Gregoria Arum Yudarwati
“To appreciate the importance of
nonverbal communication to human
interaction, you should reflect a moment
on the countless times in a day that you
send and receive nonverbal messages”
approximately 60-65% of social meaning is derived from
nonverbal behaviour
nonverbal messages are perceived as more reliable than
verbal messages
(Guerrero 1999)
‘speakers of every language accompany
their words with non verbal signals that
serve to mark the structure of their
Peter Farb (1973:224)
 Verbal based primarily on symbols
 Non verbal based on signals/signs
 Verbal com – unrestricted sending capacity
 Non verbal com- restricted sending capacity
 Formal v informal code systems
Neuliep 2006:288
Defining Nonverbal Communication
“Communication occurs whenever a person attempts to
send a message or whenever a person perceives and
assigns meaning to behaviour” (Frey 2000)
“Nonverbal Communication involves all those nonverbal
stimuli in a communication setting that are generated by
both the source and his or her use of the environment
and that have potential message value for the source or
receiver” (Samovar 2007:197).
 Nonverbal communication is multidimensional
Multidimensionality: messages are sent simultaneously and often
interacts with verbal communication :
• repeating
• complementing
• substituting
• regulating
• contradicting
(Samovar 2007)
 Nonverbal messages are organised into codes
“Codes are organised message systems consisting of a set symbols and
rules for their use” (Guerrero 1999:7).
Each code is communicated by a different nonverbal channel, such as
body, space between people, etc.
 Nonverbal messages are functional (Guerrero 1999)
- creating impressions
- managing interaction
- expressing emotion
- sending relational messages
- deceiving and detecting deception
- sending messages of power and persuasion
 Nonverbal messages are influenced by context (Guerrero 1999)
 The relational context
 The situation
 Culture
 Judging internal states (Samovar 2007)
 shows attitudes, feelings, and emotions
 Body behaviour
 Facial expressions
 Eye contact and gaze
(Leathers 1997:12)
 General appearance
“We tend to draw on a person’s attractiveness, dress, and personal
artefacts to make inferences (often faulty) about that individual’s
intelligence, gender, age, approachability, financial well-being, class,
tastes, values, and cultural background” (Ruben 1992:213).
 Skin colour
“Skin colour is the first racial marker…and can be considered the
most salient of phenotypic attributes” (Vazquez 1997:377)
“In many respects, permanent skin colours have been the
most potent body stimulus for determining interpersonal
responses in our culture” (Knapp & Hall in Samovar 2007:202)
 Attire (clothing)
 “Clothing can be used to convey economic status, education,
social status, moral standards, athletic ability and/or interests,
belief system (political, philosophical, religious), and level of
sophistication” (Adler & Rodman in Samovar 2007:203).
 Clothing also can be a reflection of a culture’s value
 Sikhs in white turbans, Japanese in kimonos, Hasidic Jews in
blue yarmulkes, Africans in white dashikis, etc – It is
important to be tolerant of these external differences so that
these will not impede communication.
(Samovar 2007)
 Olfactics (the study of communication via smell)
“Smell can stimulate memory and affect our health and
moods” (Furlow 1999:118).
“Americans do not seem to consciously rely on their
sense of smell for very much interpersonal
information unless the smell is unusually strong or
inappropriate to the situation. Nevertheless, people
(at least in many parts of Europe and North America)
do seem to have an ongoing interest in how others
perceive and evaluate their olfactory cues” (Aune 1999:127).
Kinesics cues are those visible body shifts and movements that
can send messages about:
1. Attitude towards the other person
2. Emotional state
3. Desire to control the environment
“How people hold themselves, stand, sit, and walk
communicates strong nonverbal messages…Every move
you make potentially communicates something about you
to others” (Morreale, Spitzberg, and Barge in Samovar 2007:204)
 Posture
Posture offers insight into a culture’s deep structure.
For example: in Japan, the bow is much more than a greeting. Low
posture is an indicator of respect.
 Sitting
 Gesture
“Some gestures that are positive, humorous, or harmless in some
cultures can have the opposite meaning in other cultures” (Samovar 2007)
 Pointing
 Idiosyncratic gestures (gestures whose meanings are the feature
and property of a particular culture)
 Beckoning
 Acceptance and understanding
 Amount and size of the gestures
 Facial Expression
 reflect course of action
 convey messages of social submissiveness and dominance
 tell others how interested you are
 signal your degree of involvement
 indicate your level of comprehension about the moment
 divulge whether or not your reactions are spontaneous or
managed” (Samovar 2007:208)
There are at least six facial expressions that are innate, universal
and carry the same basic meaning throughout the world:
happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise.
 Eye contact and gaze
Eyes are the primary centre of visual attention:
 43.4% of the time, attention is focused on the eyes than other part
of body
 12.6% of the time, attention is focused on the mouth (Janik, Goldberg, and
DeLosse in Leathers 1997:54)
Communicative functions (Leathers 1997:54)
 Indicate degrees of attentiveness, interest, arousal
 Help initiate and sustain intimate relationships
 Influence attitude change and persuasion
 Regulate interaction
 Communicate emotions
 Define power and status relationships
 Assume a central role in impression management
(Samovar 2007)
 The emotion function
 The impression management function
 The regulatory function
 Vocal characteristics (laughing, crying, yelling, moaning,
whining, belching, yawning),
 Vocal quality (volume, pitch, rhythm, tempo, resonance,
 Loudness and softness deliver different meanings in
different cultures.
Functions (Leathers 1997) :
 The impression management
 The affiliation function
 The privacy function
 Personal distance (Hall 1968)
 Intimate: actual contact to 18 inches, close relationships.
 Casual-personal: 1.5 – 4 feet, casual conversations, friends
 Social: 4-12 feet, strangers, business
 Public:12-25 feet, formal meetings, lectures
 Territoriality (Lyman & Scott 1999)
 Public territories
 Home territories
 Interactional territories
 Body territories
 Sitting
 Furniture arrangement, e.g. feng shui (the art of manipulating
the physical environment to establish harmony with the natural
environment to achieve happiness, prosperity, and health)
Functions (Leathers 1997):
 Emotional support function
 Power function
 Affiliation function
 Other functions: an interaction signal in greetings, farewell,
congratulations, or in ceremonies.
A culture’s conception of time (Samovar 2007):
 Informal time
 Punctuality
 Pace
 Perception of past, present, and future
 Cultures that have past-oriented philosophy tend to apply past
events to similar new situations – resisting change
 Present-oriented cultures – emphasize enjoying and living in
the moment
 Future oriented cultures – change, taking chances, and
 Hall’s monochronic and polychronic classification
 A monochronic view of time believes time is a scarce resource
which must be rationed and controlled through the use of
schedules and appointments, and through aiming to do only
one thing at any time” (Samovar 2007:223).
 A polychronic view of time believes sees the maintenance of
harmonious relationships as the important agenda, so that use
of time needs to be flexible in order that we do right by the
various people to whom we have obligations” (Samovar 2007:223-224)
Lessons for cross cultural communicators
 Nonverbal communication is culture-bound
 Be sensitive, aware of, and understand the cultural factors that
influence nonverbal communication
 Ethnocentric behaviour
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