Friday, June 22, 2007

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is the study of all of the nonverbal stimuli that are generated by the source and how they utilize the environment and how that may have a potential message value for the source or receiver. Nonverbal communication is influenced by a person's culture and the society in which they live. It is also influenced by their sex and gender. Nonverbal communication is learned by watching other people. It is taught by other members of the society, so it will vary from culture to culture.

The nonverbal communication will have an effect on the success of one's intercultural communication. Nonverbal communication is not set; it is ambiguous and may vary from culture to culture. In order to be a successful nonverbal intercultural communicator, one must learn the nonverbals for that particular culture. Because many times nonverbal communication is done unconsciously, the wrong message can be sent without a person even being aware of it.

Proxemics relates to personal space, seating, and furniture arrangement. In the United States, the promexics are greater than they are in many other cultures, especially European cultures. There exists a difference in proxemics between intimate and causal distances and the social
and public distances. Americans tend to take up less space and leave plenty of room in between; Italians will pack on as many people as they can into an already crowded, small space. Proxemics can also communicate status and role distinction. In the United States, the person sitting at the head of the table has the most power. Also, in an office setting, the person behind the desk holds the power. Harmony, privacy, and even centralization are all evidenced by proxemics. In the United States, we center our living room around the television. Many other countries have seating so that it is facing each other. This shows what cultures emphasize. The United States is placing the emphasis on the TV and media. Other countries are placing the emphasis on interpersonal communication, talking with other people, relationship building, or simply conversation in general.

Body language, or kinesics, shows a great deal. It can demonstrate the attitude you hold towards someone else. It can show if you're in an emotional state. It can also show a desire to control your environment, all depending on what you do. Italians are much freer with their body language than Americans are. They use gestures much more frequently, especially when they are highly emotional. When they greet each other, they hug and kiss on each cheek. Americans hand shake, which shows how we are much more formal.

Haptics is how touch relays information. This varies from culture to culture. In the United States, touch is not highly valued. We are more of a Puritanical culture that doesn't really show much affection. It's different in Europe, especially in Italy, where people touch each other all of the time. When we were in Florence, Allie, Rachel and I saw two friends literally leap up to great each other, the one running and jumping on the other one. You would not witness that in the States. Their greeting showed that they were close friends who hadn't seen each other in some time. It was nice to see people being freer with their emotions, although it was a little strange.


andypanda122 said...

A few things came to me while reading this entry.

First and foremost, what is the difference between sex and gender? (Just kidding...I know that you write quickly on these blogs.) But you may want to also consider age-related factors in non-verbal communication. I believe teenagers have specific and universal non-verbal communications that cross cultural lines. I'm sure that I am not the only parent whose daughter's "eyelashes were just sticking together!" To this day, I still chuckle over that one...and did I ever thank you for that? (I hope you, too, can chuckle over that one now--because that's when I confirmed to myself how intelligent, creative, and quick on your feet you are).

Another thing that comes into play is how first generation, second, generation, third generation, etc., European descentants handle the non-comm. relationships. I still can hear my dad telling the story of how he and Uncle George met in a bar in Maryland, ran across the bar toward one another, and hugged. And oh the stares they got. But as 1st generationers, they continued the tradition. Do future generations continue the same or does it get watered down?

And finally, my last our house, no matter how big our kitchen is, that's where all the people "hang." When Pop and Gram came for Father's Day...we ended up staying in the kitchen the whole time--3 to 4 hours! Actually, I like that, though. One of the reasons I designed the house the way I did was so that people could see and be comfortably together in that space. It's also the reason that the family room has two swivel chairs and the love seat faces the couch...not necessarily the best way to watch TV. Maybe that reflects the aspect of my personality that looks for adapting to varying situations.

Well, I am enjoying reading your stuff...hopefully, you're getting to know your Mom better, too.

I love you, Pam, and will be seeing you soon!


Did you say you were paying half of the cell phone bill:)?

Rodrigo said...
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