In every society nonverbal communication is one of the most powerful tools that a person can use to interpret the message that is being delivered. Even though verbal communication is fairly straightforward, nonverbal communication allows others to sense the true emotions of the person that is expressing them. For example even though a person may say that they are not irritated, their usage of voice may display otherwise. Nonverbal communication not only reveals hidden messages, but it also complements, substitutes, and exaggerates verbal communication.
It was 8:00 a.
m. on April 9, 1999 and I was saying goodbye to my parents at the San Francisco Airport. While I was walking away from my parents gate I remembered the study for my Interpersonal Communication Essay class, and decided that the airport was a perfect place to observe nonverbal behavior. I sat myself near the entrance of a gate so I could clearly focus on personal space and voice behaviors while people stood in line to board their plane. This location allowed me to observe some very distinct behaviors, and I was amazed at the many different ways people express their emotions and the many people that werent aware of these expressions.
After I observed four different boarding lines, I soon realized how impatient our society reacts to situations.
As soon as the airline attendants announced the boarding for a certain flight, it seemed as if everybody rushed to the entrance of the gate. After a casual line was formed, the majority of people made sure that their personal space was formed. Many people formed this personal space by placing luggage around them, extending a body part, or using a companion to consume space. Most people stood at least a half an arms distance away from each other, but if this distance felt threatened people were sure to express nonverbal and sometime verbal behaviors.
Some individuals gazed away and let out a loud sigh, while others would just gaze at the person invading their space to hopefully make them realize that they were getting too close for comfort. Individuals would also try and avoid the person invading their space while moving forward, but to the side to also avoid the person in front of them.
Some people would just avoid the line all together and go sit back down in their seat, while others would verbally say excuse me to make the person realize that they were causing uncomfortable feelings.
Verbal behavior was not uncommon in the boarding line, but the way people delivered the messages they spoke had many different meanings. For example some people would sarcastically say, Boy this line is moving fast. Sarcasm was obvious in these situations because of the irritating tone of the sentence, and the chuckles and gasps sometimes followed at the end. Even though most of the people that talked displayed rude and irritated behaviors, some people were actually patient and concerned. For example one lady actually thought the boarding line was moving pretty fast.
Her verbal message was believable because of her nodding of agreement, positive pitch, and emphasis on this and fast.
I believe that these irritating nonverbal behaviors were evident for many reasons. Either people had time constraints for business, were anxious for their final destination, were tired, nervous to fly, or their nonverbal behaviors were viewed wrong. Many of these nonverbal behaviors would probably still be evident in the future because irritating lines will always exist when boarding a plane. In the future lines could either run more smoothly or be more chaotic, which would definitely affect peoples behavior. No matter what situation though, I still am convinced that if personal space is invaded people will respond with anxious and restless nonverbal behavior.
I personally believe that we live in a stressful and fast-paced society, and individuals get anxious when situations are not normal. I also believe that our society is very self-absorbed, and we generally behave to reach personal goals. So in theory, many human behaviors are a product of their environment and expressed to achieve the present and future goal of that individual.
One of the biggest weaknesses of my theory is the fact that it is such a broad statement, and does not .