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Small Group Communication
Lesson 7 Short Answer
Your assignment is worth 25 points.
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able to return.
Follow all requirements while completing the assignment for this lesson.
1. Answer all questions.
2. Utilize proper short-answer format:
Respond to the question using two to three well-constructed paragraphs containing speciﬁc details and
examples that support your understanding of the concepts.
Carefully read each part of the question to ensure that each component is answered with the appropriate depth
Edit your work to make sure your answers are free of spelling and grammar errors.
When using source material, properly document the information using APA format (see Announcements for
details on APA).
Review the Short Answer Rubric.
3. Follow all additional instructions
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1. Use the rule of semantics and context to explain the following scenario. Then, discuss the denotative and
connotative meaning of the KFC slogan for Americans and the Chinese.
“While most businesses try to make a good impression while expanding into a foreign country, fried-chicken
franchise KFC got off on the wrong foot when it opened in China in the late 1980s. When the company opened
its doors in Beijing, the restaurant had accidentally translated its infamous slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” to a notso-appetizing phrase: “Eat your ﬁngers off.” In the end, however, the blunder didn’t end up hurting KFC too
badly: It’s the No. 1 quick-service restaurant brand in China today, with more than 4,400 restaurants in more than
2. Make a list of beneﬁts and drawbacks to each of the listening styles discussed in the lesson. Next, discuss your
listening style with a speciﬁc example from the group situation you presented in blog lesson #5. Finally, state
how you can improve your ability to listen using skills from active listening and/or any comments or questions
your received from your blog.
3. How do Reﬂective Listening and Perception Checking affect the quality of our small group relationships? If
someone that you are in a small group with changes the way they listen to you, how might that affect the
relationship and the small group in a positive way?
4. Watch segment #9 and #10 in“The 5 Communication Secrets that Swept Obama to the Presidency.” Describe
what you will do with your shoulders, eyes, and hands in your next small group problem-solving situation. Use at
least 3 concepts from the ﬁlm and the lesson in your answer.
5. Which do you consider has greater weight when interpreting a message from someone else; verbal or nonverbal
communication? Why? Use at least 3 functions of nonverbal communication in your reasoning.
COM230 – Lesson 7
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Building Small Group Communication
Introduction: Connecting Your Learning
In your exploration of small group communication, you have studied small group
communication skills. You understand the characteristics of a small group, formation of
small groups, importance of small group communication theory, small group relationships,
and facilitation of small group meetings. This lesson will continue to build and enhance
your skill set by focusing on specific areas that not only benefit you in small groups, but
also in interpersonal and large group communication situations. Click on each word below
for a preview on the importance of these areas:
Readings, Resources, and Assignments
Lesson 7: Building Small Group Communication Skills
“Watch Your Language”
Video: The 5 Communication Secrets that Swept Obama to the Presidency
Video: Everyone Is Always Communicating
Video: Secrets of Effective Personal Communication
Lesson 7 Short Answer (25 points)
Check Prior Knowledge
Check your prior knowledge of Lesson 7 concepts and key terms by completing the Lesson 7 Concept Check game.
COM230 – Lesson 7
Evaluate if the following statements are true or false.
Current Score: 0 points
RESET ALL QUESTIONS
1. There are three types of rules that govern or control your use of words.
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You can focus your comprehension of the key concepts in this chapter by choosing to use these questions as a guide during or
after your reading. Taking notes or writing out the answers can also increase your learning.
Lesson 7 Flashcards
Click on the notecard to reveal the definition.
A system of symbols, words, and/or gestures used to
Term 1 of 14
Focusing Your Learning
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
Explain how words are barriers to effective communication
Identify and define four listening styles
Describe how nonverbal communication impacts small groups
COM230 – Lesson 7
Explain how words are barriers to effective communication.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It isn’t what you say, but how you say it”? In small group
communication, this statement is somewhat misguided. To be an effective communicator, what you
say and how you say it both matter as you make sense of what another is communicating. Using
words ineffectively can create barriers to your sense-making processes. Did you know that language
Language is a system of symbols, words, and/or gestures used to communicate meaning.
The words themselves have meaning within their specific context or language community. Words
only carry meaning if you know the understood meaning and have a grasp of their context to
interpret them correctly. Without correct interpretation words become barriers to effective
There are three types of rules that govern or control your use of words.
Syntactic Rules – govern the order of words in a sentence.
Semantic Rules – govern the meaning of words and how to interpret them (Martinich, 1996).
Contextual Rules – govern meaning and word choice according to context and social custom.
Consider the example of a traffic light as follows:
Semantics – Green means Go, and Red means Stop
Syntax – Green is on the bottom, yellow in the middle, and red on top.
Even when you follow these linguistic rules, miscommunication is possible. Your cultural context
or community may hold different meanings for the words used – different from meanings that
the source communicator intended. Words attempt to represent the ideas you want to
communicate, but they are sometimes limited by factors beyond your control. Words often
require you to negotiate meaning, or to explain what you mean in more than one way so that
one may create a common vocabulary. You may need to state a word, define it, and provide an
example in order to come to an understanding with your small group about the meaning of your
message to avoid barriers.
As noted, words, by themselves, do not have any inherent
meaning. Humans give meaning to them, and their
meanings change across time. The arbitrary symbols,
including letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, stand
for concepts in your experience. You must negotiate the
meaning of the word “home,” and define it, through visual images or dialogue, in order to
communicate with your audience. What other words can you think of in your life that
require defined meaning in your small group(s)?
Words have two types of meanings: denotative and connotative.
Denotative – The common meaning, often found in the dictionary.
Connotative – Meaning that is not found in the dictionary, but in the community of users itself. It can
involve an emotional association with a word, positive or negative, and can be individual or collective,
COM230 – Lesson 7
but is not universal.
Rather than words as barriers, with a common vocabulary in both denotative and connotative terms, effective communication
becomes a more distinct possibility. But what if you must transfer meaning from one vocabulary to another? That is essentially
what you are doing when you translate a message. For example, HSBC Bank was forced to rebrand its entire global private banking
operations after bringing a U.S. campaign overseas. In 2009, the worldwide bank spent millions of dollars to scrap its 5-year-old
“Assume Nothing” campaign. Problems arose when the message was brought overseas, where it was translated in many countries
as “Do Nothing.” In the end, the bank spent $10 million to change its tagline to “The world’s private bank,” which has a much
To overcome words as barriers, it is important to enact good feedback to let the sender know if their message has been received
correctly. Through feedback, listeners can use specific language to clarify meanings and ask questions. Identifying and defining
listening styles in the next section will help us do just that!
Identify and define four listening styles.
In communication courses, you may spend so much time focusing on what is coming out of
your mouth that you might forget to focus on what is coming into your ears. Before you
continue, take a moment to listen to The 5 Communication Secrets that Swept Obama to
the Presidency , an engaging video about the importance of listening.
Listening Is More than Just Hearing
Listening is a skill of critical significance in all aspects of our
lives–from maintaining our personal relationships, to getting
our jobs done, to taking notes in class, to figuring out which bus
to take to the airport. Regardless of how we’re engaged with listening, it’s important to understand that
listening involves more than just hearing the words that are directed at us. Listening is an active
process by which we make sense of, assess, and respond to what we hear.
The listening process involves five stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering, and
responding. These stages will be discussed in more detail in later sections. Basically, an effective
listener must hear and identify the speech sounds directed toward them, understand the message of
those sounds, critically evaluate or assess that message, remember what’s been said, and respond
(either verbally or nonverbally) to information they’ve received.
Effectively engaging with all five stages of the listening process lets us best gather the information we
need from the world around us.
Before you read this lesson, did you know that listening is a skill? Just like getting better at playing a sport or a musical instrument,
you can become a better listener. With practice, you can learn to filter out stimuli that compete for your attention in a listening
situation. Part of the potential for misunderstanding is the difference in listening styles Therefore, it is a good idea to first identify
your listening style. In an article in the International Journal of Listening , Watson, Barker, and Weaver identified four listening
styles: people, action, content, and time (1995).
The people-oriented listener is interested in the speaker. People-oriented
listeners listen to the message to learn how the speaker thinks and how
they feel about their message. For instance, when people-oriented
listeners listen to an interview with a famous rap artist, they are likely to be
more curious about the artist as an individual than about music, even
though the people-oriented listener might also appreciate the artist’s work.
If you are a people-oriented listener, you might have certain questions you
hope will be answered, such as: Does the artist feel successful? What’s it
like to be famous? What kind of educational background does he or she
have? In the same way, if we’re listening to a doctor who responded to the
earthquake crisis in Haiti, we might be more interested in the doctor as a
COM230 – Lesson 7
person than in the state of affairs for Haitians. Why did he or she go to
Haiti? How did he or she get away from his or her normal practice and
patients? How many lives were saved? We might be less interested in the
equally important and urgent needs for food, shelter, and sanitation
following the earthquake.
The people-oriented listener is likely to be more attentive to the speaker
than to the message . If you tend to be such a listener, understand that the
message is about what is important to the speaker.
Action-oriented listeners are primarily interested in finding out what the
speaker wants . Does the speaker want votes, donations, volunteers, or
something else? It’s sometimes difficult for an action-oriented speaker to
listen to the descriptions, evidence, and explanations with which a speaker
builds his or her case.
Action-oriented listening is sometimes called task-oriented listening. In it,
the listener seeks a clear message about what needs to be done and might
have less patience for listening to the reasons behind the task. This can be
especially true if the reasons are complicated. For example, when you’re a
passenger on an airplane waiting to push back from the gate, a flight
attendant delivers a brief speech called the pre-flight safety briefing. The
flight attendant does not read the findings of a safety study or the
regulations about seat belts. The flight attendant doesn’t explain that the
content of his or her speech is mandated by the Federal Aviation
Administration. Instead, the attendant says only to buckle up so we can
leave. An action-oriented listener finds “buckling up” a more compelling
message than a message about the underlying reasons.
Content-oriented listeners are interested in the message itself, whether it
makes sense, what it means, and whether it’s accurate. When you give a
speech, many members of your classroom audience will be contentoriented listeners who will be interested in learning from you. You
therefore have an obligation to represent the truth in the fullest way you
can. You can emphasize an idea, but if you exaggerate, you could lose
credibility in the minds of your content-oriented audience. You can
advocate ideas that are important to you, but if you omit important
limitations, you are withholding part of the truth and could leave your
audience with an inaccurate view.
Imagine you’re delivering a speech on the plight of orphans in Africa. If you
just talk about the fact that there are over forty-five million orphans in
Africa, but don’t explain further, you’ll sound like an infomercial. In such an
instance, your audience’s response is likely to be less enthusiastic than you
might want. Instead, content-oriented listeners want to listen to welldeveloped information with solid explanations.
People using a time-oriented listening style prefer a message that gets to
the point quickly . Time-oriented listeners can become impatient with slow
COM230 – Lesson 7
delivery or lengthy explanations. This kind of listener may be receptive for
only a brief amount of time and may become rude or even hostile if the
speaker expects a longer focus of attention. Time-oriented listeners convey
their impatience through eye rolling, shifting about in their seats, checking
their cell phones, and other inappropriate behaviors. If you’ve been asked
to speak to a group of middle-school students, you need to realize that
their attention spans are simply not as long as those of college students.
This is an important reason speeches to young audiences must be shorter
or broken up by more variety than speeches to adults.
In your professional future, some of your audience members will have real
time constraints, not merely perceived ones. Imagine that you’ve been
asked to deliver a speech on a new project to the board of directors of a
local corporation. Chances are the people on the board of directors are all
pressed for time. If your speech is long and filled with overly detailed
information, time-oriented listeners will simply start to tune you out as
you’re speaking. Obviously, if time-oriented listeners start tuning you out,
they will not be listening to your message. This is not the same thing as
being a time-oriented listener who might be less interested in the message
content than in its length.
Identifying Your Listening Style
It is important that you realize that your listening style is relational and situational. For
example, if you are in a deeply committed relationship, you may be more people-oriented
in your listening because you are invested in the other person’s feelings and well-being
more so than the person that bags your groceries or takes your order at a restaurant. The
situational context requires you to focus more on action, content, or time. In the workplace,
you will respond with an action orientation and may think of your assignment as a to-do
list. In an emergency, you are aware more of time and may not be as worried about the
emotional feelings of the person involved. In a final review session, you may be much more
content focused while normally in class you might focus on what the professor is wearing
or what the person next to you is eating. These examples represent the way listening styles
can shift. You can think of your own listening style as fluid—but you probably recognize the
one you tend to be most of the time. Would it surprise you to know that your gender may
also play a part in your listening style? Males are generally action-oriented listeners,
whereas women are generally more people-oriented listeners (Barker & Watson, 2000). It is key to remember that your listening
preference does not impact your ability to be able to apply different listening styles at different times. By knowing your listening
style, you can enhance your skills as well as practice other styles so you will be able to adapt to a variety of situations.
Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to provide feedback on what he or she hears to the
speaker, by way of restating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words. The goal of this repetition is to confirm
what the listener has heard and to confirm the understanding of both parties. The ability to actively listen demonstrates sincerity,
and that nothing is being assumed or taken for granted. Active listening is most often used to improve personal relationships,
reduce misunderstanding and conflicts, strengthen cooperation, and foster understanding.
When engaging with a speaker, a listener can use several degrees of active listening, each resulting in a different quality of
communication with the speaker. This active listening chart shows three main degrees of listening: repeating, paraphrasing, and
reflecting. In fact, there are several degrees of active listening.
COM230 – Lesson 7
REFLECTIVE LISTENING AND PERCEPTION CHECKING
Equally as important as active listening skills of communication are the reflective listening skills and perception checking in
communication. Reflective listening (also called empathic listening) is a way of listening and responding to another person that
improves mutual understanding and trust. The purpose of reflective listening skills and perception checking are to:
Acknowledge the person’s experience and/or feelings about what they are communicating
Demonstrate understanding of the person’s feelings about what they are communicating
“Reflect back” to the speaker your deeper level of understanding of their message
When appropriate, create a “verbal contract of agreements” or summary of action steps
Here is the reflective listening process:
1. Restate what you have heard the speaker say and check any feeling level that you perceive.
“It seems to me that you are feeling……….Is that accurate?”
“I’m hearing a lot of enthusiasm in your description of your new project. Is this something you’re excited about?”
2. Listen to how the person says what they say as well as what they say.
Here is the perception checking process:
1. Paraphrase or summarize your understanding of the speaker’s message.
“I heard you say this and that, is that accurate?”
“If I’m understanding you correctly, you mean this? Does that fit?”
“Do you mean….?”
“So you’d like me to ____ by ____, and set up a time to meet after that?”
Note: Do not try to be a mind-reader:
“I heard you say this and that and that means such and such.”
“It seems to me what’s going on for you is…..”
Describe how nonverbal communication impacts small groups.
COM230 – Lesson 7
You learned that we use verbal communication to express ideas, emotions, experiences, thoughts, objects, and people. But what
functions does nonverbal communication serve as we communicate? Nonverbal communication serves many functions to help us
communicate meanings with one another more effectively, especially in small groups. In a small group, nonverbal communication
affects the group’s climate and members’ attitudes toward the group. Since only one person can speak at a time, the rest of the
communication is taking place via body language . Before you continue, take a peek at “Watch Your Language,” an interesting
article written by Carol Goman with specific ways to effectively “read” body language and engage nonverbal communication.
NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION AND GETTING A JOB
You may be thinking that getting the right degree at the right college is the way to get a job. Think again! It may be a good way to
get an interview, but once at the interview what matters? College Journal reports that, “Body language comprises 55% of the force
of any response, whereas the verbal content only provides 7%, and paralanguage, or the intonation — pauses and sighs given
when answering — represents 38% of the emphasis.” If you show up to an interview smelling of cigarette smoke, chewing gum,
dressed inappropriately, and listening to music on your phone, you’re probably in trouble. About.Com states that these are some
effective nonverbal practices during interviews:
Make eye contact with the interviewer for a few seconds at a time.
Smile and nod (at appropriate times) when the interviewer is talking, but, don’t overdo it. Don’t laugh unless the interviewer
Be polite and keep an even tone to your speech. Don’t be too loud or too quiet.
Do relax and lean forward a little towards the interviewer so you appear interested and engaged.
Don’t lean back. You will look too casual and relaxed.
Keep your feet on the floor and your back against the lower back of the chair.
Pay attention, be attentive and interested.
Stay calm. Even if you had a bad experience at a previous position or were fired, keep your emotions to yourself and do not
show anger or frown.
“I speak two languages, Body and English. However, the most important thing in both is
hearing what isn’t said.”
The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication, or body language, is a powerful tool that can help you connect with
others, express what you really mean, and build better relationships in your small groups.
Functions of Nonverbal Communication
Duplicate Verbal Communication . When we use nonverbal communication to duplicate, we use nonverbal communication
that is recognizable to most people within a particular cultural group. Obvious examples include a head-nod or a head-shake
to duplicate the verbal messages of “yes” or “no.” If someone asks if you want to go to a movie, you might verbally answer
“yes” and at the same time nod your head. This accomplishes the goal of duplicating the verbal message with a nonverbal
Replace Verbal Communication . If someone asks you a question, instead of a verbal reply “yes”
and a head-nod, you may choose to simply nod your head without the accompanying verbal
message. In small groups, you can easily look around to gather information from your peers to
seek their agreement or dissent without the required verbal counterpart. When we replace verbal
communication with nonverbal communication, we use nonverbal behaviors that are easily
recognized by others such as a wave, head-nod, or head-shake.
Complement Verbal Communication . If a friend tells you that she recently received a promotion
and a pay raise, you can show your enthusiasm in many verbal and nonverbal ways. If you
exclaim, “Wow, that’s great! I’m so happy for you!” while at the same time smiling and hugging
your friend, you are using nonverbal communication to endorse what you are saying. Unlike
duplicating or replacing, nonverbal communication that complements cannot be used alone
without the verbal message. If you simply smiled and hugged your friend without saying anything,
the interpretation of that nonverbal communication would be more ambiguous than using it to
complement your verbal message.
Accent Verbal Communication . While nonverbal communication complements verbal communication, we also use it to
accent verbal communication by emphasizing certain parts of the verbal message. For instance, you may be upset with a
COM230 – Lesson 7
family member and state, “I’m very angry with you.” To accent this statement nonverbally you might
say it, “I’m VERY angry with you,” placing your emphasis on the word “very” to demonstrate the
magnitude of your anger. In this example, it is your tone of voice (paralanguage) that serves as the
nonverbal communication that accents the message.
Regulate verbal communication . Generally, it is easy for us to enter, maintain, and exit our
interactions with others nonverbally. Rarely, if ever, would we approach a person and say, “I’m going
to start a conversation with you now. Okay, let’s begin.” Instead, we might make eye contact, move
closer to the person, or face the person directly — all nonverbal behaviors that indicate our desire to
interact. Likewise, we do not generally end conversations by stating, “I’m done talking to you now”
unless there is a breakdown in the communication process. We are generally proficient enacting
nonverbal communication with leave-taking behavior like looking at our watch, looking in the
direction we wish to go, or being silent to indicate an impending end in the conversation.
Mislead others . We can also use nonverbal communication to deceive, and often
focus on a person’s nonverbal communication when trying to detect deception. Recall
a time when someone asked your opinion of a new haircut. If you did not like it, you
may have stated verbally that you liked the haircut and provided nonverbal
communication to further mislead the person about how you really felt. Conversely,
when we try to determine if someone is misleading us, we generally focus on the
nonverbal communication of the other person.
Contradict Verbal Communication . Imagine that you visit your boss’s office and she
asks you how you’re enjoying a new work assignment. You may feel obligated to
respond positively because it is your boss asking the question, even though you may not truly feel this way. However, your
nonverbal communication may contradict your verbal message, indicating to your boss that you really do not enjoy the new
work assignment. In this example, your nonverbal communication contradicts your verbal message and sends a mixed
message to your boss. Research suggests that when verbal and nonverbal messages contradict one another, receivers often
place greater value on the nonverbal communication as the more accurate message (Argyle, Alkema & Gilmour).
Indicate Relational Standing Take a few moments today to observe the nonverbal communication of people you see in public
areas. What can you determine about their relational standing from their nonverbal communication? For example, romantic
partners tend to stand close to one another and touch one another frequently. On the other hand, acquaintances generally
maintain greater distances and touch less than romantic partners. Those who hold higher social status often use more space
when they interact with others. In the United States, it is generally acceptable for women in platonic relationships to
embrace and be physically close while males are often discouraged from doing so. Contrast this to many other nations
where it is custom for males to greet each other with a kiss or a hug and hold hands as a symbol of friendship. We make
many inferences about relational standing based on the nonverbal communication of those with whom we interact and
observe (Mehrabian; Burgoon, Buller, Hale, & deTurck; Le Poire, Duggan, Shepard, & Burgoon; Sallinen-Kuparinen; Floyd &
Nonverbal Communication Now
Women In Black
An organization of women called Women in Black uses silence as a form of protest and
hope for peace; particularly, peace from war and the unfair treatment of women.
Women in Black began in Israel in 1988 by women protesting Israel’s Occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza. Women in Black continues to expand and now functions in the
United States, England, Italy, Spain, Azerbaijan and Yugoslavia. Women gather in public
spaces, dressed in black, and stand in silence for one hour, once a week. Their mission
states, “We are silent because mere words cannot express the tragedy that wars and
hatred bring. We refuse to add to the cacophony of empty statements that are spoken
with the best intentions yet have failed to bring lasting change and understanding, or
to the euphemistic jargon of the politicians which has perpetuated misunderstanding
and fear that leads to war….our silence is visible.”
Demonstrate and Maintain Cultural Norms . We’ve already shown that some nonverbal communication is universal, but most
nonverbal communication is culturally specific. For example, in United States culture, people typically place high value on
COM230 – Lesson 7
their personal space. In the United States people maintain far greater personal space than those in many other cultures. If
you go to New York City, you might observe that any time someone accidentally touches you on the subway he/she might
apologize profusely for the violation of personal space. Cultural norms of anxiety and fear surrounding issues of crime and
terrorism appear to cause people to be more sensitive to others in public spaces, highlighting the importance of culture and
Communicate Emotions . While we can certainly tell people how we feel, we more
frequently use nonverbal communication to express our emotions. Conversely, we
tend to interpret emotions by examining nonverbal communication. For example, a
friend may be feeling sad one day and it is probably easy to tell this by her nonverbal
communication. Not only may she be less talkative but her shoulders may be
slumped and she may not smile. One study suggests that it is important to use and
interpret nonverbal communication for emotional expression, and ultimately
relational attachment and satisfaction (Schachner, Shaver, & Mikulincer). Research
also underscores the fact that people in close relationships have an easier time
reading the nonverbal communication of emotion of their relational partners than
those who aren’t close. Likewise, those in close relationships can more often detect
concealed emotions (Sternglanz & Depaulo).
Drag each term to its most appropriate row.
Personal space, territoriality, and seating arrangement
Posture, movement, and gestures
Definition of Cues
Provide information regarding status, intensity of attitude, warmth, approval seeking,
group climate, immediacy, deception
Serves cognitive, monitoring, regulatory, and expressive functions
Communicate emotion, especially happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, disgust, and fear
Communicate emotion, credibility, and personality perceptions using pitch, rate, volume,
and quality of the voice
Stake out space to reflect status, roles, stress levels, leadership, and personality traits
(using four zones of personal space). Depending on interpersonal relationships, people in
Western cultures arrange themselves in consistent ways in groups.
Influences others’ perceptions and reactions using clothing, body shape, and general
Contributes to the group’s productivity and overall group climate and includes the general
attractiveness or unattractiveness of a physical space
Interpreting Nonverbal Communication
Once you’ve developed your abilities to manage stress and recognize emotions, you’ll naturally become better at reading the
nonverbal signals sent by others.
COM230 – Lesson 7
1. Look for Context
Nonverbal communication is contextual and though it can be confusing, you can use contextual clues to help understand, or
begin to understand, what a movement, gesture, or lack of display means.
2. Consider Your Experience
Based on your prior knowledge (or lack thereof) of the person or small group, you can make sense of the nonverbal
communication. Over time, in new groups, it is likely that you will learn what specific cues mean for specific individuals. For
example, when you first met Brandy you thought she did not like you because of her lack of eye contact and general
disposition. As you interacted more, you learned that Brandy was an introvert and it took time for her to feel comfortable in
a new group setting.
3. Observation and Perception
To be a good reader of body language requires that you sharpen your powers of
observation and perception .
Observation is a form of decoding, and your ability in this area can be increased by
three factors: education, awareness, and need.
Education and awareness are interrelated. Through education, a person becomes
aware of more things. In other words, a person knows what to look for; therefore, a
person is more likely to observe it and to decode it. Likewise, realizing a need for something makes a person ready and
eager to acquire it. If you have ever tried to find a certain house number in a strange neighborhood, you know that you were
probably more alert and aware than usual; you saw things you had not seen before because you had a need to observe and
to find the house number.
Perception is your ability to observe, to remain alert, and to extract from a given communication incident the ‘realities’ of the
situation (recognizing, of course, that reality is different for each of us). You must try to take from the communication verbal
and nonverbal messages which are similar for both encoder and decoder. While encoding your message, you must be
decoding the body language of the decoder. (Communication is indeed a continuous process)
4. Pay attention to inconsistencies. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said. Is the person saying one
thing, and their body language something else? For example, are they telling you “yes” while shaking their head no?
5. Look at nonverbal communication signals as a group. Don’t read too much into a single gesture or nonverbal cue. Consider
all of the nonverbal signals you are receiving, from eye contact to tone of voice and body language. Taken together, are their
nonverbal cues consistent—or inconsistent—with what their words are saying?
6. Trust your instincts. Don’t dismiss your gut feelings. If you get the sense that someone isn’t being honest or that something
isn’t adding up, you may be picking up on a mismatch between verbal and nonverbal cues.
Evaluating nonverbal signals
COM230 – Lesson 7
Evaluating nonverbal signals
Eye contact – Is eye contact being made? If so, is it overly intense or just right?
Facial expression – What is their face showing? Is it masklike and unexpressive, or
emotionally present and filled with interest?
Tone of voice – Does the person’s voice project warmth, confidence, and interest, or is it
strained and blocked?
Posture and gesture – Is their body relaxed or stiff and immobile? Are shoulders tense and
raised, or relaxed?
Touch – Is there any physical contact? Is it appropriate to the situation? Does it make you
Intensity – Does the person seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or overthetop and
Timing and place – Is there an easy flow of information back and forth? Do nonverbal
responses come too quickly or too slowly?
Sounds – Do you hear sounds that indicate caring or concern?
By having a clear understanding of nonverbal functions and cues, you will be able to be more competent in understanding the
body language of your small group as well as monitor your body language in a variety of communication situations. Nonverbal
communication is everywhere, and we all use it, but that doesn’t make it simple or independent of when, where, why, or how we
This lesson is adapted from several sources as a no cost course for students. The following sources
were used in creating this
Assessing Your Learning
Submit your assignments for grading. The following are required for this lesson:
Lesson 7 Short Answer (25 points)
For this assignment, you will respond to five short answer questions. Each question is worth 5 points.
Complete Lesson 7 Short Answer
To Prepare for Lesson 9, register for Live Event 2
It is time to register for the second live event. Live events allow you to practice what you are learning in COM230 by meeting in a
virtual online environment with other students in COM230 to solve a problem. The live event for the second half of the course is in
Lesson 9. Several different dates and times are available. You must register in advance to participate in a live event. Select from
the Live Event Options to register!
After you have registered, please complete the Live Event 2 Registration Acknowledgement form to notify your instructor. You are
required to complete this acknowledgement before you move on to the next Lesson.
COM230 – Lesson 7
Summarizing Your Learning
Many communication scholars, like the gentleman in this video Secrets of Effective Personal Communication , argue that
people always communicate. As you worked through this lesson, you studied how words, listening, and nonverbal
communication work together to enhance communication situations and highlight how communication is continuously
taking place. As you reflect on this lesson, take time to practice eliminating words that create barriers, enact listening
skills, or note nonverbal communication nuances. Focusing on these specific areas will not only benefit you in small groups, but
also in interpersonal and large group communication situations.
Each assignment must be completed before you may access the final exam. If you have any questions, contact your instructor.
8: Small Group Climate
9: Managing Conflict
11: Problem-Solving in Small Groups
Have You Met The Objectives For This Lesson?
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