In writing this blog, I want to explore this notion of expressions without words. This blog is all about communication and I communicate with you every time I write and I’m sure you are not aware of some of the expressions I make while I’m typing. So today I want to explore non-verbal communication. Now, what exactly is that you ask, well let me tell you. Since communication is all about the transmission of information, ideas, emotions and more, non-verbal is a bit more complex. In layman’s terms, non-verbal communication is communicating without words, but it’s more than that. It includes communication by means of space, gestures, facial expressions, touching and silence. An interesting fact to note is that we use non-verbal 65% more than verbal communication. This means that even though we use words majority of the time, our answer or thoughts are communicated through our non-verbal cues.
Well, my friends now that you know what non-verbal communication is, I will delve into it a bit more in regards to the types of non-verbal communication which are: body movement, appearance, touch, space, environment, ‘voice’ and time. Now we will be looking at body movement: emblems, illustrators, regulators and affect displays. Body movement is much more that swaying from side to side, I know that may have been a bit weird, body movement?? Anyways this refers to body language in terms of these five areas. Emblems refers to gesture limited by time and culture, which means that certain gesture I would make would seem rude to another individual from another country.
Illustrators help deliver the message. They amplify the verbal messages they accompany. These are used in everyday conversations just like emblems and they helps to get the message across clearer and more effectively.
Affect displays are movements of the face but also of the hands and general body that communicate emotional meaning and these are generally unconscious. These affect displays are seen in the way an individual would smile unconsciously when they see a friend approaching or the way body language changes depending on mood or the type of conversation one is in. Regulators are behaviors that monitor the control of the conversation. We use this when we want to indicate that we are finished speaking, or to tell someone to continue or that we are listening. Adapters are gestures used to satisfy some personal need, whether it is removing lint from someone’s clothes or simply relieving an itch (DeVito, 2009). Now that we know a bit more about body movement, lets move on to the others.
Appearance refers to the your overall dress in that particular social context, therefore if you are at an interview you overall appearance must be appropriate to the context you are in. Touch refers to the communication of positive feelings, intent, it controls behavior – whether to obtain compliance or to gain attention -, ritualistic greetings – hello or goodbye- and task related touching. There is also touch avoidance which refers to communication apprehension (DeVito). Space has much to do with distances regarding relationships, therefore if I am not in a close relationship with you, I do not expect you to have the same distance one of my intimate relationships would have. Environment otherwise known as territoriality has to do with possession or ownership regarding space or a particular object e.g items within your bedroom, your word area or your personal possessions. ‘Voice’ is referred to as para-language and this deals with matters of pitch, speed, volume, tone and much more. At times we are not even aware of the rate we are speaking at, or the loudness of our voice, but others are aware and tell us how we are speaking. Silence is also part of the aspect of communication and it sends others the message that you are thinking or at time to hurt someone’s feelings -the infamous ‘silent treatment’. Time is of the essence as the saying goes and many of us waste precious time and this has much to do with how well you manage your time, invest in the past, future and present and how you have communicated through time.
Now that we have learned more about the not being said, let us analyze this photo below. We all know that when in relationships no matter the type, intimate, social, public or familial, there will always be arguments and at times the space, distance and body language gives it all away, even the para-language.
In this photo it is obvious that these individuals are in a quarrel from the body language alone. We can see it by the way the lady’s arms are folded, her closed in posture and her head tilt. These are all indicators that something has been said that she is not pleased about. The male’s posture is open on the other hand, his feet are spread apart and so are his hands and even though he is looking away he is more open to the her. Yes, our body language tell us much but so do the factors, the space they are in, even though it seems far it is close showing an intimate relationship. These individuals may be arguing now, but they will eventually talk it out. Silence may be occurring but communication is all the while is still concurring. We all engage in non-verbal behaviors everyday and while we at times may not be aware of it, we communicate with out non-verbals more than the verbal. While we may talk, our stance, or face, appearance, eyes, they all communicate something and at times we wonder why we are considered standoffish, this is why. Our non-verbals communicate messages unconsciously and we have to go with the flow. Now that we have both learned something new, tell me about one of your experiences regarding your non-verbal cues.
Thanks for joining me again. Until next time. Byeee.
De Vito, Joseph. Human Communication: The Basic Course.