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Understanding Americans’ Nonverbal Behavior

On Thursday August 22, 2013 Dr. Antonia Johnson did a workshop “Understanding Americans’ Nonverbal Behavior” for international teaching assistants at the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Fall Intensive Training. Here are brief summaries of those articles and bibliography information compiled by Grace Sanders.









Summaries of Articles and Source of Article


Secrets of Nonverbal Communication by Susan Adams

             This article summarized work by Joe Navaro on two types of nonverbal communication– appearance and gestures. Navaro provides tips on key elements of combining good appearance with confident gestures to make a positive first impression

 Adams, S. (n.d.). Secrets Of Nonverbal Communication – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/2010/11/10/body-language-nonverbal-leadership-careers-communication.html


Body Language, Understanding Nonverbal Communication

            This article categorizes different types of nonverbal communication by their meaning. It describes the meaning of a variety of gestures.  The article also highlights why it is important to be able to decipher body language and the different ways that nonverbal communication cues can be helpful in making your communication successful.

Body Language – Communication Skills Training From MindTools.com.(n.d.).Mind Tools – Management Training, Leadership Training and Career Training. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/Body_Language.htm


Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much by Benedict Carey

            This New York Times article focused on how human touch can convey meaning. It presented interesting research on the different effects that touching can have on people— to provide comfort, rapport, to  decrease stress, increase motivation,  and increase performance.   It describes studies which indicate the underlying neurochemical responses in the brain.

Carey, B. (2010, February 22). Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23mind.html?_r=0


Types of Nonverbal Communication, 8 Major Nonverbal Behaviors by Kendra Cherry

            This article is a good intro to the different types of nonverbal communication. It listed 8 different types with brief definitions of each.

Cherry, K. (n.d.).Types of Nonverbal Communication.Psychology – Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://psychology.about.com/od/nonverbalcommunication/a/nonverbaltypes.htm?p=1


How Do Culturally Different People Interpret Nonverbal Communication? By  M. Edmonds.

             In this article the author focused on different gestures and their meanings in different cultures. It was an excellent example of why it is important to know how nonverbal communication is used in whichever culture you reside in or are visiting.
Edmonds, M. (n.d.).HowStuffWorks “How do culturally different people interpret nonverbal communication?”.HowStuffWorks “People”. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://people.howstuffworks.com/nonverbal-communication.htm/printable


Studies Point to Power of Nonverbal Signals by Daniel Goleman

            This article described studies which indicated how easily people’s behavior is swayed or changed by nonverbal signals in those around them.  The article highlighted the power of tone of voice and how people pick up on its’ message subconsciously or unconsciously. The article focused on judges, doctors, and researchers and how they can all influence their juries, patients, and subjects into different decisions and perceptions just by tone of voice – without conscious intention.


Nonverbal Cues are Easy to Misinterpret by Daniel Goleman

            This article describes how people often misinterpret nonverbal cues. The gist is that people think they are more accurate in their judgments using nonverbal behavior cues than is actually the case.  The author describes the nonverbal behaviors and cues that people use to determine individual character traits, such as honesty.  A memorable conclusion is that the same nonverbal behaviors which may indicate that a person is lying are the same signals of fear of a person that he/she will not be believed.   The author advices caution and using questions and multiple sources of information for interpretation of behavior of individuals.  

Goleman, D. (1986, April 8). Studies Point to Power of Nonverbal Signals.New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/08/science/studies-point-to-power-of-nonverbal-signals.html?pagewanted=2


Nonverbal Communication, Improving Your Nonverbal Skills and Reading Body Language, Jeanne, S., Smith, M., Boose, G., & Jaffe, J.

            The article organizes many nonverbal behaviors with multiple examples.  Cleanly written, the article views nonverbal behavior from both reading other people’s body language and conscious use of  gestures, posture, and other nonverbal behaviors to reinforce or complement spoken behavior.  

Jeanne, S., Smith, M., Boose, G., & Jaffe, J. (n.d.). Nonverbal Communication: Improving Nonverbal Skills & Reading Body Language. Helpguide helps you help yourself and others. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm


The Power of Nonverbal Communication by  M. Manglesdorf.

            This is an interview with an MIT professor using a new technological device to study nonverbal cues and behavior in the workplace.  The device and research of the professor examine features of day to day interactions which are correlated with successful business management. Particularly interesting is the author’s  focus is on the power of the nonverbal behaviors to influence judgment and decision making in the work world.  He describes a study which found evidence of experienced business people relying on the enthusiasm of a pitch to determine likely success of a business plan.  Manglesdorf discusses possible underlying kernel of truth for these judgments as well as recommending addition sources of information to do  informed  analysis and judgment of business behavior and success.

Manglesdorf, M. (n.d.).The Power of Nonverbal Communication – WSJ.com.The Wall Street Journal – Breaking News, Business, Financial and Economic News, World News & Video – Wall Street Journal – Wsj.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122426675804545129.html


Reading Facial Expressions of Emotion by David Matsumoto and Hyi Sung Hwang

            The article describes humans’ innate ability to produce and accurately interpret facial expressions. Some people are better at knowing what expressions mean than others.  The authors, who are also researchers,  discuss steps identified by their research which can improve one’s ability to interpret facial expressions. This is particularly beneficial to people who may be in a position where it is often important to interpret what people’s true intentions really are. The article also stresses that interpreting these expressions is only the first step; a person must then know how to appropriately respond to nonverbal cues from others.

Matsumoto, D., & Hwang, H. S. (n.d.).   Reading facial expressions of emotion. American Psychological Association (APA). Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/05/facial-expressions.aspx


The Right Stance Can Be Reassuring by Kate Murphy

            Research finds that standing in a power pose for just 2 minutes increases testosterone  and reduces cortisol and can make you feel more at ease and confident in a stressful situation. The article states that striking a power pose will not change your personality to be super outgoing, but rather gives you a boost of confidence to make it possible to feel comfortable enough for your real personality to come through.

Murphy, K. (2013, May 3). The Right Stance Can Be Reassuring. New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/fashion/the-right-stance-can-be-reassuring-studied.html?pagewanted=print


Verbal and Nonverbal Communication- Impact on Relationships by Sam Owens

            This article has a “to the point” explanation of how it can be stressful and confusing when someone’s nonverbal communication fails to match up with what they are saying. The example is if one’s significant other says “I love you” but conveys anger  gestures or tone of voice.

Owen, S. (n.d.). Sam Owen: Verbal And Non-Verbal Communication – Impact on Relationships. UK News and Opinion – The Huffington Post United Kingdom. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sam-owen/verbal-and-non-verbal-communication_b_2485864.html



The Business of Nonverbal Communication: How Signals Reflect Your Brand by August Turak

            Nonverbal communication is important in a number of situations and it is important to be in control of the signals you are sending so that people will perceive you in a way that you feel is positive. This article stresses why it is important to manage your nonverbal communication. The author offers many examples of how certain signals can, intentionally or not, send a strong message to others and how these need to be carefully controlled to work in your benefit.


Understanding Nonverbal Communication

            This article describes different situations and what you can interpret from nonverbal communication– such as determining dishonesty or rising anger in the person you are communicating with.  Included also are the cues to when a group is disengaged.

Turak, A. (n.d.). The Business of Nonverbal Communication: How Signals Reflect Your Brand – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/augustturak/2010/12/17/the-business-of-nonverbal-communication-how-signals-reflect-your-brand/
















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