Communication is generally defined as the process of sending and receiving messages. There are several elements in the communication process: a sender or receiver of a message, encoding and decoding the, the message itself, the channel through which the message is sent/received, and the feedback associated with the message (Cheesebro, O’Connor & Rios, 2010). There are a number of channels through which to send and receive messages, such as verbal and written communication. However, an extremely important and effective way of communicating is through demonstrative communication. Demonstrative communication is non-verbal and unwritten communication and can be tremendously powerful.
Though words are not exchanged, demonstrative communication can speak volumes through action, body language, facial expression, posture, eye contact, and physical contact. Even if someone is speaking, demonstrative communication can tell a completely different story than the words coming out of one’s mouth. For demonstrative communication to be effective, it should be in alignment with the intent of the message that is being delivered or received. When out of alignment, demonstrative communication can cause misinterpretation of messages and those messages’ intent.
Demonstrative communication often precedes verbal communication. Clothing, a particular hair style, tattoos, piercings, and face makeup can send influential messages before words are ever exchanged (Cheesebro, O’Connor & Rios, 2010). The intent of such physical attributes may be misinterpreted, but presentation itself is not something to be taken lightly and has the potential to influence one person’s opinion of another. Body language, posture, and facial expression are also formidable methods of demonstrative communication. If someone is slumped over in a chair with head in hands, frustration or stress is a potential interpretation of that person’s mood or attitude. Someone looking off into the distance with a blank stare is likely to communicate boredom or apathy. When someone is receiving negative feedback from a message sender, such as being reprimanded, it is not unusual for that person to look down at the floor or in his or her lap.
Demonstrative communication can also be interpreted in positive and negative ways. If someone is giving a speech and stands tall, making eye contact with the audience and gesturing appropriately, that person is communicating that he or she is confident which can also give an impression of credibility. Inversely, if someone is giving a speech, but is constantly referring to his or her notecards or keeps his/her hands in pocket, it is likely that person is showing lack of confidence and perhaps disinterest in the topic and the audience. The audience, while being receivers of the message being delivered, can also deliver its own message through demonstrative communication. Members of the audience might lean forward in their seats, smile or even laugh out loud at jokes, or cock an ear at the speaker while busily taking notes. The audience may also squirm in their seats, fidget with pens or other devices, or stare into space in a daydream. The demonstrative communication displayed in all each of these scenarios make it very clear how the senders and receivers of the messages feel in a particular situation.
Other forms of demonstrative communication are physical ways of communicating. When two people hold hands, they are generally communicating affection toward each other. Similarly, if an adult is holding the hand of a child, protectiveness is likely being demonstrated. However, when one individual grabs another individual roughly by the arm, anger is possibly being communicated. Demonstrative communication can also be interpreted differently depending on the receiver. For example, rubbing someone’s shoulders can be interpreted as friendly or affectionate by some, but invasive and harassing by others. Subsequently, the person whose...
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