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Essay on Nonverbal Communication During the Negotiation Process

Date:  2021-05-27 05:24:36
7 pages  (1844 words)
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Individuals communicate by various means and the most common form is through using the verbal or spoken word. While people focus on words and speech as the main form of communication, nonverbal cues also play a significant role in the expression and relaying of information. Words in speech may represent an individuals authentic opinion, a version of the message that is based on the receivers perceived response, or a calculated narrative meant to impress the message recipient. On the other hand, it is hard to feign nonverbal cues because they are a genuine emotional or psychological reaction to the real message. People tend to pay less attention to their body language than to what they say thus expressing the true emotion behind their message. For this reason, people should pay more attention to nonverbal cues while communicating with others. Therefore, to be a skilled communicator, one has to master both verbal and nonverbal skills.

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Types of nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is mainly expressed by everything else in an individual excluding his or her words. It ranges from facial expressions to body language, gestures, handwork, and tonal variation. Facial expression is the most recognizable form of nonverbal cues. While people respond differently culturally to behavior, the expression of joy, anger, fear, disappointment, and contempt remain the same universally. Facial communication goes hand in hand with eye gaze. According to Julius Fast, actions such as looking, blinking, winking, and staring are important in conveying messages. For instance, people blink and their pupils dilate when they encounter things that they like. He also states that maintaining eye contact when speaking is a sign of honesty and shifty eye contact is a sign of dishonesty.

Gestures are deliberate signals and movements used to complement words, for example, waving, pointing, and shrugging. They can be interpreted culturally and contextually because people globally use different gestures to symbolize different meanings. For example, holding or looking at a watch in the meeting can be interpreted as boredom or the need to be elsewhere by others. In court, a lawyer may intentionally roll his or her eyes to the opposing sides argument to send the message of undermining its credibility. Some of the body postures used as nonverbal cues include arm and leg crossing, shrugging or slouched shoulders, and the walking or standing posture. They give an overall indication of a persons attitudes, feelings, and the current state of mind.

Paralinguistics is a type of expression that uses vocals that are not direct speech or words. It comprises of tonal variation, loudness, pitch, and inflection. Using a strong tone is usually an indication of approval, authority, affirmation, and enthusiasm, whereas a weak or hesitant tone can be interpreted as disapproval, doubt, and disinterest. A cold tonal response is an indication that the person requires space or distance from the conversation while a cheerful one may invite further engagement by the other party. Proxemics is another significant aspect of communication that applies the principle of space. The amount of space or distance between people is influenced by culture, social norms, relationship familiarity, and personal traits. For example, strangers prefer to keep a certain space between each other when communicating as opposed to friends. One can easily identify whether a meeting is formal or informal just from the space between the participants.

In addition to proxemics, haptics or touch also communicates nonverbal behavior. This principle is present in various psychological studies such as Harlows in his monkey experiment. He concluded that touch is used to express affection, sympathy, and familiarity and children deprived of touch during infancy indicated delayed development. Julia Wood in her book also states that touch expresses power and status. Influential people are more likely to invade the space of their counterparts or get away with making physical contact such as grabbing the shoulder of a person while talking. She also states that people can identify gender from touch, for example, women use it to show care and concern whereas men use touch to assert dominance and authority.

Personal appearance also plays a huge part in nonverbal communication. Aspects such as color, hairstyle, clothing, and shoes are communication points. It is significant because of the judgments that people make about a persons appearance without necessarily interacting with them. Individuals attending interviews are always advised to make a good first impression because it sets a precedence of the treatment they receive. Different persons understand appearance culturally because for instance, while Western cultures appreciate lean figures, Africans prefer full-figured bodies. The Western people view being petite as being attractive and healthy whereas Africans translate the opposite as health, wealth, and status. Finally, artifacts such as objects and images are part of subtle nonverbal cues in communication. While creating online identities, people use different images or avatars as a form of self-representation. These profiles communicate a persons interests and identity. Others include jewelry, accessories, and uniforms. For example, a police officer is likely to walk with a gun and his badge even when off duty, and they can be distinguished from their uniforms. A priest outside his temple is recognized from his outfit, collar, or a rosary hanging from his neck.

Nonverbal Communication during Negotiation

Negotiation is the action or process that involves discussions in order to reach an agreement. Individuals encounter situations in their day-to-day lives that require negotiation such as closing deals, making work agreements, trading items and relating with people. Any negotiation course undergoes five phases namely preparation, relationship formation, information interchange, conversion, and settlement or agreement. When negotiating, each of the parties involved prefers to have the upper hand in getting the best deal possible and employ various tactics to gain an advantage. These tactics include silence, wincing, limited authority, and blackmail among others. While some people negotiate with honor and honesty, others have no trouble in employing dirty tactics as long as they get the job done.

Culture plays a significant role in the negotiation process and two widely diverse groups such as Asians and Westerners should understand this factor if they wish to succeed in the process. The American population has adopted philosophies and values of several smaller sub-groups to form a mixed culture, whereas a country like China is comprised of a primarily native group who strictly identify with a single value system. When it comes to business communication, factors such as space, language, of time, things, and friendship play a key role in coming to an agreement. The Americans are distinguished from their ability to express freely their sentiments while the Chinese people are a bit more reserved. The former use any means necessary to gain the desired result while the latter believe in honesty and integrity during negotiations. Due to the exposed knowledge about each others cultures in negotiations, both parties can instead focus on using nonverbal cues to understand each other.

Communication is the key to a successful negotiation and nonverbal cues play a role in gaining competitive advantage. People that value their culture such as the Chinese interpret these cues as messages during the process. Those who have mastered the skills use their body language, facial expressions, paralinguistics, gestures, and appearance to convey different messages with the hope of convincing or getting their opponent off guard to work in their favor.

Silence in negotiation

The Golden Rule in using silence as a negotiation tactic is to speak last because common belief states that whoever speaks first loses. It is an effective negotiating tool because silence makes people uncomfortable thus prompts the most uncomfortable one in the group to speak. Silence is also efficient because it destabilizes the speaker. The presenter or negotiating party experiences discomfort due to the normal human expectation of anticipating a response in conversation. According to psychologists, humans have a constant need to scrutinize, interpret and comprehend communication and silence tampers with this need. The absence of verbal response prompts the speaker to wonder what is in the persons mind or question his or her statement.

Secondly, silence is useful in receiving extra information and response adjustment. The speaker might interpret is as having given incomplete information hence adds in extra details that might be helpful for the opponent. The more an individual talks, the higher the chances that he or she will disclose too much information. The other party also gets a chance to adjust the previous intended response or speech based on the new information as it unfolds.

Thirdly, silence has an empowering effect. According to Robert Green, the more a person says less, the more he or she appears greater and more powerful. Talkative people are viewed as being weak and attempting to justify themselves. A good listener does not speak much and during negotiations, the listener gets an opportunity to analyze and choose their response wisely only by staying quiet. In addition, power comes with having the last say. Therefore, the silent one takes the opportunity to let everyone else speak as he strategizes on how to play his cards to have the last say.

Silence is a powerful tool because it makes a persons response impactful. When speaking with pauses, the other party is more likely to understand better the message and hold their attention. It also gives clarity to speech and prevents disruption through noise or misunderstanding. The longer the pause, the greater the emphasis on the statement or idea discussed. Pauses or delayed responses are also useful in regaining focus from a dominant speaker, stopping a heated debate, or prompting the speaker to change his style of speech. However, Dr. Martin states that for the pauses to be effective, they have to be rightly timed.

Finally, silence is powerful because it forces the respondents to master their body language. Having that nonverbal cues make up to 90% of communication, people involved in the negotiation process can still study each others cues to determine their expression. Staying quiet raises attention and shifts focus to nonverbal language and each party becomes aware of the others body language. Those who have mastered nonverbal communication have the upper hand because they can control their own or misdirect the opponent.

Perfecting the art of silence in negotiations

Silence is an effective negotiating tool if applied correctly. First, negotiators are encouraged to listen more than to speak. By being good listeners, they gain the trust and confidence of the other party and encourage them to talk. Creating a trusting atmosphere makes people feel important and encourages them to give more information. Secondly, the representatives can apply the ten-second rule. It requires a person to stay quiet for at least ten seconds before responding to the offer made. According to psychology, humans need only four seconds of silence to feel uncomfortable and jump in the conversation once again. When the second party gives more information, add another ten seconds before responding.

The third tactic used when making deals is to ask questions as a response after the pause. It removes the focus from the offer and the respondent is required to address the queries. The person asking the question also takes charge of the con...

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