Kinesics & Proximics
Body Language & Paralanguage
Introduction to Nonverbal Communication
Definition of nonverbal communication ([Malandro, Barker & Barker 1989]): Nonverbal communication is the process by which nonverbal behaviours are used, either singly or in combination with verbal behaviours, in the exchange and interpretation of messages within a given situation or context. Classes of Nonverbal Communication ([Malandro, Barker & Barker 1989]): 1. facial expression and eye behaviour
2. body movement and gestures
3. touching behaviour
4. voice characteristics and qualities
5. culture and time
7. body types, shapes, and sizes
8. clothing and personal artifacts
Functions of Nonverbal Communication ([Malandro, Barker & Barker 1989]): A
Complementing: adding extra information to the verbal message
Contradicting: when our nonverbal messages contradict our verbal messages
Repeating: used in order to emphasize or clarify the verbal message
Regulating: serves to coordinate the verbal dialogue between people
Substituting: occurs when a nonverbal message is transmitted in place of a verbal message
Accenting: emphasizing a particular point in a verbal message
4.4. The role of emotional intelligence
The ability of interpreting the meaning of the discourse, the messages that the speaker truly wanted to convey, does not only concern the notion of Intelligence Quotient, but also the Emotional Quotient. The Emotional Quotient stands for emotional intelligence. People who are emotionally intelligent know their strong points and weaknesses. They are able to motivate themselves and others in negative situations. They can work in teams, have leadership-capacities, a good management of time and resources, and most important, they can detect and understand their own as well as other peoples’ emotions. The Emotional Quotient and the Intelligence Quotient are two different notions. However, in the act of interpreting, they join together. Thus, the interpretive process is not only a rational, cognitive activity, but also involves emotions, which are associated with ideas. Of course, interpreters can vary in their abilities to interpret human behaviour. It can be said that sometimes they lack emotional intelligence. Though, considering that people are deeply influenced by psychological, social, cultural processes, by gender, ethnicity and age, as well as by the media, interpreters should be aware of the hidden, inner dynamics that influence behaviours. Those who are able to think critically and to investigate the behaviour of the speaker are able to ferret out the nature of those symbols. However, communicative behaviour can be studied and learned. Interpreters can become increasingly skilled at interpreting human behaviour simply by keen observation. Furthermore, the more interpreters are mindful and pay attention to details and nuances in behaviour, to gestures, intonation, facial expressions, and body signals, the more they will detect the true meanings of the speaker’s discourse.
Principles of Nonverbal Communication
By Francis Duffy, eHow Contributor
updated: September 21, 2009
Reading a newspaper is easy compared to reading a person. Focus solely on a speaker's words, though, and you will likely miss his real meaning. Accompanying eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture and positioning, voice characteristics, and physiological cues tell you so much more. These spontaneous, often unconscious, behaviors compliment, contradict or accentuate what people say.
1. Eye contact is the most direct form of nonverbal communication. How long or short the stare and how often or infrequently someone does it in the course of a conversation reveals a lot. Frank, trusting people stare directly at you. People who actively avoid eye contact make the opposite impression. Eyes rolled upward tell you someone is tired; eyes cast downward show that someone is reticent. Constantly shifting eyes suggest nervousness, while staring off into the distance can equate to boredom. Facial Expressions
2. Every time our facial muscles move naturally, a feeling momentarily ripples through us. When happy, we smile; when disappointed, we frown; when discontent, we pout; when impatient, we purse our lips; when surprised, we lift our eyebrows; when sad, we lower them; when scared, we tighten our cheeks; when angry, we jut our chins out; when amazed, we drop our jaw. We wear a bland, static expression among strangers, but show more vivid, animated ones among friends and family. Gestures, Posture, Positioning
3. By just watching the face, though, you miss many of the body's other signals. The anger in a finger pointed accusingly and the rage in a clenched fist is unmistakable. Nail biting, hair tugging and leg tapping intensify the more anxious we feel. Sadness instinctively causes us to bow our heads and draw in our shoulders. Assertive personality-types gravitate toward the center of groups; passive ones stay more toward the fringe. But almost everyone feels ill at ease when a stranger stands too closely, invading someone's "comfort zone." Voice Characteristics
4. Body language is auditory as well as visual. Much can be learned about someone from how he speaks than from what she says. A simple laugh, shout, whine or sigh has the same meaning the world over. So ask yourself: is the pitch of the voice going up, down or monotone? Is it loud or soft-spoken? Is the pace of the speech rapid or slow, constant or changing? Does the speaker make meaningful pauses for effect or random ones to organize his thoughts? Changes in pitch, volume and pace bring home or cast doubt on the underlying meaning of the speaker's words. So, listen as well as watch. Involuntary Signals
5. Humankind's evolution has left us with a set of nonverbal reactions we have absolutely no control over. At times, simple biology asserts itself in the form of autonomous physiological responses. When embarrassed, we blush. When stressed out, we blink and swallow more frequently. When enraged, our nostrils flair out. When we feel sad or sentimental, our eyes moisten. When seized by terror, our breath grows labored and we may start trembling. Our skin turns pale and clammy when we receive unexpected bad news.
The American anthropologist Edward T. Hall who studied how gestures, posture, and other nonverbal signals were used by people to communicate their feelings and social status speaking distance developed proxemics, and other nonverbal signals were used by people to communicate their feelings and social status. People would feel uncomfortable putting most such information into words. But proxemics allows people to send and receive messages without the use of words. Kinesics
Kinesics is the scientific study of the body movements involved in communication, especially as they accompany speech. These movements include gestures, facial expressions, eye behaviour, and posture. The movements studied by kinesics scientists are commonly called body language or nonverbal behaviour. The American anthropologist Ray L. Birdwhistell developed kinesics. He used slow-motion films of conversations to analyze the speakers' behavior. Birdwhistell recognized that kinesics was only one of several overlapping systems that together made up human communication. He worked hard on the structure of body movement while other scientists studied the patterns of sound constituting language. He also believed that the meaning of any kinesics behaviour could be determined only by analyzing the context in which the behaviour occurred. Paralanguage refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion. Paralanguage may be expressed consciously or unconsciously, and it includes the pitch, volume, and, in some cases, intonation of speech. Sometimes the definition is restricted to vocally-produced sounds. The study of paralanguage is known asparalinguistics.
The term 'paralanguage' is sometimes used as a cover term for body language, which is not necessarily tied to speech, and paralinguistic phenomena in speech. The latter are phenomena that can be observed in speech (Saussure's parole) but that do not belong to the arbitrary conventional code of language (Saussure's langue).
The paralinguistic properties of speech play an important role in human speech communication. There are no utterances or speech signals that lack paralinguistic properties, since speech requires the presence of a voice that can be modulated. This voice must have some properties, and all the properties of a voice as such are paralinguistic. However, the distinction linguistic vs. paralinguistic applies not only to speech but to writing and sign language as well, and it is not bound to any sensory modality. Even vocal language has some paralinguistic as well as linguistic properties that can be seen (lip reading, McGurk effect), and even felt, e.g. by the Tadoma method.
One can distinguish the following aspects of speech signals and perceived utterances:
Speech signals that arrive at a listener’s ears have acoustic properties that may allow listeners to localize the speaker (distance, direction). Sound localization functions in a similar way also for non-speech sounds. The perspectival aspects of lip reading are more obvious and have more drastic effects when head turning is involved.
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals subconsciously.
Borg attests that human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves; however, Albert Mehrabian, the researcher whose 1960s work is the source of these statistics, has stated that this is a misunderstanding of the findings (see Misinterpretation of Mehrabian's rule). Others assert that "Research has suggested that between 60 and 70 percent of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behavior."
Body language may provide clues as to the attitude or state of mind of a person. For example, it may indicate aggression, attentiveness,boredom, relaxed state, pleasure, amusement, and intoxication, among many other cues.