Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
When we are attempting to transfer our meaning to another person, we use three different modes, methods, or channels to carry our intentions. We use these modes to tell people who we are, how we experience the world, and the meaning we attach to our experience. We communicate verbally and nonverbally, and often with mixed signals or noise. When two persons, A and B, are attempting to communicate with each other, their communication is distorted by their personalities, attitudes, values, belief systems, biases, the assumptions they are making about each other, their experience, background, and so on. A's communication to B flows through A's screen and through B's screen. When B responds to A, B is responding to what she heard rather than what A might have intended. She shoots her message back to B through her own screen of attitudes, values, and so on, through A's screen. What is often not understood is that the way we get messages through our screens and through another person's screen often is confusing and distorting in and of itself. We add to what we hear, we fail to hear, and we distort messages according to the modes that are used to convey messages. Nonverbal Communication - Appearance and Other Cues
We say a great deal to each other about who we are and how we experience each other and the rest of the world through symbolic means. The symbolic communication mode is essentially passive, and messages emitted in this way are very easily misinterpreted. What are some of the symbols that we use? First, our choice of clothes can tell a great deal about who we are, what our values are, what our status is, how conservative or liberal we are. We associate differences in occupational status with different uniforms. The banker wears a suit, the farmer wears overalls, and so on. The second set of symbols with which we often associate meaning is hair. The type of hairdo, length and color of hair, and the presence or absence of facial hair say a great deal about who we are. However, these signals are often highly ambiguous. A third symbolic form is jewelry. Married people often wear wedding rings, some people do not wear a watch, some people wear highly expensive jewelry, and so on. These are passive messages that are given out continuously to other people. A flag in the lapel, a red ribbon, an earring in one ear or in the nose say many things to other people. A fourth form of symbolic communication to other people is cosmetics, or makeup. We associate meanings with different ways women apply makeup to their bodies. The prostitute usually has heavier makeup than other women. The man who uses a great many cosmetics is giving out a symbolic message about the meaning that his world has for him. A fifth symbolic mode is the choice of automobiles. The business executive who drives a sports car is giving out a different set of messages to the world than his colleague who drives a luxury sedan or an ordinary family car. A sixth symbolic mode is the choice and location of our houses. Social status is directly related to the type of dwelling one lives in and its location. Seventh, the geography of our living spaces is a form of symbolic communication. If you sit behind your desk in your office interviewing somebody who is on the other side of the desk, you are giving out a fundamentally different set of messages than if the two of you sit face to face with no intervening furniture. So we are giving out a continuous stream of signals about our meaning to other people through the symbols that we choose to surround ourselves and invest ourselves with. These symbols are essentially passive. They are, however, a real part of our communication. When we are talking, when we are not talking, and when we are sleeping, we emit passive symbolic signals. Blatner, A. (1985). Nonverbal Communication - Body Language and Vocalization
The science of nonverbal communication is called kinesis. One's...
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