Overthe past 50years interdisciplinary scholars have greatly expanded our

Overthe past 50years interdisciplinary scholars have

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Overthe past 50years, interdisciplinary scholars have greatly expanded our understanding ofnonver- bal communication. Over that period, the focus of NEL Compare the difference in the use of space and time in these eating experiences. CHAPTER 6 Nonverbal Communication 155
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research has evolved: from laboratory to everyday activities, from single cues to messages over time, from single events to multiple behaviours, and from face-to- face interactions to those mediated through technology (Knapp, Hall, & Horgan, 2013). To understand the verbal and nonverbal dimensions of communication, we identify the similarities as well as the differences between both. Similarities Between Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal communication is similar to verbal communication in four respects: It is symbolic, itis rule-guided, itcan be intentional or nonintentional, and it reflects culture. Nonverbal Communication Is Symbolic Like verbal communication, much nonverbal communication is symbolic, which means that it represents other things. To represent different moods, we shrug our shoulders, lower our eyes, and move away from or toward others. We smile to symbolize pleasure in seeing afriend, frown to show anger or irritation, and widen our eyes to indicate surprise. Because nonverbal communication is symbolic, itis arbitrary, ambiguous, and abstract. Thus, we cannot always be sure what awink or ahand movement means. Depending on the context and the people involved, awink might express romantic interest, signal that the person winking isjoking, or mean that the person winking has something in her or his eye. Also, we can't guarantee that others will perceive the meanings we intend to communicate with our nonverbal actions. Youmight move closer to someone to indicate that you like the person, but he or she may feel that you are rude and imposing. ' Nonverbal Communication Is Rule-Guided Another similarity between the two kinds ofcommunication is that both are rule- guided. Within particular societies, we share general understandings of which specific nonverbal behaviours are appropriate in various situations and what they mean. For example, in Canada and in many other countries, a handshake is the conventional gesture for beginning and ending a business meeting. Smiles are generally understood to express friendliness, and scowls are generally perceived as indicating displeasure ofsome type. We follow rules (often unconsciously) to create different interaction climates. For instance, people dress differently to attend a funeral than to attend a soccer game. Aformal speaking occasion might call for a podium placed at a distance from the listeners' chairs, which are arranged in neat rows. Flags, banners, and other ceremonial symbols might be displayed near the podium. Tosymbolize aless formal speaking occasion, the podium might be omitted, chairs might be arranged in a circle, and the person speaking might be seated. The different spatial arrange- ments symbolize different moods and set the stage for distinct kinds ofinteraction.
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