Communication is the backbone of human existence. Without it we would be nothing more than organized matter. It has allowed us to grow, learn, build, and survive. The fact that our species has managed to develop advanced methods of communication, such as language, is what has set us aside from other animals. When we talk to another person we are sending a message which is received, decoded, and responded to accordingly.
But there is much more to communication than just its verbal aspects. The way we hold ourselves, tone of voice, bodily gestures, eye movement, all of these are types of Nonverbal Communication Essay and are in truth more important to the communication process than language itself.
According to Adler, Proctor II, and Towne’s Looking Out Looking In, nonverbal communication is defined as “messages expressed by other than linguistic means”. This type of message delivery is as complex if not more so than its linguistic counterpart. Non verbal messages are what shape the meaning of delivered dialogue and give it context. Without them the communication process would be severely impaired if not totally destroyed.Order now
There are several different components that make up the whole of nonverbal communication. Kinesics is the movement and positioning of the body and how it is interpreted by a receiver. This includes many of the more obvious nonverbal cues such clapping your hands or a thumb up. Oculesics refers to eye contact and eye positioning during communication. Averting ones eyes is a cue that, depending on context, could show respect, shame, or nervousness. Haptics is the act of physical contact to display an emotion.
A punch, a kiss, and a pat on the back all portray meaning without the need for words. Arguably the most important nonverbal cue is paralanguage. Paralanguage is the non-word utterances used in moments of emotion that can occur by themselves or as a particular emphasis on a word or syllable.
The importance of nonverbal communication becomes clear with the realization that it constitutes for the preponderance of human communication. It has been estimated that any where between sixty-five and ninety-three percent of the emotional impact of a delivered message originates from nonverbal cues. For example, a statement such as, “I’m fine”, can have a multitude of different meanings depending on its delivery.
Added emphasis on “fine” and a furrowed brow would lead you to believe that the sender is upset while a smile and a slight rise in pitch would indicate that he or she is indeed, ok. Nonverbal communications greatest importance is the fact that it conveys emotional information which would be otherwise concealed. Therefore the large brunt of human emotion is passed on not through what people say, rather by what they do.
According to an article published by Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson, and O’connor in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology facial expressions are recognized universally for their meanings. A smile indicates happiness while a grimace shows displeasure. The impact and use of facial expressions however, is culture bound.
This becomes clear when comparing high context cultures of the far-east with the low context cultures of the western world. In china facial expressions are used far less and hold less impact than they do in America. The emphasis in communication within the Chinese culture lies primarily within the context of the spoken message itself. These differences can lead to misinterpretations between cultures. A Chinese man would have a much harder time reading the nonverbal signals of an American than he would a fellow Chinese.
Nonverbal communication is all around us.
The majority of all the information we receive is subject to some sort of nonverbal cue. This strengthens our ability to communicate by allowing us insight into our fellow man. It is this insight and this understanding of one another that has allowed us to come as far as we have. While linguistics are an essential part of the communication process, when it’s broken down actions really do speak louder than words.
; Towne, N. (1999). Looking Out/ Looking In: Interpersonal Communication. 9th Ed. San Francisco: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
, Schwartz, J., Kirson, D., ; O’Connor, C. (1987). Emotion knowledge: Further exploration of a prototype approach. Journal of Personality and .