Nonverbal communication

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Discussion

Nonverbal Communication

  1. Do you think that online relationships (of any kind) are as satisfying as relationships developed from face-to-face interaction? Why or why not?
  2. How has the use of the Internet and text messaging affected the verbal communication and nonverbal communicationexchanged in relationships?
  3. Describe a time when you or someone else used nonverbal gestures which made you or others feel uncomfortable.
  4. Often cited research by Professor Albert Mehrabian (Links to an external site.) says that only 7% of feelings and attitudes are delivered in words (verbal communication); 38% of feelings and attitudes are paralinguistic (tone of voice/volume/pace/vocal cues) and 55% of feelings and attitudes in messages are expressed through facial expressions. Many other sources claim that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the meaning (not just feelings and attitudes) delivered in communication is delivered through nonverbal communication. You probably have been noticing more nonverbal communication since reviewing this week’s lecture; do you agree with Professor Mehrabian’s research? Explain your opinion, please.



Assignment


Find a public place where you can “people watch”. This could be a common area on campus, a restaurant or food court, a public place, a bus stop, a mall, etc.

Find two ADULTS who are clearly together, but whom you DO NOT know. DO NOT observe or include ANY children for this assignment – this is a legal issue with observations, so NO children should be part of your observation.

Make sure that your observation point allows you to SEE both people, but you’re NOT close enough to hear them – the point of this Assignment is to gather VISIBLE nonverbal communication only, you should not be able to hear them at all.

Watch the two adults for about three to five minutes, paying attention to the visible nonverbal communication between them that you witness. Answer the following in at least two very detailed paragraphs:

  1. Where are you observing these people?
  2. Based only on what you observe, what do you think is the relationship these two people have to each other? (For example, they are friends, spouses, relatives, boyfriend/girlfriend, or some other relationship.) Describe, in as much detail as possible, the visible nonverbal communication that makes you think so. (For example: Are they making eye contact? Standing or sitting? How close are they to each other? Are they touching in any way? Describe the body language and gestures you see them making.)
  3. Based only on what you observe, what type of conversation are they having; what emotions are they exhibiting? (For example, they are having a friendly discussion or an argument. They are angry, happy, sad, or stressed.) Describe, in as much detail as possible, the visible nonverbal communication that makes you think so. (For example: Are they making eye contact? What are their facial expressions? How close are they to each other? Are they touching in any way? Describe the body language and gestures you see them making.)
  4. Was their nonverbal communication appropriate for the setting in which you observed them? Why or why not?

Make note of as much nonverbal communication as possible and be as specific as possible in the descriptions. Don’t just say “they were happy”; describe the specific nonverbal communication that makes you think they were happy…eye contact, facial expression, body language, etc.:

  • Eye contact: were they looking at each other or avoiding eye contact?
  • Facial expressions: describe the expressions – frown, smile, shock, anger, etc.
  • Space/proximity: describe the distance between the two people (see the chart in this week’s Lecture).
  • Touch: describe any touching you witnessed.
  • Body language/ Gestures: describe their body language – arms at side, arms crossed over chest, expressive hands, pointing, crossed legs, kicking, etc.
  • Posture: were they sitting or standing up straight, slouching, leaning, etc.

The more specific the observations, the more we can determine based on the nonverbal communication we witness.

*If you are unable to travel to a populated public location, or if you object to observing a couple adults you don’t know, contact your instructor for an alternate exercise.*


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