Physical Appearance in Non-Verbal Communication

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Non-verbal communication has many facets, but typically Physical Appearance can usually make or break certain situations. In the following we will discuss in some detail what non-verbal communication is and how physical appearance plays a part. Why does appearance matter? Does it affect our views of other cultures? Will it make it easier to accept the views of a sales representative? Will it help individuals to get a job? These are all questions that are frequently asked when physical appearance is discussed and hopefully will be answered.

First let’s explore what non-verbal communication is; non-verbal communication is defined as “all aspects of communication other than words” [ (Woods, 2007) ]. This definition does amount to a rather large spectrum, so instead of getting into depth, here are just a few types; Kinesics which refers to body language, Haptics which is the sense of touch, Artifacts which refers to objects that we use to identify who we are, Proxemics which is about space and how we use it. These are just a few types of non-verbal communication but we will only be discussing physical appearance.

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Now that we have somewhat of an idea of what non-verbal communication can in tale let us see how physical appearance plays a role in day to day life circumstances. In a perfect world it would be nice to say that it doesn’t matter what the other person looks like but unfortunately it does matter. Just think of all the subtle judgments we make about someone based on his or her appearance [ (Cherry, 2013) ]. Take for instance as we were walking down the street we come upon an individual that looks like an out of work homeless person.

Our first instinct is to steer clear and try to cross the street. We can’t be sure that he is homeless, for all we know he just ran out of clean close or has a real dirty job that he just got off from. Appearance can also alter physiological reactions, judgments and interpretations [ (Cherry, 2013) ]. Take for instance when an individual from Indian decent boards an airplane wearing a Sari, our first thoughts would be “is this person a terrorist”. Unfortunately we as a culture cannot relax and forgot what has become stereotypical of a country or of a people’s views.

Generally when seeing a person of Indian decent most people will associate them with those people that believe they are inferior or there goes another suicide bomber. When in large part only a fraction of that culture actually believes what a small percent of that nation has portrayed. Then let’s take for instance how our purchasing power can be greatly impacted by another individual’s appearance. This can easily be discussed from two different stand points. Let’s say we wanted to buy a Mercedes Benz, we go down to the closest dealership and out runs a sales representative wearing flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt.

At first glance we would probably chuckle and think it was some kind of joke. We definitely would not take him seriously when he started putting out figures and tried to sell us an automobile. Then you take that same individual and stick him into a skate board shop or bike shop and all of a sudden when he starts talking about what mountain bike we should look into buying we would have no choice but take is advice as someone that knows what he is talking about. In conclusion, does physical appearance matter?

Yes it does, how we as individuals portray ourselves not only reflects on us as a society but also individually. Will dressing in a certain manner help us to get a job? Absolutely, if we are applying for a position that requires sensible dress or even formal attire then we should dress that part. Unfortunately we as a society should move away from the stereotypes but the human species is one of hierarchy and is always looking to being better than the other individual in some way, shape, or form

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Physical Appearance in Non-Verbal Communication. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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