Dear Human Communicators,
Dear PS: Conversations about Communication
Dear PS, is the advisor to “go to” for answers involving some of the most complex communication issues surrounding personal, social and professional relationships. I want to be YOUR advocate and advisor helping you to find answers to communication issues that are a part of your daily prescription for peace, love and prosperity. So, what do you have to do? Nothing...just read, enjoy, learn, share and by all means email any questions you would like for “Dear PS” to tackle on any communication issue!
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Your monthly Communication Tips will highlight the communication arenas of the Communication Staircase Model™ (CSM), a new step being highlighted each month. This month, I will highlight the 2nd step of the Communication Staircase, Nonverbal Communication (NVC) – the conscious and/or subconscious sending and receiving of unspoken messages. Visit our website for further understanding of CSM.
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Nonverbal Communication Tips
Q: I understand that “body language” can be an important component of getting your message across but
beyond eye contact and gestures, I don’t really understand what I should be focusing on.
A: The aspect of NVC you are aware of is termed Kinesics which includes eye contact, gestures,
posture, facial expressions and other aspects of body movement. These are definitely the primary
message senders that others respond to during communication; however, NVC is much, much broader. It
includes factors such as space, time, smell, touching, paralanguage, and appearance. These are all areas
of the science of NVC and require investigation and knowledge. Actions do speak louder than words and
what you do not know can definitely affect your personal and professional success!
Q: I have a co-worker whose communication is very unprofessional. She talks using a lot of slang
and consistently uses bad English. I feel she is hurting her chances of professional success. She is very
bright but she sounds uneducated. Is this a part of the paralanguage you discuss? How can I help her?
A: It is very admirable that you are concerned about your colleague’s career. First, understand that while
English/Spanish/French or any formal language can be deemed “good or bad” based on the rules of
language, syntax, and grammar, communication is always “appropriate or inappropriate” based on the
audience. So the problem is that your colleague’s communication is inappropriate for the setting. While
this issue is a combination of verbal and nonverbal, the paralanguage aspect is nonverbal. The way she
“sounds” has to do with the vocal markers that accompany her words that identify her unique vocal
pattern. I suggest that you begin by understanding that the acceptable Eurocentric pattern of work
communication is not typical to everyone but many adapt to it as a workplace survival skill. This person
obviously has not. This is what she needs to understand: Her communication needs to adjust based on
her setting. It is a skill that comes from listening, learning and mimicking the expected professional
communication both verbally and nonverbally. Her “community dialect” should be relegated to her
personal and social settings. It can be a complex cultural issue. Invite a professional into the workplace
Q: I am always late where ever I go! I just can not seem to help it. My family and social obligations keep
me running. At work, I always seem to be the last one at the meeting. Help!
A: This may be both a nonverbal and cross-cultural issue. You do not share your ethnicity but I suspect
that it may be one of a collective culture. U.S. Eurocentric culture is very time conscious as most
western/individualistic cultures tend to be. They are labeled monochronic and tend to be singularly
focused on time segmented according to activity. Whereas, collective cultures are labeled polychronic
and tend to focus on time more communally and place greater value on the relationship of time to
people and customs. This can be very disconcerting when these two paradigms clash as they often do in
the workplace. Learn to be polychronic in your personal and social life and monochronic in your
professional life. This is what I have to do. When in Rome...
PS. Have a wonderful day. It’s always your choice!
And that’s my word!
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