Public Speaking

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Sign language, Communication Pages: 5 (1695 words) Published: December 11, 2012
The focus of this research is to explore the non-verbal communication which is called kinesics concentrating on three factors which are eye contact, gesture and posture. These three factors are prevalent and relevant in regard to communication being define through different cultures, genders and age groups. In 1952, Ray Birdwhistell, anthropologist, conducted the first scientific study of body language. The study showed that 65% to 70% of all communication is based on non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communications are: Kinesics – body movements, Vocalics – tone; Haptics – touch; Proxemics – space; Chronemics – use of time; Physical Appearance – physical features; Artifacts – possessions shown to another and Environment - surroundings. Kinesics is defined as communication with facial expressions, posture, body movements, gestures and eye contact (McCornack, 2007). Like other forms of communication kinesics can sometimes be interpreted or misinterpreted with positive or negative effects. In the United States of America, a way of paying attention to someone speaking is to make eye to eye contact. Looking at an inanimate object or at someone else is rude and insulting to the one who is speaking. Avoiding eye contact may also imply the avoider is shy, intimidated or has low self esteem. African Americans in general often look down when they are listening and look up when speaking to someone. However; with some African Americans, a child looking directly into parents eyes while being scolded is interpreted as not respecting your elders and ignoring authority. A child should hold his head down to show humility without making any eye contact. Rolling the eyes (shifting eyes in socket from one side to another) communicates disapproval, disgust, weariness, disdain and a host of other emotions that are negative (Jackson, 2003). In Asian cultures making eye contact for an extended amount of time communicates as a confrontation or challenge to someone that is an authority. Avoiding as much eye contact as possible is being polite. When a woman in the Middle East makes eye contact with a man she is relaying “yes, I want you.” So it is critical with utmost importance to avoid eye contact if this is not what a woman is communicating. Only brief eye contact is allowed between men and women as this is considered as religious (Muslim) appropriateness. Eye contact between two men in the Middle East means that they trust one another showing sincerity and solidarity (Scudder, 2011).

Gestures are another form of kinesics which is defined as movement usually of the body or limbs that express or emphasize an idea, sentiment, or attitude (Merriam-Webster, 2011). Sign language is a gesture which entails using the fingers to express words, but sign language is a verbal form of communication and not a kinesics form of language.

There are four forms of gestures: emblems, illustrators, regulators and adaptors. Emblems are interchangeable with words, such as holding up the index and middle fingers spread apart which means the word “peace”. Illustrators are gestures used to describe a noun i.e. you would describe a person as being tall and the gesture would be to raise your hands high above your head. Regulators exchange conversation turns such as holding your index finger to closed lips meaning to “be quiet”. Adaptors are gestures that touch, you may put your hand on someone’s shoulder to show support (McCornack, 2007). The natural gait of walking is a gesture that personifies individuals in general. In American society white men often walk at a brisk pace on the balls of their feet with arms at side and with legs slightly ajar in a somewhat rigid manner. On the other hand, African American men tend to walk with a trendy slow gait often referred to as a stroll. This stroll usually entails walking with the head tipped to the side and one arm swinging while the other arm is mobile with the hand cupped or in a pocket....

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