Nonverbal Behavior and Communication in the Workplace: A Review and an Agenda for Research
Sharon L. O’Sullivan
University of Ottawa
Nonverbal behavior is a hot topic in the popular management press. However, management scholars have lagged behind in understanding this important form of communication. Although some theories discuss limited aspects of nonverbal behavior, there has yet to be a comprehensive review of nonverbal behavior geared toward organizational scholars. Furthermore, the extant literature is scattered across several areas of inquiry, making the field appear disjointed and challenging to access. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on nonverbal behavior with an eye towards applying it to organizational phenomena. We begin by defining non-verbal behavior and its components. We review and discuss several areas in the organizational sciences that are ripe for further explorations of nonverbal behavior. Throughout the paper, we offer ideas for future research as well as information on methods to study nonverbal behavior in lab and field contexts. We hope our review will encourage organizational scholars to develop a deeper understanding of how nonverbal behavior influences the social world of organizations.
Keywords: nonverbal behavior; communication; social interactions