March 3, 2013
Communication is vital for everyday interactions with others no matter how old we are, what language we speak or what we do for a living. There are many forms of communication both verbal and non-verbal. The most commonly used and universal form of communication is demonstrative communication. This form of communication involves both nonverbal and unwritten communication such as body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and attentiveness. Both parties involved in a conversation will be responsible for speaking not only with their voice but with their bodies too.
In the workplace, it is often common to have face to face interactions with others. It is important to not only listen to whoever is speaking but to take time to read their expressions and nonverbal emotions. This will give the receiver the opportunity to understand the sender better. For example, an employee who does not make eye contact and works on other things during a conversation may not be engaged and actually be listening. Or an employee who bites their nails and fumbles with papers may be nervous.
A funny example of how demonstrative communication can be affected occurs frequently at my work. We offer Botox and facial fillers to patients that will limit the amount that you can frown and make facial expressions for 2-3 months following the procedure. I can’t tell you how many times moms tell us that their children don’t take them seriously after having these procedures done. When asked what they are referring to we are told that since they cannot make their usual facial expressions when disciplining their children their children in turn don’t take them seriously. Honestly I have 1-2 patients per week tell us this. It’s clearly not that huge of an issue because they keep coming back. The moms must find other ways, perhaps physical, to effectively communicate with their children. But that’s a whole other paper.
I have travelled a few places internationally where I do not speak the language, but a smile means the same thing in any language. A yawn and stretching of the arms means the same thing in any language. Clapping your hands for applause means the same thing in language. And frowning and furrowing your brows means the same thing in any language. Some, not all, demonstrative communication is universal and can be helpful when you don’t share a common language with another person.
Another way that demonstrative communication can be a great tool is for deaf people. I took American Sign Language a few years back and was taught that you speak with your hands and your face when talking without using your hearing. This was an interesting concept because it actually meant you could yell or whisper with your…