What You Need to Know About : Nonverbal Communication Theories

cues rather than on their verbal communication. Most people have an intuitive sense about what nonverbal communication is. Often called body language, it is assumed to include gesture, facial expression, body movement, gaze, dress, and the like to send messages. But the notion of body language is fairly vague and omits a number of important communicative nonverbal elements, such as use of voice, touch, distancing, time, and physical objects as messages. It is the assumption that one cannot not communicate, a claim that has given rise to extended debate on what constitutes nonverbal communication. Now it is believed that all nonverbal behavior is communication. Judee Burgoon defines nonverbal communication as those behaviors other than words themselves that form a socially shared coding system—that is, they are typically sent with intent, typically interpreted as intentional, used with regularity among members of a speech community, and have consensually recognizable interpretations.

Nonverbal communication is both powerful and indispensable in communication. Our verbal communication would be ineffective if our nonverbal messages did not accompany them. No matter where we look, nonverbal communication is at the heart of every message conveyed or received whether in face-to-face encounters or over the telephone. In fact, nonverbal communication includes personal feelings, emotions, attitudes, and thoughts through body movements—gestures, postures, facial expressions, walking styles, positions, and distance—either consciously or involuntarily, more often subconsciously, and accompanied or unaccompanied by the spoken language. Thus, it can be said that nonverbal communication is the way people unconsciously telegraph their private thoughts and emotions through body movements— the way in which they fold their arms, cross their legs, sit, stand, walk, use their hips, eyes, and even in the subtle way they move their lips.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE. 690

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Gayes Mahestu
Edwina Ayu Kustiawan