For this project I had to decide upon and visit an environment that I would not normally be in. This environment had to be different from my normal and more comfortable surroundings, in which I thought the nonverbal communication patterns would differ from my own. I made my observations over two days. The environment I chose to observe was an emergency room waiting area. I chose this because I figured the people that I would be observing would not necessarily be very different from me, but I figured that they would be in a different emotional state then I was. I was just an observer in the emergency room while everyone else was there because of some sort of serious medical issue. During my observations I tried to identify any emblems, adaptors, affect displays, eye gaze patterns, regulators, and illustrators and interpret why they might be occurring and what they mean. I also studied and interpreted the impact of the environment itself and what effect it might have had on the people in it.
I took a seat toward the back of the room to get the largest possible view of the waiting room. The overall feeling was fairly comfortable and it was not intimidating. The first thing I noticed was that the lighting in the waiting room was dimmer than the lighting in the rest of the hospital. It seemed like mood lighting to me and compared to the fluorescent lit rooms in the rest of the hospital it was more relaxing. The wall facing the outside was basically a wall of tinted windows looking into the parking lot. The windows were tinted to let in a comfortable amount of sunlight without it being too bright. I think the goal was to allow as much natural light in as possible. This would be a good idea in a waiting room because the windows can help reduce the feeling of being “stuck” there.
There were a couple televisions mounted on the wall. Obviously, these were put there to help waiting patients and visitors pass the time. But I would also argue that the televisions were placed there to make the waiting room more familiar and comfortable like someone’s living room. The color of the wallpaper was a very dull, khaki, color. I think that color was picked because it is a neutral color that would not evoke any emotion. Another thing I took note of was how the seating arrangement was laid out. The room was a rectangle shape. The chairs lined the walls and outlined the shape of the room. Other chairs were placed in the middle of the room around a couple of coffee tables. It didn’t seem to make sense at first. However, the more I stared at it, the more it made sense. The chairs seemed arranged to accommodate the different types of groups that would be sitting there. Some rows were long and straight without any other rows opposite them, which I thought would be suitable for somebody waiting alone and might not want to be facing any strangers and keep to themselves. Other rows were arranged to give you the option to sit face to face with someone. There were also some rows that were arranged in a square facing each other but further apart, possibly so that if you wanted to talk to somebody you didn’t know, you had the option to do so, without it feeling obligated or awkward.
At the end of the rectangle-shaped room, in the back left and right corners, were two additional areas. One was a “family consultation room” and the other area was the “children’s play area.” These two environments differed from the rest of the waiting room. The children’s play area was in the corner and was made to be a fun environment. There was a small, pink, round table with four matching chairs. The ceiling dropped down and was lower than the rest of the room as you entered the play area. I felt this made it cozier for children because the ceiling height was more in proportion to a smaller child’s height. The paint on the walls changed also. It had the same color wall as the rest of the waiting room but there was a big, blue, zigzag pattern that started half way up...
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