1. Communicating interpersonally
Communicating occurs at three different levels: extrapersonal, intrapersonal, interpersonal. It’s extrapersonal when pets are involved. It’s not uncommon to find people talking to animals, pets, plants, elements of nature. Intrapersonal refers to talking to oneself.
When we meditate, contemplate, think, analyze, interpret, we are communicating to
ourselves. Interpersonal involves two or more than two people passing on and receiving messages of various kinds interactively as speaker(s)-listener(s) or listener(s)-speaker(s). It happens through several mediums, the major ones being verbal and non—verbal, some of the other ones being dancing, painting.
Nonverbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication (Wikipedia).
People tend to have much less control over their non-verbal messages than of what they’re actually saying. This is partly because non-verbal communication is much more emotional and instinctive. If there is a mismatch between the two, therefore, you should probably trust the non-verbal messages, rather than the words used.
A lack of non-verbal message may also be a signal of sorts, suggesting that the speaker is carefully controlling their body language, and may be trying to hide their true emotions.
Cross-cultural studies done in various countries on all continents show people not only express basic emotions very similarly (happiness, fear, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness) but also recognize them without hesitation.
3. Interaction between verbal and nonverbal messages
Nonverbal messages can interact with verbal messages thus:
When verbals and nonverbals convey conflicting messages the latter are taken as revealing the mental disposition.
Accurate interpretation of messages is made easier when nonverbals and verbals complement each other. Besides, messages are remembered better when nonverbal signals affirm the verbal exchange.
Nonverbal signals can be used by themselves. Widening of the eyes indicates wonder, raising of the eyebrows, doubt, and a smile, satisfaction or happiness.
This happens when we keep our body in a particular position, when we hold our body in a particular way—the way we stand, the way we’re seated.
4.8 speech aspects
Sources for this subsection:
iii. Steve Darn’s Aspects of Nonverbal Communication in The Internet TESL Journal, Vol.
XI, No. 2, February 2005, at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Darn-Nonverbal/
Italians express their emotions freely whereas Englanders are generally very restrained. However, even in Italy, there are geographical variations.
The thumbs-up gesture, which generally signals approval in English-speaking countries, is considered offensive in other countries, including apparently Greece, Italy and some parts of the Middle East.
Making a circle with your thumb and forefinger like this means OK in Western cultures. It is used in particular by divers in this way. In Japan, however, it is reputedly the sign for money, and in Arabic countries, it is a threat.
The Chinese prefer silence to verbal communication.
There are differences in how people handle time. In Italy and Spain people perform several activities at once where as in America, people do one thing at a time.
In the United States, pointing is the gesture of a finger or hand to indicate "come here please" when beckoning a dog. But pointing with one finger is also considered to be rude in some cultures. Those from Asian cultures typically use their entire hand to point to something.
Sticking the tongue out is seen in Western countries as mockery but in Polynesia it serves as a greeting and a sign of reverence.
Clapping is a North American way of applauding, but in Spain it’s used to summon a waiter at a restaurant.
Northern Europeans nodding their heads up and down to say “yes”, and shaking their head from side to side to say “no”. But the Greeks have for at least three thousand years used the upward nod for disagreement and the downward nod for agreement.
There are many ways of waving goodbye: Americans face the palm outward and move the hand side to side, Italians face the palm inward and move the fingers facing the other person, French and Germans face the hand horizontal and move the fingers toward the person leaving.
In Arab and Iranian cultures, people express grief openly. They mourn out loud, while in Asian cultures, the general belief is that it is unacceptable to show emotion openly.
For people in Westernized countries, laughter is a sign of amusement, but in some parts of Africa it is a sign of wonder or embarrassment.
Native Americans tend to be more reserved and less expressive with emotions. Frequent touches are common for Chinese people; however, such actions like touching, patting, hugging or kissing are less frequent in America and not often publicly displayed.
As Latin American cultures embrace big speech gestures, Middle Eastern cultures are relatively more modest in public and are not expressive.
In Western culture, eye contact is interpreted as attentiveness and honesty. In Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American cultures, eye contact is thought to be disrespectful or rude, and lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention.
In Latin America and the Middle East the acceptable distance is much shorter than what most Europeans and Americans feel comfortable with. This is why an American or a European might wonder why the other person is invading his or her personal space by standing so close, while the other person might wonder why an American or a European is standing so far from him or her.
The following are examples of common gestures which have different functions and meanings in different cultures:
1. the forefinger and the thumb forming a circle:
Commonly: everything is ok, perfect
France: worthless, Japan—money, Germany—rude, Malta, Greece and Brazil—obscene
Commonly: all OK, Australia, Iran—rude, Nigeria—very offensive, Japan—five,
Turkey—political rightist party
3. showing right palm: stop, enough (person, car, action),
Turkey—you get nothing from me, W.Africa—you have 5 fahters
4. The fig (fingers folded into the palm with the thumb pushed between the foreginger and
the middle finger
Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Holland—obscene, Russia—you get nothing from me,
Yugoslavia—you can’t have it, Brazil—good luck