Nonverbal communication - para- and extralinguistic features

Greetings, friends!

For most people, speech is the main means of everyday communication. At the same time, each of us knows very well that understanding a person when talking to him on the phone is sometimes more difficult than during a normal conversation. The reason is the lack of non-verbal interaction, because gestures and facial expressions are very important for understanding, but during a telephone conversation we do not see them. Today we will look in detail at what nonverbal communication is, what forms it takes, what meaning it has, and how to learn how to use it as effectively as possible.

What is nonverbal communication?

Nonverbal communication is the transfer of information through any communication channels other than verbal (i.e. verbal). This could be gestures, facial expressions, changes in posture, intonation and manner of speech, timbre of voice, or certain demonstrative actions. Depending on the topic of the conversation, the relationship between the verbal and nonverbal components of communication can vary widely.

In general, during communication we transmit information in two ways: verbal and non-verbal. For example, when one person says to another: “I caught such a fish!”, he uses both channels. In words (verbally) he reports that he caught a fish, and with his hands (non-verbally) he shows its size, that is, he supplements the information with important facts.

The term “verbal” is derived from the Latin word verbalis, which translates as “verbal.” It denotes information transmitted directly through oral or written speech. Accordingly, the term “non-verbal” is an antonym of this word and implies information transmitted in other ways.

Some researchers believe that in a normal conversation, only 7% of information is conveyed directly in words and sentences. Another 38% comes from intonation and timbre of the voice, and the remaining 55% comes from facial expressions and gestures. Of course, these values ​​cannot be considered universal, because everything depends on the type of information. For example, you can send a shopping list by text message - it will not become less informative. But having returned from vacation, I want to share my impressions only in a live dialogue and nothing else.

For business etiquette

One of the most famous experts who studies the influence of odors on the emotional-volitional sphere of the individual is Olga Alexander. She works in Paris and advises the diplomatic corps and European politicians, revealing the intricacies of numerous fragrances. It is necessary to use olfactory means of communication with representatives of different countries and faiths. In psychology this is called creating an olfactory image. It is important to know which aromas make a person like you, and which ones, on the contrary, repel.

Methods of nonverbal communication

There are quite a few channels of non-verbal communication. And the more a person is involved in the conversation, the more actively he uses them. The most commonly used channels are:

  1. Facial expressions. Facial expression is the most informative channel of nonverbal interaction, allowing you to convey many emotions, express admiration or indignation, show your agreement or refusal. With one glance we can demonstrate that we are dissatisfied with a person’s behavior, or we can wink, showing that we are at the same time.
  2. Gestures. Since childhood, we have become accustomed to using gestures in communication along with speech and facial expressions. Some of them are natural and look the same all over the world. Others are culturally dependent, but we get used to them and use them without thinking about their meaning. However, in different cultures the same gestures can have opposite meanings. Therefore, when going to another country, it is advisable to read about cultural characteristics. It is likely that a gesture that seems harmless and friendly to you will turn out to be vulgar, rude or even hostile.
  3. Sight. Eye contact and direction of gaze are one of the key channels of nonverbal communication. Subtle eye movements, wide-opened eyelids, dilated pupils with interest, or a raised eyebrow are signals that we pick up instantly, without even thinking. A glance can sometimes convey thoughts that simply cannot be expressed in words.
  4. Pose. This channel conveys quite a lot of information that the person did not plan to communicate to the interlocutor. By the position of his body and posture, by his movements and by the way he holds his head, you can tell a lot about his mood and self-esteem. The pose always shows how comfortable a person is in a given environment and how confident he feels.
  5. Touching. Social interaction between people involves some touching of the interlocutor. Depending on the nature of the relationship, this could be a handshake, a touch on the elbow, a pat on the shoulder or back, a friendly or intimate hug.
  6. Space. The distance to the interlocutor greatly affects the comfort of communication. Some people use proximity as a nonverbal signal to show sympathy, affection, sexual interest, dominance, or aggression.
  7. Voice. During communication, we “play” with our voice, changing intonation and timbre, making meaningful pauses, speeding up or slowing down the rhythm of speech. We do some of this voluntarily, and some escape our attention, but it tells the interlocutor a lot about our experiences and even thoughts.

Many of the listed channels are skillfully used by representatives of gop culture. These people have a good understanding of what nonverbal communication is and how it can be used. In addition, they have naturally developed empathy. By their drooping posture and hunched shoulders, they can easily identify an insecure person. Having stopped him under an innocent pretext, they try to come closer and put their arm around his shoulder to demonstrate “friendly” intentions. With this gesture, they deliberately cause discomfort to the person so that he will quickly comply with their demands.

Reflection of odors in people during perception

Olfactory means of communication in psychology are studied through exploratory research. In this case, the free association technique is used. Subjects complete the image of a particular person based on his smell, determining gender, age, social status and even his appearance. There is experience in determining personality traits using similar techniques, but the results are debatable.

Artificial odors (perfume) used by specific individuals are mainly studied. They assessed the following parameters: activity, independence, communicative competence, self-control, creativity. The results allow us to give recommendations for shaping the image of business people.

The Importance of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is an important addition to basic communication, allowing you to convey much more information to your interlocutor, increase the level of mutual understanding and make any conversation more constructive. Psychologists call 5 main functions of nonverbal signals:

  • Duplication. With a gesture, facial expression or intonation, a person can repeat the main message, confirming it, making it more understandable and unambiguous.
  • Contradiction. Consciously or unconsciously, a person may show that he meant the opposite. For example, when talking about his intentions, he can wink conspiratorially.
  • Substitution of meaning. With your eyes and facial expressions you can not only complement the meaning, but also completely change it or demonstrate that the phrase is said in a figurative meaning.
  • Addition to what was said. Certain gestures can convey additional messages. For example, a person can say that he does not want to do something, but show by his facial expression that he is tired of it.
  • Strengthening meaning. Kind words can be emphasized with a friendly smile, and an emotional statement can be emphasized by hitting the table with your fist.

The essence of the concept

The word “olfactory” itself is of Latin origin and is translated as “fragrant”, “fragrant”. It applies to olfactory perception, which is well developed not only in humans, but also in animals, which we will dwell on below. There are two main types of olfactory means of communication:

  • Ambient smells. For example, in the room there is a persistent smell of tobacco, burnt porridge, etc. All this carries certain information about the owner of the apartment.
  • The smells of the person himself, both natural and artificial. They are of particular importance in certain cases of interaction: in the process of intimate communication, in the dialogue between a doctor and a patient, when a mother is caring for a newborn.

Scientists have proven that different odors have a specific effect on the human body. Thus, the aromas of linden, eucalyptus and birch stimulate breathing, while poplar and lilac depress it. Pine's scent can normalize pulse and reduce blood pressure. The aroma of lemon balm, vanilla and valerian has a beneficial effect on the heart and blood vessels.

Errors in nonverbal communication

You don’t need to know what nonverbal communication is to notice unconscious signals in the behavior of your interlocutor. But controlling yourself, avoiding unwanted gestures and facial expressions, is much more difficult. Therefore, it is advisable to remember the main mistakes and regularly remind yourself that they cannot be repeated. Most often we are talking about such non-verbal signals as:

  1. Hidden palms. If a person hides his palms, it seems that he is afraid of something or that he is speaking insincerely. No, you don’t need to demonstratively turn your palms towards your interlocutor. Just keep your hands visible, don't clench them into fists or hide them in your pockets.
  2. Averted gaze. When the interlocutor looks away, it seems as if he is not sincere enough. You can only look away when there is a reason for it. For example, if you're having lunch and socializing, there's nothing wrong with periodically looking at your plate.
  3. Sagging posture, hunched shoulders. This is usually what very tired or unconfident people look like. Therefore, regardless of your health and mood, make sure that your back is always straight and your shoulders are straight.
  4. Invasion of someone else's personal space. The width of your comfort zone varies from person to person. For example, for a person who grew up in a village, it is much wider than for a city dweller. Always keep in mind that your interlocutor may be uncomfortable if you get too close to him.
  5. Touching the face, ears, neck and hair. Touching different parts of the body often signals hidden feelings. In addition, a person who is constantly fussing looks insecure. Try to always sit straight and calm, and if you want to correct something, it is better to do it openly (for example, by looking in the mirror), rather than furtively.

Main functions

People reflect nonverbal cues in different ways. This depends on the development of sensory organs, for example, smell. Olfactory non-verbal communication requires a good sense of smell. A partner's use of perfume can often tell the other person a lot about them. People who, according to their duties, must be able to influence people, use this powerful influence factor.

It is well known that the word carries only from 20 to 40% of the information, but the main load lies on non-verbal means of communication, which can:

  • Confirm what is said. For example, the subtle aroma of exquisite perfumes from France convinces that the interlocutor has recently visited a European country and has excellent taste.
  • Refute a person's speech. The smell of sweat and cheap perfume may not go well with telling a story about yourself.
  • Add information. For example, the smell of a stale shirt confirms that the interlocutor did not have the opportunity to visit home and spend the night in normal conditions.
  • Focus the interlocutor’s attention on significant points. The dialogue partner enthusiastically talks about visiting the bathhouse, exuding the smell of a clean body.
  • Olfactory means of communication can replace information. Thus, a man who uses his girlfriend’s favorite scent demonstrates a certain attitude towards her.

How to develop nonverbal communication skills?

Nonverbal communication is an important part of interpersonal interaction. A person who is able to notice well and correctly interpret other people's non-verbal signals understands any interlocutor much better. He sees how people react to his words, quickly notices attempts to manipulate himself. Equally useful is the ability to monitor your own nonverbal signals. A person who has good control over his facial expressions and gestures always creates a pleasant impression.

Developing the ability to better notice and monitor nonverbal cues is not difficult at all. It is enough to start looking more carefully at the people with whom you communicate. Try to notice every involuntary movement that allows you to say something about the thoughts or experiences of your interlocutor. Pay attention to everything: facial expressions, eye movements, gestures, changes in posture and posture, intonation and timbre of voice.

Over time, this will turn into an exciting game that will allow you to make new discoveries almost every day. Every day your skills will improve. Gradually, you will learn to notice certain non-verbal signals in your own behavior. This will allow you to promptly prevent unwanted ones and emphasize those that you consider correct.

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