WEEK 6 READING (NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION) (ASPECTS OF NONVERBAL BEHAVIOUR:…
WEEK 6 READING (NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION)
'There are no universal gestures. As far as we know, there is no single.facial expression, stance or body position which conveys the same meaning in all societies.'
(R.L Birdwhistell, 1970)
Nonverbal communication is a 'multi-channelled process that is usually performed spontaneously and involves a subtle set of nonlinguistic behaviours that are often enacted outside a person's conscious awareness.'
(Lustig and Koester, 1996)
Ruesch and Kees (1956) placed sign language firmly in the category of nonverbal language, but there is surely a difference between a single gesture (eg hitchhiker using thumb) and a complex system of signs as is used in the three languages taught to and used by the deaf.
Where is the line drawn between verbal and non-verbal communication?
Nonverbal behaviour is extremely important in initial meetings. When the parties are of different cultures (involving some degree of anxiety and uncertainty), the nonverbal behaviour may be particularly important.
"When strangers violate our nonverbal expectation, we tend to interpret those violations negatively. These negative interpretations decrease the effectiveness of our communication with strangers. To communication effectively with strangers, we must learn to accurately interpret their nonverbal behaviour and their violations of our expectations."
(Gudykunst and Kim, 1992, pg 186)
While it was suggested by eibl-Eibesfeldt (1975) that some sequences of behaviour (eg coyness, flirting, embarrassment) may be similar across cultures, there is no proved gesture or body motion that has the same meaning in all cultures.
The message sent (whether consciously or not), may have a very different meaning to sender and receiver.
Active nonverbal communication = deliberate
Passive nonverbal communication = not conscious
(although it can to and extend be controlled by the sender and interpreted by the receiver.
ASPECTS OF NONVERBAL BEHAVIOUR:
Privacy and Territoriality
Behaviour with Animals
Signals used instead of/as well as words, to convey a message.
EG. using fingers to signal your friends to come to your table
gestures made with little thought may be interpreted very different by others.
Gestures used at the same time as speaking, to add to and reinforce spoken messages.
EG. pointing with a finger, hand shakes
3. Affect displays
Shows someones feelings (anger, happiness etc).
Some emotional expressions have more than one meaning
EG smiling, crying
Cues listeners give to encourage a speaker, to stop a speaker, to check a point or to get a turn to speak.
Can be in different forms, such as silence, nodding, raising an eyebrow or leaning forward.
Reactions people make without realising they are doing so
They may involve imitating the behaviour of others, or modifying or correctly one's own behaviour
EG. crossing/uncrossing legs, touching the face, sitting in a particular way.
We all 'adapt' to those around us
Can carry strong messages, but is largely out of their control.
Cosmetics, wigs, hair dye an coloured lenses can superficially change appearance but height and body type are impossible to alter.
Dress is in the individuals control - what is acceptable at one time or place may be objectionable at others.
Flexibility with dress does not exist in all cultures
Notions of what is attractive differs among cultures. (eg. desirability to be 'fat')
The name given to communicating with the eyes.
Most common form = eye contact (can show attention and sometimes intimacy)
If there is not enough eye contact, people may assume lack of interest or trust.
If there's too much, people may assume rudeness.
In some cultures, communicating with the eyes is almost unconscious, a skill that people learn from imitation, without being aware they are learning it.
The trouble is that the amount of eye contact customary, differs between cultures - so what seems to indicate genuine interest may actually be seen as over-curiosity.
Some eye movemens signal culture-specific meanings (EG. winking is a joke in the west but tells a child to leave a room in Nigeria and is an insult in India).
The term for touching behaviour
People are conditioned by their culture to expect and accept a varying amount of touching, and will find more/less than they expect to be embarrassing.
Awareness of the potential for sexual misinterpretation, may stop people touching others as freely as they feel inclined to do, both in a business and an academic sitting.
Touhcing to gain attention is rare in low contact cultures, except from children.
Adaption may be necessary since not all people will react in the same way to different forms of touching - What may seem intrusive and even sinister, may be intended as no more than friendliness.
How we deal with space proximity, the use of space to communicate.
Place / space signifies different things in different culture (eg. sitting where the light hits your desk/room)
Whatever the culture, people stand at a different distance from one another to greet and to converse, depending on whether the situation is intimate, personal, social or public.
Sometimes gender is significant (women tend to borrow space, as apposed to men who own the space)
What is personal in one culture may be intimate in another.
In countries with a high density of population, personal space is treasured.
The proxemics of houses say a lot about a culture (eg. no fence, curtains, light sliding doors)
Hall (1966) proposed four spacial zones:
He suggested these as usual North American Zones
Intimate = 18 ins
Personal = 18ins - 4ft
Social = 4-12ft
Public = 12-25 ft
PRIVACY AND TERRITORIALITY:
Both the time at which and the places where people can call on others vary between cultures.
There are differing attitudes to possessions (commonly in highly mobile societies), eg what is someones 'private' space, such as their car or fridge.
The sound of language, the vocal characteristics
EG. Tone of voice, volume (loud or soft), giggling, moaning, groaning, wolf-whistling, swallowing, 'fillers' such as eh, sort of, you know, er, um.
Although it is part of spoken language, it is excluded from verbal language as it cannot be checked in any dictionary.
It can add or reduce to the effectiveness of the message.
Fillers are used unconsciously by speakers but can seem to some listeners as uneducated or irritating.
White can symbolise purity
Red/pink can symbolise good fortune
Black can symbolise mourning
In some cultures, avoidance of colour is important (eg against their religious beliefs)
Natural human smells are generally considered unpleasant in the west. However in African and Arab countries it's considered desirable.
Man-made smells are used to make themselves more attractive (especially women).
Some are comfortable with silence, others are not.
In low context cultures, silence is avoided, where as in high context cultures people use it as a deliberate strategy.
Contemplation and meditation take place in silence.
Silence can be seen as a gap in conversation (westerners) or as a part of conversation (Japanese).
Meals and giving of food can be important in some cultures, before any conversation/communication can occur.
The types of food differs
Meat can sometimes upset/offend people
Table manners differ (eg belching can be rude, or a sign of appreciation, alcohol is valued to some but evil to others).
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN U.S and N.Z:
Queuing - NZ require more personal space
Boarding an elevator - NZ are impatient, will dart on when given the slight chance.
Detecting an accent - NZ are very curious about a person's accent
Group nonverbal communication - NZ do everything in groups
Telling a joke - NZ keep a straight face when joking
Volume of voice - NZ speak with a very low tone
Physical touching - NZ are very forward in their personal touching, as are U.S, but are less into PDA as U.S are.
Makeup - NZ wear little makeup, quite conservative, only on special occasions
Personal dress - NZ dress very informally, they like their different hats.