There are hundreds of languages in the world and a smile speaks all of them


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There are hundreds of languages in the world and a smile speaks all of them”

2.1 Introduction
Work requires communication. People communicate to plan products and services, hire, train, and motivate workers; coordinate manufacturing and delivery; persuade customers to buy and bill them for sale. For many businesses, and in nonprofit, community, and government organizations, the “product” is information or service. Information and services are created and delivered by communication. In every organization, communication is the way people get their points across, get work done, and get recognized for their contributions. In this unit both verbal and nonverbal aspects of oral communication are explored. To make this learning meaningful and relevant to managers, communication is discussed in the context of interpersonal, listening, interviewing and presentations – all managerial activities.

2.2 Learning Objectives

  • Learn interpersonal dynamics

  • Explain how to become an effective listener

  • Improve nonverbal communication skill.

  • Evaluate successful job interview strategies

  • Acquire good speaking and oral reporting techniques

Definition of Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is the process that we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings to another person. Our interpersonal communication skills are learned behaviours that can be improved through knowledge, practice, feedback, and reflection.

Intrateam communication

Intrateam communication is a process through which team members communicate with one another. It is made up of the communication strategies and styles of each member of the team. Like interpersonal communication skills, a team can improve its intrateam communication skills through knowledge, practice, feedback, and reflection.

2.3.1 Principles of Interpersonal Communication

These principles underlie the workings in real life of interpersonal communication. They are basic to communication. Which can not be ignored.

Interpersonal communication is inescapable

The very attempt not to communicate communicates something. Not only through words, but also through tone of voice gesture, posture, facial expression, etc., we constantly communicate to those around us. Through these channels, we constantly receive communication from others. Even when we sleep, we communicate. Remember a basic principle of communication in general: people are not mind readers. Another way to put this is: people judge you by your behaviour, not your intent.

Interpersonal communication is irreversible

You can't really take back something once it has been said. The effect must inevitably remain. Despite the instructions from a judge to a jury to "disregard that last statement the witness made," the lawyer knows that it can't help but make an impression on the jury. A Russian proverb says, "Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again."

Interpersonal communication is complicated

No form of communication is simple. Because of the number of variables involved, even simple requests are extremely complex. Theorists note that whenever we communicate there are really at least six "people" involved:

1) who you think you are; 2) who you think the other person is; 3) who you think the other person thinks you are; 4) who the other person thinks /she is; 5) who the other person thinks you are; and 6) who the other person thinks you think s/he is.

Words (symbols) do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways, and no two people use the same word exactly alike.

Interpersonal communication is contextual

In other words, communication does not happen in isolation. There is:

Psychological context, which is who you are and what you bring to the interaction. Your needs, desires, values, personality, etc., all form the psychological context. ("You" here refers to both participants in the interaction.)

Relational context, which concerns your reactions to the other person--the "mix."

Situational context deals with the psycho-social "where" you are communicating. An interaction that takes place in a classroom will be very different from one that takes place in a playground.

Environmental context deals with the physical "where" you are communicating. Furniture, location, noise level, temperature, season, time of day, all are examples of factors in the environmental context.

Cultural context includes all the learned behaviours and rules that affect the interaction. If you come from a culture (foreign or within your own country) where it is considered rude to make long, direct eye contact, you will out of politeness avoid eye contact. If the other person comes from a culture where long, direct eye contact signals trustworthiness, then we have in the cultural context a basis for misunderstanding.

2.3.2 Functions of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is important because of the functions it achieves. Whenever we engage in communication with another person, we seek to gain information about them. We also give off information through a wide variety of verbal and nonverbal cues.

Gaining Information

One reason we engage in interpersonal communication is that we can gain knowledge about another individual. Social Penetration Theory says that we attempt to gain information about others so that we can interact with them more effectively. We can better predict how they will think, feel, and act if we know who they are. We gain this information passively, by observing them; actively, by having others engage them; or interactively, by engaging them ourselves. Self-disclosure is often used to get information from another person.

Building a Context of Understanding
We also engage in interpersonal communication to help us better understand what someone says in a given context. The words we say can mean very different things depending on how they are said or in what context. Content Messages refer to the surface level meaning of a message. Relationship Messages refer to how a message is said. The two are sent simultaneously, but each affects the meaning assigned to the communication. Interpersonal communication helps us understand each other better.
Establishing Identity

Another reason we engage in interpersonal communication is to establish an identity. The roles we play in our relationships help us establish identity. So too does the face, the public self-image we present to others. Both roles and face are constructed based on how we interact with others.

Interpersonal Needs
Finally, we engage in interpersonal communication because we need to express and receive interpersonal needs. William Schutz has identified three such needs: inclusion, control, and affection.
Inclusion is the need to establish identity with others. Control is the need to exercise leadership and prove one's abilities. Groups provide outlets for this need. Some individuals do not want to be a leader. For them, groups provide the necessary control over aspects of their lives. Affection is the need to develop relationships with people. Groups are an excellent way to make friends and establish relationships.

2.3.3 Inter Personal Relationship Models

Researchers have studied relationships to understand how they develop. One of the most popular models for understanding Relationship Development is Mark Knapp's Relational Stages Model. Knapp's model works well to describe many types of relationships: romantic couples, friends, business partners, room-mates, etc. Other models have also been discussed. For instance, Stephen Duck's Relationship Filtering Model is another way of looking at how relationships begin. Read about these models and then complete an interactive activity and short quiz to test your knowledge. Knapp's Relationship Escalation Model


This stage is very short, sometimes as short as 10-15 seconds. In this stage, interactants are concerned with making favorable impressions on each other. They may use standard greetings or observe each other's appearance or mannerisms.


In the next stage, individuals ask questions of each other in order to gain information about them and decide if they wish to continue the relationship. "Many relationships progress no further than this point"


Self-disclosure becomes more common in the intensifying stage. The relationship becomes less formal, the interactants begin to see each other as individuals, and statements are made about the level of commitment each has to the relationship.


The individuals become a pair in the integrating stage. They begin to do things together and, importantly, others come to see them as a pair. A shared relational identity starts to form in this stage.


During the bonding stage, a formal, sometimes legal, announcement of the relationship is made. Examples include a marriage, "best friend" ritual, or business partnership agreement. Few relationships reach this level. Duck's Relationship Filtering Model

Sociological/Incidental Cues

Duck's model is a set of filters through which we make choices about the level of relationship we wish to pursue with others. The first filter, sociological/incidental cues, describes the constraints placed on our meeting people due to where we live or work. In other words, given our sociological location, there are some people we see a lot of and others we never meet.

Preinteraction Cues

Information we gain about people before we even interact with them leads us to exclude or include individuals with whom we wish to have a relationship. For instance, the appearance of some individuals will cause you to avoid or approach them.

Interaction Cues

As we begin to interact with others, we make judgments about whether to include or exclude them from possible relationships.

Cognitive Cues

At the deepest level, we make judgments about people based on their personality and the degree to which we think it will match ours. As others reach this level, we consider them "best friends." Self-Disclosure
Self-disclosure is seen as a useful strategy for sharing information with others. By sharing information, we become more intimate with other people and our interpersonal relationship is strengthened.

The Johari Window is used in Creating Better Understanding between Individuals and Groups

The Johari Window is a communication model that can be used to improve understanding between individuals within a team or in a group setting. Based on disclosure, self-disclosure and feedback, the Johari Window can also be used to improve a group's relationship with other groups
Developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (the word “Johari” comes from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham), there are two key ideas behind the tool:

1. That individuals can build trust between themselves by disclosing information about themselves; and

2. That they can learn about themselves and come to terms with personal issues with the help of feedback from others.
By explaining the idea of the Mohair Window to your team, you can help team members understand the value of self- feedback. Done sensitively, this can help people build more-trusting relationships with one another, solve issues and work more effectively as a team.


Explaining the Mohair Window:

The Johari Window model consists of a foursquare grid (think of taking a piece of paper and dividing it into four parts by drawing one line down the middle of the paper from top to bottom, and another line through the middle of the paper from side-to-side). This is shown in the diagram below:

Using the Johari model, each person is represented by their own four-quadrant, or four-pane, window. Each of these contains and represents personal information - feelings, motivation - about the person, and shows whether the information is known or not known by themselves or other people.


The four quadrants are:
Quadrant 1: Open Area

What is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others.

Quadrant 2: Blind Area, or "Blind Spot"

What is unknown to the person about him/herself but known to the others. This can be simple information, or can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, rejection) which are difficult for individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others.

Quadrant 3: Hidden or Avoided Area

What the person knows about him/her that others do not

Quadrant 4: Unknown Area

What is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others.


The process of enlarging the open quadrant vertically is called self-disclosure, a give and take process between the person and the people he/she interacts with. As information is shared, the boundary with the hidden quadrant moves downwards. And as other people reciprocate, trust tends to build between them.


The Johari Window in a Team Context

Keep in mind that established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. New team members start with smaller open areas because no knowledge about the new team member has been shared yet. The size of the Open Area can be expanded horizontally into the blind space, by seeking and actively listening to feedback from other group members.


Group members should strive to assist a team member in expanding his/her Open Area by offering constructive feedback. The size of the Open Area can also be expanded vertically downwards into the hidden or avoided space by the sender’s disclosure of information, feelings, etc about himself/herself to the group and group members.


Also, group members can help a person expand his/her Open Area into the hidden area by asking the sender about himself/herself. Managers and team leaders play a key role here, in facilitating feedback and disclosure among group members, and by providing constructive feedback to individuals about their own blind areas.


Key Points:

In most cases, the aim in groups should be to develop the Open Area for every person.

 Working in this area with others usually allows for enhanced individual and team effectiveness and productivity. The Open Area is the ‘space’ where good communications and cooperation occur, free from confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.


Self-disclosure is the process by which people expand the Open Area vertically. Feedback is the process by which people expand this area horizontally. By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team.

A useful way of viewing self-disclosure is the Johari window. The Johari window is a way of showing how much information you know about yourself and how much others know about you. The window contains four panes, as shown below.

Known to self

Unknown to self

Known to others

Open Pane
known to self and others

Blind Pane
blind to self, seen by others

Unknown to others

Hidden Pane
open to self, hidden from others

Unknown Pane
unknown to self and others

The Blind Pane includes information that others can see in you, but you cannot see in your self. You might think you are a poor leader, but others think you exhibit strong leadership skills. The Hidden Pane contains information you wish to keep private, such as dreams or ambitions. The Unknown Pane includes everything that you and others do not know about yourself. You may have hidden talents, for example, that you have not explored. Through self-disclosure, we open and close panes so that we may become more intimate with others.

Functions of Self-Disclosure

Self-disclosure performs several functions. It is a way of gaining information about another person. We will be able to predict the thoughts and actions of people we know. Self-disclosure is one way to learn about how another person thinks and feels. Once if one person engages in self-disclosure, it is implied that the other person will also disclose personal information. This is known as the norm of reciprocity. Mutual disclosure deepens trust in the relationships and helps both people understand each other more. You also come to feel better about yourself and your relationship when the other person accepts what you tell them.

Risks of Self-Disclosure
While there are several advantages to self-disclosure, there are also risks. One risk is that the person will not respond favorably to the information. Self-disclosure does not automatically lead to favorable impressions. Another risk is that the other person will gain power in the relationship because of the information he possess. Finally, too much self-disclosure or self-disclosure that comes too early in a relationship can damage the relationship. Thus, while self-disclosure is useful, it can also be damaging to a relationship.
Relational Patterns

As relationships progress, patterns of interactions takes shape that we may not recognize. This section describes some of these patterns. Complete the interactive activity at the end of the unit and then take a quiz to test your knowledge.

Rigid Role Relations

There are two basic types of behaviors in relationships: dominance and submissiveness. Dominance is often referred to as one-up, while submissiveness, one-down. In some relationships, the two are complementary--one individual is one-up, the other one-down--and the relationship is rewarding. Other relationships are symmetrical, where both parties are one-up and both are one down. Problems can result when individuals feel trapped by their role as the dominant or submissive member of the relationship. Flexibility can help both partners enjoy the relationship.


Whenever we communicate with someone else, we open ourselves up for rejection. The other individual can accept what we say or reject what we say. Researcher Evelyn Sieburg has identified seven "disconfirming" responses that reject the other individual.

  • Impervious: Failing to acknowledge the other person.

  • Interrupting: Cutting the other's message short.

  • Irrelevant: Giving a response that is unrelated to what the other has said.

  • Tangential: Briefly responding to the other's message.

  • Impersonal: Responding by using formal, jargon-laden language.

  • Incoherent: Responding with a rambling, difficult to understand message.

  • Incongruous: Giving contradictory verbal and nonverbal messages.

A third type of relational pattern is ‘spiral’. In a spiral, one partner's behavior intensifies that of the other". Spirals can be progressive, in which one partner's behavior leads to increasing levels of satisfaction for the other. Spirals can also be regressive, where one partner's communication leads to increasing dissatisfaction. Stopping regressive spirals from getting out of control depends on the open communication between the two individuals.
Dependencies and Counter dependencies

A final type of relational pattern is dependencies and counter dependencies. In a dependency relationship, one individual sees himself or herself relying on another person for something. Soon, he or she agrees with whatever the other says or does. In a counter dependency, one individual sees himself or herself as not being dependent on the other. Thus, he or she disagrees with the other quite frequently.

2.3.4 Interpersonal Conflict

Conflict is a part of almost every interpersonal relationship. Managing conflict, then, is important if the relationship is to be long lasting and rewarding. Learn how to manage conflict in your relationships and then complete the activity.

Definition of Conflict

Conflict has been defined as "an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals". Important concepts in this definition include "expressed struggle," which means the two sides must communicate about the problem for there to be conflict. Another important idea is that conflict often involves perceptions. The two sides may only perceive that their goals, resources, and interference are incompatible with each other's.

Common Problems in Conflict Management

Researchers have identified several problems that typically arise in conflict situations22. First, the parties will simply avoid the conflict. This can be damaging, because it can lead to greater problems in the future. It is usually best that the individuals discuss their differences. Second, individuals involved in conflict may blame the other individual. Often, individuals go beyond the specific behavior in question and blame the character of the person. When people use words such as, "He's such a slob," they are trying to blame the behavior of the others. A final problem that is often encountered in conflict management is adopting a win-lose mentality. Focusing on each individual's goals/outcomes will help to avoid using a win-lose strategy.

Defensive climate
The climate in which conflict is managed is important. Dyads says that one should avoid a defensive climate, which is characterized by these qualities:

  • Evaluation: judging and criticizing other group members.

  • Control: imposing the will of one group member on the others.

  • Strategy: using hidden agendas.

  • Neutrality: demonstrating indifference and lack of commitment.

  • Superiority: expressing dominance.
  • Certainty: being rigid in one's willingness to listen to others.

Supportive Climate
Instead, individuals should foster a supportive climate, marked by these traits:

  • Description: presenting ideas or opinions.

  • Problem orientation: focusing attention on the task.

  • Spontaneity: communicating openly and honestly.

  • Empathy: understanding another person's thoughts.

  • Equality: asking for opinions.

  • Provisionalism: expressing a willingness to listen other the ideas of others.

A few final tips can help insure that conflict is successfully managed:

  • Conflict can be constructive. Recognize that a conflict can strengthen your relationships.

  • Be Prepared. Plan how you will communicate about conflict in order to create a supportive climate.

  • Be Involved. Do not withdraw from the conflict or avoid conflict situations.

  • Withhold Quick Retorts. Be careful about what you say and how you say it.

  • Review. Summarize what you have discussed and make plans to continue the discussion if time permits go for immediate resolution

Building Positive Relationships

  • Use descriptive language

  • Focus on solving problems, not controlling others.

  • Be open, Don’t try to deceive

  • Show empathy

  • Don’t put on an air of superiority

  • Listening with an open mind

  • Praise sincerely

  • Offer constructive criticism

To conclude, in Today’s business world good interpersonal skills are essential for success. No individual, no matter how brilliant or talented, can hope to make it to the more coveted posts and stay there if he cannot work harmoniously with a group of people. Not only individual success, even the success of the organization as a whole depends to great extent on whether the workforce has the necessary interpersonal skills to establish a positive work environment.

2.3 .a Let us check your understanding

1. ------------- is a process through which team members communicate with one another.

2. ----------------- is the process through which we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings to another person.

3. Whenever we communicate there are at least -------- "people" involved.

4. Individuals who ask questions of the other in order to gain information about them is called ------------ stage

5. Based on -----------and --------------- the Johari Window can be used to improve a group's relationship with other groups.

6. In Johari model, each person is represented by his/her own --------------- window.

7. One partner's behavior intensifies that of the other". is called -----------

8. --------------- has been defined as "an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals.

9. A defensive climate, is characterized by these qualities: ---------- -------- ----------

10. A Supportive climate, is characterized by these qualities: ---------- -------- ---


11.Does the Johari Window represent a visual picture of how comfortable you are with asking for and encouraging self disclosure?

12.Is it wise to tell everything?

13.What are the questions you should ask yourself before disclosing personal information?

14. How does perception affect your relational messages?


Nonverbal communication plays a central role in human behavior and it is important to recognize that communication frequently involves more than a verbal message. Effective communication requires that we understand the role of nonverbal behavior as one dimension of communication competence.

What is non-verbal communication?
Definition (CBC): “nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source [speaker] and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value for the source or receiver [listener]  (Samovar et al).   Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of verbal codes (words).  It is both intentional and unintentional.  Most speakers / listeners are not conscious of this.   It includes — but is not limited to:

  • touch

  • glance

  • eye contact (gaze)

  • volume

  • vocal nuance

  • proximity

  • gestures

  • facial expression ? pause (silence)

  • intonation

  • dress

  • posture

  • smell

  • word choice and syntax

  • sounds (paralanguage)

Broadly speaking, there are two basic categories of non-verbal language:

  • Non verbal messages produced by the body;

  • Nonverbal messages produced by the broad setting (time, space, silence)

Note the implications of the proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.”  In essence, this underscores the importance of non-verbal communication.  Non-verbal communication is especially significant in intercultural situations. Probably non-verbal differences account for typical difficulties in communicating.

Why is non-verbal communication important?
Basically, it is one of the key aspects of communication (and especially important in a high-context culture).  It has multiple functions:

  • Used to repeat the verbal message (e.g. point in a direction while stating directions.
  • Often used to accent a verbal message. (e.g. verbal tone indicates the actual meaning of the specific words).

  • Often complement the verbal message but also may contradict.  E.g.: a nod reinforces a positive message (among Americans); a “wink” may contradict a stated positive message.

  • Regulate interactions (non-verbal cues covey when the other person should speak or not speak).

  • May substitute for the verbal message (especially if it is blocked by noise, interruption, etc) — i.e. gestures (finger to lips to indicate need for quiet), facial expressions (i.e. a nod instead of a yes).

2.4.1 Cultural Differences in Non-verbal Communication
General Appearance and Dress
All cultures are concerned about how they look and make judgements based on looks and dress.  Americans, for instance, appear almost obsessed with dress and personal attractiveness.  Consider differing cultural standards on what is attractive in dress and on what constitutes modesty. Note ways how dress is used as a sign of status.
Body Movement
We send information towards a person by our 1) attitude (facing or leaning towards another), 2) emotional statue (tapping fingers, jiggling coins), and 3) desiring to control the environment (moving towards or away from a person).

More than 700,000 possible motions are made by us — so impossible to categorize them all!  But just need to be aware that body movement and position is a key ingredient in sending messages.


Consider the following actions and note the cultural differences:

  • Bowing (not done, criticized, or affected in US; shows rank in Japan)

  • Slouching (rude in most Northern European areas)

  • Hands in pocket (disrespectful in Turkey)

  • Sitting with legs crossed (offensive in Ghana, Turkey)
  • Showing soles of feet. (Offensive in Thailand, Saudi Arabia)

  • Even in US, there is gender difference on acceptable postures

Impossible to catalog them all.  But need to recognize: 1) incredible possibility and variety and 2) that is acceptable in one’s own culture may be offensive in another.  In addition, amount of gesturing varies from culture to culture.  Some cultures are animated; others restrained.  Restrained cultures often feel that animated cultures lack manners and overall restraint.  Animated cultures often feel that restrained cultures lack emotion or interest.

Even simple things like using hands to point and count differ.

Pointing : US with index finger; Germany with little finger; Japanese with entire hand (in fact most Asians consider pointing with index finger to be rude)

Counting:  Thumb = 1 in Germany, 5 in Japan, middle finger for 1 in Indonesia.


Facial Expressions
While some say that facial expressions are identical, meaning attached to them differs.  Majority opinion is that these do have similar meanings world-wide with respect to smiling, crying, or showing anger, sorrow, or disgust.  However, the intensity varies from culture to culture.  Note the following:
Many Asian cultures suppress facial expression as much as possible.

Many Mediterranean (Latino / Arabic) cultures exaggerate grief or sadness while most American men hide grief or sorrow.

Some see “animated” expressions as a sign of a lack of control.

Too much smiling is viewed in as a sign of shallowness.

Women smile more than men.

Eye Contact and Gaze

In interpersonal and group communication, we generally are communicating something by looking or not looking at someone. When eye contact does occur, it may perform one or more functions.

The eyes can indicate thought processes, or the cognitive function. It is common for many people to glance away when they are thinking. Eyes can also perform a monitoring function. From interpersonal to public speaking situations, we can monitor our communication effectiveness by looking at others and monitoring their feedback. As mentioned previously in this teaching note, eye contact also helps to regulate the flow of communication. If a professor asks a question and you did not wish to respond, you

will most likely avoid establishing eye contact; direct eye contact suggests a willingness to respond. The eyes can also offer insight to emotions and feelings as part of their expressive function.

In USA, eye contact indicates: degree of attention or interest, influences attitude change or persuasion, regulates interaction, communicates emotion, defines power and status, and has a central role in managing impressions of others.
Western cultures — see direct eye to eye contact as positive (advise children to look a person in the eyes).  But within USA, African-Americans use more eye contact when talking and less when listening with reverse true for Anglo Americans.  This is a possible cause for some sense of unease between races in US. 

Arabic cultures make prolonged eye-contact. — believe it shows interest and helps them understand truthfulness of the other person.  (A person who doesn’t reciprocate is seen as untrustworthy)

Japan, Africa, Latin American, Caribbean — avoid eye contact to show respect.


Question: Why do we touch, where do we touch, and what meanings do we assign when someone else touches us?


Illustration: An African-American male goes into a convenience store recently taken over by new Korean immigrants.  He gives a $20 bill for his purchase to Mrs Cho who is cashier and waits for his change.  He is upset when his change is put down on the counter in front of him.

What is the problem?  Traditional Koreans (and many other Asian countries) don’t touch strangers., especially between members of the opposite sex.   But the African-American sees this as another example of discrimination (not touching him because he is black).

Basic answer:  Touch is culturally determined!  But each culture has a clear concept of what parts of the body one may not touch.  Basic message of touch is to affect or control  — protect, support, disapprove (i.e. hug, hit, kick).  

USA — handshake is common (even for strangers), hugs, kisses for those of opposite gender or of family (usually) on an increasingly  more intimate basis. Note differences between African-Americans and Anglos in USA.  Most African Americans touch on greeting but are annoyed if touched on the head (good boy, good girl overtones).

Islamic and Hindu:  typically don’t touch with the left hand.  To do so is a social insult.  Left hand is for toilet functions.  Mannerly in India to break your bread only with your right hand (sometimes difficult for non-Indians)

Islamic cultures generally don’t approve of any touching between genders (even hand shakes).  But consider such touching (including hand holding, hugs) between same-sex to be appropriate.




USA — fear of offensive natural smells (billion dollar industry to mask objectionable odors with what is perceived to be pleasant ) — again connected with “attractiveness” concept.

Many other cultures consider natural body odors as normal (Arabic).

Asian cultures (Filipino, Malay, Indonesian, Thai, Indian) stress frequent bathing — and often criticize USA of not bathing often enough!

Distance during interaction 
The mutual distances people choose during interactions have several goals. Distance plays a role in signaling the beginning and the end of a conversation. It also signals something about how intimate and how personal we experience the relationship and the topic of discussion. The appropriate use of distance between talking partners is regulated by quite a lot of (unwritten) social rules and cultural norms. When we talk to a senior person, normally one will maintain some distance than the normal one. But when we are conveying something to a friend definitely he/she is not bothered about the Distance & Posture. 

Edward Hall, an American anthropologist, has divided interpersonal space into four zones: 

· The intimate zone (0 - 45 cm) 
· The personal zone (45 - 120 cm) 
· The social zone (120 - 360 cm) 
· The public zone (360 - 750 cm or more) 


The physical distance we keep from others and our reaction to how other people approach us; have a big influence on our discussions and the accompanying connections with these people. The amount of personal space we appreciate is strongly influenced by our culture. This also counts for the mutual distance in which we feel confident during a business meeting. 

If somebody comes closer to us than we are used to, invading our personal space, he can give us an uneasy feeling. We feel inclined to take a step backward to establish the original personal space with which we are comfortable again. In general, people need a certain amount of personal space to feel optimally okay. This also indicates our wish to trace out our personal territory. When we are not at home we sometimes make a kind of temporary territory - a temporary space which we secure with our personal belongings. In this way we create a kind of personal air bubble around us. Who enters in there without being invited can count on a rejecting or angry response.  


Vocal characterizers (laugh, cry, yell, moan, whine, belch, yawn).  These send different messages in different cultures (Japan — giggling indicates embarrassment; India – belch indicates satisfaction)

Vocal qualifiers (volume, pitch, rhythm, tempo, and tone).  Loudness indicates strength in Arabic cultures and softness indicates weakness; indicates confidence and authority to the Germans,; indicates impoliteness to the Thais; indicates loss of control to the Japanese. (Generally, one learns not to “shout” in Asia for nearly any reason!).  Gender based as well: women tend to speak higher and more softly than men.

vocal segregates (un-huh, shh, uh, ooh, mmmh, humm, eh, mah, lah).  Segregates indicate formality, acceptance, assent, uncertainty.

Paralinguistic is concerned with factors of how words are spoken, i.e. the paralinguistic differences can be responsible for , mostly subconscious or stereotyped, confusion. For example the notion that Americans are talking "too loud" is often interpreted in Europe as aggressive behaviour or can be seen as a sign of uncultivated or tactless behaviour. Likewise, the British way of speaking quietly might be understood as secretive by Americans.

The speed of talking equally is different in various cultural settings. For example Finnish is spoken relatively slowly in comparison to other European languages. This form of speaking has often resulted in the Finnish as being regarded somewhat 'slow' .

Further importance is given to the amount of silence that is perceived as right during a conversation. A Japanese proverb says "Those who know do not speak - those who speak do not know"; for example, US Americans where even a slight silence is often seen as embarrassing, and hence is filled up with speaking, something often perceived as hypomanic. Similarly, but different in usage, is the avoidance of silence in Arabic countries, where word games are played and thoughts repeated to avoid silence.

On the surface, language consists simply of words, linked by grammatical rules to convey meaning. In fact, there are many other devices that also help indicate and support meaning. These include:

  • Paralinguistic features such as intonation, emphasis, volume and pace;

  • Non-verbal norms such as physical distance, touch and eye contact;

  • Cultural features, for example ways of indicating agreement, of being polite.

When people learn a second language they usually retain certain paralinguistic, cultural and non-verbal features of their mother tongue. As a result, they may unintentionally offend or give the wrong impression. These misunderstandings can be difficult to sort out because their cause is rarely recognized. We assume that people sound how they mean to sound. Misunderstandings are particularly likely when people are anxious, distressed or under pressure.

Difficulties can also occur when people speak a different variety of English, for example Indian English, Caribbean English or West African English. Each of these has its own particular paralinguistic features - intonation, rhythm, accent and vocabulary - as well as cultural and non-verbal devices. These often differ from those of British English so, even though people who speak different varieties of English use the same words, they may misunderstand each other's intentions or attitudes. British-English speakers also sometimes assume that other forms of English are inferior and that people who speak them are stupid or under-educated. In fact, each is a complete and fully developed language in its own right (d' Ardenne and Mahtani 1989).

'I was simple enough to think that the British people were all the same, all speaking the same sort of language, the language which I learnt at English school in India. I was surprised I couldn't understand the English nurse and was even more surprised because she did not understand English - my English!'

Indian man (Ahmed and Watt 1986)
Paralinguistic feature

To see how paralinguistic features work, try saying this sentence, ‘She says she’s been in agony for three hours’ in four different ways:

  • As a straight statement

  • As a question

  • Indicating that you don’t believe her

  • Indicating that you are shocked that this has been allowed to happen

 Notice how your intonation, emphasis and volume differed each time, so that although you used exactly the same words and grammar, you conveyed very different meanings. In British English, certain paralinguistic features convey the speaker's intentions and feelings, including politeness, apology, anger, sorrow, anxiety, uncertainty, interest or lack of it, disagreement, criticism or urgency. People who do not understand the paralinguistic features of British English may not perceive these messages and may seem insensitive, rude or stupid. Their own use of paralinguistic features may clash with British expectations, and they may be wrongly perceived as angry, resentful, uncertain, excited or uninterested.

Emphasis and pace
British English uses emphasis to signal important or new information, or to contradict: for example, 'I told her to take it three times a day', 'Mrs Smith is coming on Monday'. Emphasis also indicates emotions such as anger or excitement. In other languages, importance may be indicated by speaking faster or more slowly, by adding words or phrases, by repetition or by lowering the voice (Mares, Henley and Baxter 1985). Again, there is a good deal of room for mutual misunderstanding.
Linguistic tunes

Each language has its own intonation or tune. In British English it is normal for the voice to rise and fall in friendly conversation. Changing the tune can also modify the meaning of a phrase or sentence. A raised tone at the end of a statement can turn it into a question: 'You've done your blood sample?' And raising the tone of the whole sentence is often associated with intense emotion such as anger, shock or excitement: 'You've won the Nobel prize!' or 'You've flooded the whole ground floor!' In other languages a raised tone over the whole sentence may indicate importance or friendliness rather than intense emotion.

British English and other northern European languages use a relatively limited range of tunes in normal speech: speakers of other languages and other forms of English may use a far greater range. To British-English speakers, they may sound excitable and excessively emotional, even unreliable. To other people, British-English speakers may sound uninterested, insincere, bored or condescending.

Normal volume varies a good deal in different cultures. Native English speakers speak with less volume when compared to people from other parts of the world. They often feel disconcerted or upset by people who raise their voices. They may even feel that the other person (who is speaking perfectly normally in their own terms) is angry, over-emotional, threatening, irrational or simply bad mannered.

Structuring conversation
In most European languages it is customary to state the main point in an argument first, and then to illustrate or expand upon it. In many other languages it is common to set out the preliminary arguments and illustrations first, working up to the main point as a conclusion. British-English speakers, used to hearing the main point early on, may become bored and impatient when listening to a patient or colleague who uses the other system. They may conclude that he or she has nothing important to say or is stupid and switch off before the key point is reached (Roberts 1985).
Turn-taking and listening signals

Conversation requires people to take turns. Different languages use different conventions to indicate when one person has finished and another can begin. For example, person A may lower their voice and slow down to indicate that it is person B's turn; they may begin to repeat themselves; or they may pause for person B to begin. Latin Americans generally take and expect very short pauses; North-American-English speakers take slightly longer pauses; British-English speakers take still longer ones. Problems arise when people use different turn-taking signals. Person B may feel that they are never given a chance to talk; person A may wonder why person B isn't saying anything. They may then label each other pushy, shy, unco-operative or unfriendly (Tannen 1992).

In British English it is considered normal and polite for only one person to speak at a time and for people to pause to allow each other to speak. In some cultures talking at the same time as another person and talking over them ('high-involvement style') is regarded as friendly and polite, and proof that you are really listening; in Northern Europe it is generally regarded as aggressive and pushy (Tannen 1991).
In British English it is also important to indicate that you are listening by nodding occasionally and making encouraging noises. It is also important to make intermittent eye contact. In some languages people show that they are listening by keeping still and remaining completely silent. They may also look away. English speakers used to eye contact and other signals during conversation may feel that they are not being listened to if these are absent (Lago and Thompson 1996).

Silence is tolerated more in some cultures than in others. It also means different things. In some cultures younger and more junior people use silence to indicate respect and affection. In some it is normal for people to sit in silence for long periods before they say anything, or to take long pauses while they are speaking; this indicates that matters are being taken seriously. In English culture silence is generally most acceptable between people who are close; in other circumstances it can feel awkward or rude and people may feel impelled to speak (Lomax 1997

Misunderstandings and blame
The key point about paralinguistic features is that most of us wrongly assume:

  • that the cues and features we are used to and their meanings are universal; and

  • that they reliably tell us something about a person's behaviour or their personality.

If a person raises their voice and talks faster, for example, we may conclude that they are angry or hostile. If their voice goes up and down a lot we may conclude that they are excited or over-reacting, or we may simply be puzzled. If they are silent we may think they are disapproving, unco-operative, insolent or withdrawn. But such judgements are unreliable when people speak different first languages or different forms of English (Tannen 1992). The paralinguistic features of a different language are the most difficult things to learn. Native speakers are generally unaware of them and rarely explain them to people who get them wrong, partly because it is often unclear whether a person is using them intentionally.


Like individuals, organizations too have their own body language. It is said that physical facilities in a business organization constitute the first step in communicating with the customers and visitors, As such an organization expresses itself through the following features :

  • Design and Layout

  • Office Arrangements

  • Space Management

  • Distance and Locations

  • Color Statements

  • Imagery

Each one of these, by design or otherwise, conveys a certain meaning or impression to every visitor.

Design and Layout : The structure of the building, the design of the counters, the layout of the office, convey a message. People talk about solid and imposing structures, conservative and modern designs and now a days, eco-friendly buildings. Every business or profession carries a certain impression and the design or the layout quite often reinforces it. Whether it is a bank, hospital or a department store, there is a pattern that becomes evident. For a long time, till recently bank buildings and banking halls in U.K. and Europe were known for their conservative and imposing structures. Designed to impress the elite sections of society, in terms of physical appearance, they were more awe inspiring than inviting. The early banking halls exhibited a certain aloofness and carries a forbidding atmosphere. The solidity of the structures, so to say, reflected the security of the funds deposited by the affluent public. The advent of mass banking and retail focus have, however, brought about a friendly and inviting look to bank branches. Every business strives to create a certain ambience that conveys a positive message about itself.

Office arrangements : Business have their own offices, outlets, stores, and such other physical centers where work is done, business is transacted and interactions take place. Seating arrangements, sign boards and name plates, lighting, access and exit, visitors lounge are to be decided keeping in view employee comfort and customer convenience. Under manual environments, office layout and arrangements had to facilitate efficient paper or file movement. Under computerized conditions, lighting, dust-free environment and cabling have to receive attention. When employees work at a stretch for long hours, it is very essential that office arrangements and physical facilities are congenial. Similarly, as far as the customers are concerned, customer counters, constitute the face of the business and the people at large judge them by this face. Design, layout and physical arrangements have to be well planned so that the people concerned perceive them to be not only operationally convenient, but also pleasant.

Space Management : Business organizations are commercial entities. Governed by the profit motive, they are always under pressure to optimize their resources and cut costs. Given in this scenario, space management or efficient utilization of available space assumes significance. While not wasting space, business organizations should ensure that their offices and outlets are not cramped for space. Many businesses have front offices and back offices and these have different specifications. There should be adequate lung space for the employee and customers. To give a positive message, businesses should also demonstrate their concern for the people, especially women, children and the elderly persons, For example, offices frequently visited by senior citizens should as far as possible, be located on the ground floor, so that they do not have to climb stairs. Similarly, there should be adequate parking space so that visitors do not have to walk long distances. Given the spiralling rentals and real estate prices, space management becomes a challenging task.

Distances and Locations : Distances and locations too assume significance in the process of communication. Unreasonably long distances between two connected departments and offices, for example, do not convey a positive message. Other things remaining the same, lesser the distance more frequent the communicating. Proximity facilitates effective communications. When the need for communication between any two groups is frequency, as far as possible, they should be located in proximity to each other. Another noteworthy feature concerns location. The location of an office, a functionary, a department or unit is also subject to interpretation. There are also perceived and generally accepted status symbols, An executive floor to house the offices of general managers or presidents, an executive floor or lift or passage for the chairman or chief executive and such other location specific messages are also prevalent in certain business organizations. When a persons is elevated and occupies those offices, the person is seen to have “arrived”. Distances and locations also convey another message, i.e., accessibility. There are offices with an easy access and there are others where the access is restricted.

Imagery : Business organizations in a highly competitive environment are very particular about their image -- whether it is positive or negative, friendly or otherwise. There is a constant effort on the part of businesses to see that a good image is built up and sustained, Imagery includes pictures. photographs, etc., and refers to the image that one conjures up at the mention for the name. Imagery is the language that produces pictures in the minds of people reading or listening. Communication becomes effective when the mention of the name evokes a favorable picture – friendly, efficient, dependable, etc., Signs, Symbols , logo, emblem, etc., should help convey the right message.
Colour Statements : Like flowers, it is possible to “say it with others”. Colours too make their own statements. Different colours communicate different feelings.

  • WHITE - serene, sober, peaceful

  • RED - passion

  • GREEN - growth, brightness

  • BLUE - competence

  • GREY - strength

  • BLACK - dark

And so on.

Colours are seen to convey boldness and aggression, conservatism, tranquility, quiet, efficiency, loudness and so on. Businesses which are keen on effective communication ensure that the colors they use for their offices and buildings as well as the colours for their personal use do not conflict with the other messages brought out. The sign – boards, interiors, uniforms, ties, stationery, vehicles and such other items which are in the public eye should be consciously designed to make the right colour statements.

From the above paragraphs, it is evident that there are many ways in which an organization communicates with its stakeholders and other public. People add up all these features and form their judgements -- efficient, laid back, friendly, robust, and so on. It is to be remembered, however, that these interpretations and judgements are constantly changing. That which was considered flashy and bold yesterday, may not be so today. Competition, changing lifestyles, advancements in science and technology bring in an element of dynamism to the process of non – verbal communication. Banks, railway platforms, government offices, supermarkets, petrol stations, theatres and a host of other businesses take extra care to present themselves as friendly places. Since communication is goal – oriented, all such efforts are directed at making the right statements.

Nonverbal communication is highly believable and at least as important as verbal

communication. While it is useful to observe nonverbal behaviour, it is important to

remember that:

  • the context of nonverbal behaviour is relevant

  • individuals respond differently to different situations

  • cultural norms affect peoples' reactions to nonverbal cues.

To conclude, the field of nonverbal communications has grown rapidly over the last few decades, and it has applications in business, media, international relations, education, and indeed any field which significantly involves interpersonal and group dynamics. Certainly there is a need for more psychological mindedness in all these realms.
Review Questions
1.What types of non verbal behavior are observed in all cultures?
2.What are the characteristics that apply to verbal and non verbal communication
3. Is non verbal behavior subjective or objective and why?


We were given two ears but only one mouth.

This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking.

What is Listening?

Like most people think, a good communicator is someone who can speak well.  Speaking, however, is just part of the total process of communication.  In order for speakers to get their message across, someone must also be listening.

Listening is the most neglected communication skill. While all of us have had instruction in reading, writing, and speaking, few have had any formal instruction in listening. This void in our education is especially interesting in light of research showing that most of us spend seven of every 10 minutes we are awake in some form of communication activity. Of these seven minutes (or 70 percent of the time we are awake), 10 percent is spent writing, 15 percent reading, 30 percent talking, and 45 percent listening.

Listening is not an easy task.  Everyone does not know how to listen effectively.  Effective listening involves more than just hearing, or the reception of sound.  To be a good listener you must also understand and interpret sound in a meaningful way.  A good deal of thinking must go on in effective listening.  When messages are misunderstood, it is easy to blame the speaker, however, the listener must also share in the responsibility.  The average person misses about 75 percent of what he or she hears.

Listening effectively takes skill, self-motivation, and practice.  Effective listening means concentrating on what the speaker says rather than on how it is said.

After all, lack of attention and respectful listening can be costly - leading to mistakes, poor service, misaligned goals, wasted time and lack of teamwork.

You can’t sell unless you understand your customer’s problem; you can’t manage unless you understand your employee’s motivation; and you can’t gain team consensus unless you understand each team member’s feelings about the issue at hand. In all of these cases, you must listen to others.

However, listening is less important than how you listen. By listening in a way that demonstrates understanding and respect, you cause rapport to develop, and that is the true foundation from which you can sell, manage or influence others.


We listen for four general objectives of listening: (1) to be entertained, (2) to empathize, (3) to learn, and (4) to critique. In all cases, we are active listeners. In each case why we listen differs. We listen to the comedian for enjoyment: we may appreciate what she has to say. We listen to our friend to understand him, to put ourselves in his place, and to comfort him. We listen to the lecture to learn: we want to comprehend and retain the information because we see it is useful to us. We listen to the political speech to judge and evaluate: we listen critically in order to decide whether or not it is in our best interests to be persuaded.

Listening can be broken down into five types, depending on the message

of the sender and intent of the receiver. The five types are:

a. Informative: In this type, the listener is primarily concerned with

understanding the message. In order to be more successful, listeners

should hone their vocabulary, concentration, and memorization skills
b. Relationship: This type of listening refers to the improvement of relationships among people. It’s the kind of listening where the listener allows the speaker to “vent;” to talk out a problem or situation. In this type of listening, it’s important to pay attention to the speaker, and to be supportive: to keep the message in confidence, and to not be judgmental. It’s also important to glean whether the speaker wants you to suggest a

solution, or simply to listen.

c. Appreciative: This type of listening refers to the listening we do for the pure enjoyment of it. Each one of us spends much money on cassettes, CDs, and concerts, as well as much time listening to the radios in our cars, because we enjoy music. Many of us also enjoy a good comedy act. The message of the song or routine may not be important to us, but we like the musician, music style, or comic. In this type, listening is a form of relaxation.

d. Critical Listening: In this type, we listen to form an opinion or make a decision. In forming an opinion or making a decision based on a message, we pay attention to three things: the speaker’s credibility, the logic of the argument, and the psychological appeal of the message. If one of those areas is lacking, we may make the judgement based on that void


e. Discriminative: By this type we don’t mean excluding speakers based on any trait. It can mean to be able to pick out the electric guitar from the bass in a song, or to filter words from static on the radio. What we mean by discriminative listening is the ability to identify and filter verbal and non-verbal cues, to get to the bottom of the message. This type of listening, as Dr. Kline has said, is the foundation to all other types of listening, because we can use it to infer both the speakers message and their intentions.

Now that you can define what effective listening is, and are familiar with the different types of listening, it’s time to discuss different techniques that you can use to improve you listening skills.



You will avoid Misunderstandings.  You will be able to avoid misunderstandings by becoming an active listener.  You will also be able to do things right the first time when you listen effectively.  Problems are solved quicker by being an "active listener".

You Will Get Along Better with Others.  Listening actively will show that you sincerely care.  It is a very high compliment when you listen to others, because it gives the speaker the sense of self worth and confidence.

You Will Learn More About the World.  Television, radio, and conversations with adults and peers aid in your understanding your immediate environment and the world in general.  The more knowledge you gain, the more you will enjoy the things around you.

You Will Be More Successful in School and on the Job.  Your grades and interest in school activities will increase as a result of effective listening.  These good listening skills will also affect your future (i.e. getting the job and salary you want all come about by listening).  Many jobs require good listening skills such as telephone operators, nurses, doctors, auto mechanics, teachers, lawyers, etc.


Listening is a seven stage process of :

  • Hearing

  • Selecting

  • Attending

  • Understanding

  • Evaluating

  • Remembering

  • and responding actively with feedback

This process can be summarized into four steps.

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