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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nonverbal Communication: Part 1

Ron Madison's Case

Ron Madison, a 30-year-old businessman in tourism is going through a phase in his life where he cannot start a new real relationship with a girl friend. He is considering himself an “unlucky” man with women because although he meets lots of women in his field of work and from various parts of the world, he cannot start a new relation.

Although Ron is a very sociable person and is very well-accepted in several social circles, he is becoming more and more unsure whether he is liked by women or not. Ron did have several girlfriends before, and he broke up his last girlfriend about eight months ago. For the past six months he has been attending family and friends’ parties, social and ethnic gatherings, and business conferences with multi-cultural participants, and every time that he tries to take someone out on a date, he is told that “he seems to be a very nice guy, but she is not interested in a relationship now.” What is actually happening to him? Is he approaching women in the wrong way?

As part of a psychology class you are now taking at the university, you were assigned Ron’s case to give him a hand in understanding how women act and react when being interested in men and when being asked by men.

Your professor has assigned you the introduction to a chapter on “body language” or “nonverbal communication” to set the ground for your research project intending to help Ron. Your psychology professor highlighted the following information for you:

How do human beings communicate? To answer this rather simple question, one has to explore, on the one hand, verbal communication, and on the other hand, its nonverbal counterpart. Humans use both types for communicating ideas, thoughts, feelings, and desires. Communication is not just a matter of “words;” it is also related to gestures and postures.

As verbal communication differs from culture to culture, so it does happen with nonverbal communication. What you may find is similarities in gestures and their corresponding meanings in two different cultures, but in the end, their use of this nonverbal way of communicating may turn very different. It gets to differ from culture to culture because the speakers are the one who ascribe meaning to their facial expressions, body and hands movements, distribution of space when talking to friends and strangers, etc. Not being part of that culture means that one can misunderstand what people mean.

Can you tell what people mean or feel by seeing how they move? You can often tell if people are honest or dishonest when you shake hands with them by the way the hold your hand. At times you know when someone is telling you a lie just by watching their nonverbal communication such as their eye contact. Oftentimes you can infer what a person is feeling just by paying attention to the way the person’s eye glow. Sadness and despair are easily recognizable.

To sum up, it can be stated that nonverbal communication is somehow easier to understand how it is used in a particular culture. It can be rather difficult to be able to comprehend nonverbal communication in alien or known cultures if one does not know how to interpret “body movements.”

Based on Ron’s case antecedents, let’s answer the following questions.

1. What is actually happening to Ron Madison? Is he really having a difficult problem? Or is he diverting his attention to something that is not the root of the problem?

2. Is his lack of understanding of nonverbal communication part of the problem? If so, how? Why is it that he was not affected by this particular situation before?

3. Is being sociable a synonym of liked? If not, explain what the difference is.

4. Is Ron Madison reacting properly in these “unlucky” situations? Is Ron approaching the wrong women or approaching them in the wrong way?

5. With the use of his gestures and postures, is Ron sending the wrong message to women when dealing with women from a different culture? Explain your point of view.

Remember that your task is to help Ron to better understand what is now happening in his life. And as part of your assignment for this psychology class in college, you are requested to complete the following chart to find a way out for Ron’s “love” problem.

Download document for analysis here! or

Download the document over here!

If you want to explore the subject of Nonverbal Communication a bit more, it is advisable that you read the information on the following sites:

1. Nonverbal Communication Skills: The Power of Nonverbal Communication and body language

Click here!

2. Test your own ability to "read" samples of nonverbal communication.

Click here!

3. Six ways to improve your nonverbal communications.

Click here!

Teacher's notes available at