NCSU COM 112 - COM 112 Chapter 6 (49 pages)

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COM 112 Chapter 6



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COM 112 Chapter 6

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Pages:
49
School:
North Carolina State University
Course:
Com 112 - Interpersonal Communication
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CHAPTER PREVIEW 1 2 1 The Nature of Nonverbal Communication 2 Ten Channels of Nonverbal Communication 3 4 3 Culture Sex and Nonverbal Communication 4 Improving Your Nonverbal Communication Skills A TOUCHING MOMENT FOR THE FIRST LADY In April 2009 during her first visit to England as First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama created a public stir when she put her arm around Queen Elizabeth II as a gesture of friendship Although such friendly physical contact is natural in U S culture it was a breach of protocol in Great Britain where visitors to the royal palace are sternly warned never to touch the queen unless reciprocating a handshake The no touch rule reflects a long historical tradition of considering kings and queens to possess divine powers including the power to cure disease through touch If a monarch s touch could heal people believed the ruler should conserve that power by not allowing others to touch him or her Even though such beliefs are no longer widely held official protocol still prohibits touching a king or queen in most instances Many people in England were therefore shocked to see Michelle Obama with her arm around the queen The queen s spokespeople insisted afterward however that she took no offense at the First Lady s affectionate gesture Page 178 N onverbal communication is powerful Sometimes the smallest gesture a glance a warm vocal tone a brief affectionate touch with a foreign head of state can send unmistakable messages about ourselves to others Moreover so much of what we learn about other people s thoughts and feelings comes not through listening to their words but through observing their body language watching their facial expressions seeing how they move and gesture and taking note of their eye contact Those and other behaviors often convey enormous amounts of information about people in efficient and sometimes subtle ways 1 The Nature of Nonverbal Communication On the animated television show The Simpsons Marge Simpson is seldom shy about expressing disapproval when her husband or her children misbehave She frequently communicates her feelings through her facial expressions posture and the stressful grunting sound she makes when she s annoyed Those and other nonverbal communication behaviors clearly convey Marge s state of mind to anyone who happens to be around her What makes nonverbal behavior such an effective form of communication We will find out in this section first by differentiating nonverbal communication from verbal communication and then by examining five of its most important characteristics Marge Simpson uses her facial expressions posture and tone of voice to communicate her feelings about her husband and children What Is Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal means just what it sounds like not verbal Nonverbal communication requires neither words nor language How exactly do we communicate with others if not with words and language The answer is in many ways We can tell a great deal about people by watching their facial expressions and listening to their tone of voice When you listen to your doctor tell you the results of your recent blood tests for instance you might hear the tension in her voice and determine that something is wrong or you might see the pleasant look on her face and conclude that everything is fine We also interpret people s gestures and notice the way they carry themselves Perhaps you see two people punching each other but you determine from their behaviors that they are playing rather than genuinely fighting In addition we frequently make judgments about people on the basis of their appearance While scanning personal ads online for example you might be more drawn to some people than to others based on their photographs Sometimes we even perceive others according to the way they use their time and the space around them Perhaps you tried talking to your boss about your recent evaluation but you felt ignored because he kept looking at his new iPhone People routinely communicate more information through their appearance and nonverbal behaviors than they do through language When it comes to interpersonal communication looks and actions often do speak louder than words Page 179 We can define nonverbal communication then as behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words Nonverbal communication behaviors frequently accompany verbal messages to clarify or reinforce them For instance if someone asks you for directions to the bookstore and you point and say It s that way your nonverbal behavior pointing clarifies the meaning of your verbal message In contrast if you just say It s that way without pointing then your verbal message is ambiguous and not very helpful At other times however nonverbal communication behaviors convey meaning on their own For example if you ask me where the bookstore is and I shrug my shoulders you will probably infer from my behavior that I don t know the answer to your question even though I never actually said so Nonverbal behavior is a powerful way of communicating and it comes naturally to many of us Yet there s a lot more to interpreting nonverbal behavior than you might think The more you learn about nonverbal communication the better you will be able to understand it Five Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication It s difficult to imagine life without nonverbal communication Communicating nonverbally is particularly critical for people who lack language skills such as infants who can only vocalize without words and for individuals with certain types of neurological problems such as a stroke that limit their language use But even people with language ability depend immensely on nonverbal communication For example because she had only a limited knowledge of Spanish Bergitta depended on nonverbal behaviors while traveling through Bolivia Uruguay and Argentina She was frequently amazed at how well she could understand others simply by observing their gestures and facial expressions Her communication was more challenging than it would have been if she had known the language but she was still able to understand and be understood by others through nonverbal behaviors Let s look at five key characteristics of such nonverbal communication NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION IS PRESENT IN MOST INTERPERSONAL CONVERSATIONS Whether you talk to people one on one or in a group you have access not only to the words they speak but also to several dimensions of nonverbal communication In


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