Many people believe the old saying, don't judge a book by its cover. This would lead some to wonder if the same is true for people. Everyday people tell others about themselves with out even opening their mouths. This is accomplished solely through the use of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is the use of the body, environment, and personal attributes in order to communicate messages either consciously or unconsciously. Using clothing, facial expressions, and touch are just of a few ways nonverbal communication can be implemented (Nonverbal 4). By reading somebody's nonverbal communication, it is possible to make many assumptions about the person. Whether these assumptions are correct or not often goes unchecked. And just like a book, it may be best not to judge by appearances. However, much of society still focuses heavily on nonverbal communication failing to give people a chance before they even speak.
Nonverbal communication is used daily in everybody's lives. Whether a person wants to or not they are susceptible to nonverbal communication. If somebody sees a man in a police officer's uniform they automatically associate that with authority without even thinking about it (Nonverbal 8). This is an example of how uncontrollable nonverbal communication is and how it is used to make snap judgments about other people. More often than not, a person will pass judgment before they even here a word out of another person's mouth. A judgment based solely on nonverbal messages sent out by the other. It is not difficult to see how very important nonverbal communication is in our lives.
Nonverbal communication can be both a good and bad thing (but sadly more often a bad one). It can be yielded as a tool to present some sort of image. For example when going to a job interview it is necessary to 'dress for success', have good posture and eye contact; basically good nonverbal communication skills (Non-verbal 8). All to impress the employer before they start talking to you. However more often than not, it works in the opposite, where having bad nonverbal communication skills leads to disaster (not getting the job). It is the same concept for the first day of school a job, or meeting someone. There must be a positive image presented from the very start because it will be more difficult to mend bad impressions later on. Whether nonverbal communication is used for good or bad depends on how it is yielded and how it is chosen to be interpreted.
Whether at a job interview or it is the first day of class nonverbal communication is weighted heavily in every aspect of life. Often times a person's nonverbal communication skills can mean the difference between failure and success. Retired teacher Theresa Bonillas says that, 'Nonverbal communication is unfortunately a device that everybody uses to prejudge' (Bonillas 11). By prejudging a person, it is often the case that the real human being is not discovered. Overall deprivinn g people of knowing the grand, wonderful person that resides within that outer layer of skin. Further, Theresa went on to explain, 'Society places too much emphasis on skin color, sex, and age' (Bonillas 12). Skin color, sex, and age are all forms of uncontrollable, nonverbal communication and all have connotations of inferiority. Too many times nonverbal communication is used in a way that is detrimental to society and to progress.
Not surprisingly even in school students are haunted by the affects of nonverbal communication. Christine Ricks, a student at Mountain Ridge High School Student, who does not 'fit in' describes, 'Being teased, picked on, and treated like you're a total outsider' (Ricks 6). Not only are students this cruel but all through life peers judge each other. This may lead to years of self-loathing for the victim. Ricks also stated that, 'There is more to me than just how I look on the outside' (Ricks 5). With out a doubt this is true, however, many forget this simple fact of life. Most people would rather shove a person into a neat little package that they can stereotype freely. Life is full of obstacles and hopefully having to deal with identity issues is not one of them.
Nonverbal communication is and will continue to be an important tool in everybody's lives. Whether the president of the United States or a baby it is impossible to escape its far-reaching grasp. Especially when it is being used to judge another person based on their appearance. Nonverbal communication is something that our society places tremendously too much power in. Which in turn causes harm to humanity because so many geniuses and authors and poets get over looked because someone didn't like the way they looked or presented themselves. Nonverbal communication is a tool to be yielded with caution; a tool that in the end may help or hurt a situation. However, without a doubt the only way to truly know what to do is to get to know the person not their outside and prepare to be wowed by the magnificence that is life and humanity.
Bibliography: Works Cited Bonillas, Theresa C. Telephone interview. 07 April. 2002. 'Nonverbal Communication.' Department of Defense. 01 April 2002 'Non-verbal communication: Success or pitfall in interaction.' EPSCO Database. Buay, Tan. Nov. 1998. New Straights Times-Management Times. 05 April 2002 Ricks, Christine. Personal interview. 08 April. 2002