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The relation between verbal and nonverbal communication
Rimi
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Posted 07-04-2009Reply

The relative importance of verbal and nonverbal communication

An interesting question is: When two people are communicating face-to-face, how much of the meaning is communicated verbally, and how much is communicated non-verbally? This was investigated by Albert Mehrabian and reported in two papers The latter paper concluded: "It is suggested that the combined effect of simultaneous verbal, vocal, and facial attitude communications is a weighted sum of their independent effects - with coefficients of .07, .38, and .55, respectively." This "rule" that clues form spoken words, from the voice tone, and from the facial expression, contribute 7 %, 38 %, and 55 % respectively to the total meaning, is widely cited. It is presented on all types of popular courses with statements like "scientists have found out that . . . ". In reality, however, it is extremely weakly founded. First, it is based on the judgment of the meaning of single taperecorded words, i.e. a very artificial context. Second, the figures are obtained by combining results from two different studies which maybe cannot be combined. Third, it relates only to the communication of positive versus negative emotions. Fourth, it relates only to women, as men did not participate in the study.

Since then, other studies have analysed the relative contribution of verbal and nonverbal signals under more naturalistic situations. Argyle , using video tapes shown to the subjects, analysed the communication of submissive/dominant attitude and found that non-verbal cues had 4.3 times the effect of verbal cues. The most important effect was that body posture communicated superior status in a very efficient way. On the other hand, a study by Hsee et al. had subjects judge a person on the dimension happy/sad and found that words spoken with minimal variation in intonation had an impact about 4 times larger than face expressions seen in a film without sound. Thus, the relative importance of spoken words and facial expressions may be very different in studies using different set-ups.



Interaction of verbal and nonverbal communication

When communicating, nonverbal messages can interact with verbal messages in six ways: repeating, conflicting, complementing, substituting, regulating and accenting/moderating.



Repeating

"Repeating" consists of using gestures to strengthen a verbal message, such as pointing to the object of discussion.



Verbal and nonverbal messages within the same interaction can sometimes send opposing or conflicting messages. A person verbally expressing a statement of truth while simultaneously fidgeting or avoiding eye contact may convey a mixed message to the receiver in the interaction. Conflicting messages may occur for a variety of reasons often stemming from feelings of uncertainty, ambivalence, or frustration. When mixed messages occur, nonverbal communication becomes the primary tool people use to attain additional information to clarify the situation; great attention is placed on bodily movements and positioning when people perceive mixed messages during interactions.



Complementing

Accurate interpretation of messages is made easier when nonverbal and verbal communication complement each other. Nonverbal cues can be used to elaborate on verbal messages to reinforce the information sent when trying to achieve communicative goals; messages have been shown to be remembered better when nonverbal signals affirm the verbal exchange.



Substituting

Nonverbal behavior is sometimes used as the sole channel for communication of a message. People learn to identify facial expressions, body movements, and body positioning as corresponding with specific feelings and intentions. Nonverbal signals can be used without verbal communication to convey messages; when nonverbal behavior does not effectively communicate a message, verbal methods are used to enhance understanding



Regulating

Nonverbal behavior also regulates our conversations. For example, touching someone's arm can signal that you want to talk next or interrupt



Accenting/Moderating

Nonverbal signals are used to alter the interpretation of verbal messages. Touch, voice pitch, and gestures are some of the tools people use to accent or amplify the message that is sent; nonverbal behavior can also be used to moderate or tone down aspects of verbal messages as wellFor example, a person who is verbally expressing anger may accent the verbal message by shaking a fist.





Pramod
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  Rated 0 | Posted 07-04-2009

Very inetresting.
really ur topics made me to recollect my lessons read at grass root level.
Ur very ethical and humourous in selecting the topics
Hence, thanks once again and keep it up
Bye
take care

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