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Verbal and Nonverbal Messages

Chapter Objectives and Integrator Guide

The opening page of each chapter in Communicating at Work lists desired learning outcomes.
The Integrator Guide will assist you in locating activities and resources relevant to each

Integrated Objectives Resources

Describe business situations in which ambiguous or In the text:
specific language is preferable, and give an Page references: 99-107
example of each type of statement. Ethical Challenge: Strategic Ambiguity

Key terms: equivocal terms, high-level Instructor's Manual online:

abstractions, jargon, low-level abstractions, Personal Reflection for Journaling
relative words, triangle of meaning Discussion Launchers: 1,2
Classroom Activities: 1-5
Video Activities: 1,2
Define, identify, and remedy examples of In the text:
inflammatory language described in these pages. Page references: 107-108
Activities: 5
Key terms: biased language, trigger words
Instructor's Manual online:
Discussion Launchers: 3,4
Classroom Activities: 6,7
Compare and contrast characteristically male and In the text:
female speech, and describe the potential benefits Page references: 108-112
and problems arising from these differences.
Instructor's Manual online:
Key terms: feminine style of speech, Genderlects, Discussion Launchers: 5
masculine style of speech, rapport talk, report talk Classroom Activities: 8
Define and give examples of eight types of In the text:
nonverbal behavior, and summarize the importance Page references: 112-124
of each in a specific organization or career field. Activities:

Key terms: monochronic, nonverbal Instructor's Manual online:

communication, paralanguage, polychronic Discussion Launchers: 6
Classroom Activities: 9
Video Activities: 3

Student Online Learning Center:

Internet Exercise 1

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Describe how you can apply the information on In the text:
nonverbal behavior contained in these pages in Page references: 124-127
your own career. Activities:
Career Tip: Cubicle Etiquette
Key terms: immediacy, self-monitoring Ethical Challenge: Consideration versus Candor
On Your Feet:
Models of Nonverbal Effectiveness
Self-Assessment: Your Nonverbal Immediacy

Instructor's Manual online:

Discussion Launchers: 7
Classroom Activities: 10,11
Video Activities: 4,5
Predict the outcomes of various verbal and In the text:
nonverbal behaviors with regard to sexual Page references: 127-130
harassment, and explain communication options for Ethical Challenge:
targets of harassment. Responding to Sexual Harassment

Key terms: hostile work environment, quid-pro- Instructor's Manual online:

quo sexual harassment Discussion Launchers: 8

Other resources found on the Online Learning Center:

Student online center
Key Term Flashcards
Key Term Crosswords
Instructor online center
PowerPoint Files

About Chapter 4

Chapter 4 concentrates on the process of verbal and nonverbal communication. As Ogden

and Richards' "triangle of meaning" model illustrates, the relationship between an idea and the
word we choose to represent it is not straightforward, but is heavily influenced by our personal
interpretations. Effective communication requires us to think from the standpoint of our receiver
as we select words and nonverbals to convey our message. In this chapter, students learn to
identify equivocal words, high-level abstractions, jargon, inflammatory words, and gender-based
language that could interfere with the intended meaning of a message. It is easy to build on the
concept of psychological noise and show how these types of words often create psychological
noise in another communicator. It's helpful to show students how they can choose alternatives to
those types of words, again stressing the importance of making strategic choices regarding the
entire communication context. Discussions of strategic ambiguity, ethics, and gendered speech
patterns increase students' sensitivity to several sets of choices regarding their language usage.

Next, the chapter provides descriptions and examples of various nonverbal channels. Again,
emphasis is on awareness of all of the choices and channels available to enhance communication

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effectiveness. The discussion of monochronic and polychronic time ties in with the cultural
differences in time explored in Chapter 2. The discussion of the physical environment as a
nonverbal channel reinforces the notion from Chapter 1 that networks develop, in part, because
of proxemics. A new, expanded set of guidelines for improving nonverbal effectiveness enhances
the utility of this chapter.

The section on sexual harassment reinforces the notion that the chronological and physical
context of a 21st century workplace is very different from a 1940s workplace. Today we have
new understandings of appropriate and inappropriate, legal and illegal behaviors at work. It is the
impact, not the intent, of behavior that influences whether behaviors are considered harassment.
Harassment involves conduct that is, from the recipient's point of view, unwelcome. This section
is also a place to underscore again that, however unintentional behavior may be, communication
takes place when others attach meaning to and/or are affected by a coworker's conduct.
In summary, this chapter highlights the abundant verbal and nonverbal choices
communicators make and messages communicators receive.

Personal Reflection for Individual Journaling Assignment

Describe a misunderstanding that occurred because you or the person you were
interacting with failed to use clear, unambiguous language. Using terminology from the
triangle of meaning, explain how the miscommunication transpired. How and when did
you two figure out that you were assigning different meanings to an abstract word or
phrase? Now, use suggestions from this chapter's section about clarity to propose ways
you could improve the clarity of future interactions.

Discussion Launchers

1. Describe times and places when someone's use of jargon confused you. [To think of
examples, consider your experiences with mechanics, medical or military personnel,
pharmacies, electronics stores, or teachers.] How could the speaker have helped you
understand better? Give very specific examples. Now think of a time when your use of
jargon confused or created difficulty for someone else. How could you have helped your
listener understand you better? How can you determine the level of jargon you should
use in any situation?

2. Do you agree that it is sometimes preferable to select ambiguous language? Is this

ethical? Recall situations youve heard about in the news when ambiguous language was
used in unethical ways. How can you determine when it is or is not ethical to use
strategically ambiguous language?

3. Discuss how you can handle situations when someone uses a word that triggers a
negative reaction from you. Do you have the responsibility to let others know what your
trigger words or perceptions of biased language are? Do you have the responsibility to

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change your language after someone lets you know that one of your language patterns is
a trigger for her or him?

4. Are there times when it is OK to call someone an unflattering name (a type of trigger
word)? For example, is it ethical to label someone as a jerk if you know the individual
and dont like her or him? If she or he did something you didnt like? If you dont know
the person and will probably never see her or him again (e.g., someone pulls out in your
driving lane in front of you and then slows down)? If you are not in the persons
presence? Make your answers as specific as possible, and back them up with concepts
from this text. Now, apply your rules to the inverse situation: Would it be ethical for
others to label you as a jerk under similar circumstances? Explain the reasoning behind
your answer.

5. Brainstorm a list of workplace situations in which it would be advantageous to use a

feminine language style. Now think of workplace situations in which using a feminine
language style would put you at a disadvantage. Next, identify situations in which it
would be advantageous or disadvantageous to use a masculine language style. Finally,
write down several ways you can become fluent in the style of the other gender. If you
develop this flexibility, you will be able to choose either style, depending on the situation.

6. Describe or demonstrate a nonverbal behavior, and suggest at least three different

meanings that could be assigned to that behavior. Which of these meanings is correct?
Explain your answer. Next, describe a feeling in words. Finally, show at least three
different ways this feeling might be expressed nonverbally.

7. What advice would you give a new employee who wants to enhance her credibility and
perceived competence by using nonverbal channels?

8. What impact do high-publicity sexual harassment cases have on you? Do recent cases
send clear or unclear messages about acceptable and unacceptable workplace behaviors?
How do these cases affect behavior in the workplace?

Classroom Activities

1. Connotative Implications

Objective: After completing this activity, students should be able to increase their awareness
of how different individuals perceive the same words in a variety of different ways. Students
will better understand the phrase "meanings are in people, not in words" as they discuss their
own connotations with their group members.

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Procedure: Before placing students into their groups, ask them to write down the first word
that comes to mind as you read each item on the following list. After the students have
finished, put them into groups to discuss and explain their individual answers. Point out that
groups should not decide on the BEST response; all responses are equally valid.

good food the best place to shop

a perfect score a fun activity
gorgeous birthdays

Class Discussion: Class discussion can focus on the semantic triangle and the implications
of connotative and denotative meaning. This activity also provides an opportunity to review
relevant concepts from Chapter 1 such as the communication model and various levels of
What caused different individuals to list different words for each of these statements?
Did any group members have the same set of words? Why would that happen?
In what way does this activity explain the use of denotative and connotative meanings
associated with various words?
How can you use the knowledge that others often have different connotations for
messages than you do to improve your daily communication?

2. Colorful Language

Objective: After completing this activity, students should be able to understand how our use
of euphemisms affects the connotations of words.
Procedure: Have the students break up into groups of four or five, and give each group one
of the following terms. Have each group come up with as many clichs, euphemisms, or
terms as they can for each word.
Alcohol Death Education Homosexual
Marriage Drugs Prostitute Women
After each group has exhausted their resources for the term, have one representative from
each group present their euphemisms and clichs to the class. If time and space permit, it
would be helpful to put the lists on the board.
Class Discussion: The students should discuss why substitute words are used and how they
affect the meaning of the original words.
In what way does the context affect the way a euphemism or a clich is used?
What roles or purposes does the creation of euphemisms or clichs have?
What terms have the most clichs or euphemism associated with their use? Why?

3. Clarity and Ambiguity

Objective: Students will practice revising abstract language into clear language.

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Procedure: This activity may be done by individuals or in groups. Ask students to recall a
conversation in which they became confused because the speaker used too many high-level
abstractions. Then, instruct them to write a revision of the conversation that illustrates clarity.

Variation: Distribute copies of written passages that exhibit highly abstract language.
(Advanced textbooks, income tax instructions, and some user manuals good sources of
material. Don't pick material that is so complex students can't understand it.) Ask students to
revise the passages to make them more readable.

Class Discussion: Ask students to share their revisions. Then ask the class to do the
following activities:
identify which guidelines from the text each revision illustrates.
suggest further revisions that might bring additional clarity.
describe situations when it isnt necessary to use low-level abstractions.
discuss potential drawbacks of using too many low-level abstractions.

4. Abstract Proverbs*

Objective: This exercise provides a light-hearted way for students to practice revising
abstract statements for clarity.

Procedure: Review the section from the text about clarity and ambiguity. Next, distribute
copies of the worksheet titled Proverb Simplification Exercise located at the end of this
section. Students can work singly, in pairs, or in groups to figure out the common proverb
that each of these statements represents. (Answers appear on the second page of the

Class Discussion:
Which version of the proverbs is easier to understand, the simplified or non-
simplified version?
Why do writers often use high-level abstractions and jargons rather than clearer,
simpler language?
When should writers avoid jargon?
Are there times when jargon and abstractions are useful? Explain.

Answers to Proverb Simplification Exercise

1. A fool and his money are soon parted.
2. While the cats away, the mice will play.
3. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
4. Haste makes waste.
5. Crime doesnt pay.
6. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
7. The early bird catches the worm.
8. Give me liberty or give me death.
9. Better late than never.

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* Adapted from an exercise contributed by Nina Edgmand, Salt Lake Community College

5. Insurance Statements and Language Use

Objective: The purpose of this activity is to help students understand the impact of
ambiguous language by using real-life examples.
Procedure: Distribute copies of the handout titled "Insurance Statements and Language
Use" at the end of this section. Have students read the statements and discuss the role of
ambiguous language in the various examples.
Class Discussion: Class discussion could focus on how these examples represent individuals'
incorrect use of language during day-to-day interaction.
What role did ambiguous language play in these examples?
What makes the statements humorous?
Can you give similar examples of language misunderstanding from your own
Why do we easily misspeak or misunderstand our language?

6. Analyzing Inflammatory Language: Biased Language & Trigger Words

Objective: The purpose of this activity is to explore commonalities and idiosyncrasies in

inflammatory language.

Procedure: First, have students list as many examples of inflammatory language as they
can. These should be examples that are most affected by [region of the country you come
from, jobs you or family members have, terms to describe your family or lifestyle]. Second,
have them divide their list into those items they think any reasonable person would be
similarly affected by and would not use and those that are idiosyncratic to youthey are
inflammatory trigger-words to you, but you recognize that not everyone could know it. (For
instance, someone who is adopted may find adopt-a-highway and adopt-an-animal
terminology offensive. Someone who farms [or whose family members do] may feel
inflamed when others use the term "farmer" to mean lacking in knowledge or sophistication.)
A baby boomer might be offended at words like "sucks" and "pimp," whereas a Gen-Y
student might use these words regularly. Third, recall instances when someone used one of
your personal trigger words in your presence. How did you respond? What were the

Titles of Lists: I think most people find these offensive.

I think this is a trigger word for some people, but not the majority.

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Class Discussion: Ask groups to share their examples with the class. Discuss the following
Which of the following usually has the most impact on you: the words themselves,
who it is that is speaking the words, or the way in which the words are said
(paralanguage)? Explain your answer.
How should you respond when another person uses one of your personal trigger
Do you have a responsibility to avoid using common trigger words?
Do you have the responsibility to let others know what your trigger words or
perceptions of biased language are?
Do you have the responsibility to get over it and not let other peoples words offend
Do you have the responsibility to change your language if someone lets you know
that one of your language patterns is a trigger for him or her?

7. The Role of Hate Speech on Campus

Objective: This activity is intended to build students sensitivity to the importance of language
in shaping attitudes and behaviors.

Procedure: Assign students to read prior to class the free preview of Chapter 5, Regulating Free
Speech on Campus from the article Fighting Words: The Politics of Hateful Speech available at (Alternatively, you can summarize the
contents of this article for them at the beginning of class.)

Class Discussion: Remind students of insights about the nature of communication from the first
chapter such as the potential impact of messages on the receiver, communication is
irreversible, and communication often presents ethical challenges. With these in mind, ask
students to share their reactions to the article. You can ask questions such as
What is hate speech?
Why is hate speech an important concept?
Why is hate speech powerful?
Have you heard or read any hate speech on this campus (or in this community)?
What are some potential negative consequences of hate speech?
Should our college create rules regarding hate speech?
Are such rules a violation of freedom of speech? Why or why not?

If you have students with strongly contradictory opinions on this issue, be sure they understand
that it is fine to present their ideas in your class, but it is not acceptable to make derogatory
remarks about others.
Before you attempt to lead this discussion, be sure you are familiar with your own college
policies about hate speech. Also, make certain you have in mind some strong arguments that
support the existence of regulations about hate speech. Chapter 6 of Fighting Words offers some
ideas. Additional references you may wish to consult are listed in the Resources at the end of this

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8. Gender Differences in Language Use

Objective: This exercise helps students separate myth from fact regarding gender
differences in communication.

Procedure: Divide students into groups. You may use either mixed-gender or same-gender
groups. Ask each group to generate two lists of communication behaviors that bother
them: one about the way women communicate, and one about the way men communicate.
For each annoying behavior, identify a reason why it is troubling. If all group members dont
agree that a particular behavior is bothersome, list it, but note the divergence of opinion.

Class discussion: Ask groups to share their lists with the class. Stimulate a group
discussion about these behaviors. For example, you might consider some of the following:
For each item, ask students whether they think the behavior is a stereotype or whether
it really does occur more commonly among one gender than the other.
Identify why the behavior troubles them.
Are some behaviors more problematic in the workplace than others?
What can you do to reduce tension when you see a person of the other gender
communicating in a troubling way?
If you enact behaviors that are troubling, what could you do to reduce the tension?
Should you try do anything to reduce the tension? Why or why not?

9. Nonverbal Channels
Objective: This activity reinforces students' understanding of the characteristics and
types of nonverbal codes described in the text.

Procedure: Divide the class into eight groups. Assign each group one of the types of
nonverbal communication described under the heading "Types of Nonverbal Communication."
Allow 10 minutes for groups to review the material in their assigned section and form a plan for
presenting the ideas to the class. Instruct them to include in each presentation a definition as
well as demonstrations of effective and ineffective use of this channel.

Class Discussion: After all groups have presented, follow up with questions that
integrate the material from the section titled "Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication."
Does nonverbal behavior communicate a message, even when we don't intend it to?
If someone's nonverbal behavior contradicts his or her words, which do you believe?
What are some examples?
Describe a time when others interpreted your nonverbal behavior differently than you
intended. How can you reduce the chances of misinterpreting another person's

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American Sign Language (ASL) uses nonverbals to express complex ideas. How do ASL
gestures differ from typical nonverbals, which are not capable of expressing complex
What does the following statement mean: "Nonverbal behavior is culture-bound"?

10. Expectancy Violation

Objective: After completing this activity, students should be able to understand and
demonstrate the impact of violating the nonverbal norms of people around them. In addition,
they should be able to better comprehend the reasons for other people's responses to
nonverbal behavior when one violates their nonverbal expectations.

Procedure: Break the students into groups, and have them go somewhere on campus where
there are other students (for example, the student union, library, central campus, dormitories)
and violate some of the nonverbal rules. Indicate that at least one person in the group should
act as an observer while the other group members attempt to break the nonverbal rules. Each
student should break the nonverbal rules in the presence of several other persons. After
violating the nonverbal rules of individuals, the group should record the reactions of others as
well as their personal reactions. It is important that you caution the students to exercise good
judgment so that they do not overly antagonize others or violate any university policies. The
students should complete this activity prior to the next class period and be prepared to
discuss the results at the next class meeting.

Class Discussion: As the groups share their experiences and observations, class discussion
should focus on reasons why individuals reacted the way they did to the nonverbal violations.
How did your group decide which nonverbal norms to violate? How do we form
nonverbal norms in the first place?
What caused individuals to react the way they did when you violated their norms?
How do we know when individuals are violating our nonverbal expectations?
Were the majority of individual responses verbal or nonverbal? Why would that be?
In what ways did you feel uncomfortable violating the nonverbal norms of others?

11. Verbal versus Nonverbal Conversation Comparisons

Objective: After completing this exercise, the students should be able to distinguish the
various characteristics associated with the importance of nonverbal communication during
face-to-face communication. The impact and the extensive use of such nonverbal elements as
gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and regulators should become more apparent.
Finally, students should understand the difficulties associated with having one's verbal and
nonverbal abilities cut off during interaction.

Procedure: This activity could take up to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of discussion
time allowed after each step.

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Step One -Within their groups, have your students designate one talker, one listener,
and one social scientist who will record the verbal and nonverbal characteristics
displayed during the interaction. Have the group member designated as the talker speak
nonstop for five minutes, and allow the listener to provide verbal and nonverbal feedback
(ask questions, ask for expansion, engage in the conversation). The social scientist should
do nothing more than observe the behaviors and should use only a limited amount of
nonverbal communication outside their observation procedures. When finished, ask the
social scientist from each group to explain what they observed during the five minutes of

Step Two - For the second part of this activity have the individuals exchange roles. This
time the listeners are not allowed to provide any form of verbal feedback but are allowed
to use whatever nonverbal cues are at their disposal to facilitate the conversation. The
role of the talker and social scientist are the same as in Step One of the activity.

Step Three - For the final part of this activity have the groups again change roles. This
time the listeners are not allowed to provide any form of verbal or nonverbal feedback
while the talkers make an attempt to interact with them for the five-minute period. The
role of the social scientist will be the same as in Steps One and Two.

Class Discussion: After completing this activity, you can use the following questions to
foster class discussion:
How did each of the listeners feel when their various rights of verbal and nonverbal
communication were taken from them?
Are there times, based on the structure of an organization, that we as individuals are
stripped of our power to provide proper feedback?
Which of the forms of communication are most essential to effective communication?

Video Activities

1. Verbal Observation

Objective: The purpose of this activity is to strengthen student skills in analyzing effective and
ineffective verbal communication in a business setting.

Procedure: Distribute the handout titled "Verbal Observation Form" located at the end of this section.
Show one or two five-minute video clips of conversations in a business setting. Videos that illustrate
some effective as well as ineffective verbal communication produce the most interesting results. Ask
students to note specific examples of various types of verbal communication on their observation form.
After you have finished showing the videos, give students a few minutes to complete the third column.

Class Discussion: Have students share their examples and their interpretations of message impact.
Conclude by discussing ways that the speakers in the videos might have improved the effectiveness of
their verbal communication.

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2. Abstract Language

Objective: This activity helps students recognize problems created by communicating with language
that is highly abstract and impersonal.

Procedure: Select a portion of the video The Doctor that shows the main character (the doctor)
addressing his patients with language that is abstract, terse, and impersonal. As students watch the
video clip, have them identity specific phrases (and nonverbals) that generate confusion or negative
feelings in the patients.
(Note: At the end of the movie, the doctor learns better ways to communicate, and he develops a
program to train interns to communicate differently. After completing the class discussion, you might
want to show students a segment of his constructive communication practices so they can experience
the contrast.)

Class Discussion: Finally, lead a discussion about the doctors language and its effects:
What phrases did you notice that caused confusion?
What was the effect of the abstract language on the patients?
Why do you think the doctor used this type of language?
Have you ever found yourself in similar circumstances? If so, what happened?
Is the doctors language use effective? Productive? If so, why and for whom? If not, why
Can you think of situations in which the doctor ought to use ambiguous language?
What nonverbals did you notice that impeded the doctors clear communication with his
What suggestions would you give to the doctor?

3. Nonverbal Observation

Objective: The purpose of this activity is to strengthen student skills in observing, describing, and
interpreting nonverbal communication.

Procedure: Refer to the handout titled "Nonverbal Observation Form" at the end of this section.
Show any short segment of a video portraying a business setting. Ask students to observe five minutes
of interaction and record descriptions of various nonverbal channels. Then have them share their
observations and interpretations. Before beginning, you might want to review the section on biased
language so students will clearly differentiate between descriptions and interpretations.

Class Discussion: Let students share observations, checking that everyone understands how
observations are descriptions, not interpretations. Discuss whether the same observation led to
different interpretations.
What does this tell us about the reliability of nonverbal channels?
What does this tell us about believability?
What guidelines would you suggest for increasing the effectiveness of nonverbal
communication at work?

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4. Nonverbal Proximity in "The Close Talker"

Objective: After viewing the clip from Seinfeld (Episode # 82, "The Rain Coats," produced by Jerry
Seinfeld and Larry David), students should be able to recognize and discuss the multitude of
nonverbal elements that affect the way we communicate.

Synopsis: In this clip, Jerry's parents are in town for the week and are staying at his apartment. The
primary nonverbal example from this clip occurs when the Seinfelds are introduced to Elaine's
boyfriend, who, according to Jerry, is sort of a close talker. When the boyfriend arrives at Jerry's
apartment, he continually walks up to each individual and gets within about three inches of their face
before talking to them. Everyone except Jerry moves away during these conversations; Kramer
retreats until he has fallen over.

Class Discussion: Class discussion could focus on the various nonverbal elements presented in the
clip and the implications they have on the way the various characters interacted with one another.
What impact does nonverbal communication have on verbal elements that we use?
What is your reaction when individuals violate your personal space during conversations?
Why do you react that way?
Is there a standard distance one should maintain during interaction with people on an
interpersonal level?

5. Verbal versus Nonverbal Communication in "The Poker Face"

Objective: After viewing this clip from Seinfeld (Episode # 99, "The Scofflaw," produced by Jerry
Seinfeld and Larry David), students should be able to understand the way our verbal and nonverbal
elements blend together and affect one another during interaction with others.

Synopsis: In this episode, George runs into an old friend of his and soon finds out that the reason he
has not contacted George is because he has just recovered from cancer. George rushes to Jerry's
apartment to break the news to him, where he finds out that Jerry has known for some time. Jerry
informs George that he hadn't told him because he knew George couldn't keep a secret. A few days
later, George has lunch with his friend and tells him how upset he was that the friend hadn't confided
in him. His friend eventually discloses that he never really had cancer; the doctors only thought he
had. With this information, George returns to Jerry's apartment determined to keep the secret. As soon
as he enters the apartment, Jerry knows from reading his face that George is holding something back
and demands that he give up the information.

Class Discussion: Class discussion could focus on the basic elements of the way that verbal and
nonverbal characteristics work together during interactions with others. You may wish to review
some of the principles of communication from the first chapter.
Which elements are more important when trying to interact with others?
What impact does physical appearance have on the way we communicate?
When nonverbals contradict verbal elements, which are you more likely to believe?

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Proverb Simplification Exercise

Instructions to Students:
Convert each of the following statements in to a familiar proverb by changing high-level
abstractions into low-level abstractions.

1. An ignoramus and his/her lucre are readily disjoined.

2. In the absence of the feline race, certain small rodents will give themselves up to various
pleasurable pastimes.

3. A plethora of culinary specialists vitiate the liquid in which a variety of nutritional

substances have been simmered.

4. Impetuous celebrity engenders purposeless spoilage.

5. Illegal transgression has no remuneration for its perpetrators.

6. A winged and feathered animal in the digital limb is as valuable as a duet in the

7. The member of the warm-blooded biological class "aves" that is governed by

promptitude can apprehend the small, elongated, and slender creeping animal.

8. Provide me the privilege of enfranchisement, or dispossess me of my survival.

9. A condition characterized by tardiness is more desirable than one that is systematically

marked by eternal absenteeism

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Insurance Statements and Language Use

Following is a list of statements supposedly taken from insurance forms. The list came
via computer networks, so the original sources are unknown. The statements show that people do
not always say what they think they are saying.

1. Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.

2. The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.

3. I thought my window was down but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.

4. I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.

5. A truck backed through my windshield into my wife's face.

6. A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

7. The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

8. I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the

9. In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

10. I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

11. To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I hit a pedestrian.

12. My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.

13. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.

14. I told the police that I was not injured, but on removing my hat I found that I had a fractured

15. I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.

16. The pedestrian had no idea which way to run, so I ran over him.

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Verbal Observation Form
Instructions: Look for examples of each type of verbal message in the video clip(s) that your
instructor shows you. Jot down the specific examples in the second column, next to the type of
message they represent. Some of these message types are not mutually exclusive (e.g.,
excessively broad terms are also high-level abstractions), so you can just choose the category
that you think fits best. After you have finished watching the video, take a few moments to
complete the third column.

Type of Verbal Message Specific Examples Impact of Message on


Low-level abstractions

High-level abstractions

Excessively broad terms


Strategically ambiguous

Biased language

Trigger words

Rapport talk

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Report talk

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Nonverbal Observation Form
Record examples of the various types of nonverbal communication in the second column of the
worksheet. In the column labeled Your interpretation, note what you think each behavior
means. Be sure that you write descriptions in the second column and interpretations in the third

Examples: Observable description: Jeremy lowered his head and did not make eye contact.
Interpretation: Jeremy probably doesnt want the chairperson to call on him.

Observable description: Kyong-Mi wore a business suit.

Interpretation: Kyong-Mi appears to be professional and competent.

Nonverbal category Observable description of Your interpretation of the

behavior behavior


Face and Eyes


Personal Space/Distance



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Additional Resources

Andersen, P. A., & Bowman, L. L. (1990). Positions of power: Nonverbal influence in
organizational communication. In J. DeVito, & R. E. Denton, Jr. (Eds.), The nonverbal communication
reader (pp. 391411). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
Addresses nonverbal communication issues in the business environment.

Berryman-Fink, C. (1997). Gender issues: Management style, mobility and harassment. In P.

Byers, Organizational communication: Theory and behavior (pp. 259-280). Needham Heights, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.
Discusses sexual harassment issues in todays workplace.

Bixler, S., & Nix-Rice, N. (1997). The new professional image. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media
The authors discuss traditional business dress and when and where it may be appropriate. Other
chapters address the new professional image, business casual, and communication skills such as
professional presence and etiquette.

Burgoon, J.K., & Bacue, A.E. (2003). Nonverbal communication skills. In J.O. Greene & B.R.
Burleson (Eds.), Handbook of communication and social skills (pp. 179220). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Provides a practical overview of updated research on the impact of nonverbals on our

Hall, E.T. (1959). The silent language. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications.
A classic look at nonverbal communication.

Harris, T. E. (1993). Applied organizational communication: Perspectives, principles, and

pragmatics. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
The fifth chapter of this book addresses nonverbal communication in organizations. The author
helps students distinguish valuable information from manipulative sales pitches.

Ivy, D.K., & Backlund, P. (2003). Genderspeak: Personal effectiveness in gender

communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Chock full of well-researched advice on communicating across genders.

Kaser, J. (1995). Honoring boundaries: Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Amherst, MA: Human Resource Development Press, Inc.
This work includes chapters on what to do if you're either harassed or accused of harassment. It
includes guides for consensual relations in the context of the workplace.

Nolan, R. W. (1999). Communicating and adapting across cultures: Living and working in the
global village. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

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The fifth chapter of this book provides an easy-to-read survey of nonverbal communication
across cultures.

Pepper, G. L. (1995). Ethics and organization culture. In Communicating in organizations: A

cultural approach (pp. 138164). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sexual harassment is examined as an example of a pressing ethical concern for organizations. It

addresses topics of defining, identifying, stopping, and preventing harassment. A chart labeled
"Stopping Harassment: Suggestions for Both Company and Victim" (pp. 154155) summarizes
research in this area.

Schwebel, D. C., & Schwebel, M. (2002) Teaching nonverbal communication. College

Teaching, 50, xxXX.

Describes a thought-provoking, active learning exercise that can be used to teach students about
nonverbal communication.

Communication: The Nonverbal Agenda. 20 min. RAM Films.
In a short time, this film shows business settings and emphasizes the importance of nonverbal
communication, focusing on superior/subordinate nonverbal communication. Consider initially
showing the first part without sound while students try to tell out loud what they think is
happening. Then, go back and watch the whole film to verify or clarify their perceptions.

Gender and Communication: She Talks, He Talks. 22 min. Learning Seed Video.
Examines differences in men's and women's typical styles of speaking, with emphasis on
differences in value placed on literal meaning, questions, and varying speech patterns.

High Impact Communication Skills. Vol 1. 76 min. Insight Media.

Explains how to create effective, assertive workplace messages. It distinguishes between taking
responsibility and blaming oneself, and it explains how lack of awareness of emotions and
debilitating thoughts can produce weak verbal and nonverbal messages.

Nonverbal Communication: Eye Contact and Kinesics. 28 min. RMI Media.

A continued exploration of nonverbal communication focusing on the importance of eye contact
and kinesics to communication in general and specifically in public speaking situations.

Nonverbal Communication: Paralanguage and Proxemics. 28 min. RMI Media.

This video begins with an introduction to the importance of nonverbal communication and then
focuses specifically on paralanguage and proxemics.

Reading People: The Unwritten Language of the Body. 23 min. Learning Seed Video.
Teaches appropriate self-presentation and explains various meanings of paralanguage, eye
contact, touch, space, and time in different cultures.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Identify, Stop, Prevent. Amer Media Inc
Stresses legal definitions and EEOC language of harassment, demonstrates behaviors that are
harassing, and shows communication strategies for stopping and preventing harassment. Not
limited to females being harassed by males, short vignettes show male-to-female, female-to-male,
and female-to-female harassment.

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Business Training Media
The site also provides links to free articles on various aspects of workplace communication. You
can sign up here for a free e-newsletter offering news and tips for communication trainers. You
can also preview and order videos aimed at improving workplace communication.

Exploring nonverbal communication
This site contains several self-quizzes about appropriate nonverbal usage for mainstream U.S.
culture. You can also use this site to order complete videos illustrating various nonverbal norms
such as body appearance, facial expression of emotions, paralanguage, and more.

National Safety Compliance
You can preview and order videos, posters, booklets, and other materials that comply with OSHA
requirements for sexual harassment training.

Nonverbal Communication Research Page
Lists conventions, journal articles, books, and instructional resources relevant to nonverbal

U.S. Army Training Materials for Sexual Harassment
This PowerPoint show, developed for Army recruits, explains what sexual harassment is,
describes types of harassment, and suggests ways to prevent harassment from occurring.

U.S. Department of Education
The Department of Education has produced a pamphlet, available at this site, to help school
administrators and teachers recognize and deal with sexual harassment according to Title IX.

Work911 Workplace/ Bacal and Associates
Links to numerous articles about communication. Relevant to this chapter are the sub-links titled
Interpersonal Communication and Nonverbal Communication.

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