monochronic tend to prefer an “arm’s length”

April 7, 2019 Communication

monochronic or polychronic orientation. By studying space, or proxemics,
we can learn how people express intimacy and power. In the United States,
for example, people tend to prefer an “arm’s length” distance from others
during communication. Through smell, called olfactics, a person’s ethnicity,
social class, and status are communicated. Many cultures establish norms
for acceptable and unacceptable scents associated with the human body.
To other cultures, for example, people raised in the United States seem
obsessed with deodorants, perfumes, soaps, and shampoos that mask natural
body odors.
Linguist Deborah Tannen estimates that as much as 90 percent of all
human communication is nonverbal, although other scholars argue that the
percentage is much lower.3 During intercultural communication, verbal and
nonverbal messages are sent simultaneously. Verbal communication represents
the literal content of a message, whereas the nonverbal component
communicates the style or how the message is to be interpreted. Hence, the
nonverbal code often complements, accents, substitutes, repeats, or even
contradicts the verbal message.4 For example, a speaker might complement
the verbal message “This dinner is delicious!” with a smile and increased
vocal volume. Politicians often accent their speeches by pounding their fists
on podiums. When asked how many minutes are left to complete an exam,
the professor might simply raise five fingers to substitute for the words “five
minutes.” Persons often repeat their verbal message “Yes” with affirmative
head nodding.
Sometimes, however, a person’s verbal and nonverbal messages contradict
each other. When this happens, we usually believe the nonverbal message.
For example, your roommate has been very quiet and reserved for
a couple of days. Finally, you ask what is wrong. Your roommate replies with
a long sigh and says, “Oh… nothing.” Which do you believe, the verbal
or the nonverbal message? Most people believe the nonverbal message
because, unlike the verbal message, which requires conscious effort to
encode, nonverbal messages are often less conscious and therefore are perceived
as more honest. Psychologist David McNeill argues that our nonver


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