Chapter 4: Nonverbal Communication

27 Conclusion

image of a man with a moustache


After reading this chapter, and returning to Dhavit’s challenge related to nonverbal communication, how might Dhavit adapt his body language and facial expressions to ensure that workshop participants believe he is open to hearing their questions and concerns?

Additional Learning Activities

  1. Watch a television program without the sound. Can you understand the program? Write a description of the program and include what you found easy to understand, and what presented a challenge, and present it to the class.
  2. Interview someone from a different culture than your own (explaining your purpose clearly) and ask them to share a specific cultural difference in nonverbal communication—for example, a nonverbal gesture that is not used in polite company.

Check Your Knowledge

Additional Resources

Visit this site for a library of University of California videotapes on nonverbal communication produced by Dane Archer of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Read “Six Ways to Improve Your Nonverbal Communications” by Vicki Ritts, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and James R. Stein, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.

Is “how you say it” really more important than what you say? Read an article by communications expert Dana Bristol-Smith that debunks a popular myth.


Adaptors – displays of nonverbal communication that help you adapt to your environment and each context, helping you feel comfortable and secure.
Affect displays – nonverbal communication that express emotions or feelings, for example smiling and waiving to coworkers to welcome them to an event.
Artifacts – forms of decorative ornamentation that are chosen to represent self-concept.
Emblems – gestures that have a specific agreed-on meaning, like when someone raises their thumb to indicate agreement.
Environment – involves the physical and psychological aspects of the communication context.
Eye contact – refers to the speaker’s gaze that engages the audience members. It can vary in degree and length, and in many cases, is culturally influenced.
Facial gestures – involve using your face to display feelings and attitudes nonverbally.
Gestures – involve using your arms and hands while communicating.
Illustrator – a nonverbal gesture, such as a hand motion to emphasize or illustrate a point you’re making.
Kinesics – the study of body movements.
Nonverbal communication – the process of conveying a message without the use of words. It can include gestures and facial expressions, tone of voice, timing, posture and where you stand as you communicate.
Object-adaptor – involves the use of an object in a way for which it was not designed.
Paralanguage – involves tone and nonverbal aspects of speech that influence meaning, including how loudly or softly you are speaking, intensity, pausing, and even silence.
Space – in a nonverbal context, this means the space between objects and people.

Chapter References

Latha, M. (2014). First impressions: A study of non–verbal communication. Frontiers of Language and Teaching, 5. Retrieved from

McLean, S. (2003). The basics of speech communication. Boston, MA: Allyn Bacon.

Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal communication. Chicago, IL: Aldine Atherton.


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