Dr. Shalini Verma, Professor – Business Communication at Jaipuria Noida, explains the importance of the art of verbal and non-verbal communication and how she makes instruction interesting in the classroom.
A single child, born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, Dr. Shalini Verma lost her father when she was very young and was raised by her mother who was a school teacher. With a teacher as a mother, it is only natural that the art of communication and imparting of knowledge were important aspects of her home environment.
Graduating with English as her subject, Dr. Verma went on to do a PhD in English Literature, during which time she developed an interest in both the “verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication.” This, coupled with the psychological insights into the world of communication that she gained during that time, opened up whole new vistas for her. As she explains, “Studies have proven that non-verbal or the ‘how’ aspect of communication (body language and vocalic; i.e. how we use our voice to convey meaning) contributes to 93 percent, while the verbal or the ‘what’ aspect of communication contributes to just 7 percent.”
According Dr. Verma, this aspect of communication was taken more or less for granted in India; however, as she explains, “things are changing now and we Indians are becoming more articulate when it comes to expressing ourselves – both verbally and non-verbally.” She feels that “interpersonal skills, the ability to connect (or communication skills) and adaptability are three major soft skills that are essential for anyone who wants to be successful in college, as well as in the corporate world.”
Armed with these insights that form an essential part of a student’s repertoire during an interview, Dr. Verma explains that the body language cues she looks for, when she meets someone for the first time, are the “positive vibes that the person emits through his or her non-verbal cues – a pleasant disposition, upright posture, agile gait and friendly gestures.”
A core communications person, Dr. Verma’s first stint at Jaipuria Noida was during 2009-10 as Assistant Professor – Business Communication. She had, at the time, just completed a two-year teaching stint at Ohio University’s (U.S.) India MBA Program. She then went on to teach at T. A. Pai Management Institute and IIM Raipur. But her experience with Jaipuria Noida was so good that she rejoined as Associate Professor – Business Communication in January 2016.
Dr. Verma says that she finds the business communication curriculum at Jaipuria Noida far more comprehensive than at other Business Schools. This is largely due to the fact that it is “taught in all the three trimesters in the first year.” Having experimented with innovative teaching methods, as well as with traditional ones, she explains that her teaching methodology uses “a lot of simulations and experiential learning techniques – all geared towards creating a greater impact and a better learning experience for students.”
Thus, case studies, role plays, management games and other simulation tools form a vital part of her teaching technique. “Apart from this, students are given enough exposure to experiential learning where they are asked to do ‘live projects’ comprising both off-line and on-line, as well as off-camera and on-camera sessions,” she elucidates. So, for instance, if the theory of ‘Chromatics’ (the ‘communicative value of colours’ – one of the seven components of non-verbal communication) is taught, students take part in an important in-class activity. Dr. Verma explains: “students are asked to work in teams to create a hypothetical company, select its name (in tandem to its proposed area of operations) and develop its logo, and finally also ‘defend’ it in the form of a presentation before the class. This unleashes their creativity as well as their consensus building skills in a team situation – this is a must for success in corporate work life.”
The author of over 56 books, Dr. Verma feels that her book “Body Language: Your Success Mantra,” is the one that is “closest to my heart as it analyses the subject from an Indian perspective.” Bringing such a wealth of knowledge to the teaching experience, students at Jaipuria Noida find her classes full of “fun-wrapped-rigour” that groom them “to connect with their inner selves as well as with the outer world.”