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1. What means of communication are described in the text?

2. How do verbal and nonverbal means mentioned in the text contribute to a person’s aggressive behaviour?

3. What recommendations would you give to a parent wishing to improve communication with their children?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Compare different kinds of directing from the point of view of communicative means and effectiveness.

Ex. 3. Follow-up. What is the role of the verbal means under consideration in achieving the pragmatic effect of communication?

Unit 5

Encoding Messages: Nonverbal Communication

Recap the following theoretical issues.

1. Recall what you know about the following groups of nonverbal means of communication (body movements and gestures) – emblems, illustrators, regulators, affect displays, adaptors. Are they universal or culturally specific?

2. What is the communicative role of such phenomena as time orientation and space/territory?

3. Dwell on the importance of body type and clothes in the process of communication?

4. What do you remember about vocal behavior, its elements, characteristics and their communicative role?

Task 1. Body Language

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following article and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

Body Language

Body language is much more influential than most people recognise. The main reason it is so important is because it is more truthful than the official elements of our social encounters. We lie much more easily with our spoken words than with our expressions, our gesticulations and our body postures. We can control our utterances down to the last syllable, but what are our fingers doing as we speak? How are our feet shifting as we talk? We may be able to control and manipulate some of our gestures but not all of them. There are too many and we are too preoccupied with what we are saying to be able to concentrate on all the finer points of our bodily actions.

Some individuals – such as great actors and devious politicians – do become extremely adept at lying with their bodies. They often fool us, and we believe them. They manage to avoid what has been called ‘non-verbal leakage’ – something that most of us do every day. Despite our attempts to suppress tell-tale signs, we give the game away by leaking little bits of information as we speak. We do this in several ways.

When we are telling lies we gesticulate less. This is because, unconsciously, we sense that if we use our hands their actions may not fit with our words. Our hands may be clenching tight, for example, when we are cooing soft words of love. Or they may flutter limply while our words insist that we are taking a firm stand. So we intuitively reduce our hand movements. But this in itself then becomes a clue that deception is taking place. It may not be easy to spot but to a trained eye it is clear enough.

Although the liar is less likely to wave his hands about in the air, he is more likely to use them in other ways. When deception is taking place he feels a strange compulsion to touch his face. Every so often one or both hands move up towards his mouth, as if trying to mask the lie that is issuing from his lips. Once there, another fleeting sensation takes over – the feeling that covering the mouth is too obvious. So the hand moves on and rubs the cheek, strokes the nose, scratches the eyebrow or touches the forehead. This attempt to cover up the cover-up usually works well. The companion imagines that the speaker’s nose must be itching and ignores the trivial action, while continuing to listen to the honeyed words. I am sometimes challenged on this point by people who say, “But supposing the nose really is itching?” The answer is to study the scratching. Someone who has been stung by an insect will scratch in a more intense, specific way than the liar whose hand-to-face actions are almost casual by comparison.

Another hand posture that increases when deception is taking place is the hand shrug. The hands are held in front of the body, palm up and with the fingers slightly curled. The degree of curling increases little by little from the first finger to the fourth. Some observers have been puzzled as to why this particular action should increase when someone is lying. The answer is to be found in the message that is transmitted during ordinary shrugging. The full shrug, with shoulders raised, mouth corners pulled down, head tilted, eyes turned up and hands held out, is used as a disclaimer: “I don’t know”, “I can’t help”, “I don’t understand”. It is always a negative message, in which the gesturer essentially is saying, “This has nothing to do with me.” When people start to lie, they unconsciously want to distance themselves from what they are doing and their small hand shrug is the tell-tale clue.

Another form of non-verbal leakage is the body shift. When we are telling the truth we may wave our hands about, we may even lean forward, or leap up, but we do not squirm. The bad liar does squirm a little, his body showing a strong urge to escape, while held firmly in place by the need to brazen out the lie. The good liar manages to suppress most of this body shifting but not all. There are nearly always a few tiny body movements left that he finds it impossible to eliminate. They may be no more than a slight shift of weight or pressure but they can be spotted if the listener is alert to them.

All these tell-tale signs can be observed not only in people who are in the process of telling lies but also when they are momentarily silent. Then, the gestures must be interpreted in a slightly different way. If, for example, somebody is asked a difficult question – one that he does not wish to answer – he may touch his nose or shift the weight of his body before he replies. What is happening is that, while he is thinking about the question and how to answer it, he appears calm but his brain is seething. That is the deception: outward calm, inward panic. When he finally does reply he may be lying or he may in fact be telling the truth.

So caution must be used when interpreting these small ‘leaks’ in our body language. They certainly indicate that something is going on inside the brain of the companion that is not being shown to the outside world but whether this amounts to a downright lie or a moment of soul-searching followed by a difficult truth will vary from case to case. Despite this weakness, however, non-verbal leakage does provide valuable clues about how simple and straightforward a companion is being in any particular encounter, or how complex and devious he is.

The Human Animal: A Natural History of the Human Species

1. How can we understand what people really feel – judging by their words or by their body language?

2. Say what things usually indicate that a person is lying.

3. Classify all the gestures and body movements described in the text as affect displays, adaptors or other types/groups of nonverbal means.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Can people control their body language?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the communicative means under consideration from the point of view of the group they represent and the effectiveness of their usage.

Ex. 4. Problem-solving. Work in groups. Prepare three stories about yourself, your family or your friends and tell them to your partners. Two of these stories must be true, one must be false. Your partners must try to understand which story is a lie. If they need they may ask you questions. Then exchange your roles. Discuss what nonverbal cues helped you guess when your partners were telling a lie.

Task 2. Decoding the Subtle Injustice of Ugliness

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following article and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

Decoding the Subtle Injustices of Ugliness

By S. Kershaw

NEW YORK: It would be close to impossible to tally all the magazine articles, scholarly treatises and philosophical works, reality shows and Internet sites, college courses, lectures and books devoted to the subject of beauty.

But what about ugliness?

It is an awkward topic, a wretched concept, really, and, of course, a terrible insult when flung in your direction.

When a woman once told Winston Churchill he was drunk, he is said to have replied: “And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow, whereas you will still be ugly.”

Ugliness is associated with evil and fear, with villains and monsters: the Wicked Witch of the West, Freddy Krueger and Harry Potter's arch-meanie, Lord Voldemort, with his veiny skull, creepy slits in his nose for nostrils and rotten teeth.

There are the gentle souls, too, plagued through no fault of their own by their disturbing appearance: Dr. Frankenstein's monster, the Elephant Man and Shrek, who is ugly and green but in a cute way.

Ugliness has recently emerged as a serious subject of study and academic interest unto itself. Sociologists, writers, lawyers and economists have begun to examine the subject, suggesting that it has been marginalized in history and that discrimination against the unattractive, while difficult to document or prevent, is a quiet but widespread injustice.

Researchers who have tried to measure appearance discrimination, or “uglyism,” and the impact of what they call the “beauty premium” and the “plainness penalty” on income, say that the time has come for ugly to peek out from beauty’s shadow.

“It hasn’t been politically correct to talk about uglyism,” said Anthony Synnott, a professor of sociology at Concordia University in Montreal, who is publishing a paper this month on ugliness. “But there’s no reason for us to think that beautiful people are actually good and ugly people evil, yet we do.”

One pioneering study, “Beauty and the Labor Market,” published in the American Economic Review in 1994, estimated that unattractive men and women earn 5 to 10 percent less than those considered attractive or beautiful, and that less attractive women marry men with less money.

Another study, in 2005, determined that the discrimination was consistent across occupations, so that even a computer programmer buried behind a desk could suffer from the plainness penalty.

“People who are physically attractive might develop better communication skills because the tendency is that from an early age they get more attention from all their caregivers, including their own mothers onward,” said Tanya Rosenblat, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University, and an author of the 2005 study “Why Beauty Matters,” published in the American Economic Review. The study tested how volunteers, in the role of employers, rated the ability of “employees” to complete computer mazes. The volunteers predicted that the more attractive employees could complete more of the mazes.

The study authors concluded that because attractiveness has no bearing on the ability to complete computer mazes – unlike a job in which beauty may be an occupational asset like retail sales – discrimination based on looks occurs across occupations.

Some U.S. cities, including Washington, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California, have passed ordinances banning discrimination based on looks. But legal action on behalf of the unattractive can be complicated.

“Because of successful identity politics, people have come to identify profoundly with other kinds of groups – ‘I am a Jew’ or ‘a French person,’” said Sherry Colb, a law professor at Cornell. “But it’s not likely with ‘I am an ugly person and let’s have a meeting of all ugly people.’ Most people in general would want to disclaim membership. It’s like declaring yourself a member of the clueless.”

Defining ugliness is difficult. Beyond a predictable visceral response to cartoon ogres or Halloween witches, is there any agreement on what makes someone or something ugly? Social scientists investigating beauty have found that people across age groups, races and cultures tend to agree on what constitutes facial attraction; but there is no corresponding body of study that measures homeliness. Synnott of Concordia University, who has written and taught courses on beauty for more than a decade, was recently contacted by an online journal to contribute another article on the topic. He suggested instead that he write about ugliness.

In his article, “Ugliness, Visibility and the Invisible Prejudice,” to appear this month in the first issue of Glimpses Journal, Synnott notes that judgments about appearance imply values about good and evil – the “halo-horns effect.” These conclusions are “false, unfair, dangerous and silly; yet it is perpetuated by our language, literature, media,” Synnott writes in his paper. Many colloquialisms, like “beauty is only skin deep,” suggest that there is collective acknowledgment that the fixation on physical beauty is superficial, he writes.

By contrast, the phrase “ugliness is only skin deep,” is rarely heard, Synnott said, adding that the booming cosmetic surgery industry underscores the plainness prejudice.

“Beautiful people are considered to be more intelligent, sexier, more trustworthy and they have more partners,” Synnott said. “And this implies that ugly people are assumed to be less trustworthy and less intelligent.”

By contrast, the phrase “ugliness is only skin deep,” is rarely heard, Synnott said, adding that the booming cosmetic surgery industry underscores the plainness prejudice.

“Beautiful people are considered to be more intelligent, sexier, more trustworthy and they have more partners,” Synnott said. “And this implies that ugly people are assumed to be less trustworthy and less intelligent.”

The International Herald Tribune. 2008, November 3

1. Classify all the nonverbal means of communication mentioned in the text.

2. What are the stereotypes associated with different physical types of people?

3. What is the essence of the “plainness prejudice”?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Do you agree that physical ugliness is a taboo subject?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Discuss what role physical attractiveness as well as unattractiveness play in people’s lives, in their ability to persuade and manipulate others.

Task 3. Six Ways to Get Along Better

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following article and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

Six Ways to Get Along Better

By K. Anderson

You can make some simple changes in how you dress, move or speak and discover that you have fewer conflicts and greater opportunity to build enduring relationships from smoother daily interactions. From the research on our gut instinctual reactions, here’s some easy-to-adopt suggestions.

1. Sidle. People are more likely to like each other, remember more of what they discuss, and agree when they “sidle”, standing or sitting side by side, rather than facing each other.

Two women or a man and a woman are more likely to face each other. They literally “face off”. Two men instinctively sidle. Siddling brings people “in sync”. Walking and talking gets you further connected. The best time to resolve issues is while walking together to the meeting, not when you are in the meeting, sitting across from each other.

2. Look for the underlying issue. When you are arguing for more than ten minutes, you are probably not discussing the real conflict and are thus unlikely to get it resolved in the discussion. Look for the underlying issue.

3. Detect lying earlier. When lying, most people can put an innocent expression on their face when you ask them a question about the topic, yet few (except pathological liars) get the right timing or duration of that expression. Ignore the expression itself when they respond but note whether they appear to put it on too soon or too late and if the duration of the expression seems off. Here your instincts will often guide you to knowing their truthfulness.

4. Come back to your scents. Since smell is the most directly emotional sense, bypassing much of the brain’s thinking process, consider how to introduce positively natural and uplifting scents into your environment as your own “sane self-indulgence”. A naturally scented environment refreshes people, so they feel uplifted. That’s why outlets as diverse as the Rainforest Cafe, Sahara Vegas Casino, Disney/Epcot Home of the Future and San Francisco Aquarium have created natural “signature scents” to avoid allergic reactions while refreshing those they serve.

People who are responsible for your work setting may consider environmental scenting someday. Consider lightly scenting your uniform with the smells that are most comfortingly familiar to you. Two hospitals in Tokyo scent bed sheets with vanilla. Since a Paris hotel began scenting their towels with rose and citrus, guests have been giving more positive reports on the hotel staff’s thoughtfulness and appearance. Vanilla, apple, and chocolate are Americans’ most -liked scents.

5. Be vividly specific. A specific detail or example proves a general conclusion, not the reverse. A vivid, specific detail is memorable, while a general statement is less credible and easily forgotten. Ironically, most adult conversation and advertising is general. Children are more likely to be vividly specific and thus more memorable. When you want to be heard and remembered, characterize your information or request with a vivid, specific detail, example, story or contrasting options. Involve words that relate to the senses. For example “beautiful color” is not as vivid as “blue” which is not as vivid as “cobalt blue”.

6. Be “plainly clear”. Avoid wearing patterned clothing or other detail on your clothing, especially on the upper half of the body, because it will shorten the attention span of the person with whom you are speaking.


1. Classify the given tips according to the type of communicative means they describe (verbal, nonverbal or both).

2. Arrange the tips in the order of their importance (as you see it).

3. Are the tips provided in the text relevant for different spheres of communication? If so, give examples to prove this.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. What nonverbal means (gestures, objects, sounds, clothes etc.) can you use as a “secret weapon” to bypass the brain’s thinking process?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. How do the nonverbal means described contribute to the effectiveness of communication?

Task 4. Dressin’ Texan

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication.Read the following story and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

Dressin’ Texan

Houston and Dallas decoded.

By P. Marx

The first time I visited Texas, I wore a beige polyester-blend lab coat with reinforced slits for pocket access and mechanical-pencil storage. I was attending a local bookseller’s convention, having just co-written a pseudo-scientific book about how to regain your virginity, and my publicist suggested that the doctor getup would attract attention. It did. Everyone thought I was the janitor. Lesson #1: When in Texas, do not dress down.

A few weeks ago, I returned to Texas, my luggage this time crammed with the best that my closet had to offer. Wrong again. In my somber New York clothes, I was the sole black-and-white TV in a showroom of high-def plasma screens. Lesson #2: the Lone Star palette is sparkly sea green, sunshine yellow, lavender flecked with gold, and turquoise – lots and lots of turquoise.

And the prevailing dress code is Cinderella after the fairy godmother has turned her rags into glittery silk chiffon, brocade, and taffeta. (Dallas’s brand-new Barneys, misjudging the tastes of its clientele, chronically understocks its formalwear.) If there is a bodice, it is beaded or ruched or encrusted with crystal drops. If you can walk in your shoes, the heel is not high enough. Not that you will ever travel by foot here in the land of mega-S.U.V.s. “We’d like a table for five, sir,” I overheard a woman say to the maitre d’ at the Bistro Moderne (2525 West Loop South). “And we don’t want to walk.”

Chances are, assuming you are a Someone, you will attend a charity luncheon today and three black-tie benefits tonight – one of which is being held in your honor to thank you for chairing the other two. If you are a Very Important Someone, you will be celebrated next month as one of the Best Dressed Women in Houston at the gala co-sponsored by Neiman Marcus to benefit the March of Dimes (which will be a long march, considering the approximately six million dimes that are expected to be raised). In Texas, fashion fuels fund-raising, fund-raising fuels fashion, and fossil fuel fuels them both.

The theme of one of the evening’s events is sure to be Candy Land / Tango / Mardi Gras / Saturday Night Live / Las Vegas / Southern Nights, and don’t forget that you are encouraged to be costumed accordingly. Your photograph will duly appear in the next issue of Paper City, the groovy document of fashion and society published monthly in Dallas and Houston (separate editions). Lesson # 3: Don’t even think about putting on the same Oscar de la Renta for tomorrow night’s ball.

At a café on my last night in Dallas, a waiter came over and gestured toward a man at the door. “Are you comfortable with that gentleman?” he whispered to the friend I was with. The man was her husband, who was joining us late. He was wearing two-hundred-dollar jeans and a sweater from Barneys; the waiter had worried that he was riffraff. Lesson # 4: In Texas, jeans, however expensive, are still jeans.

The New Yorker. 2007, March 19

1. What are the factors that influence the choice of clothes (cultural, gender, professional)?

2. What other kinds of nonverbal means (other than clothes) are mentioned in the text?

3. What gender stereotypes are reflected in the text?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. What does it mean, to be “costumed accordingly”?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Speak on the role of physical appearance and object language (including clothes) in the process of communication.

Task 5. Passing

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following story and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.


By D. Owen

Twenty-eight years ago, when I was twenty-four, I did something that adults often fantasize about doing: I went back to high school, and for four months I pretended to be seventeen again. With the help of my literary agent, who posed as my mother, I enrolled at a large public school about an hour and forty minutes outside New York City. I worried at first that one of my teachers or classmates would pick me out as an obvious impostor, but none of them did. Later, I wrote a book about my experience, called “High School.” I appeared on “Good Morning America” (where I charmed Joan Lunden by telling her that I felt she could pass for seventeen, too) and on “To Tell the Truth” (where I fooled all the panelists except Kitty Carlisle Hart). And Barry Manilow optioned the movie rights – and the song rights! – to my story.

Well, nothing came of any of that, but my memories of my time-reversing escapade are still so vivid that it’s hard for me to believe that nearly thirty years have passed. Recently, I had a brainstorm: Why not try to pull it off again? I’m fifty-two now, but I’m still a kid at heart. Yes, I said to myself, I’ll do it: I’ll try to pass for forty-five.

The first thing I had to do was make myself look seven years younger. Twenty-eight years ago, I did that by swapping my horn-rim I-need-a-job glasses for a pair of wire-rim aviators and buying a Led Zeppelin T-shirt. This time, I required a more drastic makeover. I went to the men’s department at JCPenney and, with a couple of quick glances over my shoulder, picked out a pair of Dockers with a thirty-six-inch waist – the size I used to wear back in my mid-forties, before I gave up and started buying pants that almost actually fit. The Dockers felt pretty darn snug when I pulled them on in the dressing room, but, by inhaling deeply and hopping quickly from one foot to another, I managed to get them buttoned.

As I carried my new pants to the counter, my heart was pounding. Would the cashier spot my deception – and, perhaps, ask if I wouldn’t like for her to gift-wrap the pants so that I could give them to someone seven or so years younger? But no. She rang up my purchase and put the pants in a bag. I had passed! Over the next couple of weeks, I also let my hair grow out about a quarter of an inch.

In addition to changing my physical appearance, I had to modify my world view. Rather than thinking like someone born in the mid-nineteen-fifties, that is, I had to train myself to think like someone born in the early sixties. “Do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was assassinated?” I asked a

middle-aged stranger. “Because I sure don’t.” At a party a couple of weeks later, I fell into conversation with some people I didn’t know, who appeared to be about fifty or fifty-one, or maybe fifty-three or fifty-four. The subject of the nineteen-sixties came up, and, instead of joining them in bragging about all the dregs I used to take, I said, “Boy, did I ever miss out! I was still in elementary school, or possibly early junior high school, when all that cool stuff was goin’ down!” Some of the people I said that to looked at me with scorn, and others looked at me with pity, but none of them looked at me with suspicion. They believed me! I had passed! A little later at the same party, I referred to the American invasion of Grenada as “the first television war,” and some guy with slightly graying hair jumped all over me. He not only believed that I was in my mid-forties, more or less; he rubbed it in my face.

Little by little, like a Method actor immersing himself in a role, I began to think and act like someone 13.5 percent younger than I actually am. I started staying up a half hour later on weeknights, until ten-forty-five (after working up to it, five minutes a time). I asked my wife if she would like to go out to dinner sometime, or something, instead of doing what we usually do on weekends, which is waiting for a new movie that we’ve read about to come out on DVD and then forgetting to order it from Netfix. I received a somewhat humorous e-mail from someone I vaguely knew and reflexively deleted it, the way I used to, rather than almost deciding to forward it to fifteen or twenty other people under the subject line “GET A LOAD OF THIS!!!!!!” Without even thinking about it, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger for lunch again, instead of just a cheeseburger, and I didn’t ask for fruit or salad instead of fries.

All in all, my temporary transformation into a slightly less middle-aged person was probably harder on my wife, who is five years older than I was pretending to be. Or maybe it wasn’t. In truth, I never told her what I was doing, mainly because my first experiment in time travel, twenty-eight years ago, had been so difficult for her. At that time, we had been married for just a year, and when I took her as my date to a high-school dance she had a severe reverse-nostalgic experience akin to an LSD flashback or a grand-mal seizure, and for a couple of hours it looked as though we might have to get divorced, even though we weren’t finished writing all the thank-you notes for our wedding presents. This time, I decided, I would keep my little adventure to myself, and see if I could fool her, too. And I’m pretty sure I did. At any rate, she’s never mentioned it – at least, not in so many words.

The New Yorker. 2007, April 2

1. Classify the nonverbal means of communication presented in the text. Which of them are the most essential ones for the given communicative episode?

2. What the story-teller did was actually telling lies. Did his body language give him away? Give your reasons and find evidence in the text to support your view.

3. How did the story-teller’s verbal behavior change?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Did the story-teller manage to deceive his wife or was she just “playing along”?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the nonverbal means of communication described in the text. Dwell on the relation between different nonverbal means.

Task 6. A Dill Pickle

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the story “A Dill Pickle” by K. Mansfiled and get ready to dwell on the main elements of the communicative episode described in the text.

1. Compare the two participants’ manner of speaking.

2. Can we say that the participants have “a boundless understanding between them”? Did they use to have this kind of understanding in the past?

3. At what point of their conversation did Vera realize that the man was mocking at her? When did you understand this?

4. Classify the nonverbal means of communication presented in the text.

5. What groups of kinesic means of communication are being described?

6. Dwell on the role of the participants’ vocal behaviour.

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. a) Relying on the description of the man’s nonverbal behavior prove that he did not care for the woman at all. b) Was this relationship destined to fail or was it possible to “repair” the broken relationship through conversation?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the nonverbal means of communication described in the text. Which of them play the most important role in the given communicative episode?

Unit 6

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