The Role of Body Language in Communication | Nonverbal Gestures

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Interpretation and interaction depend primarily on body language in communication. According to some estimations, public speaking accounts for just 20 to 30 percent of overall communication. Most of the information is communicated nonverbally, by the tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and how we stand.


Gestures, posture, head and limb motions or whole-body movement are the elements of body language. In communication, body language includes a variety of nonverbal cues or indications such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures. Communication requires the ability to read these indications.



Body language is important because it helps us understand and decode what the other person is saying. Body language also aids in deciphering the moods and feelings of others. Apart from that, it improves our awareness of how people react to what we say and how we express it.


Consider how much information a person can transmit just by changing their facial expression. A grin can be used to express acceptance or enjoyment. A frown can convey disapproval or dissatisfaction. Our facial expressions might convey our genuine emotions about a situation in some circumstances. Although you may claim that you are alright, the expression on your face may suggest otherwise. In this blog we’re going to discuss the important elements of body language.


Importance of Body Language in Communication Skills


Words, body language and tone of voice account for 7%, 55%, and 38% of effective communication respectively, according to a 1981 research by gesture analyst Albert Mehrabian. To put it another way, we devote more than 90% of our attention to attitude and voice tone than we do to actual words. This research demonstrates how nonverbal communication is profoundly ingrained in the brain and the significance of non-verbal cues in communication. With just 7% of our attention focused on verbal communication, it's crucial to interact efficiently through gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal gestures.


The influence of such form of communication on your own identity is what makes it so vital. Whether it's a job interview, a first date, or just a regular day at work, how one portrays oneself is the key. Positive poise conveys an accessible, receptive, and open-minded attitude towards fresh ideas and proposals. The role of body language in communication is indispensable. If someone in the conference room is yawning or tapping their fingers on the table while the boss is addressing the monthly sales objectives, they will be perceived as inattentive and anxious. Improving your posture will convey that you are enthusiastic and focused on what you are doing. It is essential in more than just formal communication. You may boost your self-confidence and personality by changing any negative signs. Your internal drive will strengthen if you witness people responding positively to you as a friend, employee, colleague, or mentor.



Body language may be classified into numerous categories, including:


Emblems


Emblems are signals that have a predetermined connotation. These are nevertheless distinct from the signs used by those who are profoundly deaf. The raised thumb of a hitchhiker, the “OK” sign with the thumb and index finger joined in a circle and the other three fingers sticking up, are all instances of emblems with a culturally agreed-upon meaning or meanings. Emblems can be static or moving; for example, circling the index finger at the side of your head means "He or she is insane," while rolling your hands in front of you means "Move on".


Iconic Gestures


Iconic gestures or illustrators are strongly tied to speech, illustrating what is being said for instance- painting with the hands, and illustrating a material object by using the hands to demonstrate how big or little it is. This type of body language vary from the other gestures; they are used to demonstrate genuine, physical objects. Iconic gestures are helpful because they provide detail to the mental image being communicated. They also demonstrate whether an individual is speaking in the first or second person. The timing of iconic gestures in relation to speech might reveal whether they are unintentionally introduced for purpose or consciously done. The preparation for the gesture begins before the words are said in unconscious usage, but there is a little lag between words and gestures in conscious usage, which can make the speaker appear manipulative.



Metaphoric Gestures


A notion is explained when metaphoric gestures are used. Body language represents three-dimensional gestures that are used to form a concept being stated, either with precise forms like finger pinches and physical shaping, or with more generic waving of hands that reflects the intricacy of what is being portrayed.


Regulators


Regulators are applied to control switches in conversations, such as when someone finishes what they're saying and drops their arms, whereas someone who wants to speak raises one arm as if seeking the task ahead. Head nods, shorter utterances like "uh-huh", "mm-mm", and signs of delight or annoyance are examples of regulators. Regulators provide the other person the freedom to adjust his or her words to suit the level of interest or approval. Many people find it difficult to continue a conversation without obtaining feedback. They may, however, differ in various situations.


Adaptors


Adaptors are nonverbal gestures that meet a bodily demand. Scratching or adjusting uncomfortable spectacles are examples of adaptors, as are psychological needs like chewing fingernails when frightened. Adaptors are more likely to be constrained in public areas than in the private world of people, where they are less likely to be recognized, despite the fact that they are generally oblivious. Anxiety or animosity are frequently accompanied by adaptive responses.



Nevertheless, deciphering nonverbal communication is rarely so straightforward. This is not a fixed-meaning language. The context in which it occurs influences and drives it. It refers to the location as well as the individuals involved, as well as the culture. A nod of the head between colleagues at a committee meeting may signify something completely different than when the same motion is done to greet someone across a packed room. It may be both intentional and unintentional. Because we can't see ourselves to know what we're doing, facial expressions are particularly difficult to regulate. As a result, we may confuse communication by attempting to transmit one message consciously while unintentionally expressing another.


To recapitulate, gesture is a tricky yet fundamental component of overall communication skills. People, on the contrary, are frequently uninformed of their nonverbal cues. Above and beyond what is ultimately stated, a simple knowledge of such symbolic approaches can enhance relationships with others. Knowing these signals can enable individuals to interact about their thoughts and lead to a better shared understanding which again is, after all, the objective of body language in communication.


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