help in receiving the feedback from the listener.
- Eye contact. This is also an important medium of body language. According to J. Fast, “Eyes are the most strong communicator.” It is an important element of face to face communication. It is well known that eyes convey number of meanings in no time without using a word. Looking at a person continuously for a long time tells that you are taking interest in him.
Meeting of eyes shows honesty, but in some cultures and some traditions casting down of eyes is a sign of showing respect to the other person, and thus conveying that they belong to different status. The person of lower status will cast down his look in eyes in face to face communication. In some societies women are not suppose to look into others’ eyes.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Bodily contact. Pushing, holding, tabbing, hugging, shaking hands, embracing etc: are included in bodily contact. Its use expresses various kinds of relations and conditions. Bodily contact is a primary form of communication. The contact among the different parts of body conveys different type of communication. The place where bodily contact is performed, also affects the meaning conveyed. Moreover, who is making bodily contact with whom, and what is their relation with each other, are the different aspects of bodily contact. For example, bodily contact between doctor and his patient, bodily contact between wife and husband, and bodily contact between lovers, all carry different meaning in communication.
Jones and Yabarg, on the basis of analysis of nearly 1500 types of bodily contact processes, has divided them in five categories:
(1) Positive effect. Appreciation, respect, affection, consolation, training or sex-interest.
(2) Livingness. Happiness, jolly mood, humour.
(3) Control. Attention.
(4) Ritualistic. For rituals or for religious needs, like well-wishing during marriage rituals or expressing grief at death by certain type of bodily contact.
(5) Professionally task related. Related to routine work, like checking of the pulse of a patient by the nurse or doctor.
Apart from the above, there are adverse effect and aggressive contacts also, like to sleep, to hit, to push etc.
- Appearance. It includes clothing, hair style and its colour, ornaments, cosmetics, make-up etc. Although it may not seem to be directly related to body language, yet they do relate to appearance of the face, eyes figure and thus meaningfully convey some meaning. These are related to person’s occupation, business, age, social and economic status and nationality. In addition, appearance also includes the environmental set-up like internal decoration of office room or drawing room, walls, floor, windows, curtains, etc.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Silence. To keep quiet and not to speak, or not to answer is also medium of communication. Silence is an expression of approval or disapproval. For example, when one person is praising the other person and the person remains silent, then it means approval. On the other hand, if somebody asks a person to deliver lecture and that person does not speak and keeps silence, then it means disapproval or refusal.
Thus, it is clear that body language assists verbal communication. We can say that
body language is more vocal than verbal communication.
Advantages of Body Language
- Body language is the easily acceptable visual aspect of communication. It is helpful in receiving and decoding of a message.
- Body language assists verbal communication. In fact, without body movements face to face communication cannot be much effective.
- Body language makes the communication more lively and emotionally effective.
- Proper application of body language makes the atmosphere of a business unit or organisation more favourable and effective.
- From the practical point of view, body language has an important place in our real life.
Functions of Body Language
The functions of body language are as follows:
- It explains clearly the feelings and objectives of a person.
- It helps in expressing the closeness.
- It helps in controlling and expressing authority.
- It helps in showing the objective or target.
- It helps in applying rules, regulation and instructions.
Limitations of Body Language
Following are the limitations of body language:
- In non-verbal communication, facial expressions and gestures, body movements are not always reliable or meaningful and, therefore should, not be taken very seriously. Written or oral communication is taken more seriously.
- Signs/symbols of body language differs from person to person because of differences in cultures and traditions. Sometime wrong or inaccurate meaning is drawn from body movements or gestures. Therefore, one has to be careful while communicating or receiving.
- If the listener or audience does not show any interest or attentiveness, then body language becomes ineffective in communication. So, one has to be extra-careful in using it.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- It is ineffective in large group or gathering. It is effective only in face to face communication between two or three or, four persons.
Effective Use of Body Language
The following things are important in making the body language more effective:
- We have to pay attention to pitch and tone of voice. When a person is sitting on both feet or sitting and holding his head straight keeping upper part of body erect, while listening intently it shows the is in deep thoughts. A person in tension can be easily identified. He will be moving his pen in hand or moving finger in his lock of hair.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Hand-shake is very important gesture in modern business world. Good and warm hand-shake shows your energy, enthusiasm and status.
- Eye contact is a powerful element for making your personal impact on others. While listening seriously you should look into the eyes of the speaker to make direct contact with him.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- In body language we should keep in mind the level and class/category of the person with whom we communicate. For example, when talking to a small boy we bow down to look into his eyes. While talking to a person senior in age we take another posture. When talking to a superior officer, standing straight shows respect.
- Gentle and reliable postures and gestures make the atmosphere of the organisation or business unit better and more effective.
- Non-verbal communication comes from within, i.e., from your self-consciousness. If we want to make our body language better and more effective, then we have to start work from developing our self-consciousness.
Body Language in India
Some examples of forms of body language in the Indian context are given below:
- While greeting, the palms of both the hands are pressed together and gently put in front of the chest with a smile and slight nod of head. Apart from showing affection and joy, it also shows regard or respect. This gesture is repeated while saying good bye also. It is a typical tradition and culture of India.
- According to age-old traditions, a man’s body contact with another woman, whether formal or informal is prohibited.
- Only right hand is used while eating meals or while taking any food. Right hand is also used to indicate something and not the left hand.
- Slapping on the back with joy is an expression of friendship, affection and cooperation.
- Slightly bowing head with a gentle smile is a sign of agreement, which means ‘yes’.
- Touching feet of elderly and learned person is sign of deep regards and respect. But to touch shoes or footware is not regarded as proper.
- To blow whistle in a public place is a sign of anti-social and against good-manners.
The space around us, and the arrangements of things around, is very important from communication point of view. Under proximity, we study as to how we perform communication process with in the space around us and how we arrange things around us. The space around us, the various things around us and the way they are arranged, all have some specific meaning, which communicates itself. How a person arranges things around him and how he is using the space around him communicates without words. In other words, proximity is “Personal space language”, just as ‘Kinesics’ is body language.
For example, let us consider the 1′, to 4 feet space area forming a complete circle around our body. We will have all our body movements inside this circle, and when we move, the circle around our body will also move with us. It means, this space around you will move with you wherever you go. Whom do you allow to enter into this close proximity of yours? Your family members? Your close friends? Or some other selected persons to enter this close proximity? In general, there is likelihood of permitting only selected persons, and that too with no words or at the most only whispering. Other persons may enter this space only in special circumstances. Casual activities like handshakes, patting hands on back are allowed to be performed in this space around you.
Proximity is also known as ‘Personal space language’, ‘Time language’, or ‘Surrounding language’. Thus, there are three forms or types of proximity:
(i) Space language
(ii) Time language
(i) Space language. A person’s distance from the other person reveals their inter relationship and the nature of communication between them. Edward T. Hall has done very interesting and useful work in this field. As shown in fig. 8.4, a person. keeping himself in the centre of space around him, finds himself surrounded by four types of space languages, like (A) Intimate space language, (B) Personal space language, (C) Social space language and (D) Public space language.
There are two forms of space language-(i) Proximity and (ii) Orientation. In proximity, the distance between the communicator and receiver is about 5.5 feet, whereas orientation shows the standing or sitting positions of the persons. An intimate colleague or co-worker will sit beside or just in front of you. On the basis of such distance, four types of languages have been suggested by Hall.
(A) Intimate space language. In this, the distance between the communicator and the receiver is not more than 18 inches, thus all the physical activities of the communicator will be performed within the space of 18 inches. It expresses the possibility of physical contact. This circle generally includes family members, close friends and specific persons. Handshake and pat on the back and such other bodily contact activities are performed in this space circle.
(B) Personal space language. In this, the distance between the communicator and receiver is from 18 inches to 4 feet. Informal communication, like friendly conversation, natural and self-initiated communication between colleagues, spontaneous and unprogrammed communication between personally known person takes place in this space language.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
(C) Social space language. In this, the distance between the communication and receiver is between 4 feet to 12 feet. This space language is generally used for formal or official purposes. Most of the business is done in this language with less emotion and more planning.
(D) Public space language. It ranges from 12 feet to the distance upto which the receiver can see and hear the communicator. This language is more formal and represents the remote space.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
(ii) Time language. This the second form of proximity. It involves the meaning we give to time, or we attach with the time. We mostly use symbols for the time, but final symbolising about time is not always done with words. Now the use of word ‘time management has become popular and it is now an important aspect of whole management. In 21st century, time management has gained much more importance. In Indian context Any organisation–whether government, non-government or business, time is practiced through calendar or time-pieces. Business people understand the value of time. There is a well known saying that ‘time is money’ which show that how valuable is the time. People in West are particular about the time, whereas people in the East are less particular about it.
(iii) Surroundings. This the third form of proximity. Surrounding refers to physical atmosphere all around. It forms into own language. Surroundings have many components. Here we shall discuss the two elements of surroundings:
(A) Colour, (B) Layout and designing.
(A) Colour. We know that different colours express different moods and behaviours and also different cultural backgrounds. In the Western society black-colour is associated with grief and sorrow, whereas the bride puts on white gown in her marriage ceremony. White colour is a symbol of peace which is universally recognised. This is all known as the language of colour. Thus, colour is an important medium of communication and, therefore, we should take extra care while choosing the colour for making an effective communication.
(B) Layout and designing. It is also an important part of non-verbal communication. The place where the office is situated, layout of the office, design of the furniture, carpenting etc. communicate some meaning. Layout and designing has itself become an important business. Layout, and designing convey the mood, personality, external architect, the status etc. of the person, group or an organisation.
In conclusion, place, space, time, physical environment, all are the important component of non-verbal communication. Time and space language are supplementary to verbal communication. Larger space will compel the speaker to raise his volume of speech. Small and cosy space will dired the speaker to keep the pitch of his voice low. Thus, the availability of more or less place, and all the body language easily joins itself to verbal communication to make it more effective. Time language also makes the communication more useful and meaningful. Layout and designing speak for themselves without words. It is necessary to have proper understanding, experience and care should taken to use non-verbal communication like, colour, layout and designing etc. To achieve this, it is advisable to keep in contact with latest development in non-verbal communication through journals, magazines etc.
III. PARA LANGUAGE
Para language consists of two words. First, ‘para’ which means ‘like’ or ‘similar’. Second, ‘language’ which refers to convey communication. So, Para-language means ‘like language’. In this we study ‘how’ a speaker says something, and not by ‘what’ he says verbally. How he expresses himself is the subject matter of para language, which includes its systematic study.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
Para language is a type of non-verbal communication, but like all the other types, it is Very close to verbal communication, because it is concerned with how the speaker Speaks his words, i.e., his voice of words spoken. It involves those hints and signals in a person’s voice that give us additional meaning, Voice possesses the characteristics and qualities of its sound which may be high pitched or low pitched, its speed fast or slow. It may be loud and forceful or barely audible. It may be smooth or disjointed. With these dimensions meaning of the message is conveyed and made to understand. For example, high pitched/loud sound represents anger and hatred, whereas soft, smooth and low pitched sound conveys love, affection etc.
We can understand the dimensions of para language with the help of the following example:
(i) I am a good student,
(ii) I am a good student.
(iii) I am a good student.
(iv) I am a good student.
(v) I am a good student.
In the above example, stress is given on a particular word in each sentence, and as these stress changes, so it changes the meaning of the whole sentence without changing the sentence. In the first sentence (i) The stress of sound is on the word I, which means I am the only good student and nobody else is not good. In the last sentence (v) the sound stress is on the word student, which conveys the meaning that I am a good ‘student’ only and not a ‘teacher’ or ‘instructor’ or ‘officer’. Here, the pronunciation of the word with different sound, pitch, speed, tone and dimension gives a different meaning to the whole sentence.
We may have an another example of wife and husband, where wife says to her husband on his returning back:
Now, one can draw various meanings that can be perceived by the receiver depending on ‘how these words are spoken to convey the feelings of the wife.
These feelings may be ranging from utmost joy to bitter hatred. The feelings conveyed through the message “You’re back” may be that of indifference, extreme happiness, sudden surprise, relief, shock or disgust, depending on how the words are spoken.
In addition to analysing the above feelings according to voice/sound and body language, in para language, expression by inserting words like ‘ah’, ‘oh’, ‘I see’ etc. are also important in conveying the feelings in any message:
Voice/sound is a powerful medium of communication, because through it various feelings like relief, restlessness, anger, hatred, love, affection, sense of belonging, shock, surprise etc. are expressed.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
Main Factors of Para Language
Main factors of Para language are as follows:
(i) Voice. Voice is an important factor because we receive the first signal through the voice. Through the voice we can know about the sex, education, training, nature, background of the speaker. Voice is of many types, like clear, gentle, harsh, melodious, sweet etc. If the voice is clear then the meaning of the message can be communicated effectively. Voice is very important in certain professions like music, announcement etc. The following characteristics of voice are important in effective communication:
- Pitch. Pitch refers to increasing or decreasing of the tone. Monotoneous voice fails to attract the attention of the audience, it makes them bore. High and low pitch, as and when required helps in attracting the attention of the audience and makes the communication effective.
- Speaking speed. At different times, different parts of message are sent with different speed. If simple information is sent with slow speed then it will irritate the listener and the listener may ignore the information. On the other hand, if complicated information is communicated hurriedly with high speed then it would be difficult for the listener to understand it properly.
- Pause. To give pause at appropriate times in a speech is an important element in communication. It is necessary to give pauses at right times as wrong timings of pauses can change the meaning of the message or information.
- Voice volume. While speaking to a large gathering the speaker’s volume of voice will have to be high, but it would not be proper to speak with the same volume when the number of listeners is small. Thus volume depends on the number of listeners and its proper control is an important element of effective communication.
(ii) Proper stress. Stress is an important part of a language, because we can communicate the meaning of a message successfully by giving proper stress. It should be kept in mind that stress on particular words can change the meaning of a sentence. Stress on a word or part of a sentence is given to attract attention of the listener.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
(iii) Mixed signals. Mixed signals in a message may change the meaning of the message or may create distortion or confusion in the message. The sender of the message should know how the message should be delivered and what type of words should be used to maintain consistency in a message. On the other hand, the receiver should concentrate on how the message has been sent and what is the exact meaning of the words.
(iv) Overall impression of oral message. Speaker’s speech or statements convey number of informations about him. Studies in para language tell us that the communicator and the receiver both have their own expectations. When these expectations are fulfilled then the message becomes effective age, occupation, personality, status, perception etc. of the speaker and the listener affect the whole communication process. A knowledgeable speaker should pay attention to the quality of voice, stress on the proper words, pauses to be given in his communication.
Advantages of Para Language
- Para language is included in the language itself. No message is complete without the para language.
- The status or situation of a person in an organisation or business unit can easily be known through para language.
- Para language explains the educational and cultural background of the speaker.
- Para language is also helpful in knowing the mental state of a speaker. Speaker’s quality of voice, speaking speed, pauses etc. help the listener to perceive the message correctly.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Para language has an educating value also. An alert and well-aware listener learns a lot from the efficient speaker.
Limitations of Para Language
- Para language is ‘like’ a language, but not a language. It is a part of non-verbal communication. We cannot totally depend on it.
- Speaker’s voice-quality and pitch sometimes misleads the audience, as it is difficult for the audience to be always alert to perceive it correctly.
- As the audience consists of persons from different societies and background, the oneness of message is not possible in oral communication process.
IV.SIGN LANGUAGE OR AUDIO VISUAL ELEMENTS
In communication process, the communicator and the receiver mutually use some signs, symbols or pictures to communicate message. Every language itself is an orderly and systemic series of signs and symbols. From the early times human beings have been using signs and symbols to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings. These signs are of two types:
(i) Visual signs,
(ii) Audio signals.
Although smell, touch and taste are also tools of communication, but the most effective and strong tool is visual. According to a Chinese saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
(i) Visual sign. Visual signs and symbols are the most effective tools of communication. For examples in the text books of geography, chemistry, physics, economics or commerce, graphics and various types of pictures and figures are an integral part of the book. These graphics, pictures and figures may be limited to the specific class or group of persons, but there are many visual signs and symbols which are universal and, therefore, this language also becomes universal.
Similarly, red and green light in traffic, railways and airports, and red light-outside the operation theatre in hospitals are universal signs. Ambulance and VIP vehicles very effectively communicate their objective by using lights without use of a word.
Red colour is also a sign of aggressiveness and yellow of clarity of vision.
Similarly the colour of flag-white or black or any other colour expresses the feelings of the communicator.
It is thus clear that such signs or symbols are used which convey the information just by looking at them. Message is received through these signs. For example, lighted cigarette with a cross over it indicated that smoking is prohibited. ‘Danger’ written in red colour near electricity transformers means do not go near them. There is no need to say anything or to write anything, just the visuals communicate the message.
(ii) Audio Signals. From the very beginning of our civilization, audio signals are
being used alongwith visual signs, and the business sector has accepted them with ease. In olden times, junglemen were using different sounds of drumbeats for different types of audio signals in communication. Even today, while entering into deep forest message is communicated through the sounds of drumbeats. In today’s modern world, drumbeats are used to communicate our feelings to others on various occasions. Drumbeating is an important part of many cultural activities.
Today, alarm signals are used in various offices, like Fire Alarm, Accident/Casualty Alarms, Air Raid Alarm, VIP Motor Code Alarm, Machine Breakdown Alarm, etc. Its main objective is to warn or caution the listener and to appraise him of the situation. Alarm of a clock warns us about the time and our work-time schedule. In today’s context, there is hardly any office without burger, press-button, electric bell etc, as these sound-signals make the concerned persons alert about their work.
Advantages of Sign Language
Following are the advantages of sign language:
- Visual signs, like pictures, posters, photographs, graphics, etc, save the verbal communication, because lot of verbal information can be communicated through visual signs.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Coloured paintings, photograph, posters, graphics make the communication interesting and thereby motivate the receiver to accept the information.
- They reveal the communicator’s mental state, level of intelligence and imagination, cultural background etc.
- Posters, paintings, pictures are educative also. If the workers in an organisation are illiterate or not much educated, then these audio/video signs educate them easily.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Poster is a very effective medium of advertisement. They immediately attract the attention of people.
- Audio signals communicate messages very fast. Sound of bell or siren immediately warn or alert the workers about their action. i.e., to take precaution, start work or close down the work etc.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Audio signals are very useful in time management’. Time table can be scheduled and strictly followed with the help of audio signals.
- Organisation’s working system can be arranged with the help of signs and signals, like visiting charts, waiting hall, etc.
Limitations of Sign Language
Limitations of sign language are as follows:
- Audio and visual signs can communicate only simple and elementary important informations. It is very difficult to communicate complicated and complex messages through signs.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- It is not easy to prepare effective posters. It needs efficient artist with imagination and vision, to perceive and understand the concerned idea or concept in its right perspective.(BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes)
- Sign language together with verbal communication becomes very effective.
- Sign language depends on the receiver’s perception. If he fails to understand the sign or signal correctly then he can be mislead.
- It is not possible to repeat or to correct it immediately, whereas it is easy to correct or modify verbal communication promptly.
BCom Non-Verbal Communication Notes Study Material