May 30, 2019 in Reaction Essay

Facial Expression is a Form of Nonverbal Communication

A lot of people make movements without thinking about them, and sometimes we are not able to control some of the signals of the body or face. Nonverbal communication accounts for a large part of our lives. Surprisingly, but it represents two-thirds of all communication. It is estimated that a person uses all five senses when interacting with the environment and other people, where sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste account for 83%, 11%, 3%, 2% and 1% of communication respectively. This paper defines, explains, and explores cultural impact of such kind of nonverbal communication as facial expression. Then, I review an interaction when I violated another person’s personal space. Finally, I reflect on nonverbal experience and try to prove the importance of nonverbal communication in life.

Facial expression is a form of nonverbal communication. Movements of facial muscles convey emotional state of a person. It is a basic kind of nonverbal communication, which transmits social information between people. People give considerable attention to the messages they can read on faces of others. People often rely primarily on facial signals while making important judgments of interpersonal nature. Might be that tendency to give more weight to facial expression in comparison to other communication channels is backed up with the conviction that facial mimics and expression convey a lot about the person and his/her character. Thanks to the emotions on the face, it is easy to recognize in what kind of the mood the person is. It is often impossible to avoid the expression of emotions on the face. Micro expressions are one example of such emotions. The person is unable to control such micro expressions as disgust, sudden joy or deep sorrow.

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Most frequently people use few basic emotions, such as fear, happiness, sadness, etc. Regardless of cultural background, these emotions are expressed equally. However, same emotions can be perceived in different ways. For instance, demonstration of tongue to another person is a sign of insult and disrespect. In Tibet, the protruding tongue is a sign of welcome. Thus, it would be wrong to judge cultural rules in this type of nonverbal communication in general. Nevertheless, some of cultural rules exist. In America, there is the so-called American Sign Language (ASL), which uses the language of symbols. “ASL is a complex language, in which, instead of the usual words people use body language, gestures and facial expressions. In ordinary speech words are reproduced by mouth and voice, and ASL people communicate and receive information through eye contact. For example, native ASL-speakers are asking questions by raising the eyebrows, the slope of the body forward and enhance the eyes”.

In addition to facial mimics, eyes can also create immediate signals that are perceived by the other person. Eye contact is one of the most important components of facial nonverbal communication. As a rule, lack of eye contact is perceived to be rude or inattentive attitude to another person. Sometimes lowered eyes are perceived by others as self-doubt. Our family also has its own cultural rules. For example, we never smirk. The members of our family do not have the habit to puff out our cheeks, if we are dissatisfied with something. Wittingly or not, we break cultural rules of nonverbal interaction. The expressions of our faces can be perceived differently by others.

Once I got into this situation. I was in a crowded bus. A woman with a little girl was sitting opposite to me. The girl was playing with her doll and telling various funny stories. I smiled to myself. Then, I raised my eyes and smiled at the girl. She smiled back at me, and then began to laugh loudly. She was laughing so heartily that soon all the passengers of the bus were laughing with her. When I got off at my stop, the girl with her mother waved to me. Then, they smiled to say goodbye without using words. I think the girl was laughing because she was glad that her story attracted the audience, and she was amused. I also think that this laughter may indicate that children do not have clear cultural rules and boundaries, which adults do not cross.

Thus, nonverbal communication plays an important role in our lives. Facial expressions have a special position in expressing emotions. Some of the movements of the facial muscles are not controlled. In this paper, I explored facial expression as a form of nonverbal communication. I found that there are different cultural rules that may impact the interpretation of facial expressions as well as other nonverbal signs. Finally, I considered breaking the rules and interference in other people's personal space with facial expressions and analyzed how important facial expressions are in communication.

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