ABSTRACT

Oscar Wilde said that, ‘It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearance.’ Since most people do, our non-verbal behaviour becomes a crucial part of the total message that we communicate to others. Professor Arygle found that non-verbal signals had about four and half times the effect of verbal ones (Fletcher, 2000). Mehrabian (1968, 1972) estimated that our understanding of another person is based on 7 per cent of what they actually say; 38 per cent of how they speak; and a massive 55 per cent of silent speech signals such as how they look and behave. Thus, 93 per cent of the total message that we send to others is non-verbal. Ray Birdwhistell found that two-thirds of conversations take place non-verbally. Moreover, global ratings of posture and mannerisms are closely related to positive hiring rates (Young et al., 1979). Here, we are considering those brief, subtle messages that have a powerful effect on our listeners below the level of their awareness. Although the subject of non-verbal behaviour has received wide coverage in the popular press (Spillane, 2000), more scholarly, research-based studies confirm just how powerful and influential non-verbal communication is (Anderson, 1988; Forbes and Jackson, 1980; Imada and Hakel, 1977; Gabbott and Hogg, 2000).