Miscommunication is so much more than just the words you speak
Sometimes things can be miscommunicated not because of the words you say, but the way you’re standing or the way you say things, this is referred to as nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication can easily be misinterpreted because people don’t even realize what they are doing may be giving off a message that is different to the words they are saying. (workplace insights, 2010) http://blog.capital.org/five-common-causes-of-miscommunication-in-the-workplace-and-how-to-avoid-them/.
A person may be genuinely happy that their co-worker received a promotion and the words that person are saying are kind and genuine, but the tone and nonverbal communication may be giving of the signal that the person is not genuinely happy, and nonverbal communication is stronger than words.
There are 7 main areas on nonverbal communication that could be miscommunicated. (helpguide, N.D) http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm
- Facial expressions-This is what the people you are communicating with notice the most. This is the one nonverbal type of communication that is the same throughout all cultures.
- Gestures- A simple wave or pointing at a person or object is a gesture can easily be misinterpreted. For example, some people think it is rude to point, so this could easily be miscommunicated. Gestures are also very different among different cultures, this is important when dealing with people from different cultures.
- Posture- The way you walk and stand is a form of communicating, and every time you do one of these things you are communicating with the people around you even if you are not directly speaking to them or even know the person.
- Eye contact- This visual sense is very dominant for most people so this is a very important form of miscommunication. How you make eye contact with someone can change the whole conversation. For example, shifting your eyes and looking at everything else around you can make it seem like you are uninterested in the conversation. Eye contact is also essential to help with the flow of conversation
- Space- How close or how far away you stand from someone can show aggression, shyness, and/or even affection. Space is different throughout cultures and can easily be miscommunicated.
- Voice- How you say words is just as important as the way you say them. People ‘read’ the way you say things. This can show whether you are confident or shy along with many other traits.
- Touch- every time you shake someone’s hand or give them a hug there is nonverbal communication going on that the other person will read. Touch is often the first and last thing that happens in a conversation so it is important to make sure it is not miscommunicated or the whole conversation could be miscommunicated.
The words we speak account for about 10% of the message we are trying to get across. Body language and nonverbal communication account for over half, this shows that how we say things is more important than the things we say and can be easy to misinterpret. (How to communicate with body language, N.D) http://www.wikihow.com/Communicate-With-Body-Language
It is important to analyze yourself and see what kind of body language impression you give off when talking to a stranger or dealing with someone in the workplace. Knowing what kind of body language you should give off can help maintain relationships.