Nonverbal communication in the workplace

By Thenmoli A/P Rajantran, Lecturer, School of Creative Arts & Designs

If people were to possess an actual toolbox filled with basic yet important tools to function in a society then communication would be the biggest and most dominant tool in said toolbox. We humans love to interact with one another and even before the first language was invented, our ancestors used gestures to communicate with each other, by pointing and grunting.

Communication is everywhere and it can be seen when people talk to each other, but sometimes it’s hidden but just as equally common, and that is in the form of advertising.  Simply put, advertising is communication that is designed to persuade whomever the audience to take action according to the ultimate message of the advert, which sometimes means buying a certain product or supporting a specific cause. Words are often used when communicating, either spoken or written, but there is another method that relays information to each other without the need for words and it is done intentionally and sometimes without us even realising it, and that of course is nonverbal communication.

There are many different types of nonverbal cues that one will notice when paying attention to people, ranging from the common use of facial expressions to the subtleness that is the physical distance between the communicators. Even the aforementioned gestures that our ancestors once used falls under nonverbal communication. In a typical workplace environment, nonverbal communication is extremely important as it can give off so much information that is otherwise difficult to acquire.

Nonverbal communication is the key to uncover what kind of people are in an ecosystem of a regular workplace. Being punctual, for example, displays how organised one is, while someone wearing tidy and appropriate attire with a well-groomed personal appearance may find it easier to have more pleasant interactions and sometimes even receives compliments. Even something as basic as facial expressions can make a difference in an interaction between co-workers. A smile can portray friendliness and a frown can express discontent, while maintaining eye contact in a conversation will project a more confident and trustworthy image.

These nonverbal social cues are present almost all the time and once we’ve mastered the art of identifying them, we can use them to make our interactions with other people so much better as they can help us understand what the other person is thinking just by observing their constant body language and their facial expressions.

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