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What is Nonverbal Communication? When most people hear the words "Nonverbal Communication" the first image that pops into their mind is a picture of a person who is deaf or someone who cannot speak and has learned to communicate through sign language or other nonverbal means of communication. Most people are not aware that in reality almost 30% of communication between human beings is nonverbal and that it exists in our everyday conversations. In this paper I plan not only to talk about the functions, uses, types, and development of nonverbal communication but I would also like to discuss the importance of it in our every day lives.
Nonverbal communication is a silent form of communication, which has a great influence over our social environment and the whole communication process. Nonverbal communication allows us to send messages to others conveying what we are feeling or thinking without verbal language. Nonverbal Communication has many different functions in the communication process. It regulates relationships and can support or even replace verbal communication in some situations.
Before we look at the specific types of nonverbal communication I would like to take a moment and look at the different functions of it. There are five main functions that are associated with it, Regulatory function, Interpersonal function, Emblematic function, Illustrative function and Adaptive function.
The first function is the Regulatory Function, which is there to provide vital clues so the listener can interpret what the speaker is really trying to tell them. This function helps people communicate with others whose self-presentation, feedback, and manner are different from what they are accustomed to. For example If you meet someone who speaks a different language you could still tell them hello by tipping your hat to them or simply smiling at them. These gestures are the same throughout cultures and usually stand the test of time.
The second function is the Interpersonal Function, which is there to help express attitudes and emotions it interpersonal relations. This function helps people communicate through looks and other gestures instead of language. Instead of telling someone that you don't want to listen to what they are saying you might roll your eyes at them or not even look at them at all. Many children do this when being scorned by a parent.
The third function is the Emblematic Function, which is largely the use of gestures to convey a specific message. For example crinkling your nose when someone asks you if you would like something to eat. By crinkling your nose you have told them that you dislike whatever they asked you without saying a single word. Small children, who are not able to speak yet, use this when their parents ask them questions. If the parent asks them if they would like to do something that they like to do they get excited and smile but if it is something that they do not like to do for example going to bed or taking a knap they may pout or even cry. The parent understands what they want by the facial expressions and the body language that they use.
The forth function is the Illustrative Function, which is used to indicate size, shape, distance, and things of that manner. For example when you are talking to someone and they ask you where you live you might point in the direction of your house. This gives them a general idea of where you live even before you have given them directions to get there.
The fifth and final function of nonverbal communication is the Adaptive Function, which usually involves an unconscious act such as playing with your hair, chewing on a pen or shuffling your feet when your talking to someone new. This function is used by the speaker as a form of reassurance or self-worth and is usually used when the speaker is in an uneasy situation and needs some encouragement or reassurance.
Along with different types of nonverbal communication there are different uses for it. The first way that it can be used is to compliment your spoken message. For instance when you are telling someone that you will miss them when they are leaving you might embrace them in a strong endearing hug. This action not only compliments the spoken words that you have told them, but reinforces them and lets the other person know that you really mean what you are saying to them. This type of nonverbal communication is used to emphasize what you are saying.
The second way that you can use nonverbal communication is to contradict the spoken message that you are trying to send to someone. Since actions speak louder than words the nonverbal part of the communication will outweigh the spoken. For example you might tell your boyfriend/girlfriend that you believe that he/she was out with the guys/girls like they are telling you, but at the same time, you might roll your eyes and turn awa
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
Names referenced in this report
William James, Kinesics, Ed Hall,
Organizations included in this paper
Illinois Institute of Technology,
Keywords referenced in this paper
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