The Benefits of Studying Nonverbal Communication


The Benefits of Studying Nonverbal Communication


The ability to use nonverbal communication effectively can yield a variety of both general and specific benefits in your social and your workplace lives. First, let’s identify some general benefits and then some more specific benefits.


Some General Benefits


The general benefits span the entire range of your communication life whether online or face-to-face, whether personal or workplace.

First, it will improve your accuracy in understanding others, those who are from your own or similar culture as well as those who are from cultures very different from your own. Increased accuracy in understanding others will yield obvious benefits in social and workplace situations—from understanding a coy smile from a date to the meaning of a supervisor’s gestures.

Second, an increased knowledge of nonverbal communication will improve your own ability to communicate information and to persuade others. In many instances, it will help you reinforce your verbal messages. The greater your nonverbal skills, the more successful you’re likely to be at informing as well as influencing others.

Third, it will increase your own perceived attractiveness; the greater your ability to send and receive nonverbal signals, the higher your popularity and psychosocial well-being are likely to be (Burgoon, Guerrero, & Floyd, 2010).  

Fourth, it will enable you to make a more effective self-presentation. Consider, for example, that when you meet someone for the first time—at least in face-to-face meetings—you form impressions of the person largely on the basis of his or her nonverbal messages. Being able to more effectively understand and manage your nonverbal messages will enable you to present yourself in the way you want to be perceived. The “If you want to” feature is largely devoted to the skills of self-presentation. As you can appreciate, these benefits will prove especially valuable in the workplace. In fact, the workplace is emphasized throughout the next chapters with the On the Job feature which presents a workplace issue, revolving around nonverbal communication, and asks you how you’d apply your nonverbal skills in dealing with the issue.

Each of these benefits and skills can be used to help or support another or they can be used for less noble purposes. For example, a person adept at nonverbal communication will be more effective in persuading others to buy cars or sign a mortgage they can’t afford or present themselves as competent when they aren’t or increase their attractiveness before hitting you up for a loan.


Some Specific Benefits


In addition these general benefits, here are some specific benefits of studying and mastering the art of nonverbal communication. Of course, learning about an important area of human behavior—what it is, how it works, what influences it, and a variety of other dimensions we’ll explore—is a benefit in itself. Increased knowledge is a benefit, pure and simple. But, there are additional, more immediately pragmatic, specific benefits that you can gain as a result for reading the text and completing the exercises. Here are 25:

  1. Use nonverbal messages to interact with your verbal messages thus creating meaningful packages of messages.
  2. Use nonverbal messages to manage the impressions you give to others.
  3. Use nonverbal messages to help form and maintain productive and meaningful interpersonal and work relationships.
  4. Use nonverbal messages to help regulate conversations and to make them more effective and satisfying.
  5. Use nonverbal messages to persuade—to influence the attitudes or behaviors of others.
  6. Use nonverbal messages to help express and communicate your emotions.
  7. Use nonverbal messages with sensitivity to cultural and gender differences and expectations.
  8. Use hand and body gestures to communicate varied meanings.
  9. Use body posture to reinforce your intended messages.
  10. Manage your facial expressions to communicate the meanings you want to share.
  11. Vary your facial styles to communicate a wide variety of messages.
  12. Communicate different meanings with eye movements and with eye avoidance.
  13. Use color, clothing, and other artifacts to communicate the meanings you wish.
  14. Use spatial messages to reinforce your verbal messages and in ways appropriate to the purpose of the interaction.
  15. Use territorial markers and respond to the markers of others appropriately.
  16. Use touch appropriate to the relationship stage and avoid touch that may be considered overly intimate or intrusive.
  17. Use paralanguage to signal conversational turns, your desire to speak or to continue listening, for example.
  18. Use silence to communicate a wide variety of meanings.
  19. Respond to the rules of interpersonal time that are maintained in the particular context, for example, the workplace or the classroom.
  20. Manage your time effectively and efficiently; avoid wasting time.
  21. Increase your own attractiveness in a variety of ways.
  22. Increase your ability to detect lying (but with important limitations).
  23. Increase your immediacy or closeness to others when you wish.
  24. Increase your perceived power with nonverbal cues.
  25. Use nonverbal cues in a civil and polite manner to further your purposes.


Definitions of Nonverbal Communication


Definitions of Nonverbal Communication

Here are some definitions of nonverbal communication by a variety of researchers and theorists. As you see, the definitions boil down to “communication without words”. You'll find more recent definitions saying essentially the same thing.


The use of interacting sets of visual, vocal, and invisible communication systems and subsystems by communicators with the systematic encoding and decoding of nonverbal symbols and signs for the purpose(s) of exchanging consensual meanings in specific communication contexts.

Leathers & Eaves (2008), p. 11


The process of one person stimulating meaning in the mind of another person (or persons) by means of nonverbal messages.

Richmond, McCroskey, & Hickson (2012), p. 14


Messages expressed by nonlinguistic means.

Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor (2012), p. 175


All aspects of communication other than words themselves.

Wood (2012), p. 132


The process of using messages that are not words to generate meaning.

Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, & Harter (2008), p. 86


Communication other than written or spoken language that creates meaning for someone

Ivy & Wahl (2009), p. 3


The transfer and exchange of messages in any and all modalities that do not involve words.

Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang (2013), p. 4

The Myths and Truths of Nonverbal Communication


Consider each of the following statements about nonverbal communication. Which do you think are true?

1.      With training, you can tell what a person is thinking from watching their nonverbal behaviors.

2.      Lying is relatively easy to detect, especially with those with whom you have a close relationship.

3.      Unlike verbal communication which is learned, nonverbal communication is innate.

4.      Unlike verbal communication, nonverbal communication is universal—members of all cultures have the same meaning for gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements, for example.

5.      Nonverbal communication is more important than verbal communication.

Although we’ll consider each of these assumptions as they become relevant in the course of our coverage of nonverbal communication, we should here examine what nonverbal communication is not. All of the five statements are more myth than fact. Briefly:

1.      You can’t tell what a person is thinking from their nonverbal behaviors, at least not generally. There are situations when you can tell—for example, you can often identify when a person is happy and when a person is sad. But, beyond these rather general meanings, you really can’t read a person like a book.

2.      Lying is actually extremely difficult to detect, especially when the liar is a person with whom you have a close relationship and the reason is that people in a close relationship have learned how to lie effectively to their relationship partner.

3.      Some nonverbal behaviors are certainly innate—fear, for example, may be expressed similarly in different cultures. But, much nonverbal behavior is learned in much the same way as verbal behavior is learned—through imitating those with whom you grow up.

4.      There are some nonverbal behaviors that are universal, the behaviors that are innate such as responses to fear. But, much nonverbal behavior varies widely in meaning from one culture to another. As we’ll see the same hand gesture may mean very different things in different cultures.

5.      This is perhaps the most popular myth about nonverbal communication. Certainly there are situations where nonverbal communication is more important than verbal communication—perhaps in first encounters or in expressing support or love—but certainly not in all. You’d be hard pressed to explain nonverbally theoretical concepts, complex directions, or what happened on your way to class today.  So, the importance of one channel over another depends on the message and the unique communication situation you’re talking about. Rather than thinking about verbal and nonverbal communication competing for importance with one another, think about these two signal systems working together—each communicating the information it communicates best.


Speech from Red, White, and Royal Blue



Here is a great speech text and video link from Red, White, and Royal Blue. Like most speeches, it’s part informative and part persuasive. I think this would be an excellent speech for use in a public speaking, persuasion, or ethics course.

“Good morning.

Henry and I have been together since the beginning of this year. As many of you have already read, we’ve struggled everyday with what this means for our families, our countries and our futures. And while neither of us is naive about what it means to be public figures, we never imagined our most private and intimate thoughts, fears and truths would become fodder for public examination.

What was taken from us this week was our right to determine for ourselves how and when we should share our relationship and queer identities with the world.

The truth is every queer person has the right to come out on their own terms, and on their own timeline. They also have the right to choose not to come out at all. The forced conformity of the closet cannot be answered with the forced conformity in coming out of it.

This isn’t about shame. This is about privacy and the fundamental right of self-determination which are exactly the principles on which the struggle for queer liberation has always been fought.

But there is another truth that is much simpler: I fell in love with a person who happens to be a man and that man happens to be a prince. He has captured my heart and made my life immeasurably better.

I love his Royal Highness, Prince Henry George Edward James Hanover-Stuart Fox. I hope one day we’ll have the opportunity to be public about our relationship on our own terms.”

Here is the link to the video of this speech: https://www.bing.com/videos/riverview/relatedvideo?&q=video+link+for+Alex%27s+speech+in+Red+white+and+royal+blue&&mid=442BFFC9D9B30E200214442BFFC9D9B30E200214&&FORM=VRDGAR



Informative Speech

An Informative Speech: Suicide: Some Causes, Some Hope

Here is a speech I wrote, though never delivered, to illustrate what a brief informative speech might look like and to provide a speech that students in public speaking could analyze. The questions for analysis and discussion at the end of the speech might prove a useful starting point in rhetorical analysis. I wrote this for my Essentials of Human Communication: The Basic Course, 11/e because I couldn't find a good example of an informative speech that addresses a topic important to college students. 

Suicide: Some Causes, Some Hope

 In January of 2022, a Florida deputy—a former US Martine who was named deputy of the year in 2020 committed suicide. He was 24 years old. A few days later, his wife, also a Florida deputy, took her own life. She was 23. Their deaths left their 1-month old son an orphan (https://nypost.com/2022/01/06/florida-police-couple-who-committed-suicide-won-deputy-awards/). A few weeks later, Academy Award winner Regina King’s son, Ian, took his own life; he was 26. Days later actor Michael Madsen’s son Hudson committed suicide; he too was 26. And still in January, former Miss USA, lawyer, and TV reporter took her own life; she was 30.

          Unfortunately, these cases are not as rare or unusual as you might think. These are simply the more dramatic and the ones that get front page coverage in newspapers and are highlighted on TV news shows and on the Internet. The statistics on the prevalence of suicide will likely shock you. According to the 2020 USA General Statistics https://save.org/about-suicide/suicide-facts/suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States and the 3rd leading cause of death for Americans 15-24 years of age. It’s the 2nd leading cause of death for that same age group throughout the world. In 2020, almost 46,000 Americans committed suicide.  Everyday 125 Americans commit suicide—that’s one death every 11.5 minutes.

          Here I’d like to discuss just a few of the many causes of suicide and then suggest what can be done to prevent this unnecessary loss of life. Let’s start off with the leading cause: depression.

          Untreated depression, the leading cause of suicide, is responsible for some 90 percent of people who commit suicide. Depression is a psychological disorder that causes you to feel persistently sad for a long time. It is not a temporary mood swing that we all experience from time to time; it’s persistent and stays with us no matter what we do. Depression can be brought on by a variety of things: the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a failure in school, an illness—especially a diagnosis of a terminal illness.

          Many people who experience depression say they can’t imagine a happy future for themselves or even remember a happy past. All seems lost and hopeless and although they may not want to die, they can’t see any other way out of their pain (https://save.org/about-suicide/mental-illness-and-suicide/depression/).

          Depression affects almost 1 out of every four Americans eighteen years and old every single year. So, if a class of 30 like this one, that means that approximately 7 of us will experience severe depression at some time during the year. What’s equally frightening is that only half of Americans receive treatment for their depression.

          While depression is the major cause, it is not the only one. A second major cause of suicide is bullying. According to the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Education (https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/facts), bullying includes three major elements: (1) unwarranted aggressive behavior; (2) power imbalance whether real or perceived; and (3) repetition of these aggressive behaviors.

          According to Admissionsly (https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/stats.asp) approximately 1 in 4 college students say they have been bullied at least two times in the past month.

          Bullying can occur anywhere IRL—in the workplace, in schools (especially in common areas like the cafeteria, hallways, and locker rooms), and even in religious institutions. It also occurs—perhaps even more widely—online. Cyberbullying—on social media sites like Facebook, for example—bullying may take the form of making people feel ashamed or inadequate or have their relationships threatened.  As you might guess, the most prevalent form of cyberbullying is name-calling, spreading false rumors, and sending explicit photos (www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html). This cyberbullying, by the way, was one of the main causes of the suicide of the former Miss USA. Over 50 percent of adolescents and teenagers have been bullied online and, sadly enough, over 50 percent have themselves engaged in bullying.

          Bullying is especially prevalent against gender non-conforming youth and not surprisingly LGTBQ youth have an even higher suicide rate that cisgender youth. LGTBQ (https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/lgbtq) youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight kids and when family rejects them (because of their affectional orientation) that figure jumps to 8 times more likely to commit suicide.

          In addition to depression and bullying, another major cause is loneliness and social isolation. Unlike being alone—which can often be enjoyable and is voluntary, loneliness is involuntary leads people to feel unwanted, unappreciated, rejected, and unloved (https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749). Social contact is an essential human need, not only when we’re experiencing difficulties and need to share our problems but also when we’re experiencing good times that we want to share. When this social contact is denied, we can easily become depressed. We may easily come to feel like failures with nothing to live for.

          In one survey, 46 percent of Americans felt lonely in 2018; in 2019 it jumped to 52 percent. Twenty-one percent claimed they had no close friends. Not surprisingly, the COVID pandemic has contributed to increased loneliness; 36 percent of Americans said they felt lonelier during the pandemic. Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012 are the loneliest of all groups—some 65 percent said they sometimes or always felt lonely (https://socialpronow.com/loneliness-statistics/ - 1). In a review of 22 studies on suicide, and reported in the 2020 issue of the journal of Affective Disorders, 17 of these studies suggested that loneliness was a significant factor in predicting attempted suicide (https://www.nationalelfservice.net/mental-health/suicide/loneliness-and-suicide-whats-the-link-and-what-role-does-depression-play/).

          Depression, bullying, and loneliness are certainly not the only causes of suicide. There are many others but these three should give us some idea of why so many people commit suicide. Knowing the causes will not eliminate suicide but it may help us to understand at least some of the factors that lead to suicide and perhaps ultimately what may be done to prevent it.

          If you or someone you know is at risk, please do something. Calling the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 is a good first step. Another good step is to go online; fortunately, the Internet is replete with suggestions for dealing with suicidal thoughts and they offer a useful starting place for reversing such self-destructive feelings. A good website to start with is SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

          Among the suggestions are these:

1.     Talk with a trusted friend or relative.

2.     Contact a health professional and explain your feelings.

3.     Engage in activities that you enjoy and that bring you pleasure. Focus on all the things that are important to you and are worth living for.

4.     Focus on getting through today and not so much about the long-distance future.

5.     Avoid activities and drugs that may increase your feelings of depression or loneliness.

          It sure would be nice to think that those two deputies, the sons of Regina King and Michael Madsen and the former Miss USA—along with the many, many others whose stories never get into the media--could have been helped if we (and they) understood more about the causes of suicide and, even more important, that help was available.

Nonverbal Communication Concepts

Here is a brief glossary of terms you'll find when reading about nonverbal communication. It comes from my The Nonverbal Communication Book:

Glossary of 200 Nonverbal Communication Concepts


Listed here are definitions of the technical terms in nonverbal communication—the words that are peculiar or unique to this discipline. All boldface terms within the definitions appear as separate entries in the glossary.


accommodation The process of adjusting your communication patterns to those with whom you’re interacting.

active listening The process by which a listener expresses his or her understanding of the speaker’s total message, including the verbal and nonverbal, the thoughts and feelings.

adaptors Nonverbal behaviors that satisfy some personal need and usually occur without awareness; for example, scratching to relieve an itch or moistening your lips to relieve dryness. Three types of adaptors are often distinguished: self-adaptors, alter-adaptors, and object-adaptors.

affect blends Facial expressions that are a combination of two or more primary emotions.

affect displays Movements of the facial area that convey emotional meaning—for example, expressions showing anger, fear, or surprise.

alter-adaptors Body movements you make in response to your current interactions; for example, crossing your arms over your chest when someone unpleasant approaches or moving closer to someone you like.

ambiguity The condition in which a message or relationship may be interpreted as having more than one meaning.

apology An expression of regret or sorrow for having done what you did or for what happened.

artifactual communication Communication that takes place through the wearing and arrangement of various items—for example, clothing, jewelry, buttons, or the furniture in your house and its arrangement.

assertiveness A willingness to stand up for your rights but with respect for the rights of others.

asynchronous communication Communication in which the sending and receiving of messages do not take place simultaneously (messages are sent and received at different times); opposed to synchronous communication.

attraction The state or process by which one individual is drawn to another and forms a highly positive evaluation of that other person.

backchanneling cues Listener responses to a speaker that do not ask for the speaking role.

batons. A type of illustrator; like the conductors baton, illustrator batons emphasize a particular word or phrase with say, a hand movement.

beard A person who is used to hide something about another person, for example, having a friend pose as a spouse to give the impression that you’re married.

behavioral constraint Restriction on your movements; a major contributor to crowding.

behavioral synchrony The similarity in the behavior, usually nonverbal, of two persons, and generally interpreted as an index of mutual liking. Also see mirroring.

biological time One’s preference for different times of the day and also to one’s biological cycles.

biorhythms Cycles that the body goes through in a pattern; physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles are often distinguished.

body adornment A general term for jewelry, tattoos, and similar body ornaments.

body language A popular term for nonverbal communication.

body posture The positioning of the body in interaction with others; inclusiveness/non-inclusiveness, face-to-face/parallel, and congruence/incongruence positions are usually identified.

body territory The area around you that you need to have to do what you want to do.

boundary marker An object that divides one person’s territory from another’s—for example, a fence.

central marker An item that is placed in a territory to reserve it for a specific person—for example, the sweater thrown over a library chair to signal that the chair is taken.

channel The vehicle or medium through which signals are sent.

chronemics The study of the communicative nature of time—of the way you treat time and use it to communicate.

civil inattention Polite ignoring of others so as not to invade their privacy.

code A set of symbols used to translate a message from one form to another.

color communication The meanings that different colors communicate in various cultures.

communication (1) The process or act of communicating; (2) the actual message or messages sent and received; (3) the study of the processes involved in the sending and receiving of messages.

complementarity A principle of attraction stating that you are attracted by qualities that you do not possess or that you wish to possess and to people who are opposite or different from yourself; opposed to similarity.

congruence/incongruence A body posture referring to the degree of mirroring of one person’s body posture by another person.

connotation The feeling or emotional aspect of a word’s meaning; generally viewed as consisting of evaluation (for example, good–bad), potency (strong–weak), and activity (fast–slow) dimensions. Opposed to denotation.

contamination Rendering a territory impure; a form of territorial encroachment.

context The physical, social-psychological, temporal, and cultural environment in which communication takes place.

conversational management The conduct of a conversation by means of conversational turns.

conversational turns The process of exchanging the speaker and listener roles during conversation.

crowding The psychological perception that there are too many people around and a consciousness of restrictions on your spatial freedom; distinguished from density.  

cultural display Signs that communicate a person’s cultural identification, for example, clothing or religious jewelry.

cultural rules Rules that are specific to a given cultural group.

cultural time The perspective on time shared by members of a particular culture.

culture The relatively specialized lifestyle of a group of people—consisting of their values, beliefs, artifacts, ways of behaving, and ways of communicating—that is passed on from one generation to the next.

deception bias The assumption that the other person is lying; opposed to a truth bias.

deception cues Verbal or nonverbal cues that reveal the person is lying.

decoding The process of extracting a message from a code—for example, translating speech sounds into nerve impulses. See also encoding.

deictic movements. A type of illustrator that points to a person or thing that you want someone else to focus on.

denotation The objective or descriptive aspect of a word’s meaning; the meaning you’d find in a dictionary. Opposed to connotation.

density The number of people within an area of space; distinguished from crowding.

display rules Cultural norms for what is and what is not appropriate to display in public

double-bind message A special type of ambiguous message in which verbal and nonverbal signals contradict each other.

double-bind messages Messages that ask for two incompatible responses; if you do what the verbal messages asks you to do you violate what the nonverbal message tells you to do and vice-versa.

Duchenne smile A genuine smile; a smile that is a reflection of your real feelings.

duping delight Nonverbal leakage that occurs when someone takes satisfaction and pleasure at fooling someone.

dyadic communication Two-person communication.

dyadic effect The tendency to reciprocate, to imitate (in some way) what the other person does or says.

earmarker A physical sign that identifies an item as belonging to a specific person—for example, a nameplate on a desk or initials on an attaché case.

emblems Nonverbal behaviors that directly translate words or phrases—for example, the signs for “OK” and “peace.”

emoticon A written symbol to indicate an emotion.

emotional contagion The process by which the strong emotions of one person are taken on by another person; the assumption that, like the flu, emotions may be contagious.

encoding The process of putting a message into a code—for example, translating nerve impulses into speech sounds. See also decoding.

equilibrium theory A theory that attempts to explain the relationship between intimacy and space and holds that intimacy and distance vary together; the greater the intimacy, the closer the distance; the lower the intimacy, the greater the distance.

expectancy violations theory A theory of proxemics holding that people have a certain expectancy for space relationships. When that expectancy is violated (for example, when a person stands too close to you or a romantic partner maintains abnormally large distances from you), the relationship comes into clearer focus and you wonder why this “normal distance” is being violated.

eye movements Use eye movements to seek feedback, exchange conversational turns, signal the nature of your relationship with others, and compensate for increased physical distance. At the same time, look for such meanings in the eye movements of others.

eye roll Moving the eyes upward as a condescending gesture.

eyebrow flash A raising of the eye brows, often a sign of acknowledgement.

face-to-face/parallel A body posture referring to the degree to which two people face each other directly or indirectly.

facial feedback hypothesis The theory that your facial expressions can produce physiological and emotional effects.

facial management techniques Techniques used to mask certain emotions and to emphasize others; for example, intensifying your expression of happiness to make a friend feel good about a promotion.

facial messages Use facial expressions to communicate that you’re involved in the interaction. As a listener, look to the emotional expressions of others as additional cues to their meaning.

facial recognition The process of identifying a person from facial cues.

facial style A person’s normal and usual form of facial expression, thought to be a part of a person’s personality.

feedback Information that is given back to the source. Feedback may come from the source’s own messages (as when we hear what we are saying) or may come from the receiver(s) in the form of applause, yawning, puzzled looks, questions, comments on a blog post or letters to the editor of a newspaper, increased or decreased subscriptions to a magazine, and so forth.

feedforward Information that is sent prior to a regular message telling the listener something about what is to follow.

feng shui The principles of living in a harmonious relationship with one’s environment and surroundings, including principles for furniture arrangement.

flirt The process of sending nonverbal (and verbal)signals to indicate a romantic interest.

formal time Time units that are established and that have precise meanings, for example, hour or day. See also informal time.

gaze Looking at another person. See also mutual gaze, gaze omission, and gaze aversion.

gaze aversion. Intentional avoidance of making eye contact. Opposed to gaze omission. See also gaze and mutual gaze.

gaze omission. Unintentional avoidance of making eye contact. Opposed to gaze aversion. See also gaze and mutual gaze.

home field advantage The increased power that comes from being in your own territory.

home territories Territories about which individuals have a sense of intimacy and over which they exercise control—for example, a professor’s office.

ideographs. A type of illustrator; ideographs trace the path of an idea or thought.

illustrators Nonverbal gestures that enhance (literally illustrate the verbal message that they accompany), for example, moving your head to the left when you refer to something on the left.

image management The process and strategies of using communication to convey a particular image of yourself to others.

immediacy A quality of interpersonal effectiveness that creates a sense of contact and togetherness and conveys interest in and liking for the other person.

inclusiveness/non-inclusiveness A body posture indicating the degree to which your body position includes or excludes others.

informal time Approximate rather than exact time, denoted in terms such as “soon,” “early,” and “in a while.” See also formal time.

information power Power that a person possesses because others see that individual as having significant information and the ability to communicate logically and persuasively. Also called “persuasion power.”

insulation A reaction to territorial encroachment in which you erect some sort of barrier between yourself and the invaders.

interactional territories Areas where people gather and interact with each other, for example, the dinner table or a park bench.

interpersonal time The time dimension of interpersonal interaction, for example, punctuality, response time, and relationship time.

interruptions In conversation, attempts to take over the role of the speaker.

intimate distance The closest proxemic distance, ranging from touching to 18 inches.

invasion The unwarranted entrance into another’s territory that changes the meaning of the territory.

invasion Unwarranted entrance into another’s territory; a form of territorial encroachment.

irreversibility A principle of communication holding that communication cannot be reversed; once something has been communicated, it cannot be uncommunicated.

kinesics The study of the communicative dimensions of facial and bodily movements.

kinetographs. A type of illustrator that imitates or depicts bodily movements.

leakage The process whereby slight nonverbal movements (often around the lips and eyes) reveal one’s true feelings.

leave-taking cues Verbal and nonverbal cues that indicate a desire to terminate a conversation.

linguistic collusion A response to territorial encroachment in which the members of the in-group use a language unknown to the invaders.

lying The act of deliberately trying to mislead another person by communicating information you believe to be false.

markers Devices that signify that a certain territory belongs to a particular person. See also boundary marker, central marker, and earmarker.

masking The process of replacing or substituting a felt expression for one that is more appropriate to the situation.

matching hypothesis An assumption that you date and mate people who are comparable to yourself—who match you—in physical attractiveness.

metacommunication Communication about communication.

metamessage A message that refers to another message.

mirroring The process of imitating or mimicking the nonverbal behaviors of another person, often considered to promote perceived attractiveness.

monochronic time orientation A view of time in which things are done sequentially; one thing is scheduled at a time; opposed to polychronic time orientation.

multitasking Doing more than one thing at one time; a pattern of those with a polychronic time orientation.

mutual gaze The situation in which two people look at each other at the same time.

negative face strategies Messages that recognize a person’s right to autonomy.

negative face The desire to be autonomous, to have the right to do as you wish.

noise Anything that distorts the message; noise is present to the extent that the message received is not the message sent.

nonverbal communication Communication without words; communication by means of space, gestures, facial expressions, touching, vocal variation, and silence, for example.

nonverbal dominance Nonverbal behavior through which one person exercises psychological dominance over another.

object-adaptors Movements that involve manipulation of some object; for example, punching holes in or drawing on a Styrofoam coffee cup, clicking a ballpoint pen, or chewing on a pencil.

oculesis A technical term for the study of eye movements.

olfactory communication Communication by smell.

paralanguage The vocal but nonverbal aspect of speech. Paralanguage consists of voice qualities (for example, pitch range, resonance, tempo); vocal characterizers (laughing or crying, yelling or whispering); vocal qualifiers (intensity, pitch height); and vocal segregates (“uh-uh,” meaning “no,” or “sh” meaning “silence”).

pauses Silent periods in the normally fluent stream of speech. Pauses are of two major types: filled pauses (interruptions in speech that are filled with such vocalizations as “er” or “um”) and unfilled pauses (silences of unusually long duration).

personal distance The second-closest proxemic distance, ranging from 18 inches to four feet.

pictographs. A type of illustrator that draws a picture of the thing talked about.

pitch The highness or lowness of the vocal tone.

politeness Civility, consideration, refinement, respect, and regard for others as expressed verbally and nonverbally; interaction that follows the socially accepted rules for interpersonal interaction.

politeness strategies Strategies that support another’s face needs and may be used as a strategy to appear likeable.

Pollyanna effect The tendency to see the positive side of things rather than the negative.

polychronic time orientation A view of time in which several things may be scheduled or engaged in at the same time; opposed to monochronic time orientation.

positive face strategies Messages that compliment and praise another. Use these as appropriate.

positive face The desire to be viewed positively by others, to be thought of favorably.

positiveness A characteristic of effective communication involving positive attitudes toward the self and toward the interpersonal interaction. Also can mean complimenting another and expressing acceptance and approval.

posture The way in which one stands or sits.

power The ability to control or influence the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors of others.

primacy effect The condition in which what comes first exerts greater influence in our perceptions than what comes later. See also recency effect.

primary affect displays Facial displays of the primary emotions.

primary emotions The basic or pure emotions, often considered to be happiness, anger, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and contempt.

primary territories Areas that a person can consider his or her own exclusive preserve—for example, someone’s room or office.

privacy The degree to which one perceives oneself (and one’s messages) to be free from surveillance.

protection theory A theory of proxemics referring to the fact that people establish a body-buffer zone to protect themselves from unwanted closeness, touching, or attack.

proxemic distances The spatial distances that people maintain in communication and social interaction: four distances are generally distinguished: intimate distance, personal distance, social distance, and public distance.

proxemics The study of the communicative function of space; the study of how people unconsciously structure their space—the distances between people in their interactions, the organization of spaces in homes and offices, and even the design of cities.

proximity Physical closeness; one of the qualities influencing attraction. Also, as a principle of perception, the tendency to perceive people or events that are physically close as belonging together or representing some unit.

psychological time The importance you place on past, present, or future time.

public distance The longest proxemic distance, ranging from 12 to more than 25 feet.

public distance The longest proxemic distance, ranging from 12 to more than 25 feet.

public territories Areas that are open to all people—for example, restaurants or parks

pupil dilation The widening of the pupils of the eyes, often a sign of interest.

pupillometrics The study of communication through changes in the size of the pupils of the eyes.

rate The speed with which you speak, generally measured in words per minute.

receiver Any person or thing that takes in messages. Receivers may be individuals listening to or reading a message, a group of peeople hearing a speech, a scattered television audience, or machines that store information.

recency effect The condition in which what comes last (that is, most recently) exerts greater influence in our perceptions than what comes first. See also primacy effect.

reciprocity of liking Liking someone as a response to your perceiving that they like you.

regulators Nonverbal behaviors that regulate, monitor, or control the communications of another person, such as nods or changes in body posture.

reinforcement One of the factors contributing to attraction; the giving of a reward or the removal of an aversive stimulus.

reliability A quality of research or support that can be counted on as accurate and trustworthy.

secondary territories Areas that do not belong to a particular person but that have been occupied by that person and are therefore associated with her or him—for example, the seat you normally take in class.

self-adaptors Movements that usually satisfy a physical need, especially a need to be more comfortable; for example, scratching your head to relieve an itch, moistening your lips because they feel dry, or pushing your hair out of your eyes.

shrug A body gesture in which the shoulders are raised, often accompanied by a bewildered expression, and often designed to communicate a lack of concern or knowledge.

silence The absence of vocal communication. Often mistakenly thought to be the absence of any and all communication, silence actually can communicate feelings or can serve to prevent communication about certain topics.

similarity A theory of attraction that holds that people are attracted to those who are similar to them; opposed to complementarity.

smell adaptation The situation in which you gradually lose the distinctiveness of a smell due to over exposure to it.

smell blindness The inability to identify and distinguish among smells.

smell discrimination The ability to distinguish one smell from another.

smell memory The ability to recall previous events through smell and to recall the smells themselves.

smell overload The situation in which your sense of smell is overloaded, bombarded by too many smells or smells that are too intense.

smell satiation The situation in which a smell becomes difficult to perceive because of overexposure to it.

smell the sense by which you receive olfactory signals.

smile A facial expression usually indicating pleasure, though other emotions may be signed by slightly different smiles, for example, annoyance. See also Duchenne smile.

social clock The cultural time table for the accomplishment of a variety of life’s milestones.

somatotyping Classifying people’s personality and temperament on the basis of their body type, whether tall and thin, short and stout, or muscular.

source Any person or thing that creates messages. A source may be an individual speaking, writing, or gesturing or a computer sending an error message.

spatial distance Physical distance that signals the type of relationship you are in: intimate, personal, social, or public.

spatial movements. A type of illustrator that indicates spatial relationships or size, for example.

spiral of silence The theory that holds that you are more likely to voice agreement with others than disagreement. The result is that this spirals with the majority position becoming stronger and the minority positions becoming weaker.

stimulus overload The situation that occurs when the stimuli around you exceed your comfort zone; a major contributor to crowding.

surveillance Being watched by another; a major contributor to crowding.

synchronous communication Communication in which the sending and receiving of a message takes place at the same time; opposed to asynchronous communication.

taboo Forbidden; culturally censored; frowned upon by “polite society.” Taboos may include entire topics as well as specific words—for example, death, sex, certain forms of illness, and various words denoting sexual activities and excretory functions.

tag questions Questions that ask for another’s agreement and often signal weakness or uncertainty, for example, “That dinner was fine, don’t you think?”

temporal communication The messages communicated by a person’s time orientation and treatment of time.

territorial encroachment An intrusion into your territory.

territoriality A possessive or ownership reaction to an area of space or to particular objects.

theory A general statement or principle applicable to related phenomena.

tie signs Nonverbal (and verbal) cues that two people are somehow connected in some significant relational way.

time management The efficient use of time.

touch avoidance The tendency to avoid touching and being touched by others.

touch communication Communication through tactile means.

touch deprivation The psychological reaction to the absence of touch.

truth bias The assumption that the other person is telling the truth; opposed to a deception bias.

turf defense A response to territorial encroachment in which you defend your territory against intruders.

turn-denying cues Verbal or nonverbal cues indicating that the listener does not want to assume the role of speaker.

turn-maintaining cues Verbal or nonverbal cues that communicate your wish to maintain the role of speaker.

turn-requesting cues Verbal or nonverbal cues that indicate a desire to assume the speaker’s turn.

turn-taking cues A general term for verbal and/or nonverbal cues indicating a desire to exchange speaking/listening turns.

turn-yielding cues Verbal or nonverbal cues indicating the speaker’s desire to give up the speaker’s role.

unrepeatability Principle of communication stating that no communication can ever be re-created in quite the same way, because circumstances are never the same.

violation The unwarranted use of another’s territory; a form of territorial encroachment.

visual dominance The use of the eyes to maintain a superior or controlling position; for example, when making an especially important point, you might look intently at the other person.

vocalics The study of the vocal (but nonverbal) dimension of speech, for example, pitch, rate, or volume.

voice qualities Aspects of paralanguage, for example, pitch, rate, and volume.

volume The relative loudness of the voice.

withdrawal A reaction to territorial encroachment in which we leave the territory.