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nonverbal

Non-verbal Messages Allow People To:

Non-verbal Messages Allow People To:

      -Reinforce or modify what is said in words. For example, people may nod their heads vigorously when saying “Yes” to emphasise that they agree with the other person, but a shrug of the shoulders and a sad expression when saying “I’m fine thanks,” may imply that things are not really fine at all!

 

      -Convey information about their emotional state.

 

      -Define or reinforce the relationship between people.

 

      -Provide feedback to the other person.

 

    -Regulate the flow of communication, for example by signalling to others that they have finished speaking or wish to say something.

Types of Nonverbal Communication

According to experts, a substantial portion of our communication is nonverbal. Every day, we respond to thousands on nonverbal cues and behaviors including postures, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice. From our handshakes to our hairstyles, nonverbal details reveal who we are and impact how we relate to other people.
In many cases, we communicate information in nonverbal ways using groups of behaviors. For example, we might combine a frown with crossed arms and unblinking eye gaze to indicate disapproval.

1. Facial Expression

Facial expressions are responsible for a huge proportion of nonverbal communication. Consider how much information can be conveyed with a smile or a frown. While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world.

2. Gestures

Deliberate movements and signals are an important way to communicate meaning without words. Common gestures include waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts. Other gestures are arbitrary and related to culture.

3. Paralinguistics

Paralinguistics refers to vocal communication that is separate from actual language. This includes factors such as tone of voice, loudness, inflection and pitch. Consider the powerful effect that tone of voice can have on the meaning of a sentence. When said in a strong tone of voice, listeners might interpret approval and enthusiasm. The same words said in a hesitant tone of voice might convey disapproval and a lack of interest.

4. Body Language and Posture

Posture and movement can also convey a great deal on information. Research on body language has grown significantly since the 1970’s, but popular media have focused on the over-interpretation of defensive postures, arm-crossing, and leg-crossing, especially after the publication of Julius Fast’s book Body Language. While these nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes, research suggests that body language is far more subtle and less definitive that previously believed.

5. Proxemics

People often refer to their need for “personal space,” which is also an important type of nonverbal communication. The amount of distance we need and the amount of space we perceive as belonging to us is influenced by a number of factors including social norms, situational factors, personality characteristics and level of familiarity. For example, the amount of personal space needed when having a casual conversation with another person usually varies between 18 inches to four feet. On the other hand, the personal distance needed when speaking to a crowd of people is around 10 to 12 feet.

6. Eye Gaze

Looking, staring and blinking can also be important nonverbal behaviors. When people encounter people or things that they like, the rate of blinking increases and pupils dilate. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions, including hostility, interest and attraction.

7. Haptics

Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. There has been a substantial amount of research on the importance of touch in infancy and early childhood.Harry Harlow’s classic monkey study demonstrated how the deprivation of touch and contact impedes development. Baby monkeys raised by wire mothers experienced permanent deficits in behavior and social interaction. Touch can be used to communicate affection, familiarity, sympathy and other emotions.

8. Appearance

Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication. Research on color psychology has demonstrated that different colors can evoke different moods. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments and interpretations. Just think of all the subtle judgements you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers.

Non-Verbal Commuication Modes

What is non-verbal communication?
Definition (CBC): “nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source [speaker] and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value for the source or receiver [listener] (Samovar et al). Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of verbal codes (words). It is both intentional and unintentional. Most speakers / listeners are not conscious of this. It includes — but is not limited to:

      touch

 

      glance

 

      eye contact (gaze)

 

      volume

 

      vocal nuance

 

      proximity

 

      gestures

 

      facial expression ? pause (silence)

 

      intonation

 

      dress

 

      posture

 

      smell

 

      word choice and syntax

 

    sounds (paralanguage)

Broadly speaking, there are two basic categories of non-verbal language:

      nonverbal messages produced by the body;

 

    nonverbal messages produced by the broad setting (time, space, silence)

Why is non-verbal communication important?
Basically, it is one of the key aspects of communication (and especially important in a high-context culture). It has multiple functions:

      Used to repeat the verbal message (e.g. point in a direction while stating directions.

 

      Often used to accent a verbal message. (e.g. verbal tone indicates the actual meaning of the specific words).

 

      Often complement the verbal message but also may contradict. E.g.: a nod reinforces a positive message (among Americans); a “wink” may contradict a stated positive message.

 

      Regulate interactions (non-verbal cues covey when the other person should speak or not speak).

 

    May substitute for the verbal message (especially if it is blocked by noise, interruption, etc) — i.e. gestures (finger to lips to indicate need for quiet), facial expressions (i.e. a nod instead of a yes).

Note the implications of the proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” In essence, this underscores the importance of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is especially significant in intercultural situations. Probably non-verbal differences account for typical difficulties in communicating.

Non-verbal Messages Allow People To

Interpersonal communication not only involves the explicit meaning of words, the information or message conveyed, but also refers to implicit messages, whether intentional or not, which are expressed through non-verbal behaviours.

Non-verbal communications include facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, gestures displayed through body language (kinesics) and the physical distance between the communicators (proxemics). These non-verbal signals can give clues and additional information and meaning over and above spoken (verbal) communication.

Non-verbal Messages Allow People To:

      Reinforce or modify what is said in words. For example, people may nod their heads vigorously when saying “Yes” to emphasise that they agree with the other person, but a shrug of the shoulders and a sad expression when saying “I’m fine thanks,” may imply that things are not really fine at all!

 

      Convey information about their emotional state.

 

      Define or reinforce the relationship between people.

 

      Provide feedback to the other person.

 

    Regulate the flow of communication, for example by signalling to others that they have finished speaking or wish to say something.

Types of Nonverbal Communication

In many cases, we communicate information in nonverbal ways using groups of behaviors. For example, we might combine a frown with crossed arms and unblinking eye gaze to indicate disapproval.

1. Facial Expression

Facial expressions are responsible for a huge proportion of nonverbal communication. Consider how much information can be conveyed with a smile or a frown. While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world.

2. Gestures

Deliberate movements and signals are an important way to communicate meaning without words. Common gestures include waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts. Other gestures are arbitrary and related to culture.

3. Paralinguistics

Paralinguistics refers to vocal communication that is separate from actual language. This includes factors such as tone of voice, loudness, inflection and pitch. Consider the powerful effect that tone of voice can have on the meaning of a sentence. When said in a strong tone of voice, listeners might interpret approval and enthusiasm. The same words said in a hesitant tone of voice might convey disapproval and a lack of interest.

4. Body Language and Posture

Posture and movement can also convey a great deal on information. Research on body language has grown significantly since the 1970’s, but popular media have focused on the over-interpretation of defensive postures, arm-crossing, and leg-crossing, especially after the publication of Julius Fast’s book Body Language. While these nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes, research suggests that body language is far more subtle and less definitive that previously believed.

5. Proxemics

People often refer to their need for “personal space,” which is also an important type of nonverbal communication. The amount of distance we need and the amount of space we perceive as belonging to us is influenced by a number of factors including social norms, situational factors, personality characteristics and level of familiarity. For example, the amount of personal space needed when having a casual conversation with another person usually varies between 18 inches to four feet. On the other hand, the personal distance needed when speaking to a crowd of people is around 10 to 12 feet.

6. Eye Gaze

Looking, staring and blinking can also be important nonverbal behaviors. When people encounter people or things that they like, the rate of blinking increases and pupils dilate. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions, including hostility, interest and attraction.

7. Haptics

Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. There has been a substantial amount of research on the importance of touch in infancy and early childhood. Harry Harlow’s classic monkey study demonstrated how the deprivation of touch and contact impedes development. Baby monkeys raised by wire mothers experienced permanent deficits in behavior and social interaction. Touch can be used to communicate affection, familiarity, sympathy and other emotions.

8. Appearance

Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication. Research on color psychology has demonstrated that different colors can evoke different moods. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments and interpretations. Just think of all the subtle judgements you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers.

Types of Nonverbal Communication

According to experts, a substantial portion of our communication is nonverbal. Every day, we respond to thousands on nonverbal cues and behaviors including postures, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice. From our handshakes to our hairstyles, nonverbal details reveal who we are and impact how we relate to other people.

Scientific research on nonverbal communication and behavior began with the 1872 publication of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Since that time, there has been an abundance of research on the types, effects and expressions of unspoken communication and behavior. While these signals are often so subtle that we are not consciously aware of them, research has identified several different types of nonverbal communication.

In many cases, we communicate information in nonverbal ways using groups of behaviors. For example, we might combine a frown with crossed arms and unblinking eye gaze to indicate disapproval.

1. Facial Expression

Facial expressions are responsible for a huge proportion of nonverbal communication. Consider how much information can be conveyed with a smile or a frown. While nonverbal communication and behavior can vary dramatically between cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world.

2. Gestures

Deliberate movements and signals are an important way to communicate meaning without words. Common gestures include waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts. Other gestures are arbitrary and related to culture.

3. Paralinguistics

Paralinguistics refers to vocal communication that is separate from actual language. This includes factors such as tone of voice, loudness, inflection and pitch. Consider the powerful effect that tone of voice can have on the meaning of a sentence. When said in a strong tone of voice, listeners might interpret approval and enthusiasm. The same words said in a hesitant tone of voice might convey disapproval and a lack of interest.

4. Body Language and Posture

Posture and movement can also convey a great deal on information. Research on body language has grown significantly since the 1970’s, but popular media have focused on the over-interpretation of defensive postures, arm-crossing, and leg-crossing, especially after the publication of Julius Fast’s book Body Language. While these nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes, research suggests that body language is far more subtle and less definitive that previously believed.

5. Proxemics

People often refer to their need for “personal space,” which is also an important type of nonverbal communication. The amount of distance we need and the amount of space we perceive as belonging to us is influenced by a number of factors including social norms, situational factors, personality characteristics and level of familiarity. For example, the amount of personal space needed when having a casual conversation with another person usually varies between 18 inches to four feet. On the other hand, the personal distance needed when speaking to a crowd of people is around 10 to 12 feet.

6. Eye Gaze

Looking, staring and blinking can also be important nonverbal behaviors. When people encounter people or things that they like, the rate of blinking increases and pupils dilate. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions, including hostility, interest and attraction.

7. Haptics

Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. There has been a substantial amount of research on the importance of touch in infancy and early childhood. Harry Harlow’s classic monkey study demonstrated how the deprivation of touch and contact impedes development. Baby monkeys raised by wire mothers experienced permanent deficits in behavior and social interaction. Touch can be used to communicate affection, familiarity, sympathy and other emotions.

8. Appearance

Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication. Research on color psychology has demonstrated that different colors can evoke different moods. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments and interpretations. Just think of all the subtle judgements you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers.

Non-Verbal Commuication Modes

What is non-verbal communication?

Definition (CBC): “nonverbal communication involves those nonverbal stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by both the source [speaker] and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value for the source or receiver [listener] (Samovar et al). Basically it is sending and receiving messages in a variety of ways without the use of verbal codes (words). It is both intentional and unintentional. Most speakers / listeners are not conscious of this. It includes — but is not limited to:

      touch

 

      glance

 

      eye contact (gaze)

 

      volume

 

      vocal nuance

 

      proximity

 

      gestures

 

      facial expression ? pause (silence)

 

      intonation

 

      dress

 

      posture

 

      smell

 

      word choice and syntax

 

    sounds (paralanguage)

Broadly speaking, there are two basic categories of non-verbal language:

      nonverbal messages produced by the body;

 

    nonverbal messages produced by the broad setting (time, space, silence)


Why is non-verbal communication important?

Basically, it is one of the key aspects of communication (and especially important in a high-context culture). It has multiple functions:

      -Used to repeat the verbal message (e.g. point in a direction while stating directions.

 

      -Often used to accent a verbal message. (e.g. verbal tone indicates the actual meaning of the specific words).

 

      -Often complement the verbal message but also may contradict. E.g.: a nod reinforces a positive message (among Americans); a “wink” may contradict a stated positive message.

 

      -Regulate interactions (non-verbal cues covey when the other person should speak or not speak).

 

    -May substitute for the verbal message (especially if it is blocked by noise, interruption, etc) — i.e. gestures (finger to lips to indicate need for quiet), facial expressions (i.e. a nod instead of a yes).

Note the implications of the proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” In essence, this underscores the importance of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is especially significant in intercultural situations. Probably non-verbal differences account for typical difficulties in communicating.

Cultural Differences in Non-verbal Communication

General Appearance and Dress

All cultures are concerned for how they look and make judgements based on looks and dress. Americans, for instance, appear almost obsessed with dress and personal attractiveness. Consider differing cultural standards on what is attractive in dress and on what constitutes modesty. Note ways dress is used as a sign of status?

Body Movement

We send information on attitude toward person (facing or leaning towards another), emotional statue (tapping fingers, jiggling coins), and desire to control the environment (moving towards or away from a person).

More than 700,000 possible motions we can make — so impossible to categorize them all! But just need to be aware the body movement and position is a key ingredient in sending messages.

Posture

Consider the following actions and note cultural differences:

      -Bowing (not done, criticized, or affected in US; shows rank in Japan)

 

      -Slouching (rude in most Northern European areas)

 

      -Hands in pocket (disrespectful in Turkey)

 

      -Sitting with legs crossed (offensive in Ghana, Turkey)

 

      -Showing soles of feet. (Offensive in Thailand, Saudi Arabia)

 

    -Even in US, there is a gender difference on acceptable posture?

Gestures

Impossible to catalog them all. But need to recognize: 1) incredible possibility and variety and 2) that an acceptable in one’s own culture may be offensive in another. In addition, amount of gesturing varies from culture to culture. Some cultures are animated; other restrained. Restrained cultures often feel animated cultures lack manners and overall restraint. Animated cultures often feel restrained cultures lack emotion or interest.

Even simple things like using hands to point and count differ.

      Pointing : US with index finger; Germany with little finger; Japanese with entire hand (in fact most Asians consider pointing with index finger to be rude)

Counting: Thumb = 1 in Germany, 5 in Japan, middle finger for 1 in Indonesia.

Facial Expressions

While some say that facial expressions are identical, meaning attached to them differs. Majority opinion is that these do have similar meanings world-wide with respect to smiling, crying, or showing anger, sorrow, or disgust. However, the intensity varies from culture to culture. Note the following:

      -Many Asian cultures suppress facial expression as much as possible.

 

      -Many Mediterranean (Latino / Arabic) cultures exaggerate grief or sadness while most American men hide grief or sorrow.

 

      -Some see “animated” expressions as a sign of a lack of control.

 

      -Too much smiling is viewed in as a sign of shallowness.

 

    -Women smile more than men.

Eye Contact and Gaze

In USA, eye contact indicates: degree of attention or interest, influences attitude change or persuasion, regulates interaction, communicates emotion, defines power and status, and has a central role in managing impressions of others.

      -Western cultures — see direct eye to eye contact as positive (advise children to look a person in the eyes). But within USA, African-Americans use more eye contact when talking and less when listening with reverse true for Anglo Americans. This is a possible cause for some sense of unease between races in US. A prolonged gaze is often seen as a sign of sexual interest.

 

      -Arabic cultures make prolonged eye-contact. — believe it shows interest and helps them understand truthfulness of the other person. (A person who doesn’t reciprocate is seen as untrustworthy)

 

    -Japan, Africa, Latin American, Caribbean — avoid eye contact to show respect.

Touch

Question: Why do we touch, where do we touch, and what meanings do we assign when someone else touches us?

Illustration: An African-American male goes into a convenience store recently taken over by new Korean immigrants. He gives a $20 bill for his purchase to Mrs Cho who is cashier and waits for his change. He is upset when his change is put down on the counter in front of him.
What is the problem? Traditional Korean (and many other Asian countries) don’t touch strangers., especially between members of the opposite sex. But the African-American sees this as another example of discrimination (not touching him because he is black).

Basic answer: Touch is culturally determined! But each culture has a clear concept of what parts of the body one may not touch. Basic message of touch is to affect or control — protect, support, disapprove (i.e. hug, kiss, hit, kick).

USA — handshake is common (even for strangers), hugs, kisses for those of opposite gender or of family (usually) on an increasingly more intimate basis. Note differences between African-Americans and Anglos in USA. Most African Americans touch on greeting but are annoyed if touched on the head (good boy, good girl overtones).
Islamic and Hindu: typically don’t touch with the left hand. To do so is a social insult. Left hand is for toilet functions. Mannerly in India to break your bread only with your right hand (sometimes difficult for non-Indians)
Islamic cultures generally don’t approve of any touching between genders (even hand shakes). But consider such touching (including hand holding, hugs) between same-sex to be appropriate.
Many Asians don’t touch the head (Head houses the soul and a touch puts it in jeopardy).
Basic patterns: Cultures (English , German, Scandinavian, Chinese, Japanese) with high emotional restraint concepts have little public touch; those which encourage emotion (Latino, Middle-East, Jewish) accept frequent touches.

Smell

USA — fear of offensive natural smells (billion dollar industry to mask objectionable odors with what is perceived to be pleasant ) — again connected with “attractiveness” concept.
Many other cultures consider natural body odors as normal (Arabic).
Asian cultures (Filipino, Malay, Indonesian, Thai, Indian) stress frequent bathing — and often criticize USA of not bathing often enough!

Paralanguage

vocal characterizers (laugh, cry, yell, moan, whine, belch, yawn). These send different messages in different cultures (Japan — giggling indicates embarrassment; India – belch indicates satisfaction)
vocal qualifiers (volume, pitch, rhythm, tempo, and tone). Loudness indicates strength in Arabic cultures and softness indicates weakness; indicates confidence and authority to the Germans,; indicates impoliteness to the Thais; indicates loss of control to the Japanese. (Generally, one learns not to “shout” in Asia for nearly any reason!). Gender based as well: women tend to speak higher and more softly than men.
vocal segregates (un-huh, shh, uh, ooh, mmmh, humm, eh, mah, lah). Segregates indicate formality, acceptance, assent, uncertainty.

Being Aware of the Speakerís Nonverbal Messages

When we pay attention to a speaker’s body language we gain insight into how that person is feeling as well as the intensity of the feeling. Through careful attention to body language and paraverbal messages, we are able to develop hunches about what the speaker (or listener) is communicating. We can then, through our reflective listening skills, check the accuracy of those hunches by expressing in our own words, our impression of what is being communicated.