I) Making sure that your message is accurately received and translated is the bedrock of effective communication. Just as there are many barriers or opportunities to misinterpret body language and ‘Silent Messages,’ (see below) there are many other barriers to effective communication. Some of these
I) Albert Mehrabian’s theory regarding the ‘Silent Messages’ is relevant in every aspect of life; from the manner in which we greet our friends and relatives, to the organisation of furniture in an office, to the mannerisms of politicians on the campaign trail. His theory encompasses the notion that our body movements and positions, as well our immediate ‘mirco-environment,’ give participants in conversation or situation a hint as to our true intentions and thoughts.
II) An everyday one to one conversation can be categorised into six simple steps;
I) A topic or point is given thought
II) The message is coded; decision is made regarding expressing this point/topic
III) The message is sent; The topic/point has been aired in a manner which the sender believes to be appropriate to the nature of the intended conversation and recipient
IV) The recipient has received the message.
V) The recipient decodes the message received. Tone of voice, vocabulary used, expressions and body language of the sender are all used to help decode the message received
VI) Message understood and translated. Correct translation depends on the variables above. Recipient now begins the cycle again by thinking of a response to the message they have just translated.
Issues with this theory relate to the variables with which the receiver decodes and translates the message. If the receiver reads the signals wrong then he/she could fail to understand the intended meaning of the message.
III) There are many different types of body language. They cover a wide range of indicators; such as our body posture when engaging someone in conversation to the use of gestures and eye contact to help maintain an interest in the conversation. They can all be interpreted differently depending on the social situation. The ability or lack of ability to translate and understand these variables in one’s body language is a major factor in successful communication in the workplace.