Paralanguage: Nonverbal Communication

Paralanguage: Nonverbal
“People are more frightened of being
lonely than of being hungry, or being
deprived of sleep, or of having their
sexual needs unfulfilled” (Frieda
Fromm Reichmenn).
Paralanguage: Nonverbal
Communication by means
other than language.
Paralanguage includes
Facial expressions
Tones of voice
Eye contact
Spatial arrangements
Patterns of touch
Expressive movements
Paralanguage includes
intentional and unintentional
nonverbal messages
Paralanguage may be:
• Complementary
• Unconscious
• Learned
Universals and Cultural
• eyebrow flash, the nose wrinkle
• basic emotions:
--happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, and
The functions of nonverbal
To repeat what was said verbally
To complement what was said verbally
To contradict to what was said verbally
To substitute for what would be said
• To regulate and manage the communication
Nonverbal communication
divided into
• Kinesic and Proxemic acts
• Kinesics: The study of nonverbal
gestures, facial expressions, eye contact,
and body posture
• Proxemics: The study of the use of space,
touch, and distance as features of
nonverbal communication.
Inborn Nonverbal Actions
• Smiling
• Crying
Universality versus Relativism
• Birdwhistell (1970)
• Emblems: are gestures understood by
participant of a communicative community
to express a specific meaning
Cultural Specific Emblems
• Can you guess what the
following gestures from
Japan, France and Iran
Could reflect social status and
• Dominance versus subordination
In North America
---more space---take less space
---stare at others ---less eye contact
--- smile more-- smile less
Dangers of overgeneralizations
• Cannot assume everybody in a culture
behaves the same way
• Infrequent actions should not be used to
characterize a culture
• We should not ignore that nonverbal
behaviors are part of complex
communication processes
How do we communicate with
those we don’t know?
• Leonard Zunin (The First Four Minutes,
Three common behaviours:
• which side of the path” look
• I acknowledge you” look
• Look—away priority”
• Edward, T Hall in 1963
• refers to touch and issues of personal space
Distance Between Faces
Tone of Voice
very close (3-6")
soft whisper
close (8-12")
audible whisper
neutral (20-36")
neutral (4.5-5')
across the room (8-20')
soft voice, low volume
full voice
loud voice
Type of Message
top secret or sensual
very confidential
personal subject matter
non-personal information
talking to a group stretching the limit
All nonverbal communication is
best understood within cultural
Body movements
Eye contact
Facial expressions
Silence also part of nonverbal
• Sends nonverbal clues during
• Culturally determined
• Igbos of Nigeria
Do you think that understanding
nonverbal patterns can help us
identify our own ethnocentric