Understanding the Nonverbal Communication of Group Members

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  • 0:02 Nonverbal Communication
  • 1:02 Functions of Nonverbal…
  • 3:09 Importance of Nonverbal Cues
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Nonverbal communication can be difficult to comprehend in group business environment. Subtle cues are often missed, which can easily have verbal messages misunderstood. There are five key functions of nonverbal communication that can help identify potential issues in communication.

Nonverbal Communication

Oblivious Olive thinks she is going to be promoted to the manager of The Bridal Knot Dress Shop. She doesn't understand any form of nonverbal communication, and this has led her to some serious misunderstanding when it comes to her career future.

Nonverbal communication is expressed through non-language means and depends upon facial expressions, eye movement, gestures, vocal inflections, and space/distance cues. One of the biggest challenges of understanding nonverbal communication is that it can be interpreted many different ways. It is very important in the workplace to understand how nonverbal communication effects verbal communication. A basic phrase, such as, 'Yes, you are a good worker,' can have its meaning changed by having the speaker roll their eyes during delivery. Olive's good friend and coworker, Alex, decided to take her out to lunch and explain the importance of understanding nonverbal communication in the work place.

Functions of Nonverbal Communication

Alex told Olive that he wanted to prepare her as she was not getting the big manager promotion. He knew she thought otherwise and wanted to explain why. The main issue was that Olive missed most nonverbal cues that would have given her a better understanding of her overall work. Alex told Olive that there are five functions of nonverbal communication she needs to be aware of:

  1. Contradicting creates a double-meaning when words say one thing and nonverbal cues say another. For example, Olive thought that a bridal customer loved the dress Olive designed for her. The bride told Olive she loved the dress, but was crying and tightening her fists while speaking. Later, the customer told the manager that the dress design was very ugly but she did not want to hurt Olive's feelings.
  2. Complimenting occurs when nonverbal cues are used to help support an attitude. Olive's boss told her that she had to work late and Olive said OK, while also slouching, bowing her head and frowning. Alex told her the boss was very upset at Olive's nonverbal reactions.
  3. Emphasizing is increasing the verbal message's impact by using nonverbal cues to accentuate the speaker's words. Alex knew his boss was really mad at him for messing up a bridal order. The boss crossed his arms and yelled while telling him to fix the problem immediately.
  4. Substituting is when nonverbal cues take the place of verbal cues completely. Alex explained to Olive that her boss hates it when Olive doesn't know the answer to a business question. Instead of responding to her boss with, 'I am not sure, but I will find out immediately,' Olive just shrugs her shoulders and walks away.
  5. Regulating means controlling by using nonverbal cues to establish rules of communication. Olive constantly interrupts her boss during meetings. Her boss points and looks at the person he wants next to speak. Olive ignores the nonverbal cues and ends up looking unprofessional at meetings.

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