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Overthe past 50years, interdisciplinary scholarshave greatly expanded our understanding ofnonver-bal communication.Over that period, the focus ofNELComparethe differenceintheuse of spaceand timeintheseeating experiences.CHAPTER 6NonverbalCommunication155
research has evolved: from laboratory to everyday activities, from single cues tomessages over time, from single events to multiple behaviours, and from face-to-face interactions to those mediated through technology (Knapp, Hall,&Horgan,2013).To understandthe verbal and nonverbal dimensions of communication,weidentify the similarities as well as the differences between both.Similarities Between Verbal and Nonverbal CommunicationNonverbal communication is similar to verbal communication in four respects: Itis symbolic, itis rule-guided, itcan be intentional or nonintentional, and it reflectsculture.NonverbalCommunication Is SymbolicLike verbal communication,much nonverbal communicationis symbolic, whichmeans that it represents other things. To represent different moods, we shrugour shoulders, lower our eyes, and move away from or toward others. We smile tosymbolize pleasure in seeing afriend, frown to show anger or irritation, and widenour eyes to indicate surprise.Because nonverbal communication is symbolic, itis arbitrary, ambiguous, andabstract. Thus, we cannot always be sure what awink or ahand movement means.Depending on the context and the people involved, awink might express romanticinterest, signal that the person winking isjoking, or mean that the person winkinghas something in her or his eye. Also, we can't guarantee that others will perceivethe meanings we intend to communicate with our nonverbal actions. Youmightmove closer to someone to indicate that you like the person, but he or she may feelthat you are rude and imposing.'NonverbalCommunication Is Rule-GuidedAnother similarity between the two kinds ofcommunication is that both are rule-guided. Within particularsocieties, we share general understandingsof whichspecific nonverbal behaviours are appropriate in various situations and what theymean. For example, in Canada and in many other countries, a handshake is theconventional gesture for beginning and ending a business meeting. Smiles aregenerally understood to express friendliness, and scowls are generally perceivedas 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 soccergame. Aformal speaking occasion might call for a podium placed at a distancefrom the listeners' chairs, which are arranged in neat rows. Flags, banners, andother ceremonial symbols might be displayed near the podium. Tosymbolize alessformal speaking occasion, the podium might be omitted, chairs might be arrangedin 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.