Graham, G.H., Unruh, J., & Jennings, P. (1991). The impact of nonverbal communication in organizations: A survey of perceptions. The Journal of Business Communication, 28(1), pp. 45-62.

I chose to review two journal articles for phase one. The first article focuses on employee perceptions of the importance of nonverbal communication in the workplace, as well as how employees feel they are able to decode nonverbal behaviors. While this research is dated, I feel that is sets some of the foundation and identifies the significance of nonverbal communication and its impact in businesses today. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of employees on how important nonverbal communication is in the workplace, along with how well employees rank their ability to decode nonverbal behaviors.

Surveys were distributed to 1200 employees, and consisted of two parts. Part One focused on nonverbal communication and the employee perceptions of their ability to decode nonverbal communication. Part Two consisted of gathering demographic data. Out of 505 respondents, 94% felt that nonverbal communication was either somewhat or very important in the workplace.

A majority of respondents (55%) ranked themselves as “good decoders” on a Likert scale, while a significant number (45%) ranked themselves as “average decoders”. Results show that those who believed they were good decoders were most likely to rely on facial expression as the most reliable aspect of communication, while average decoders relied on voice level and tone. Respondents also indicated that while nonverbal communication was important to very important in group settings, nonverbal indicators were most important in one-on-one conversations.

In communication between superiors and subordinates, respondents were asked if their superior’s verbal content and nonverbal communication ever conflicted. Surprisingly, good decoders indicated they experienced confusion between the verbal and nonverbal messages of their superiors more often then those who ranked themselves as average decoders. In addition, 52% of respondents indicated that when there was confusion between the verbal and non verbal messages, they were more likely to rely on the nonverbal behavior to indicate accuracy.

This study indicates how important nonverbal communication is in the workplace, as it shows that employees are likely to rely on nonverbal messages as much as, if not more, than verbal messages to interpret meaning behind exchanges.