Interpersonal communication – tone of voice and body language

By | July 13, 2022

One of our subscribers who replied to the last article, Interpersonal Communication – Coding the Response, claimed that email can effectively convey tone of voice and body language. Let’s examine this suggestion.

In interpersonal communication, the two-way channel implicitly means that the sender wants to “imply” something and that the receiver must “conclude” the same thing. In the most effective interpersonal communication, implication and conclusion are one and the same. However, the nature and extent to which these diverge reduces the effectiveness of communication and, in extreme cases, leads to total miscommunication. How do tone of voice and body language contribute to this?

Tone of voice is said to account for 35% of interpersonal communication. If one can hear the speaker, all elements of the voice can be understood. These elements include volume, pitch, intonation, emphasis, irony, intonation, emotion, pauses, modulation, excitement, passion, boredom, hesitation, etc. In a written communication, it may be possible to introduce some tone of voice, although that is the The case is quite difficult and generally incomplete. As a result, it is fraught with potential misunderstandings.

This applies in particular to e-mails. E-mails are usually short and are usually written quickly and then sent immediately. In general, the element of sound is overlooked. Even if one focuses on the tone and extensively edits the email before sending it, the communication would inevitably be lacking in tone compared to a face-to-face communication. Actually hearing something has a tremendous impact.

Body language accounts for 55% of interpersonal communication. It includes a wide range of characteristics: nodding, smiling, frowning, shrugging, winking, eye contact or movement, arms crossed or open, leaning, gesturing, posture, hand gesture, yawning, raised eyebrows, gaping, eye rolling, sneering, etc. These are Attributes that need to be seen to be recognized and processed.

However, there are many situations in which interpersonal communication occurs solely through body language – there are no words and no sounds. Mimes do whole routines and only use body language. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were virtuosos in the silent film era (yes, there was a time before films incorporated language).

Another example of this is people walking through a mall. Seen from above, it would look a lot like an anthill. A lot of things scurry around seemingly at random, but nobody bumps into others. How do we negotiate, coordinate and manage all this without talking to each other?

Much of this action takes place at the subconscious level, using a number of subtle indicators. Directional intent is often signaled by small eye movements or other facial expressions. You could also lean in the desired direction. Preemptive action can be taken to occupy a space, or slow down to vacate a space.

This all happens in real time, with everyone sending and receiving messages. Next time you’re in a mall, pay attention to how we communicate with body language and you’ll find that we’re having a great deal of non-verbal conversation.

By definition, body language needs to have an impact. When reading an e-mail, one cannot see the sender and therefore cannot recognize the body language that may accompany it. This brings us back to the end of the last article – an email can only account for 10% of an interpersonal communication at best, because it lacks both the tone of voice and the body language – all it has are the words.

Thanks to Bill Fields | #Interpersonal #communication #tone #voice #body #language

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