Nonverbal communicative competence

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

4 Citations (SciVal)


Imagine you are at a party and you can't help but notice that the guest you have just been introduced to seems quite distraught. As you are left alone to continue the conversation, you wonder if you should acknowledge his dour mood by taking on a sympathetic tone or even asking after his well-being. It may be that he has just had a disagreement and he would invite the opportunity to recount the illogical argument of his colleague or perhaps he has recently lost his mother and this evening represents his first effort to venture out and have a good time. Clearly, being able to identify whether or not he will appreciate having his mood acknowledged is critical to the success of this interaction. As social beings, we frequently find ourselves in situations in which we must be attuned to our own expressions as well as receptive to cues from others. Learning to navigate the complexities of social interaction is challenging, yet critical, to communicative competence. It has been suggested that communicative competence can take two forms: Effectiveness and appropriateness. Effectiveness takes an actor-based perspective as it valorizes empowerment and action (Parks 1994). It has been argued that control over one's own behavior and that of another is key to effective communication. In contrast, appropriateness takes a more observer-based perspective as it valorizes social harmony (Parks 1994). In considering how one can communicate to satisfy one's needs and desires, nonverbal behavior is a key component. Nonverbal behavior's paramount role stems from evidence that the majority of information, especially sensitive information, is communicated nonverbally. This chapter will examine how nonverbal encoding and decoding work separately and in concert to aid individuals in successful communication.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Communication Competence
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110199000
ISBN (Print)9783110226034
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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