Nonverbal messages play a huge role in how people interact with each other and how the world can perceive what messages you are trying to get convey. From facial expressions to body language, nonverbal messages are a key factor in really knowing how a person feels about something because nonverbal messages are involuntary unlike language and actions speak louder than words. While I was observing my surroundings at a local Starbucks, nonverbal messages that people were using to talk to another person became a way for me to get some kind of idea of how they were feeling about the situation they were in while interacting with another person.
Walking into Starbucks to begin my ethnography, the first interaction I see are a guy and a girl who I assumed as being a couple by their intimate proxemics. As I walked past the two I overheard the girl say, in a melancholic tone, “but you can’t be doing that all the time”. When I finally sat down, I noticed that the girl was getting teary eyed and kept looking away from him while he had a remorse look on his face as if he wish he had not upset her. While the girl would speak to him she did a lot of hand movements and at one point she looked infuriated, but because of the quiet setting we were in I felt she tried to keep in the yelling she wanted to let out. Their posture also told a lot about what was going on. He was more leaned in to talk to her while she was kind of being a bit more distant so he looked as if he was trying to get her back or for her to forgive him. Just from their nonverbal messages and hearing a brief sentence, I could infer what they were discussing.
The next lady that came in with just her purse and a small book, dressed in comfy and loose clothing. She came in and ordered herself a drink and sat on a soft chair in the corner away from the majority of everyone in the coffee shop. She pulled her book out and started reading. She hardly ever looked up from her book which means she was not looking for any other interaction and did not want anyone to bother her. She just wanted to come to a quiet setting and enjoy a good book on a nice day. By always looking down at her book she was never giving anyone else eye contact to show that she wanted to talk to anyone. By her appearance, space, and eye contact, which are all nonverbal cues, you can know that this woman just wants to read her book in a quiet environment.
Another lady that came in looked very nice and dressed up. Her hair was in these nice curls with her make up looking flawless and a nice blouse with a skirt. She walked in with a smile on her face looking a little too happy to just be at a Starbucks, but she ordered two drinks and sat at a table looking at her watch and the door. Assuming she was meeting someone, I realized that was why she was so happy and looked as she did but that could just be how she is every day. She was constantly looking out the glass doors and finally a man walks in and looks straight at her with a big smile. She gets up and gives him a big hug and says, “Hi, how are you? I haven’t seen you in forever!” They sat down and started to catch up with each other with grins on their faces and they would both slightly touch the other person on the arm or hand. Touch and facial expression were a big key factor as I observed these two people; they both just looked as if they could not have been any happier than to be in each other’s presence.
While I sat at Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed a lot of different people who were at the same location but for different reasons. I didn’t really eavesdrop into too many conversations, but just by looking at what people were wearing, their hand gestures, how close they were, and facial expression I could tell if they were in a casual or formal interaction with each other. I’m sure if people were to look at me while I was sitting there; they would think I was just there to do some homework in a quiet place because I had my laptop out with a notebook and pen, and they would be right just by looking at what’s around me, what environment I was in, by my facial expressions, and body language.
Word count: 803