Have you ever observed a primarily one-way conversation? I bet you have and don’t even realize it. Every morning when you get up to watch Matt or Meredith interview someone like the governor of New Jersey, you’re witnessing a primarily one-way conversation. You are seeing a receiver (Matt or Meredith) and a sender (interview subject) interact. Now something I’ve observed over the summer is the difference in mannerisms involved with this type of communication.
- Receivers often nod frequently throughout the conversation. One thing I’ve even caught myself doing in an interview or, unfortunately, a conversation monopolizer’s verbal death grip, is constantly nodding. Now when I’m in an interview, I usually nod when I agree with something the person is saying. However, in uncomfortable situations, such as the c.m.’s death grip, I find myself nodding out of uneasiness. I’ve even managed to train my mind and body to automatically nod every 15 seconds or so, freeing up ample brain space to daydream about running over the person with my car. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
- Senders will sometimes use certain phrases for confirmation or reassurance. As a response to my
daze-induced defense mechanism for c.m.s, on occasion I’ll find one that notices the glazed over look in my eyes and will periodically say, “You know what I mean?” or “Right?” after certain thoughts. Now as I’ve said, I usually assume that’s a sign that I need to straighten up and get my body back into listening mode, but sometimes I think it may be a nervous habit that is formed out of uncertainty or perhaps a lack of confidence in what they are even saying. Whatever it may be, it’s a bizarre tick.
- Men and women employ different receiver traits. Studies have shown that females generally do more nodding and smiling when communicating or acting as the receiver in a conversation than males. This is due to the female’s need to connect with the person on a personal level. On the other hand, males tend to give more direct attention by maintaining strong eye contact. Specifically in business situations, males tend to exercise this habit to show that they respect what the person is saying. This isn’t to say that women don’t also maintain a steady laser beam of eye contact, however the average woman generally tends to physically communicate more. Sometimes this can backfire though. For instance, too much eye contact can be perceived as creepy or even aggressive and too much nodding can make someone seem like a bobble head.
Communication is such a tricky thing, because even once you master the customs of the U.S., if you travel, you then have to learn how each area of the world interprets certain behaviors. To read more about communication gestures, click here.