Types of Nonverbal Communication and Their Functions

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Eye contact, Facial expression Pages: 5 (1961 words) Published: August 14, 2008
Types of Nonverbal Communication and their functions
A large percentage of meanings, approximately 65% of all communications, we derive from interactions is derived from the nonverbal cues that the other person gives. , Nonverbal communication is defined as messages expressed through symbols instead of words. It is non-linguistic. Nonverbal communications include gestures, eye contact, voice, touch, smell, facial expressions, proxemics, time and artifactics. Although there are many nonverbal cues, we are going to focus on the following five cues, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, touch and voice, with examples, in this essay. And before we end, we will discuss how these nonverbal cues may transmit different meanings in different context.

Our face expresses a thousand emotions and it is one of the most powerful ways of expressing nonverbal communication. It is a canvas, where emotions are drawn vividly, erased and, redrawn with another emotion instantly. A true emotion can be differentiated from a fake emotion just by the looks of our expressions. More often than not, one can tell how the person feels before even a word is said. While nonverbal communication can vary dramatically between different cultures, the facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world. Pictures 1.1 to 1.3 show a form teacher having a chat with one of his pupils outside their classroom. In Picture 1.1, the teacher, with his lips slightly apart, cheeks pushed upwards and eyes slightly closed, portrays a pleasant front. This is reciprocated by the pupil who is also smiling while looking at the teacher. They are actually having a very pleasant chat as it is the pupil’s last day in school before following his parents to Albania. In Picture 1.2, the teacher’s eyes are slightly bigger and he is not smiling. Rather, the teacher is portraying what is often called a ‘poker face’ as he is investigating a complaint and he doesn’t want the pupil to know his true feelings. In Picture 1.3, the teacher’s eyes are wide and his nose is flaring and he is grinding his teeth. He is also staring down on his pupil who has hunched his body in fear. The teacher is trying to intensify his facial expressions to display more emotions than what he is really feeling as he is trying to get the root of the complaint. (Picture 1.2) These pictures shows that varied facial expressions accompany the different emotions a person feels. In Picture 1.2, the contradiction of the verbal communication by the teacher could be observed. The teacher is trying to put up a calm face although his facial expression shows a bit of intensity. The student might notice this change and will tend to know that the situation is going to get bad for him.

Touch is one of the most powerful ways of showing emotions non-verbally. It has meanings only in interpersonal interactions. Touch could be powerful or meaningless depending where the person is touched. The context of the situation, the relationship between the communicators and the manner of touch will determine the meaning conveyed from the touch. Pictures 2.1 and 2.2 show a date between a couple. They are sitting in a bar, drinking and conversing. By now, they both have an understanding of what pleases and displeases each other. She knows intuitively that now is the time for her to send him a message that she is going to let him come a little closer to her both emotionally and physically. She does this with a very casual touch on his elbow. (Picture 2.1)

In response, he should have returned her touch with an equal and causal touch as she wants him to reciprocate with a similar gentle touch too. However, the man returns the woman's touch with his own that is much stronger and even invasive in a way that makes her a bit fearful and resistant to any further physical or emotional closeness. Although, he had good intentions, when he tried to touch her legs instead of her hands, she...
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