Non Verbal Communication Essay

How Does Nonverbal Behaviors Effect A Person ?

People communicate everyday of their lives, but we rarely notice the nonverbal

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part of communication and how important it is to the meaning of the message. Facial

expressions, posture, body movements, tone of voice and touching are all part of

nonverbal communication. Often when people communicate they contradict the verbal

and nonverbal messages, therefore the receiver of the message receives a message with a

double meaning and interprets the message less accurately. Nonverbal messages affect a

person in a positive and negative way. Understanding the way nonverbal behaviors affect

a person can help in improving communication skills. In my research paper I will

investigate how nonverbal behaviors effect a person in a learning environment, and in

interpersonal relationships. And I will ask how a person can improve his or her nonverbal

Section 1: Effects on Cognitive Learning and Interpersonal Relationships

The use of a teacher’s nonverbal behavior strongly effects the student’s cognitive

learning and the quality of the teaching environment. Studies have shown that teachers

with high nonverbal immediacy have high levels of cognitive learning (McCroskey Et Al

209). The students have reported the teachers with high levels of nonverbal immediacy

have a more interesting class environment and the students enjoy attending class

(McCroskey Et Al 209). Nonverbal behaviors that have the most effect on students are

varied tone of voice, eye contact, and smiling (McCroskey Et Al 210). Smiling, eye

contact, and vocal variety boost a positive affect toward the teacher, and material being

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studied (Guerrero and Miller 33). Involvement and conversational skills: immediacy,

expressiveness, smooth interaction management, and composure are some elements

correlated with nonverbal behaviors in teachers (Guerrero and Miller 32). Immediacy

cues such as gaze and smiling simulate psychological and/or physical closeness and

communicate interpersonal warmth (Guerrero and Miller 32). Expressiveness involves

vocal, facial, gestural animation, laughing, and posture movements (Guerrero and Miller

32). Smooth interaction management incorporates conversational setting, turn-taking,

punctuation patterns that satisfy the people involved (Guerrero and Miller 32).

Composure is the lack of tension, anxiety, and negative emotions in the class room

(Guerrero and Miller 32). These studies have all shown that teachers with good

nonverbal skills and involvement will increase the students education and the level of

Nonverbal interactions between couples in their relationships have a strong effect

on the quality and perhaps the length of the relationship in the future. Most nonverbal

behaviors are intentional or accidental, most commonly nonverbal behaviors are

accidental. Nonverbal behaviors are very important to communication because they can

change the meaning of the message. Facial expressions can portray “a wealth of

information about our inner feelings” (Coats and Feldman). Development and

maintenance of relationships, nonverbal behaviors are very important (Coats and Feldman

1). In developing relationships being sensitive and supportive can increase the quality of

the relationship. Many things can be communicated through touching. Stroking,

caressing, or cuddling a person conveys love, involvement, concern, responsibility,

tenderness, and awareness of the needs and/or vulnerabilities of the other person (Carr

106). Touching a person shows them that you care about them and have concern for their

problems. A simple touch can help the release of certain suppressed feeling that the other

person may have problems communicating. Showing a person you care helps them release

personal thoughts because maybe they fear to be criticized. Each of us needs to touch and

Eye contact is also important aspect of communication in relationships with

people. Eye contact is also an intimate form of nonverbal communication. Your eyes

don’t only receive messages, they also send messages as well (Carr 109). Communicating

with your eyes is also a way to convey your feelings without saying a verbal word. Eyes

express many things such as dominance, involvement, and attitude towards others (Carr

109). Many people are not aware of how they use their eyes. Where you position your

eyes can lead to mixed messages formed by the receiver. For example, disinterested

people don’t make constant eye contact, but the person may actually be interested in what

the person is saying although because of his/her indirect eye contact the sender receives a

message of disinterest (Carr 109). There is no rule of when and how to use your eyes,

you just have to be aware of how and when you use them.

Mixed messages can be sent verbally and nonverbally. Often we become detached

with our feelings and emotions, therefore we can say one word and another with our body

(Carr 122). We are usually not conscious when we send these mixed messages. For

example, “a wife may want to be kissed; yet when her husband approaches her she stiffens.

If he interprets the stiffening as rejection, he may in turn reject his wife. Or he may force

the issue and kiss her anyway. If he is sensitive to her, he may remember that when other

people are around she feels uncomfortable about a display of affection. Yet she want

others to know her husband loves her. He translates the mixed message: ‘My wife wants

to be kissed, but feels uncomfortable when I kiss her in front of others'” (Carr 122).

Sometimes clarification is required in situations when mixed messages occur.

At times we unaware that silence communicates. Silence in communication can be

positive or negative. Silence can bring people closer or separate people. Intimacy can be

communicated by silence and closeness (Carr 124). People in close relationships often do

not need to use words to communicate. In communicating silence can hurt or heal a

relationship. Not lashing out in anger can often save a relationship. When angry we may

exaggerate the situation and it can sometimes hurt the person we love. Or when hurting

someone, silence can at times help the healing process (Carr 124). The “silence treatment”

is used to manipulate and punish someone. It can be interpreted as hostility, anger,

coldness, rebellion, or hate (Manusov and Floyd 6). Using the “silence treatment” the

issue may never be resolved because the issue may be forgotten or deleted from the

memory. People use silence in many different way, it can help or cause problems in a

relationship. In being able to communicate emotions it can decrease the probability of

A person’s body movement also contributes to their nonverbal communication.

The body movement of a person can often portray someone’s personality. A persons

posture can also indicate his or her self-esteem. Carr explains this phenomenon by the

study of “somatopsychic effects” (101). According to Carr, “somatopsychic effects”

form from a persons subconscious mind. Basically a person’s posture and body position

reflect their emotions and personality. For example, a person who walks with their back

hunched conveys the image of a person with low self-esteem and perhaps lazy. All people

that walk hunched don’t all have a low self-esteem, but according to Carr it portrays a

persons true feelings about themselves. Body movement and posture are important

nonverbal behaviors because they can illustrate many aspects of person and their feelings.

Section 2: How to Improve Nonverbal Behaviors

Now that we know the effects of different types of nonverbal behavior on learning

and relationships, it is necessary to understand how a person can change or improve his or

her nonverbal behavior. The first step is to become aware of your current gestures and

body movements. It is difficult to realize exactly how others see you but the best way to

find out is by asking a person you are around frequently (Wiemann and Harrison 249). A

person can ask how the other person perceives his or her actions. Another way to

possibly change your nonverbal behavior is through the “Alexander Method” (Carr 112).

This method is used to help people learn good use of the body by feedback from other

people. It involves two people, where ones sits in a chair as he or she normally would and

then the other person moves his or her partner into a proper position of the head and

shoulders. The person in the chair then stands up and the partner tells him or her details

about his or her body positioning. This feedback helps the person who sat in the chair

realize his or her unconscious nonverbal behaviors (Carr 112). By using the Alexander

Method a person can identify the nonverbal behaviors her or she possesses and usually will

discover which behaviors he or she might want to change.

One of the ways a person can change his or her nonverbal behavior is by “Functional

Integration” (Carr 113). This is a way for a person to alter his or her usual body

movements by basically re-training the body’s nervous system. The main mechanism to

achieve this is by focusing on breathing. A person does this to sit quietly and “scan your

body, beginning with your feet and moving up to your head” (Carr 113). While the person

is observing his or her body, he or she tries to notice the way he or she is breathing

without consciously controlling it. Then the person blows out short puffs of air and stops

when the lungs are empty. After this, the person will simply “allow inhalation to happen

on its own” (Carr 113). This procedure is done over about seven times. If done

successfully a person will have a new understanding and control over his or her body. The

implications are that a person can therefore learn to alter and improve his or her

In conclusion, I have learned that certain nonverbal behaviors by teachers increase

cognitive learning and can occasionally alter the meanings of messages in relationships. I

have also learned techniques to improve nonverbal behaviors. Every aspect of nonverbal

communication plays a large role in displaying the correct meaning of a message. Not a

word can be spoken, and facial expressions, touching, eye contact, body movement, and

posture can all have meanings within themselves. Many people are not conscious of their

nonverbal behaviors and what messages they are conveying. Perhaps the two ways to

improve a persons nonverbal behaviors are useful in improving someone’s communication

skills . In improving a persons nonverbal communication skills he or she can apply them

to his or her interpersonal relationships and better the quality of it as well.

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