Nonverbal communication is a very large part of human communication behavior. The types of nonverbal communication can range from a simple smile to an obvious avoidance of eye contact, but each behavior carries a direct message that can be understood by all the individuals in a public communication situation.
Nonverbal communication, for use in this analysis, is defined by Canary and Dindia (1998) as the form of communication that does not include words; messages expressed by nonlinguistic means, people s actions or attributes, including their use of objects, sounds, time and space, that have socially shared significance and stimulate meaning in others (Canary &Dindia, 1998). Nonverbal communication plays a role in all communication: it is impossible to communicate without sending out nonverbal clues.
These clues help others determine the truth behind one’s words and their true feelings. Nonverbal communication is a powerful form of communication in that it expresses and reveals attitudes and attributes that may not be expressed by the words spoken. Through my own observation of a public communication situation, a set of rules for nonverbal communication for that situation was determined, yet it varied according to age and gender. Nonverbal communication rules may differ according to the situation.
An individuals actions are different when riding on the subway than their actions when getting acquainted at the local pub. Actions when riding in an elevator may be perceived very differently when doing business at a post office. This analysis does not assume or argue that the rules for nonverbal communication are the same for every public communication situation. Rather, each situation has its own set of rules for nonverbal behavior, and the observation and experience of each situation determines its set of rules.