Friday, January 9, 2015

Nonverbal Communication and Behavior of Supervisor/Subordinate Dyads

Sharon Davis Brown, School of Human and Organizational Development

This research study explores the nonverbal communication and behavior of supervisor/subordinate dyads. Postural synchrony, a subset of nonverbal communication and behavior, is defined as two or more people adopting the same posture simultaneously (La France, 1979, p. 69), and was selected as a research focus to further understand the implications of human interaction between supervisor and subordinate. Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) was selected to analyze the nonverbal behavioral patterns of hierarchical dyads due to its dynamic methodology. The interpretation of the nonverbal behavior in this study is both objective and subjective. Eleven participants working in the same hierarchical organizational setting participated in the study. Three distinct methods were used to gather data: (a) interview, (b) participants’ subjective responses to viewing the video-recorded footage (playback sessions), and (c) participants’ debrief sessions. LMA is used to analyze the raw data resulting from the interviews. The findings show that postural synchrony is evident in all the dyads, unequal hierarchical relationships and power inequality are often evident in the nonverbal behavior patterns of supervisors and subordinates, and that study participants are frequently able to identify nonverbal behavior even if they do not have the language to describe it. This research contributes to the scholarly literature of nonverbal communication and behavior.

Key Words: Nonverbal Communication, Behavior, Laban Movement Analysis, Management, Leadership.

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