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Mar 27th, 2015
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Interpreting Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication replaces, reinforces, and contradicts verbal communication. Describe a time when nonverbal communication caused you to misinterpret the message in a work situation (explain the type of nonverbal cue using the information in the text). Then, using the guidelines for improving nonverbal communication in the text, explain how you can keep this from occurring again.


Nonverbal communication in a work place can be very unprofessional. I can recall a time that I came into work without announcing to the manager that I was here. I sat down at my desk proceeded to do my daily task, as in printing the ADT for the morning and calling around to make sure that everyone received their assignment and doctors were called to be informed of the expiration the patients. During all of this I never even knew that I was supposed to assist another team. When I completed all these task I went over to my manager to speak to her regarding an issue and found out that I was working for the wrong team this that morning; all because I neglected to check my voice-mail and announce that I was in the office. With this being said I had to do everything all over for the correct team that I was working with that day.

I feel as if I would have spoken up when I arrived to work or just checked my voice mail I wouldn't have had to repeat everything and take extra time out of my day to everything all over again.


According to this weeks reading, proxemics is a type of nonverbal communication that refers to space and how we use it (Hall, 1968). With that being said, a time in a work situation when nonverbal communication caused me to misinterpret a message I would say would have been when I was doing a job with my father actually. It was a small construction side job that he had offered me a couple of hours a day cleaning up and such. On the job there was a gentlemen my father had working for him, and whenever he spoke with someone or had a general conversation he was almost always SO close to you, and I never understood why. Nor did I question to my father why he did it. I felt like it wasn't my business to ask questions, but I really thought that this guy was just so absurd and got too close for comfort when trying to communicate with someone. Any bit of conversation he had it was like he was completely invading your personal space. I almost felt uncomfortable any time he was around me and got weird vibes from him. Come to find out, this poor gentlemen was completely and entirely deaf in one ear! You wouldn't have known such a thing because he didn't have a hearing aid or anything. I felt so awful. I didn't feel awful in a sense that I judged him, I felt bad because I completely misunderstood why this guy did what he did when communicating with you! Nonverbal communication theory shows that societies establish norms for how closely people should come to one another and that violating those norms can affect others’ responses (Afifi & Burgoon, 2000; Burgoon & Hale, 1988; Mongeau, Carey, & Williams, 1998). I would definitely say that this is so accurate. I feel that this is accurate because how can you comfortably interact with someone when you feel that they have just taken up so much of your personal space? Well, in the situation of this guy being deaf, it changes things quite a bit. People may be quick to judge and respond differently to him when communicating because they may feel uncomfortable as did I. Something I could do to avoid this from occurring again would be to not just assume that this guy is purposely trying to invade personal space. That he is not trying to invade proxemics. Because nonverbal behaviors vary upon people, we should be cautious in how we interpret others.

Reference -

Wood, J. (2011). The World Beyond Words. In Interpersonal Communication (7th ed., pp. 117-142).


Empathy, Empathy, Empathy!

Empathy is a crucial component of both the professional interview and the client-professional relationship. After watching the video clips, discuss a time when you were trying to express empathy to someone and then answer the following questions:

  • Did you experience any of the "empathic failures" identified in our reading?
  • Looking back on the interaction, with what you have learned about empathy, is there anything you would have done differently?
  • How did your personal values come into play in the conversation? Did they help or hinder your ability to provide empathy?


I have experienced someone responding to a story I have told them with emphatic failures. My father passed away in 2011, he was murdered by his wife at the time. I told one of my close friends this story after they asked me where my father lived multiple times. I told them this story in confidence because I use to hate speaking about it. The first mistake they made was piling it on. After every sentence I said they made noises such as ohh, and ahhh. It was frustrating because I felt like they were being over the top. Later on, I found out they told the story to someone else but said my father committed suicide. This was getting the facts wrong. 
Looking back I probably just wouldn't of told her the story. I snapped on her for even repeating it, and made her cry, which lead me into feeling guilty. If I would of just told her I didn't want to talk about it when she asked, I could of avoided the whole situation. My personal values came into play because I felt people should keep confidentiality on things they are told, especially when it doesn't have anything to do with them, and its not their place to repeat it. It helped my ability to provide empathy in a way because after feeling guilty I apologized.


I had been dating my boyfriend for a few months when his father passed away. I haven't experienced loosing someone that close to me before so i didn't really know what to say at the time. I could only muster the appropriate words that everyone seems to say when someone passes away, "Im sorry for your loss", or simply "I'm sorry." When he explained what happened i just was very quiet i really didn't know what to say and i certainly didn't want to say the wrong thing so i just said nothing. My boyfriend is a very private person and doesn't really like to express his feelings or go into detail about certain things so i guess i was shocked that he was opening up to me so much. He didn't really want anyone to know the details of how his father passed away, but like a dummy i had confided in my mother about what had happened and she had mentioned something about the situation to him when she seen him. I felt really bad about talking to my mom about a situation that had nothing to do with me but i just didnt know how to be there for him because i had never been in that situation before. I guess my emphatic failure was telling a story that had nothing to do with me and breaking that trust and confidence he instilled in me. Looking back at the situation i wish i would have kept the conversation between the two of us because i feel that maybe i had broken the trust between us. I would say that my personal values didn't play a role at all in this situation because i like to pride myself on keeping someone's secret and not running off to tell other people's business that has nothing to do with me. I think it hindered my ability to provide empathy because i shared something that i should not have, regardless if it was my mother or not i should have just kept it all to myself or continued to just talk to my boyfriend about it.

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