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Can a person communicate without actually saying any words? Can actions speak louder then words? The answer to these questions is yes. You are constantly sending nonverbal messages, and most of the time you don't even realize it. This specially applies to romantic relationships. In romantic relationship you can communicate a lot without even saying a word. There are many different ways to communicate nonverbally, most of which can be applied to romantic relationships. Knowing and being able to recognize these nonverbal messages can benefit you greatly in a romantic relationship.
Nonverbal communication is defined as, those behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words. Nonverbal communication behaviors often accompany verbal messages to clarify or reinforce them. (Floyd, 2009) For example, if someone asked you where the bathroom was, you might point and say "it's over there". Your pointing would be the nonverbal message, followed by the reinforcement of the verbal message "it's over there." There are certain characteristics of nonverbal communication that explain why it plays such an important role in human interaction, especially involving romantic relationships. One characteristic is nonverbal communication is present in most interpersonal conversations. (Floyd, 2009) It is easy to see how nonverbal signals would be present in face to face conversation, but it is also present when you're not face to face. For example, when you talk to someone over the phone you're still sending nonverbal messages, like the pitch, tone, and loudness of your voice. Another characteristic is nonverbal communication often conveys more information than verbal communication. Some studies have shown that as much as 93% of meaning is transmitted nonverbally, leaving only 7% to be transmitted by the use of words. (Floyd, 2009) Another characteristic is nonverbal communication is usually believed over verbal communication. (Floyd, 2009) For example, let's say your partner wants to tell you about what happen on the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars, a show you have no interest in what's so ever. As she's telling you about it you begin to roll your eyes a little, maybe tune out a little, or get distracted by what's on the TV. As your doing these things, you say "that's interesting", or "I can't believe that happened". Now your verbal messages say that you're interested, but you're sending nonverbal messages that say otherwise. Chances are she's not going to believe you're interested because of what your nonverbal messages are saying. Another characteristic is nonverbal communication is the primary means of communicating emotions. (Floyd, 2009) How many times have you been able to just look at someone and get a good estimate of how they're feeling? You might not always be right about the emotions we sense, and some of us are better than other at interpreting people's emotions, but research shows that humans are acutely sensitive to nonverbal emotion cues. (Floyd, 2009) This plays a huge role in romantic relationships because if you can get a good idea of how your partners feeling by reading these nonverbal messages, you can see what might be appropriate or inappropriate for conversation at that time. For example, say your partner came home from work and he walks into the house slamming the door behind him, plops down on the couch, takes a deep breathe, and sighs. After reading the nonverbal messages he's sending you, you can tell he's not in a good mood or had a long day, and this might not be the best time to tell him the sinks broken. Knowing these characteristics about nonverbal communication and being able to read them can benefit you in romantic relationships.
There are many different ways to communicate nonverbally by use of our bodies. One would be through kinesics. Kinesics is the study of movement, or how you use your body to send a message. (Floyd, 2009) This is sometimes referred to as your body language. Body language is defined as the process of communicating through conscious or unconscious gestures and poses. (Seesengood, 2010) There are four types of gestures; illustrator, emblem, adaptor, and manipulator. An illustrator gesture is a gesture that enhances or clarifies a verbal message. (Floyd, 2009) Say you were telling your girlfriend about how you almost got hit by a car today when you were walking to your car. You might hold up your hands and say "it was this close to hitting me", showing a certain distance with your hands. An emblem gesture is a gesture with a direct verbal translation. (Floyd, 2009) This gesture doesn't need speech accompanied with it, like waving your hand when someone is leaving indicates you saying goodbye. An adaptor gesture is a gesture used to satisfy a personal need. (Floyd, 2009) For example, if your boyfriend had a fuzzy on his shirt or something in his hair, you might brush it off for him. You may think you're not saying something by doing this, but you are. You're saying that you care enough that you don't want him walking around with that on himself. A manipulator gesture is a sign of discomfort. (Floyd, 2009) For example, you're playing with your keys when someone's talking to you. This might show that you're annoyed or in a hurry.
Another way we used our bodies to communicate a message is through are voice. When you say voice most people think about the words you're speaking, but I'm referring to the pitch, speed, tone, and volume of your voice. When you and your partner have conflicts, which you will, you might want to consider the nonverbal messages you send when you're arguing. If you're yelling at the top of your lungs, your partner most likely can tell that you're very upset or very angry. Flip that around, and if you for example, found a perfect get away vacation trip for a very cheap price and wanted to tell you wife about it. When you told her about it you might talk really fast. She would probably tell by the speed of your voice that you're really excited about it.
Touch is another way we nonverbally use our bodies to communicate in a relationship. People use their sense of touch to physically interact with the world and others around them. (Antal, 2006) There are a bunch of different kinds of touches you can use to communicate, but there is one main touch that plays a significant role in romantic relationships. That touch is an affectionate touch or also known as a sexual/arousal touch. Sharing affection is one of the most important functions of touch. For example, hugging, kissing, and holding hands are all part of affectionate touch. When you hug, kiss, or hold hands with your romantic partner you're communicating love, intimacy, commitment, and safety. (Floyd, 2009)
It surprises a lot of people to hear that smell affects are communication by playing a role in determining who we are sexually attracted to. Your judgments about how sexually attractive someone appears are strongly affected by the way that person smells to you. Research tells us that when we are looking for opposite sex romantic partners, we are drawn to people whose natural body scent is the most different from our own. (Floyd, 2009)
The most obvious nonverbal way we use to communicate in romantic relationships is physical attractiveness. The importance we place on physical attraction is extraordinary. (Floyd, 2009) A study done in 2001 by the Department of Psychology, University of Denver, showed that physical attraction is closely related to romantic appeal and satisfaction. (Wyndol & Jessica, 2010) The study showed that physical attraction played a huge role determining and maintaining romantic relationships. Physical attraction also has other benefits that help you as an individual. Studies show that physically attractive people are friendlier, more competent, more socially skilled, have a higher self esteem, and date more frequently than less attractive people. (Floyd, 2009)
Can a person communicate without actually saying any words? Can actions speak louder then words? As you can see, the answer to these questions is yes. You are constantly sending nonverbal messages without even noticing. There is many different ways that we communicate nonverbally, a lot of which can be applied to romantic relationships. Knowing and being able to recognize these nonverbal signals when they happen can benefit you significantly in a romantic relationship.
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Floyd, Kory. (2009). Interpersonal Communication "The Whole Story". New York, NY: Frank Mortimer.
Seesengood,Â R..Â (2010). Paul's Message of the Cross as Body Language. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly,Â 72(2),Â 391-392.Â Retrieved November 30, 2010, from Research Library Core. (Document ID:Â 2018178331).
Wyndol Furman, & Jessica Winkles. (2010). Predicting romantic involvement, relationship cognitions, and relationship qualities from physical appearance, perceived norms, and relational styles regarding friends and parents. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from Journal of Adolescence.