Nonverbal Communication

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Appreciating and Using Nonverbal Communication

Much of the meaning in our daily communication comes from nonverbal behaviors, or cues, such as hand gestures, eye contact, style of dress, voice inflections. Many communication scholars are convinced that nonverbal messages account for much, if not most, of the meaning in our daily interaction with others. Whatever the context, familiar or new, understanding nonverbal cues can help you become a more effective communicator. Basic Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication

We use some nonverbal gestures spontaneously and without much thought, such as yawning to indicate we are tired. Others are carefully planned and carried out, such as a first kiss on a date or a firm handshake in a job interview. Some nonverbal gestures are instantly recognizable to many people, like the wave of a hand goodbye, or tears of sadness. oNonverbal Communication is Not Language

Nonverbal communication-Messages expressed through symbols other than words. Nonlinguistic-A characteristic of nonverbal communication indicating that nonverbal messages that are outside languages. The nonlinguistic nature of nonverbal communication makes nonverbal messages more general and often less precise than verbal symbols. For example, think back to your look of surprise at the unexpectedly high test score. People who saw your facial expressions would know that you were surprised, but they might not know what preceded the emotion (This is the first good thing to happen to me today), why you were surprised (This is my highest grade in this class), or what you plan to do next (celebrate). Most likely you would provide much of that information in words accompanying your facial expressions. Still nonverbal messages are a powerful means of communication that often have more impact on communicators than words. oNonverbal Communication is Often Linked to Our Emotions

Intrinsic- A characteristic of nonverbal communication indicating that nonverbal messages are inherently connected to our emotions and mental states. Facial expressions, hand movements, and actions often spring naturally and spontaneously from thoughts and feelings. The intrinsic nature of nonverbal cues leads us to perceive them as more truthful or genuine than verbal communication. When a nonverbal message contradicts a verbal message, we almost always believe the nonverbal one. The intrinsic nature of nonverbal messages also makes some of them more universal then verbal messages. Languages vary from culture to culture, but certain nonverbal expressions appear to transcend cultures. oNonverbal Communication is Highly Contextual

Suppose you fold your arms across your chest. The meaning of this depends on the situation. If you are listening to a sermon, your gesture may be a sign of reverence. If you are outside on a chilly evening, your gesture might reflect your feeling of cold. Or, if you’re at a social gathering, your gesture might be an attempt to close yourself off from the approach of others. To understand the meaning of your gesture, someone observing you would need to understand the context. Nonverbal communication can be used to exert power or control over other. There are several ways to do this such as: Touching them more than they are allowed to touch back

Initiating and ending conversations
Borrowing possessions without permission
Smiling less and frowning or scowling more than the other person Interrupting others as they speak but ignoring their attempts to interrupt you Using less frequent but more direct eye contact

Initiating and ending periods of silence
Using a louder voice and more angry tones and inflections then the other person

oNonverbal Communication Is Influenced by Culture and Gender The way we use and understand nonverbal messages is also dependent on our cultural knowledge and values. Various cultures and co-cultures use different repertoires of nonverbal cues, just as different...
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