Reflection on Week 6’s Class(张果,2019级硕士)
发布时间: 2019-12-11 浏览次数: 27

This week’s topic is nonverbal communication, which is an important part of our communication system and sometimes exert even more powerful effect than verbal communication. Nonverbal communication can be traced in our daily communication, such as waving hands when greeting friends, nodding head to show positive response and smiling to show courtesy. However, nonverbal communication is not universally workable considering cultural differences and certain types of nonverbal communication are exclusive within particular culture, which displays great divergence and complexity in effective using of nonverbal communication.

As usual, a group presentation on this topic was arranged before the lecture. Clearly, they have done sufficient preparation with a video demonstrating functions of verbal communication, an introduction of knowledge from the textbook and a live performance regarding using of nonverbal communication in intercultural context. Their performance embraced a wide range of issues, which certainly neglected a point that attention from the audience is limited, so it is not ideal as focusing on one point would be better and can leave more profound impression on the audience. Their video is well shot which shows several symbols in nonverbal communication and explicates their functions clearly, receiving praises from Professor An and other students.

The lecture was mainly focused on different types of nonverbal communication and several questions was raised by Professor An for us to discuss. An important question regarding the differences between verbal and nonverbal communication is worth exploring. I think an important difference points to the varying range of utilization of the two tools. Verbal communication is more widely and easily adopted in human communication, especially for the purpose of delivering ideas, discussing and exchange messages clearly, while nonverbal communication is mostly silent signals from individuals involved in the communication with messages sometimes not clearly expressed. Moreover, verbal communication utilizes sounds and languages, which depends on the voices. It can be employed as a tool for far-distance communication as words and phrases can be sent easily via multiple channels and the messages are already embodied in the semantic meaning of the words. Nonverbal communication, however, is largely connected with gestures and facial expressions, which is a tool often applied in face-to-face communication and emotions are often displayed through these nonverbal signals.

Another question discussed in class is that “Is nonverbal communication more important than verbal communication in the process of human understanding?” There is no definite answer and the degree of importance should be considered with specific contexts. In some situations where ideas and messages should be clearly delivered, like lectures, public speaking and group discussion etc., verbal communication is definitely more important than nonverbal communication as language is more effective and explicit in explaining ideas. If a lecture is taught with mostly gestures, how can it be conducive to the students’ understanding? Meanwhile, interpretations towards the gestures from different students may also be different, resulting in misunderstandings easily. We know this kind of scene normally won’t happen. However, we can imagine another scene about lecture which basically happens in classrooms designed for deaf students. They have unfortunately lost the capacity of hearing and speaking and can only use the sign language for communication, which is basically a set of gestures and signs for communication. It has rules and systems guiding the particular gestures, so it also belongs to verbal communication. Therefore, verbal communication is very important in delivering ideas and knowledge, for the messages expressed are semantically explicit and clearly interpreted. In terms of nonverbal communication, it is employed as a way to show personal emotions and sometimes is unintentionally used. For example, when we are very anxious about something, we may stamp our feet and frown to show the anxiety instead of just saying Im so anxious, which is more powerful and natural and often unintentional. People will immediately get the inner feelings from you and know the real situation. In this way, nonverbal communication plays a more important role in displaying emotions and obtaining other peoples empathy.

Therefore, context is the main factor which determines the degree of importance of verbal communication and nonverbal communication. Moreover, the two methods are usually used at the same time for a more powerful and effective communication, with different emphasis on using of each tool. Human communication is a complicated process which involves many personal variations in interpretations and impact from the changing norms and rules in language and gestures, so emotions and expected intentions may not be delivered as they way we designed, especially when the communication takes place among generations and between different cultures. Therefore, using language solely sometimes is not enough, a more holistic intention and meaning may be expressed with certain universally understandable signals and gestures.

Interpreting nonverbal communication is indeed a difficult task as human emotions are complicated and personal differences in showing emotions are huge, even among people from one culture. Conflicts and disputes may arise due to misinterpretations of nonverbal communication, the chance would be bigger if gestures and signs which are exclusive within certain culture are used in intercultural communication. Therefore, it is better to do some research about taboos in different cultures and use more universally acknowledged signs to show your intention or deliver information.


中国 广州市 大学城 华南理工大学 B1楼 广东省公共外交与跨文化传播研究基地,邮编:510006
电话(Tel): +86(0)20 39381018; 020-39381078; 传真(Fax): +86(0)20 39381078 E-mail: gdpdic@scut.edu.cn
The Centre of Public Diplomacy and Intercultural Communication Research, Building B1,
South China University of Technology, Guangzhou University Town, Panyu District, Guangzhou, China 510006