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BBA Business Communication Study Material Nonverbal Communication Paralanguage or Para

BBA Business Communication Study Material Nonverbal Communication Paralanguage or Para : BUsiness Communication BBA Notes Study Material 2019 All Semester for Para Language or Para.

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BBA Business Communication Study Material Nonverbal Communication Paralanguage or Para
BBA Business Communication Study Material Nonverbal Communication Paralanguage or Para

After Studying This Chapter You are Able to Understand:- Introduction, Voice, Advantages of Para language, Limitations of Para language.




  1. Para language means ‘like’ language. It is concerned, with the manner in which a speaker conveys his meaning through words.
  2. Voice is the first and foremost component of speech. There are various kinds of voices.
  3. On different occasions and for different purposes a communicator speaks at different speeds. Easy information is generally conveyed at a fast speed, and difficult information is conveyed slowly.
  4. Pitch variation is necessary to make speech effective.
  5. On cannot go on speaking continuously. Pauses are very important for emphasis.
  6. Speech is often marked by Nonfluencies like ‘oh’, or ‘um’. But sometimes they can be used effectively.
  7. Volume variation makes speech convincing.
  8. Proper word stress gives words the intended meaning.
  9. We must beware of ‘mixed signals’. There must be harmony between the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our message.
  10. Para language tells us a lot about the speaker’s background.
  11. No oral message is complete without para language. It has many advantages.
  12. Though para language is ‘like’ language, it cannot be completely relied upon. It may even mislead/misguide/prejudice the listener.





Closest to actual verbal (oral) communication, and almost always accompanying body language, is para language. It is nonverbal because it does not comprise words. But without it words do not convey their intended meaning. ‘Para’ means ‘like’. Hence ‘para language ’literally means‘like language’ and ‘Para linguistics’s’ is the systematic study of how a speaker verbalizes. While verbal communication consists of the ‘what’ or the content of words, para language involves the ‘how’ of a speaker’s voice or the way/ways in which the speaker speaks. On careful observation and analysis we find that a speaker intentionally/unintentionally uses a vast range of hints and signals.





The first signal we receive or use is our voice. Everybody knows how important voice is. It tells us so much about the speaker’s sex, background, education, training and temperament. There are all kinds of voices – clear, musical, raucous, cultivated, and pleasant/unpleasant and so on. Unless damaged by some injury to the vocal cords or some neurological problem, the human voice normally does a satisfactory job. In, other words it conveys the meaning or message. The clearer the voice, the more effective it will be in conveying the meaning/message. That is why, in certain jobs, it is absolutely necessary for the applicant/employee to have a clear and pleasant voice. For example, jobs involving the use of telephone, traffic control, tape – recording etc. require very clear voice.

The message, however, may not be effectively conveyed if we do not take care of the following points in the use of our voice.

  • Pitch Variation: Most of us introduce wide variations in pitch while speaking. It is necessary to catch the listener’s attention and to keep him interested in us. Those who speak in monotones fail to keep the listener’s attention. That is why the word ‘monotonous’ has come to be used as synonym for ‘boring’. Many speakers are not aware of this weakness on their part. Once they become aware of it, the problem can be solved. One good way to improve one’s pitch variation is to observe others speaking and to invite suggestions from others. It has been observed that people in authority speak in a high pitched voice while those in a subordinate position speak in monotones. But it has also a lot to do with one’s state of mind. Most of us, when excited speak in a high – pitched voice and express anger or anxiety in this way. A situation like this sparks off a heated discussion in which we hear voices at different pitch levels. Quite often we hear, “Raising your voice is not going to convince me”. Or “you can’t convince me by your shouting.” It is equally important to keep up a pitch at which the listener gets our point comfortably.
  • Speaking speed: In the first place it must be made clear that fluency in a language is not the same thing as the speed of speaking. We do, however, speak at different speeds on different occasions and while conveying different parts of message. As a general rule we should present the easy parts of a message at a brisk pace because it is likely to be understood easily and soon. On the other hand, the difficult, complicated, highly technical part of information should be conveyed at a slower pace. If we reverse the order the result will be counterproductive. Easy information, if conveyed slowly, becomes irritating. Hard or complicated information presented rapidly will be difficult to understand. It has also been observed that in a state of anxiety or urgency we tend to speak fast. When we are relaxed we speak at a comfortable speed.
  • Pause: The pace or speed of speaking is also accompanied by pause. We cannot, and should not, go on speaking without pausing voluntarily or involuntarily. But the pauses have to be at the right moments. Incorrect use of pause can create problems. A pause can be highly effective in emphasizing the upcoming subject and in gaining the listener’s attention. But it must also be noted that frequent, arbitrary pauses spoil the speech and distract the listener’s attention. It is therefore, very important for a speaker to carefully monitor his pauses.

Non Verbal Communication: Paralanguage or Para Linguistics

  • Nonfluencies: Speech is not always a continuous string of meaningful words. There are, as we have noted above, pauses scattered at intervals. These pauses are very often inserted with sound/utterances like ‘ah’, ‘oh’, ‘uh, ‘um’, ‘you know’, ‘ok’ etc. They are also sometimes inserted with laughing, yawning or chuckling. Sometimes they may be effective by inviting the listener’s attention or by giving a nonverbal edge to the verbal communication. They are called ‘non-fluencies’. It is rather interesting to see that carefully and sparingly used they add to the fluency of the speaker, give him time to breathe or relax, make the listener more alert and get the message conveyed overtly. But too frequent insertion of these Nonfluencies irritates the listener.
  • Volume variation: We must speak loudly enough for all of our audience to hear, but not too loudly. The loudness of our voice should be adjusted according to the size of our audience. The simple logic is that the larger the audience the louder our voice will be. But some speakers incorrectly believe that the only way to sound convincing is to speak louder and louder. But the fact is that we become more convincing by adjusting our volume from loud to soft. As somebody has very well said, “The contrast provides the emphasis”. Volume variation puts life into our speaking.

Proper Word Stress:  Every user of English knows that word stress is of crucial importance in communication or transmission of the intended meaning. By putting stress or emphasis on a word here or a word there in the same sentence or utterance we can change the whole meaning. For example, let us read the following series of statements, emphasizing the underlined word in each:

  1. He writes good business letters.

2. He writes good business letters.

3. He writes good business letters.

4. He writes good business letters.

5. He writes good business letters.

Even though the same words are used in these sentences/statements, we give different meaning to them by concentrating on the underlined words.

It is not always whole words that are emphasized in this way. Stressing or emphasizing syllables or parts of spoken words also changes the meaning as, for example, in the following words:

Conduct               (Noun)

Conduct               (Verb)

Accent                  (Noun)

Accent                  (Verb)

This way of looking at language takes us into the area of phonetics that is the science of speech sounds, and not of immediate concern to us. But every educated speaker knows how important it is to put stress or force or emphasis on the word or part of word concerned. It is especially important in conversation in which questions and answers are essential. Let us look at the following series.

  1. Have you met my wife before?

2. Have you met my wife before?

3. Have you met my wife before?

4. Have you met my wife before?

5. Have you met my wife before?

Mixed Signals: Very often problems arise because of ‘mixed signals – saying one thing in one way and using words that convey the opposite meaning. It should be our constant effort to make sure that the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our message are in harmony. As receivers, we should concentrate on how the message is sent and the meaning of the words. All communication takes place within a matrix of role-relationships, particular contexts, at particular times, in a particular language or a dialect of that language, at regional, national or international levels, and so on. All these factors influence the paralinguistic character of the communication. If the signals get mixed up, the intended message will not be conveyed, or will be wrongly/inadequately interpreted.

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