Actions Speak Louder than Words

Hey guys! I’m back at it again with another blog post lol. So do you remember my last post was verbal communication? Well today I’ll share with you non-verbal communication. 

Types of Non-Verbal Communication

The chart above shows the various channels of non-verbal communication that messages are expressed. I’ll share with you one common thought that some people may have about non-verbal communication that I found in DeVito’s text. “Unlike verbal communication, nonverbal communication is universal throughout the world.” What do you think about this statement? Do you agree? Well the truth is… this is just a myth. Wonder why? If you agreed with this statement then I believe by now you’re probably questioning yourself or… questioning me.

4181_f01However, because of culture, differences in meanings occur in nonverbal communication. Why is this so? Well, like we discussed before, no culture is the same. Therefore, there is a high chance that miscommunication can occur when people from varying cultures communicate with each other. This not only relates to verbal communication but nonverbal communication as well. I can offend someone by my actions without even being intentional. This is  due to our differences in nonverbal communication because I don’t understand what is acceptable/not acceptable in the other person’s culture.


Eye Contact & the Caribbean

Although our eyes are apart of our faces it is important to note that when speaking about nonverbal communication scholars view eyes and facial expressions separately. This shows me that eye contact is effective, it can make or break relationships. In some western cultures maintaining eye contact when communicating with others is a sign of respect and trustworthiness. However, in Caribbean cultures, eye contact can be viewed as a sign of disrespect when power distances are involved. For example, students making eye contact with their teacher or an employee maintaining eye contact with their boss.

Types of Nonverbal communication

Body movements (emblems) – Movement + Appearance – People communicate through the movements their bodies make and through their appearance as well. Body gestures directly translate into words or phrases.

Image result for emblems nonverbal communication

Illustrators – these are gestures that people use when they want to communicate the shape or size of something with their hands.

30690-hand-gesture (1)

Affect Displays (Facial Expressions) – These are the movements of face, hands and body that communicate emotional meaning.


Regulators – Behaviour that monitors, controls or maintains the speaking of another individual i.e. lean forward + open mouth to speak

Adapters – Self adapters – self touching movements. Alter-adapters – movements designed to protect an individual from other interaction. Object-adapters – focused on objects such doodling, shredding a coffee cup.

Intimate distance – skin to 18 in
Personal distance – 18 inches to 4 ft
Social distance – 4 ft to 12 (colleagues to boss)
Public Distance – 12′ onward (classroom)
Territoriality – Rooms, houses, neighborhoods

Described as paralanguage
Listeners pay more attention to vocal messages than words in determining attitudes When vocal factors contradict verbal message, listeners pay attention to paralanguage
Tone, speech, pitch, volume length of pauses and discourages

Physical attractiveness is dependent upon culture, what you look like biologically and hoe you dress.
Clothing (economic status, educational level, social status, athletic ability, belief systems.

Touch (when touch increases people tend to like you more and give you things)
Increases self disclosure
Increases compliance
Increases tips

Environment – the environment shapes everything else (establishes systems of hierarchy)
Reflect interaction
Shapes communication among users
How people use environment indicates the kind of relationship they want

Monochromic – punctuality, schedules
Polychronic – Flexibility, multiple tasks

Posture + Gesture
Posture echoes – when people mirror behaviors to build trust

Has communicative value – they all have meaning/value
Performs utilitarian and social functions (identity management, relationship definition, convey emotions)
Often unintended and unconscious
Increases social value (popularity

Integrating with verbal messages
Forming impressions
Defining relationships
Structuring conversation
Influencing and deceiving
Expressing Emotions

That brings me to the end of my post, I hope you learned something! For all you sports lovers out there, you should join me next time to read my post about Sports in the Caribbean.

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1 thought on “Actions Speak Louder than Words

  1. Hi Portia, I like your post. I was wondering, if there are any gestures we do specifically in Barbados that might be confusing or seen as disrespectful overseas? I know emblems such as thumbs up can be positive or negative depending on the culture, but is there anything Barbadian or Caribbean, you can think of?


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