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Nonverbal Communication in Organizations

Nonverbal communication is expressing messages without words. This is one of the

most important aspects of all communication. All people are constantly communicating
nonverbally, most of the time unintentionally. In an organization the most significant
communicators is a leader, they are always leading and being observed. Dr. Martin Remland,
professor of communication says There is little doubt that effective management requires good
communication. Typically management feels that they cannot show emotion to their
subordinates, which confuses employees and causes organizational issues. To improve
leadership there needs to be greater awareness of nonverbal cues.
Nonverbal communication is displayed everywhere in an organization. Its observed as
soon an interview and is continued to be observed and relevant throughout a persons time
spent there until their departure. Although it is present in all organizations, each organization
has standards or norms of nonverbal communication that are unique to them. There is however
certain aspects that typically falls consistent in all organizations. A first impression is the initial
nonverbal communication that individual demonstrates, this will determine a persons further
impressions and judgments. According to Communicating At Work, immediacy, or verbal and
nonverbal behaviors that indicate closeness or liking, has a strong link to career success. It can
be assumed that that is the case because people tend to show more emotion and feeling
(nonverbal communication) around people they are comfortable with. Familiarizing with others
in an organization would likely increase the likelihood of nonverbal communication and
success for the group or organization. As stated before, people are constantly observing others
and how they communicate nonverbally. In research shown in The Impact of Nonverbal

Communication in Organizations: A Survey of Perceptions, out of the respondents asked

ninety-four percent felt that nonverbal cues are extremely important. However in that same
research it is noted that individuals with more experience rely less on nonverbal cues and more
on verbal cues. This is then confirmed when it is stated that fifty percent of the respondents
noted that their supervisors verbal and nonverbal communication did not match, which leads to
confusion from the subordinates. This miscommunication is what causes conflict in
organizations. With a more steady consistency of nonverbal communication in an organization
there would likely be more cohesion and success for the group.
Typically when people communicate nonverbally it is not deliberate and it just happens.
Many things contribute to nonverbal communication, but some are more prevalent in
organizations and the work place. Those things are paralanguage, time, space, appearance and
eye contact. Paralanguage is the range of vocal characteristics that helps express attitude: pitch,
resonance, range, tempo, articulation, disfluencies, rhythm, pauses and volume. In any situation
it is best to remember its not what you say, but how you say it, because that is what registers
most to people. For example, if a boss sees their subordinates work and says Youre doing
great! enthusiastically with a positive tone, the subordinate is more likely to believe it and feel
encouraged as apposed to a boss who says it blankly with disinterest. Time is very important in
organizations, not only being on time but also time spent on an activity. A person who makes
the most of time and takes as much as they need nonverbally communicates that they are not
only committed but also responsible. Although it may not be as critical in other countries, in
America, punctuality is imperative, it displays good work ethic and that an individual is
reliable. Space is an obvious aspect of nonverbal communication that differs by situation and
culture. In the American culture people have a bubble that they do not want invaded. This

imaginary bubble shrinks or grows depending on the situation. In a work setting if a person is
too close while interacting with another it could be invading and make the other uncomfortable.
While on the other hang, a person not close enough can illustrate that there is an issue between
those people. A first impression is the most basic and initial form of nonverbal communication.
Physical appearance is how an individual decides if they like someone or not. Even though
people say dont judge a book by its cover, more attractive people tend to be more likable.
Things such as clothes, hair, make-up and accessories can convey attractiveness and what a
person is like. People who are well dressed and have a professional physical presentation
appear as better workers where as those who dress casual can imply a laidback personality and
work ethic. After the initial impression and throughout interaction, people still need to display
good nonverbal communication. While talking to someone, especially a superior it is important
to maintain eye contact. In western cultures good eye contact is a sign of respect and is
expected, especially in a professional setting. By keeping eye contact with someone it gives
them feedback and shows that you are engaged and paying attention.
According to A Survey of Perceptions, organizational productivity is more difficult to
achieve because of the current amount of miscommunication within groups and organizations.
This lack or effective communication is partly due to leaders thinking individualistically, when
they do this people notice. If a leader were to change their thinking to collectivistic they would
care about the group and its well-being. This change will influence their interactions with
others and also how they are perceived. By self-monitoring an individual, more importantly
leaders, can observe how their behaving and using these observations to shape their behavior to
what it should be. Nonverbal communication not only needs to be understood as a whole, but
people also need to know how to send and receive them properly. In its entirety, knowledge of

nonverbal communication can improve morale and productivity, which is positive for any


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Speak Volumes." Leadership in Action 27.5 (2007): 3-7. Web.
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Organizations: A Survey of Perceptions." Journal of Business Communication 28.1 (1991): 4562. Web.
Kudesia, Ravi, and Hillary Anger Elfenbein. "Nonverbal Communication."Nonverbal
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