COMM 101 - Fundamentals of Communication

Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

Description Syllabus Class Notes Assignments +

Nonverbal Communication

A.    Nonverbal Codes involve meanings derived from others and "coded" without words.  [usually not symbolic]

  1. Nonverbal communication can be deliberate or unintentional.

  2. Nonverbal cues are culture-bound.

  3. Nonverbal messages are often trusted more than the verbal when they conflict.

  4. Nonverbal messages are inherently ambiguous.

B.   Functions of nonverbal messages: - examples

  1.  reinforce the verbal message - nodding your head while saying "yes"

  2.  contradict the verbal message - a tone of voice that sounds angry when you say you aren't angry

  3.  regulate the conversation - raising your hand when you want to speak in class

  4.  substitute or replace the verbal message - football referee's penalty hand signals

  5. establish relationships - hugging a loved one

  6. deceive - hiding feelings 

  7. managing identity - trying to look confident 


C.  Types of Nonverbal Codes:  

1.          Paralanguage (vocal cues) - vocal qualities and “extra-symbolic” codes

2.          Proxemics (space) - territoriality (markers), spatial arrangement, touch (haptics), and personal space

(1)   Intimate distance = 0 - 12"

(2)   Personal distance = 12" - 2 or 3 ft.

(3)   Social distance = 3 ft. - 5 to12 ft.

(4)   Public distance = 5-12 ft - 30/40 ft.  (Mediated communication is typically used beyond 30/40 feet.)

3.         Appearance and body type, clothing, artifacts (objects), environment (colors, architecture, temperature, etc.)

4.          Kinesics  (movement, gesture,  posture, facial expression and eyes)

5.     Haptics (touch)

6.          Time (chronemics)


D.   Kenesic codes - types of movements/gestures

1.                  emblems - NV gesture symbols - the peace sign

2.                  illustrators - NV gesture indexes or icons - pointing at something you're discussing

3.                  regulators - controls interaction (e.g. turn-taking) - raising your hand to ask for recognition to speak

4.                  affect display - emotions - a frown                                 

5.                  adaptors - unintentional, functional movements - scratching your head while thinking


 E.   Keys to decoding nonverbal communication.

1.                  Be tentative in interpreting nonverbal cues.  There are ---

                   a.  multiple meanings for a single cue and

                                      b.  multiple cues for a single meaning.

2.                  Nonverbal communication may or may not be intentional

3.                  You can't read a person like a book.  While nonverbal communication is universal, it is culture bound.

4.                  Nonverbal interacts with the verbal. (It’s immediate.)

5.                  Monitor your NV impressions.  They matter to others.


Discussion Task - Observe the non-verbal behavior of others around you for a day or two.  Be prepared to discuss your observations

  1. Note at least one example of non-verbal behavior used for each of the 5 functions (in B. above).   Write this out and be prepared to turn it in if you want extra credit homework points.

  2. Be prepared to identify at least one example of non-verbal behavior illustrating each of the 5 types of kenesic codes above.

  3. Describe one instance in which you were misled by nonverbal cues.

  4. If you can, find a magazine ad (or be able to describe one in some detail that makes use of nonverbal cues to convey part of the message.  Bring it to class.  What kind of cue is it and how does it "make meaning?"

 last updated 1/29/2014