Some of the most meaningful communications are neither spoken nor written. These are nonverbal communication. A loud siren or a red light at an intersection tells you something without words. A college instructor doesn’t need words to know that students are bored; their eyes get glassy or they begin to read the school newspaper during class. Similarly when papers start to rustle and notebooks begin to close the message is clear: Class time is about over. The size of a person’s office and desk or the clothes he or she wears also convey messages to others. However, the best known areas of nonverbal communication are body language and verbal intonation.
Nonverbal communication cues such as facial expressions, gestures, and other body movements.
An emphasis given to words or phrases that conveys meaning
Body language refers to gestures, facial configuration and other movements of the body. A snarl for example says something different from a smile. Hand motions facial expressions and other gestures can communicate emotions or temperaments such as aggression, fear, shyness, arrogance, joy and anger.
Verbal intonation refers to the emphasis someone gives to words or phrases. To illustrate how intonations can change to meaning of a message consider the student who asks the instructor a question. The instructor relies, what do you mean by that? The student’s reaction will vary, depending on the tone of the instructor’s response. A soft smooth tone creates a different meaning from one that is abrasive with a strong emphasis on the last word. Most of us would view the first intonation as coming from someone who sincerely sought clarification whereas the second suggests that the person is aggressive or defensive. The adage it’s not what you say but how you say it, is something managers should remember as they communicate
The fact that every oral communication also has a nonverbal message cannot be overemphasized. Why? Because the nonverbal component is likely to carry the greatest impact Research indicates that from 65 to 90 percent of the message of every face to face conversation is interpreted body language. Without complete agreement between the spoken words and the body language that accompanies it, receivers are more likely to react to body language as the “true meaning”.
What Barriers Exist to effective communications?
A number of interpersonal and intrapersonal barriers help to explain why the messages decoded by a receiver is often different from that which the sender intended we summarize the more prominent barriers to effective communication in exhibit below and briefly describe them.
Barriers to effective communication
The deliberate manipulation of information to make it appear more favorable to the receiver
Receiving communications on the basis of what one selectively sees and hears depending on his or her needs, motivation, experience, background and other personal characteristics.
When the amount of information one has to work with exceeds one’s processing capacity.
How the receiver feels when a message is received.
Words have different meanings to different people. Receivers will use their definition of words communicated.
How males and females react to communication may be different and they each have a different communication style.
Communication differences arising from the different languages that individuals use to communicate and the national culture of which they are a part.
Filtering refers to the way that a sender manipulates information so that is will be soon more favorably by the receiver. For example, when a manager tells his boss what he feels that boss wants to hear, he is filtering information. Does filtering happen much in organizations? Sure it does. As information is passed up to senior executives it has to be condensed and synthesized by underlings so upper management doesn’t become overloaded with information. The personal interests and perceptions of what is important to those doing the synthesizing are going to cause filtering. Those doing condensing filter communication through their personal interests and perceptions of what is important.
The extent of filtering tends to be the function of the number of vertical levels in the organization and the organization culture. More vertical levels in an organization mean more opportunities for filtering. As organization become less dependent on strict hierarchical arrangements and instead use more collaborative cooperative work arrangements information filtering may become less of a problem. In addition the ever increasing use of e-mail to communicate in organization reduces filtering because communication is more direct as intermediaries are by passed. Finally, the organizational culture encourages or discourages filtering by the type of behavior it rewards. The more those organizational rewards emphasize style an appearance the more managers will be motivated to filter communications in their favor.