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..............................................2 Symbols...........................................................................................................3 Icons................................................................................................................8 Definition. Nonverbal communication is any information we communicate without using words. As much as 93 percent of the impact of a message can depend on its nonverbal elements. Verbal communication and nonverbal communication often reinforce each other, but there is a clear difference as well. Verbal communication begins when a word is uttered, requires a single channel, is under your control, is structured, and is formally learned. Nonverbal communication is continuous, is multichanneled, is mostly habitual and unconscious, is largely structured, and is learned informally. Signals, signs, and symbols, three related components of communication processes found in all known cultures, have attracted considerable scholarly attention because they do not relate primarily to the usual conception of words or language. Each is apparently an increasingly more complex modification of the former, and each was probably developed in the depths of prehistory before, or at the start of, man’s early experiments with vocal language. Signals A signal may be considered as an interruption in a field of constant energy transfer. An example is the dots and dashes that open and close the electromagnetic field of a telegraph circuit. Such interruptions do not require the construction of a man-made field; interruptions in nature (e.g., the tapping of a pencil in a silent room, or puffs of smoke rising from a mountain top) may produce the same result. The basic function of such signals is to provide the change of a single environmental factor in order to attract attention and to transfer meaning. There are two types of signals: a. digital signals; b. analogue signals. 1
Septimiu Chelcea, Loredana Ivan, Adina Chelcea – Comunicarea nonverbală: gesturile şi postura, Bucureşti, Editura Comunicare.ro, 2005, p. 17.
Their difference is illustrated by the observation that many types of animals respond to signals. a signal (like a scream for help) is merely a device by which one is able to formulate extrinsic meanings. Iaşi.htm 4 *** . Hong Kong. placement. A blue lantern. an anthropologist. 2001. Ashley Montagu. most of them contain greater amounts of meaning of and by themselves. or a hand posed in a “Stop” gesture may also serve as signs.2 Chinese lanterns. with new different meanings. A plump. But combined with a smile (an analogue signal) indicates the joy of victory. sickness. bright red lantern (deng) betokens good luck. has defined a sign as a “concrete denoter” possessing an inherent specific meaning but Fernand de Saussure emphasized the fact that a sign can be correctly understood in a proper relationship with other signs. yes or no. The main difference between a sign and a signal is that a sign (like a policeman's badge) contains meanings of an intrinsic nature.com/nonverbal2/sign. and Shanghai. The color. The vitality and energy of redness also signals a birth or marriage. while only a few intelligent and trained 2 More examples of digital/analogue signals can be found in Septimiu Chelcea. Two white lanterns signal death and mourning in a household. its roundness recalls the rounded shape of yuan (money). although a human posture like a clenched fist.4 The most common signs encountered in daily life are pictures or drawings. A clench fist and a raised arm (a digital signal) mean revolt. Chinese lanterns have been used as signals since 250 B. and man is non-animal and non-god. Adina Chelcea – op. The sign “boy” is understood as a nonman and non-girl. birth. 3 http://members. Establishing eye contact is a digital signal. and shape of a Chinese paper lantern signals good luck.Digital signals (also called “on-off” signals) indicate the presence or the lack of it. glow.aol. and other symbolic messages in neighborhood alleys of Beijing.Concepte fundamentale din ştiinţele comunicării şi studiile culturale. in contrast.C. an outstretched arm. marriage. 296-297.3 Signs While signs are usually less germane to the development of words than signals. pp. death. Loredana Ivan. but the extent of it is an analogue one. long life. signals sickness by suggesting energy in decline. . Editura Polirom. cit. There is the possibility of combing the two types of signals. resulting the so-called “composite” signals. Analogue signals specify intensity.
Pictures of Winston Churchill taken during World War 11 show him communicating encouragement to the people by raising two fingers in the familiar 'V for Victory' sign. Conventional sign / natural sign The ancient Greeks divided signs into two kinds: conventional and natural. They appear to contain a dimly understood capacity that (as one of their functions).animals (usually dogs and apes) are competent to respond even to simple signs. For example. clenched fist. setting. we got that message in a hurry. in contrast. unlike signs and signals. some messages which are transmitted entirely in a nonverbal manner through gestures and facial expressions. In the United States. too. And when the school bully took a step toward us with a raised. colour. and barber poles are frequently encountered signs.com/nonverbal2/sign. actions or ideas in the world. A stomachache is a natural sign of stomach upset. any society's lexicon of signs makes up a rich vocabulary of colourful communications. http://members. Conventional signs.6 There are. as our experiences are the product of both culture and biology. they are intricately woven into an individual’s ongoing perceptions of the world. Taken en masse. In practice. Adina Chelcea – op.5 All known cultures utilize signs to convey relatively simple messages swiftly and conveniently.htm . uniforms. badges. a sunburn is a natural sign suggesting you were in the sun for too long.aol. Probably each of us has had the experience of making a statement that was greeted either by a raised eyebrow (indicating surprise) or by a wrinkled brow (indicating confusion or doubt). Signs may depend for their meaning upon their form. it can be difficult to separate conventional and natural signs. of course.com/nonverbal2/sign. Conventional signs can have a purely arbitrary relationship to objects. are the product of human language and culture. cit.7 Symbols Symbols are more difficult than signs to understand and to define because.htm 7 http://members. in fact.aol. or location. Natural signs can be instinctive noises made by animals or natural responses to stimuli in our bodies. defines the very 5 6 Loredana Ivan. traffic signs.
it leads in a profitable direction. or inconvenient to articulate in common language are transmitted between people who have acculturated in common ways. symbols are analogues or metaphors (that may include written and spoken language as well as visual objects) standing for some quality of reality that is enhanced in importance or value by the process of symbolization itself.org/04oct/00451/nonverbalcom. whereby “some components of [the mind's] experience elicit consciousness. but in a more subtle manner than. at first glance. These signs are used by one person to show another person that they are in a certain gang. These signs can be a threat sign to someone in a different or enemy gang.thinkquest. For example. conventional language. Another communication that is used by gangs is special hand signs. The color of their clothes may mean something as well. the way a person wears their shirt or how a cap is worn (like to the left or right side) may tell others that the person is in a certain gang.reality of that world. and every symbol functions to communicate information between members of the culture in much the same way as. Almost every society has evolved a symbol system whereby. dangerous.htm . beliefs. It does not appear possible to compile discrete vocabularies of symbols. according to the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Although a symbol may take the form of as discrete an object as a wedding ring or a totem pole. strange objects and odd types of behaviour appear to the outside observer to have irrational meanings and seem to evoke odd. Although far from being a precise construction. rather they are devices by which ideas too difficult.” In Whitehead's opinion. The abstractions of the values that people imbue in other people and in things they own and use lie at the heart of symbolism. They are not a language of and by themselves. Upon examination each symbol system reflects a specific cultural logic.8 8 http://library. symbols tend to appear in clusters and depend upon one another for their accretion of meaning and value. Here is a process. and usages respecting other components of experience. The symbol has been defined as any device with which an abstraction can be made. emotions. because they lack the precision and regularities present in natural language that are necessary for explicit definitions. unwarranted cognitions and emotions. Gang symbols These are nonverbal communications that may tell something about whether or not someone is in a gang or lives in a certain area where some gangs are.
8-9 . space. Paralanguage includes any device that can be used to modify the meaning interpretation of a verbal symbol. look at the following sentence and read it while emphasizing each word in sequence.Concluding: a yawn means we are bored or tired. When emphasizing the word "I. bolding. We cannot control all of our nonverbal behavior. she has responded with a short answer and then has turned away from you. nonverbal symbols are extremely important to messages. let’s imagine that you have tried several times to talk to the person sitting next to you in class. I didn't say she stole the money.com/essay. Whether or not we are awasre of them. For example. Proxemics--nonverbal symbols of distance. 10 http://www. Weaver II – Communicating effectively. and time The inflection.php?t=28468 Nonverbal symbols can be arranged among three general categories: 1. These devices include inflection or emphasis added to spoken symbols or highlighting. Paralanguage--nonverbal enhancements to language symbols 2. that she is very shy and would like to talk to you but finds it hard to come up with the right words. Kinesics--nonverbal symbols of body movement (gestures. emphasis. from someone else. Chances are the professor did not even know that he was using a standard nonverbal symbol to indicate resistance." the sentence takes on a shaded meaning from its non-emphasized state. “I knew he wasn’t going to raise my grade when he sat there in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest”. For example.9 But nonverbal symbols can also be misleading.echeat. Emphasizing the word "didn't" changes the 9 Sometimes we communicate nonverbally using objects. You might conclude either that she’s a snob or she doesn’t like you. Each time. a furled brow indicates confusion. She has not intended to send you the message that she doesn’t like you – even though that’s the nonverbal message you have received. eye contact. Random House. You find out later. 1986. facial expressions. and we often send out information we are not even aware of. You also notice that she hardly ever meets your eyes. pp. not looking in the eye may mean we have something to hide. or tone adds meaning to oral presentations. or all capital letters added to written symbols. For example. Richard L. appearance) 3. Our clothing gives out information about our life style. tempo. Sunglasses keep people from looking us in the eye. 10 Saundra Hybels. a student telling her friend about her encounter with her professor said. New York.
A. as does emphasizing the word "say. an important channel of interpersonal communication. For maximum speaking effectiveness. Eye contact with audiences increases the speaker's credibility. And it signals interest in others. Be familiar with your audience and use tact with your gestures." Depending on which word is emphasized (paralanguage). but the meaning associated differs by culture. helps regulate the flow of communication. a form of gestures.meaning of the sentence. is a positive symbol. how you fix your hair. While verbal languages are specific to cultures. · Tone · Pitch · Rhythm · Pauses and response time · Loudness A major criticism of presenters is when they speak in a monotone. learn to vary these six elements of your voice. Giving the “thumbs-up” in the U. communicate positive reinforcement from the audience indicates that you are listening. facilitates learning and provides a bit of entertainment. you may be perceived as boring. the sentence carries a different meaning interpretation. friendly. stiff and unanimated. Smiling is often contagious and your audience will react favorably and . the word symbols typically are different between languages. the color and style of clothes. If you fail to gesture while speaking. How you dress. similar hand gestures are found in many different cultures. warm and approachable. Listeners perceive these persons as boring and dull.S. and your posture are among the elements of appearance that send messages. Smiling is a powerful cue that transmits: · Happiness · Friendliness · Warmth · Liking · Affiliation If you smile frequently you will be perceived as more likable. Gestures are among the most culture-related communication symbols. Eye contact. In the case of gestures. but in the Middle East it means “screw-you”. makes the material more interesting. A lively and animated speaking style captures the audience attention. One needs to dress appropriately for a situation. Head nods. your body type.
2. Room size 2.) 4. erect walk Confidence Standing with hands on hips Readiness. relaxed Arms crossed on chest Defensiveness Walking with hands in pockets. Are they bored or dejecting. intimate distance (contact to 18 in. Physical positions in an office layout establish power or status for the employees in the physical positions. The proxemics is how one feels about the space around them and the distance between people that they are talking. The dinner table at home. Become aware of your nonverbal actions and surveillance others. shoulders hunched Dejection Hand to cheek Evaluation. It is not only what you say but also how you say it that can make a difference to your listeners. In summary. The distances between people reserved for categories of acquaintance will vary depending on the cultural interpretation of the distance. 3. 4. it is important to recognize to adjust your nonverbal communication based on your audience response. you’ll be amazed at what they are telling you. the following are examples of things that can be interpreted as having symbolic meaning: 1.) 3. social distance (4' to 12 ft. slightly rubbing nose Rejection. foot kicking slightly Boredom Sitting. doubt. Proxemics is culture sensitive.learn more.) 2. Chairs in a circle usually mean an intimate meeting. everyone has his or her chairs. thinking Touching. public distance (12' to infinity) In the case of space proxemics. Lighting 5. Room Arrangement 1. lying . Studies in the United States suggest that the distance as classified as the following: 1. Odor 3. The shape and layout of the room provides nonverbal symbolic clues to people using the room of the expectations of roles to be filled. Look for their nonverbal communication. personal distance (18" to 4 ft. aggression Sitting with legs crossed. legs apart Open. Color 4. NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR INTERPRETATION Brisk.
. or an Impressionist painting. eyes closed Negative evaluation Tapping or drumming fingers Impatience Steepling fingers Authoritative Patting/fondling hair Lack of self-confidence. disbelief Hands clasped behind back Anger. 2001. Iaşi. innocence Pinching bridge of nose.Rubbing the eye Doubt.Concepte fundamentale din ştiinţele comunicării şi studiile culturale. With the recognition that spoken and written words and numbers themselves constitute symbolic metaphors. their critical roles in the worlds of science. 163. for example. there is a tendency to isolate icons and individual symbols for examination.C. a funeral ceremony. the religious icons – Jesus’ images. legs crossed Confidence. nervousness Pulling or tugging at ear Indecision Icons Rich clusters of related and unrelated symbols are usually regarded as icons. like the White House in Washington. Although in examples such as these. face turned away Disbelief Biting nails Insecurity. these have a spiritual power (emanated by the central figure of the icon). .. D. insecurity Tilted head Interest Stroking chin Trying to make a decision Looking down. an individual is able to define his own identity. symbolic communication is so closely allied to all forms of human activity that it is generally and nonconsciously used and treated by most people as the most important aspect of communication in society. and art can be understood.11 Bibliography 11 *** . with these symbols. In addition. eyes downcast Boredom Rubbing hands Anticipation Sitting with hands clasped behind head. superiority Open palm Sincerity.form a very interesting special area: for certain religious believers. openness. Editura Polirom. pp. mathematics. apprehension Locked ankles Apprehension Head resting in hand. They are actually groups of interactive symbols. frustration. literature. In addition.
com/nonverbal2/sign.htm http://library. More examples of digital/analogue signals can be found in Septimiu Chelcea. Loredana Ivan.aol. cit. pp. Editura Comunicare. Adina Chelcea – op.Septimiu Chelcea.Concepte fundamentale din ştiinţele comunicării şi studiile culturale. Bucureşti. 296-297. 2001. Random House. http://members. 8-9 *** . Editura Polirom.com/nonverbal2/sign. Editura Polirom. Iaşi.htm http://members.thinkquest.com/nonverbal2/sign. 2005. Saundra Hybels. Weaver II – Communicating effectively.htm Sometimes we communicate nonverbally using objects. cit. http://members.Concepte fundamentale din ştiinţele comunicării şi studiile culturale.htm *** . New York. p. 2001. Our clothing gives out information about our life style. Adina Chelcea – Comunicarea nonverbală: gesturile şi postura.org/04oct/00451/nonverbalcom. Adina Chelcea – op. .aol.ro. pp. 1986.aol. 17. Sunglasses keep people from looking us in the eye. 163. Iaşi. pp. Richard L. Loredana Ivan. Loredana Ivan.
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