Functions of non verbal communication are being discussed here.Nonverbal communication performs several identifiable functions in the process of communication, including (1) the expression of feelings and emotions, (2) the regulation of interaction, (3) the validation of verbal messages, (4) the maintenance of self-image, and (5) the maintenance of relationships. At any time in an interaction, One Or several Of these functions may be operating.
Expression Of Feelings and Emotions.
Through nonverbal behavior, individuals express their joy, anger, despair, and fear. Clients and professionals, alike, reveal aspects of their inner states to others by using nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication allows clients to tell health professionals they feel helpless, they are uncertain, they feel powerless, or they feel anxious. The elderly female who stands in front of a health professional, nervously rubbing her hands together, is communicating some of her inner feelings of anxiety and agitation. Nonverbal communication is a channel for venting and releasing pent-up feelings as well as an avenue for expressing day-to-day feelings.
5 Functions of Nonverbal Communication You Must Know
Regulation of Interaction.
A second function of nonverbal communication is that of regulating the flow of messages between people. Nonverbal cues, such as a tilted head, intense eye contact, raised eyebrows, a lowered voice, a shift in body posture, or a movement toward or away from someone, all regulate the flow of messages. Nonverbal cues regulate an interaction by indicating to others whether individuals want to talk, when they want to talk, whether they want to listen, how long they want to listen, and when a conversation is over. For example, in a home visit, nonverbal communication is used by both the health professional and the client to establish when a formal interview is to begin, how long the interview is to last, whose turn it is to ask or answer questions, and when the interview is completed.
The to ask or answer questions, and when the interview is completed. The clinician who glances frequently at a wristwatch near the end Of a conversation may be indicating (intentionally or not) that the interaction is concluding. On the Other hand, the client who stands up and starts to take coffee cups to the kitchen may be suggesting to the home care nurse that it is time for the conservation to stop. In each of these instances nonverbal messages are used to regulate the flow of the interaction.
Validation of Verbal Messages.
It could be argued that of all the functions of nonverbal communication, the main function is validating the verbal dimensions of an interaction. When the words match the individual’s expressed feelings and emotions, communication is most effective. If a client says, “I feel great,” but looks troubled and angry, the nonverbal dimension of the client’s message is in-congruent with the verbal dimension. This makes it difficult for others to know how to respond to the client. Or consider the health care administrator who says, “I’m very pleased with how things are going,” but has an extremely disgruntled and rather angry facial expression. It is difficult to interpret the administrator’s meaning because the nonverbal expressions do not match or correspond with the words. Communication is most effective when the nonverbal dimensions of messages validate the verbal dimensions.
Maintenance of Self-Image.
A fourth function of nonverbal communication is maintaining the self- image of the communicator. While this function of nonverbal communication may not seem as obvious as the other functions just described, it does play an important role in self-preservation, or in assisting us to convey an image of ourselves to others.
In any interaction, individuals have images of themselves they want to maintain. For example, in an extended care facility, an 80-year-old resident who was a banker for 40 years before his retirement may want to be dressed daily in a coat and tie because that is the way bankers dress. His clothes communicate to others that he wants to be seen as a respectable banker. Or consider the newly graduated nurse who wears a stethoscope around her neck during breaks in the coffee shop because she wants to be seen by others as a qualified professional. In both Of these examples, the individuals are using nonverbal cues to maintain a role that communicates to others a part Of their self-image. Although the nonverbal cues in these examples are obvious to illustrate the point, in many inter- actions there are subtle and not so subtle nonverbal cues present that individuals give to establish a self-image.