Recently I took a trip down to Alabama, and this trip included flying. I personally love to people watch, and knowing that there was a layover in Detroit for an hour there, and a two hour layover in Atlanta, I was automatically excited.
Across from us was a couple that had made a make-shift bed out of the waiting seats and were fast asleep. About twenty minutes before it was time to load, our gate became crowded with all our fellow travelers. Because there were so many people, seats became scarce. The couple that was sleeping across from us, were still sleeping and didn’t realize this. They had their carry-ons laid out in front of them, making it an obstacle course for anyone who wanted to get to the vacant seats beside them. Eventually, one lady decided to try to get to these seats. She quietly and slowly tried maneuvering across the luggage. As she moved around them and their luggage, she let out a few sighs, and let out a quiet yelp when she almost fell. When she finally got to her seat, she sat down, looked at the couple, and rolled her eyes because they were still fast asleep.
In in our lay-over in Atlanta, my friend and I had lost track of time and had to run to our gate. When we got there, they had already called out zone to board. We went straight to the front of the line, because everyone else was waiting for their zone to be called. When we were moving around people, they were rolling their eyes, barely moving their bags for us, and letting out long loud sighs. One lady even gave us a dirty look. We weren’t meaning to make people mad; we were just trying to get on when we were supposed to.
Why Does This Matter?
All of these experiences I experienced at the airport are examples of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication deals with all communication that isn’t talking (Wood, 2010). Some examples of nonverbal communication are the way people look at certain things, why people wear what they wear, and body language in general. Nonverbal communication is all around us. As the principles of interpersonal communication states, we can’t not communicate; meaning, even when we’re not trying to communicate we are. You can read a lot about the way a person feels about something by their body language. If a friend is confiding in another friend about a problem, however, that friend is looking off in the distance, or texting, you can tell that he or she isn’t paying attention to their friend’s problems.
All of these experiences from my trip fall into certain categories of nonverbal communication.
Whenever someone was sighing or anything of that nature, it is a form of Paralanguage nonverbal communication. Wood explains that paralanguage happens will people say things; however, they’re not real words. Some other examples of paralanguage are how loud someone says something and how they emphasize their speech. Paralanguage helps us know how others are feeling because it helps us see how someone is feeling. By people sighing towards us, my friend and I were able to tell that they were annoyed or angry because we were getting ahead of them in the line. In the example of the woman sighing towards the music player, she was trying to signal him to turn his music down, without have to actually say anything.
Whenever someone would roll their eyes, or give us an evil stare, that is a form of Kinesics body language. In Louisville’s article Kinesics is “one of the most powerful ways that humans can communicate nonverbally.” Through seeing people roll their eyes at us, we were able to tell that they were mad and or annoyed at us; and we especially knew what was wrong when we got evil stares; because of kinesics, those people didn’t have to speak a single word to us, we knew what they were thinking.
Nonverbal communication is everywhere. People use it whenever they have interactions, or even if they’re by themselves. Because of nonverbal we are able to read people without having to say a single word to them.
University of Louisville. (2007). Kinescis. Retrieved from http://cobweb2.louisville.edu/faculty/regbruce/bruce//mgmtwebs/commun_f98/kinesics.htm
Wood, J. T. (2011). Interpersonal communication, everyday encounters. (6 ed.). Wadsworth Pub Co.