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The same words said in a hesitant tone of voice might convey disapproval and a lack of interest. A friend might ask you how you are doing, and you might respond with the standard "I'm fine," but how you actually say those words might reveal a tremendous amount of how you are really feeling. A cold tone of voice might suggest that you are actually not fine, but you don't wish to discuss it.

A bright, happy tone of voice will reveal that you are actually doing quite well. A somber, downcast tone would indicate that you are the opposite of fine and that perhaps your friend should inquire further. Posture and movement can also convey a great deal of information. While these nonverbal behaviors can indicate feelings and attitudes , research suggests that body language is far more subtle and less definitive than previously believed.

People often refer to their need for "personal space," which is also an important type of nonverbal communication. For example, the amount of personal space needed when having a casual conversation with another person usually varies between 18 inches to four feet. On the other hand, the personal distance needed when speaking to a crowd of people is around 10 to 12 feet.

The Definitions Of Hand Gestures Around The World

The eyes play an important role in nonverbal communication and such things as looking, staring and blinking are important nonverbal behaviors. When people encounter people or things that they like, the rate of blinking increases and pupils dilate. Looking at another person can indicate a range of emotions including hostility, interest, and attraction.

Teachers’ Nonverbal Behavior and its Effects on Students | SpringerLink

People also utilize eye gaze as a means to determine if someone is being honest. Shifty eyes and an inability to maintain eye contact, on the other hand, is frequently seen as an indicator that someone is lying or being deceptive. Communicating through touch is another important nonverbal behavior. There has been a substantial amount of research on the importance of touch in infancy and early childhood. Harry Harlow's classic monkey study demonstrated how deprived touch and contact impedes development. Baby monkeys raised by wire mothers experienced permanent deficits in behavior and social interaction.

Touch can be used to communicate affection, familiarity, sympathy, and other emotions. In her book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters , author Julia Wood writes that touch is also often used as a way to communicate both status and power. Sex differences also play a role in how people utilize touch to communicate meaning. Women tend to use touch to convey care, concern, and nurturance.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to use touch to assert power or control over others. Our choice of color, clothing, hairstyles, and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments, and interpretations.


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Just think of all the subtle judgments you quickly make about someone based on his or her appearance. These first impressions are important, which is why experts suggest that job seekers dress appropriately for interviews with potential employers. Researchers have found that appearance can play a role in how people are perceived and even how much they earn. One study found that attorneys who were rated as more attractive than their peers earned nearly 15 percent more than those ranked as less attractive. Culture is an important influence on how appearances are judged.

While thinness tends to be valued in Western cultures, some African cultures relate full-figured bodies to better health, wealth, and social status.

Nonverbal Communication

Objects and images are also tools that can be used to communicate nonverbally. On an online forum, for example, you might select an avatar to represent your identity online and to communicate information about who you are and the things you like. People often spend a great deal of time developing a particular image and surrounding themselves with objects designed to convey information about the things that are important to them.

Uniforms, for example, can be used to transmit a tremendous amount of information about a person.

A soldier will don fatigues, a police offers will wear a uniform, and a doctor will wear a white lab coat. At a mere glance, these outfits tell people what a person does for a living. Nonverbal communication plays an important role in how we convey meaning and information to others, as well as how we interpret the actions of those around us.

The important thing to remember when looking at such nonverbal behaviors is to consider the actions in groups. What a person actually says along with his or her expressions, appearance, and tone of voice might tell you a great deal about what that person is really trying to say. Have you ever wondered what your personality type means? Sign up to get these answers, and more, delivered straight to your inbox. Frith C. Role of facial expressions in social interactions.


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Nonverbal Behavior: Applications and Cultural Implications

Gender affects body language reading. Front Psychol.


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  • Mccall C, Singer T. This can include eye contact, frequency of glances, blink rate, gestures, facial expressions, postures, and more. The presentation is, perhaps, the one mode of communication that has proved relevant through every technological innovation. Nonverbal signals can increase trust, clarity, and add interest to your presentation when yielded properly. Learning how to become more sensitive to body language and nonverbal cues will make you the best presenter you can be.

    How is it that non-verbal communication is the element of the in-person presentation that has caused it to be the default response when responses matter most: inaugural addresses, States of the Union, getting big accounts, keeping big accounts—the list goes on and on. Perhaps because this form of communication shares so much more than dialogue.

    Nonverbal Behavior

    According to the Edward G. Wertheim , author of The Importance of Effective Communication , there are five main effects that nonverbal communication can have:. Contradiction — They can contradict the message and make the speaker seem untruthful. Complementing — They can compliment a verbal message, for instance, a pat on the back. D Carol Kinsey Goman. Let your appearance speak for you. According to a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior journal in , people gained cooperation from others, received job recommendations, gained a higher salary, and received larger contributions for charity when they wore perceived high-status clothing.

    As you practice your presentation, film yourself. What do your facial expressions communicate? Happiness, fear, sadness, surprise, or boredom? Does the way that you point, wave, or flail your hands distract from the message, or enhance your points? Try to film yourself for more than one practice to see where nonverbal patterns emerge, and where you can strengthen your physical delivery.