Difference between revisions of "Non-verbal communication"

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'''Non-verbal communication''' refers to the significant amount of communication that takes place between people without using actual [[word]]s.  
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'''Non-verbal communication'''(/nɒn vɜ:bəl kəmju:nɪkeɪʃən/) refers to the significant amount of communication that takes place between people without using actual [[word]]s.  
  
It includes sounds like clearing the throat, or ums to express a variety of things such as embarrassment, hesitation or disagreement. Other important aspects are eye contact and body language in general and, more specifically, the facial expressions, gestures and postures that form part of one's culture and [[language]].
+
It includes non-speech sounds like clearing the throat, or "ums" to express a variety of things such as embarrassment, [[Hesitation marker|hesitation]] or disagreement, or "clicks" such as “tut-tut”or “tsk-tsk” to express disapproval.<ref name= roach>[http://www.cambridge.org/elt/peterroach/resources/Glossary.pdf Roach, Peter. "English Phonetics and Phonology: Glossary"] [[Cambridge University Press]]. Retrieved 8th October 2012.</ref>
  
 
Teachers often make use of exaggeratedly raised eyebrows or remind students about the 3rd-person singular -s by lifting up three fingers to avoid interrupting the flow of a student's speech when [[correcting mistakes]].
 
Teachers often make use of exaggeratedly raised eyebrows or remind students about the 3rd-person singular -s by lifting up three fingers to avoid interrupting the flow of a student's speech when [[correcting mistakes]].
 +
 +
It can be either voluntary, as in the case of gestures or involuntary, as in the case of blushing.
  
 
== What could be included in non-verbal communication? ==
 
== What could be included in non-verbal communication? ==
The possible range of things which could be included in the broadest definition of "non-verbal communication" is larger than one might initially think.  Some of the following will add to what is actually being said and other elements will simply communicate additional information about the individual.   
+
The possible range of things which could be included in the broadest definition of "non-verbal communication" is larger than one might initially think.  Some of the following will add to or perhaps emphasise what is actually being said, while other elements will simply communicate additional information about the individual.   
  
 
=== Physical body ===
 
=== Physical body ===
 
A vast range of things which could be either voluntary or involuntary:
 
A vast range of things which could be either voluntary or involuntary:
  
====voluntary====
+
====Voluntary====
 
*blowing (as a way to express exasperation or relief)
 
*blowing (as a way to express exasperation or relief)
 
*breathing deeply
 
*breathing deeply
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*shrugging your shoulders
 
*shrugging your shoulders
 
*tapping your fingers
 
*tapping your fingers
*thumbs up/down
 
 
*waving hello/goodbye
 
*waving hello/goodbye
 
*hand shaking
 
*hand shaking
 
*kissing
 
*kissing
 +
*thumbs up/down and a vast range of other gestures, many of which will be culture specific.
  
=====Involuntary=====
+
====Involuntary====
 
*crying
 
*crying
 
*laughing
 
*laughing
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*Stance/posture
 
*Stance/posture
 
*shaking
 
*shaking
*sighing
+
*sweating
  
 
=== Facial ===
 
=== Facial ===
 +
As with the physical body, information may be sent voluntarily or involuntarily.
 +
 
*pursing one's lips (as in irritation or disapproval)
 
*pursing one's lips (as in irritation or disapproval)
 
*rolling your eyes
 
*rolling your eyes
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*winking
 
*winking
 
*frowning
 
*frowning
*unconscious expressions of surprise, anger etc.
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*a vast number of unconscious expressions such as surprise, anger, fear etc.<ref>[http://www.apa.org/releases/expressions-1208.html American Psychological Association "Certain facial expressions innate, not visually learned"]</ref>
  
 
=== Appearance ===
 
=== Appearance ===
 +
It is well known that we can "make a statement" by the clothes we wear, but it is also likely that we provide information to our audience by means of other, more or less unconscious decisions as well.
 +
 
*the clothes one wears - formal, informal, holiday
 
*the clothes one wears - formal, informal, holiday
*not wearing clothes
+
*not wearing certain garments: tie, suit
*length of hair
+
*length/colour of hair
 
*jewelry
 
*jewelry
 
*makeup
 
*makeup
*piercings
+
*piercings/tattoos
 +
*shaving
  
 
=== Speech ===
 
=== Speech ===
 
If by non-verbal we mean "information which is not explicitly carried in the lexis" then we can include the following:
 
If by non-verbal we mean "information which is not explicitly carried in the lexis" then we can include the following:
  
*choice of words used - the [[register]] or level of formality selected.
+
*choice of words used - the [[register]] or level of [[formality]] selected.
 
*pauses
 
*pauses
 
*use of [[stress]] such as contrastive stress
 
*use of [[stress]] such as contrastive stress
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*tone of voice
 
*tone of voice
 
*[[accent]]
 
*[[accent]]
 +
*nervousness or confidence in delivery
  
 
It is interesting that English [[grammar]] does not give us any conventional way to realistically and consistently express much of the above in the written language. (Register/formality is an obvious exception.) Hence the use of [[Teflpedia:Emoticon | emoticon]]s, bold, italics etc., especially when communicating on-line and when the writer wishes to find some way to include emotional content.     
 
It is interesting that English [[grammar]] does not give us any conventional way to realistically and consistently express much of the above in the written language. (Register/formality is an obvious exception.) Hence the use of [[Teflpedia:Emoticon | emoticon]]s, bold, italics etc., especially when communicating on-line and when the writer wishes to find some way to include emotional content.     
  
 
Considering the above, it is possible that no hard and fast rule can be drawn between verbal and non-verbal communication as, at some level, they will be difficult to tease apart.
 
Considering the above, it is possible that no hard and fast rule can be drawn between verbal and non-verbal communication as, at some level, they will be difficult to tease apart.
 +
 +
==What can be communicated using non-verbal communication?==
 +
Given the above - incomplete - list of communication methods one can wonder what may be communicated non-verbally. While the oft-quoted "93% of all communication" figure is based on a misunderstanding of the research, it is clear that a large number of things can be communicated.
 +
 +
===Voluntary communication===
 +
In the case of sign language and lip-reading one could argue that 100% of communication is potentially non-verbal.  However given that these are specialised skills generally only learnt by those with some difficulty in using aural communication these are probably best considered to be special cases.
 +
 +
The majority of people therefore use non-verbal communication consciously to express concepts such as agreement and disagreement, pleasure, lack of knowledge, lust, numbers, boredom, formal welcomes, acknowledgement of a shared secret.  Many of these would seem to be attempts to express some emotional state which it would be difficult or awkward to express in words. 
 +
 +
Meanwhile, with our appearance we can express social status, political affiliation, likes and dislikes, attitude to social norms.
 +
 +
===Involuntary communication===
 +
 +
Involuntary communication would seem to be largely concerned with revealing our inner emotional state to others. It is in this area that most research seems to have been carried out and when there is a mismatch between these signals and the verbal content problems arise.
 +
 +
It seems possible that some people are more adept at reading these emotional cues than others; and that likewise some individuals are more adept at suppressing them than others.
  
 
== Importance ==
 
== Importance ==
While some sources put the figure as high as 90% of communication,<ref>[http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:1bfTRZx5PNMJ:www.sagepub.com/upm-data/11826_Chapter8.pdf+chomsky+AND+%22nonverbal+language%22&cd=14&hl=es&ct=clnk&gl=es&client=firefox-a The nonverbal code]</ref> others are more cautious, and while acknowledging the importance of this kind of communication, put the figure lower.  The much-touted "90%" figure seems to have originally come from the work of [[Albert Mehrabian]], specifically related to communications of feelings and attitudes. However it seems that he never used the figure 90% and was only interested in emotional content anyway,<ref>[http://www.kaaj.com/psych/smorder.html Silent Messages by Albert Mehrabian]</ref> leading to some people claiming that the 90% figure is an [[urban myth]].<ref>[http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-1332.html#1 90% urban myth]</ref><ref>[http://www.wifcon.com/discussion/index.php?autocom=blog&blogid=6&showentry=322 Myth-Information: Communication is 93% Nonverbal]</ref>  
+
While some sources erroneously put the figure as high as 93% of communication,<ref>[http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:1bfTRZx5PNMJ:www.sagepub.com/upm-data/11826_Chapter8.pdf+chomsky+AND+%22nonverbal+language%22&cd=14&hl=es&ct=clnk&gl=es&client=firefox-a Neuliep, James W. ''Intercultural communication: a contextual approach'' (2009) Chapter 8: The nonverbal code ISBN 978-1-4129-6770-9]</ref> the real figure is certainly much lower.  The much-touted "93%" figure seems to have originally come from the work of [[Albert Mehrabian]], and it specifically related to communications of feelings and attitudes.
 +
 
 +
However it seems that:
 +
 
 +
*he never used the figure 93% and
 +
*was only interested in emotional content anyway,<ref>[http://www.kaaj.com/psych/smorder.html Mehrabian, Albert ''Silent Messages'' (1981)]</ref>
 +
 
 +
All of which leaves the 93% figure with the status of [[language myth]].<ref>[http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-1332.html#1 90% urban myth]</ref><ref>[http://www.wifcon.com/discussion/index.php?autocom=blog&blogid=6&showentry=322 Myth-Information: Communication is 93% Nonverbal]</ref>  
  
 
As [[Noam Chomsky|Chomsky]] points out,<ref>[http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1983----.htm The Psychology of Language and Thought. Noam Chomsky interviewed by Robert W. Rieber]</ref> it is necessary to distinguish between communication and [[language]]. In his view language, strictly speaking, and which may be verbal or not, as in the case of sign language for the deaf, corresponds to a set of formal grammatical rules whereas comunication includes all aspects of human relationships.
 
As [[Noam Chomsky|Chomsky]] points out,<ref>[http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1983----.htm The Psychology of Language and Thought. Noam Chomsky interviewed by Robert W. Rieber]</ref> it is necessary to distinguish between communication and [[language]]. In his view language, strictly speaking, and which may be verbal or not, as in the case of sign language for the deaf, corresponds to a set of formal grammatical rules whereas comunication includes all aspects of human relationships.
Line 79: Line 110:
 
== See also ==
 
== See also ==
 
*[[Affective filter]]
 
*[[Affective filter]]
 +
*[[Body language conversation questions]]
 +
*[[Cross-cultural differences]]
 +
*[[Humour conversation questions]]
 
*[[Interjection]]
 
*[[Interjection]]
 
*[[Linguistic competence]]
 
*[[Linguistic competence]]
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*[[Meetings conversation questions]]
 
*[[Meetings conversation questions]]
 
*[[Methodology]]
 
*[[Methodology]]
 +
*[[NLP]]
 +
*[[Phonetic symbol]]
  
 
== External links ==
 
== External links ==
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*[http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Sloan-School-of-Management/15-281Spring2004/BE8A9AEB-CBBC-4A61-A473-8FF4B143C151/0/nonverbal.pdf Hartman, Neal A. "Nonverbal communication" MIT Sloan School of Management]
 
*[http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Sloan-School-of-Management/15-281Spring2004/BE8A9AEB-CBBC-4A61-A473-8FF4B143C151/0/nonverbal.pdf Hartman, Neal A. "Nonverbal communication" MIT Sloan School of Management]
 
*[http://www.pnas.org/content/105/27/9163.full Goldin-Meadow, Susan et al "The natural order of events: How speakers of different languages represent events nonverbally" in ''PNAS'' - ''Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America'']
 
*[http://www.pnas.org/content/105/27/9163.full Goldin-Meadow, Susan et al "The natural order of events: How speakers of different languages represent events nonverbally" in ''PNAS'' - ''Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America'']
 +
*[http://www.apa.org/releases/gesturing.html American Psychological Association "Gesturing helps grade-schoolers solve math problems"]
 +
*[http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html Amy Cuddy: "Your body language shapes who you are"] at [[TED]]
  
 
+
[[Category:Language]]
[[Category:Linguistics]]
 

Latest revision as of 05:58, 30 April 2019

Non-verbal communication(/nɒn vɜ:bəl kəmju:nɪkeɪʃən/) refers to the significant amount of communication that takes place between people without using actual words.

It includes non-speech sounds like clearing the throat, or "ums" to express a variety of things such as embarrassment, hesitation or disagreement, or "clicks" such as “tut-tut”or “tsk-tsk” to express disapproval.[1]

Teachers often make use of exaggeratedly raised eyebrows or remind students about the 3rd-person singular -s by lifting up three fingers to avoid interrupting the flow of a student's speech when correcting mistakes.

It can be either voluntary, as in the case of gestures or involuntary, as in the case of blushing.

What could be included in non-verbal communication?[edit]

The possible range of things which could be included in the broadest definition of "non-verbal communication" is larger than one might initially think. Some of the following will add to or perhaps emphasise what is actually being said, while other elements will simply communicate additional information about the individual.

Physical body[edit]

A vast range of things which could be either voluntary or involuntary:

Voluntary[edit]

  • blowing (as a way to express exasperation or relief)
  • breathing deeply
  • coughing (as a way to express an opinion, attract attention)
  • giving the finger (and multiple other obscene gestures)
  • shrugging your shoulders
  • tapping your fingers
  • waving hello/goodbye
  • hand shaking
  • kissing
  • thumbs up/down and a vast range of other gestures, many of which will be culture specific.

Involuntary[edit]

  • crying
  • laughing
  • sighing
  • Stance/posture
  • shaking
  • sweating

Facial[edit]

As with the physical body, information may be sent voluntarily or involuntarily.

  • pursing one's lips (as in irritation or disapproval)
  • rolling your eyes
  • smiling
  • winking
  • frowning
  • a vast number of unconscious expressions such as surprise, anger, fear etc.[2]

Appearance[edit]

It is well known that we can "make a statement" by the clothes we wear, but it is also likely that we provide information to our audience by means of other, more or less unconscious decisions as well.

  • the clothes one wears - formal, informal, holiday
  • not wearing certain garments: tie, suit
  • length/colour of hair
  • jewelry
  • makeup
  • piercings/tattoos
  • shaving

Speech[edit]

If by non-verbal we mean "information which is not explicitly carried in the lexis" then we can include the following:

  • choice of words used - the register or level of formality selected.
  • pauses
  • use of stress such as contrastive stress
  • speed of delivery
  • tone of voice
  • accent
  • nervousness or confidence in delivery

It is interesting that English grammar does not give us any conventional way to realistically and consistently express much of the above in the written language. (Register/formality is an obvious exception.) Hence the use of emoticons, bold, italics etc., especially when communicating on-line and when the writer wishes to find some way to include emotional content.

Considering the above, it is possible that no hard and fast rule can be drawn between verbal and non-verbal communication as, at some level, they will be difficult to tease apart.

What can be communicated using non-verbal communication?[edit]

Given the above - incomplete - list of communication methods one can wonder what may be communicated non-verbally. While the oft-quoted "93% of all communication" figure is based on a misunderstanding of the research, it is clear that a large number of things can be communicated.

Voluntary communication[edit]

In the case of sign language and lip-reading one could argue that 100% of communication is potentially non-verbal. However given that these are specialised skills generally only learnt by those with some difficulty in using aural communication these are probably best considered to be special cases.

The majority of people therefore use non-verbal communication consciously to express concepts such as agreement and disagreement, pleasure, lack of knowledge, lust, numbers, boredom, formal welcomes, acknowledgement of a shared secret. Many of these would seem to be attempts to express some emotional state which it would be difficult or awkward to express in words.

Meanwhile, with our appearance we can express social status, political affiliation, likes and dislikes, attitude to social norms.

Involuntary communication[edit]

Involuntary communication would seem to be largely concerned with revealing our inner emotional state to others. It is in this area that most research seems to have been carried out and when there is a mismatch between these signals and the verbal content problems arise.

It seems possible that some people are more adept at reading these emotional cues than others; and that likewise some individuals are more adept at suppressing them than others.

Importance[edit]

While some sources erroneously put the figure as high as 93% of communication,[3] the real figure is certainly much lower. The much-touted "93%" figure seems to have originally come from the work of Albert Mehrabian, and it specifically related to communications of feelings and attitudes.

However it seems that:

  • he never used the figure 93% and
  • was only interested in emotional content anyway,[4]

All of which leaves the 93% figure with the status of language myth.[5][6]

As Chomsky points out,[7] it is necessary to distinguish between communication and language. In his view language, strictly speaking, and which may be verbal or not, as in the case of sign language for the deaf, corresponds to a set of formal grammatical rules whereas comunication includes all aspects of human relationships.

Steven Pinker refers to the "irony of the telecommunications age" in that phones, emails and video-conferencing have made the need for face-to-face business meetings obsolete: "But meetings continue to be a major expense for corporations... Why do we insist on doing business in the flesh? Because we do not trust someone until we see what makes him sweat."[8]

While many language teachers now accept that students need practice in skills other than those of a purely grammatical nature and therefore include exercises to make students more aware of linguistic aspects such as intonation, all too often they concentrate mainly on the traditional four skills of speaking and writing (productive skills) and listening and reading (receptive skills). A commonly-heard complaint and/or justification is that time is short and if they are to cover the syllabus they don't have time to include other aspects of language beyond the basics.

It is clear, however, that language cannot be separated from culture and as each culture and community has developed a series of coded behaviours which aid communication between its members - and often those of other communities, being aware of non-verbal cues helps students bridge the productive-receptive skills divide by connecting listening with speaking.

ESP courses which include teaching/practising areas such as presentation skills, negotiating and so on often include non-verbal communication.

References[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]