Components of Body Language | Gustorics and Silence | Alison
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Gustorics and Silence

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Gustorics and Silence

Welcome, dear participants to the last module of this course.In the previous module, we had looked at an emerging area in the studies of Body Languageand that was the Digital Body Language.Today, we would look at two other emerging areas which are known as Gustorics and secondly,the study of how Silence communicates in interpersonal communication.Gustorics represents studies of food and taste.It looks at how taste can communicate different messages regarding our background, our preferences,our cultural background etcetera.Food cannot be viewed simply as a tool for survival in professional context.It is important to understand the inter-cultural communication and that is why it is also givenan important place now in the Diaspora criticism.When we look at the significance of food as a means of communication, we have to referto those people who had pioneered this thought in the area of cultural studies.I would prefer to Roland Barthes who has commented that food is a situation and it is closelyrelated with our culture.I would refer to a very interesting article by Nevana Stajcic.The title of her article is “Understanding Culture: Food as a Means of Communication”.In this article she has quoted Claude Levi-Strauss and Mary Douglas who suggest that we can viewfood as adhering to the same practices as language as a cultural product.The commonality between food and language can be understood easily because food is alsoa code which expresses patterns about social relationships and cultural backgrounds.I would quote from this article “what we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it,who is at the table, who eats first is a form of communication that is rich in meaning.Beyond merely nourishing the body, what we eat and with whom we eat can inspire and strengthenthe bonds between individuals, communities and even countries”.So, from a domestic chore the preparation and serving of food has entered the realmof professional communication and we look at several meetings being conducted over alunch, during coffee breaks etcetera.And therefore, food is a means of communication which among other things can also convey thestatus we want to communicate our attitude towards other people by the manner in whichwe order and we select our food items.The levels of formality which we want to maintain in our dialogue can also be communicated withthe help of food and its associated practices.At the same time food helps us to create a particular ambiance as a part of our professionaldialogues.It also communicates tradition, a sense of welcome and can easily represent close bondingthe fact that we care for a person or we simply want to maintain formal terms with the otherperson.Therefore, we have to understand that food suggest an attitude of pleasure and appreciation,as well as displeasure, animosity or even a hidden warning.Because of these reasons we find that food studies are fast becoming a part of nonverbalmessages.So, what becomes important in this context is what exactly does food communicate to usand secondly, how do we understand the communicated message.Food is multidimensional, it shapes us, it shapes our identity, it shapes our socialvalues.It is a part of our cultural growing up, what we eat and how we eat is an essential partof who we are as a people.At the same time how food is presented in words and images, in literature, in our dayto day dialogue, in the photographs which we share on social media etcetera is alsoimportant.For example, coffee is now associated more with the idea of taking a break than withtaking a drink for nourishment.Because of these clues we can easily say that this dimension of nonverbal communicationis at least as important as the messages which we receive through our dress, the colour codesetcetera.It also helps us to achieve collective self esteem and group solidarity.Our choices in the context of food and our preference suggest several clues in interpersonaldialogue within the same culture as the legend cross cultural situations.They easily suggest class for example, a particular topping on a pizza signifies a taste in Italywhereas, ordering a frozen pizza in a supermarket signifies a fast and cheap home cooked meal.At the same time it also suggests societal and cultural preferences.For example, seaweed may be preferred as a source of protein by the Japanese people,but the American people may not necessarily have the same choice.Some people may be surprised to note that in western cultures, for example in America,corn-on-the-cob is eaten whereas in China it is considered basically as a food for domesticanimals.At the same time national tastes are also reflected in those food items which are popularlyconsumed.We find that it is common in different types of American foods to have sugar.On the other hand in France sugar does not have the similar role in the preparation offood items.So, food is an increasing lens at the same time it helps us to analyse the communicationpatterns of the other people by telling us significantly about the social and culturalsetups of the individual.The universal need for food ties individuals and groups together.Its preferences and regime change over time through the passage of time we find that thepreferences within cultures keep on changing and these changes imparts important messages.For example, they can tell us about the historical development of a country, the geographicalregions where a particular food item is preferred and why.At the same time it gives us clues about the migration within and across societies andgradually we find that food becomes a reflection of our national identities also.At the same time we find that food is linked essentially with rituals and with culture.Ritual can be defined as a voluntary performance of appropriately patterned behaviour to symbolicallyeffect or participate in the serious life.Rituals which involve food are very important aspects of our routine and significant stepsin our life.For example, our birthdays, our festivals, weddings, holidays, funerals are associatedwith a particular type of the preparation of food and how it is served.Within ritual contexts, food often stands in its expressions of life, love, happinessand grief.We find that this aspect of food as a representation of culture as well as our emotional preferenceswithin relationships has been portrayed across different types of media.I would particularly refer to its portrayal in a popular movie Namesake.In this movie we find that Gogol’s changing preferences are reflected in his opting fora particular type of a food after the sudden death of his father.So, food as culture is related to tradition and nostalgia.It is also associated with the rhetorical repertoire of aesthetics identity and uniqueness.Food as a commodity is related to the consumption by people as well as it is associated witha particular industry.And at the same time we find that it is an important message as far as the genderingof a space in different cultural milieus is concerned.For example, if the preparation of food is linked with a particular gender the spaceis also occupied by that gender only.The domestic kitchen in various cultures can be taken as an example which can be governedonly by women and men would not prefer to enter this space.The connotations which we have from food are important in the studies of body languagebecause it imparts us various associations with the anthropological, sociological andpsychological makeup of individuals in any professional situations.These aspects also clearly emerge in food communication and representation of food,both in written and iconic text, on TV, in movies, in popular literature and mass media.We find that food has started to be interpreted as an independent language as an importantclue in terms of our understanding of body language.Like our dress like the smells we wear, like the accessories we carry along with our body,the way we prefer our food to be eaten etcetera also has become a language which is importantto understand in today’s world.From the perspective of communication studies, food continues to be an important symbol inthe creation of meaning.In the professional settings food function symbolically as a communicative practice bywhich we create, manage and share our meanings with others.Gastronomic tradition is dependent on culture and it is an unavoidable tool for learningabout cultural differences.In today’s multicultural settings at the workplace this understanding has also becomeimportant.At the same time we find that food and food related images are strongly related to ourconcept of territory and national identity.And therefore, talking about food or writing about food or representing various imagesrelated with food raise important cultural issues in international contexts.It also tells us about a culture’s approach to life and what is valuable in a particularculture.Since our understanding of culture, habits, rituals and traditions which mould a workingprofessional can be explode through food and the way it is perceived by us.This aspect of body language is now important for us.Another aspect which is interesting about this emerging area is that the communicationrelated with food has an everydayness.And therefore, it is increasingly becoming a part of literary criticism and communicationstudies in the context of NVCs.Further we can say that the idea of the global village and the interracial workplaces hasmade this sensitivity almost a must skill which professionals today must possess.Now, in addition to paralanguage we find that silence is also being studied as a part ofNVC.Silence can be understood as a vocal absence of words or any associated voice yet the waythe silence represents our meanings is very subtle and yet it is resonant.Often we find that in certain societies and cultures, it may be associated with wisdom.The connotations of silence can be negative or positive.It can be an awkward in embarrassing pause, a lengthy pause when the speaker deliberatelyholds back the words.On the other hand positive silence indicates confidence, respect for others, focus on whatthe person is thinking and at the same time maturity by suggesting that the person isnot in hurry to blurt out something.There are cultural differences also.In the way silence is to be read as a part of our communication.I would refer to the researches of Edward T Hall.We have referred to these researchers in our studies of paralanguage also.Edward T Hall has commented that in certain societies and he has given the example ofthe American and British societies words are important.So, in his opinion the American and British societies are word cultures whereas, thereare many other societies which rely more on open nonverbal cues and signs which includesilence also.In addition to understanding the cultural differences our understanding of the contextis also important so that the totality of the meaning can be directly understood.Whereas, some aspects of body language can be aggressive and suggest a violent temper.There may be some hand movements, certain postures, certain facial expressions whichcan be threatening and menacing.In comparison to that silence is necessarily considered as a non-violent communication.Even though it may suggest negative connotations, but violence is never one of them.If we look at the positive interpretations of silence we normally interpret it as a signof respect towards the other person who is speaking or a desire to live in option tothe other person by remaining silent.At the same time if the speaker wants to focus on how to frame the reply, the speaker mayalso prefer to remain silent for a couple of seconds.It can help us in planning our answer properly.In interpersonal interaction we find that it can be used as a very effective strategyfor controlling the audience.It signals emphasis on the points which the person has to speak after his silence andin these contexts it can be linked with caesura a particular aspect of paralanguage whichwe have discussed earlier.At the same time our silence can help the other person mark the difference in discoursetypes and conversational styles, whether it is a question or a surprised expression.Conventionally silence is respected in Eastern cultures and it is valued.At the same time, it is associated with certain negative interpretations also.Particularly in those cultures where words are important silence is often related withthe concealment of truth passing on a fib.It is also interpreted as a sign of impoliteness, hostility or even dumbness, a failure to provideunexpected response to the other person during a dialogue.Longer silencers during communication are also in effective tool and in different situationscan be used to get the other person to share additional information.This is a very effective strategy in a dialogue between a superior and subordinate.It conveys thoughtfulness, even hesitation and somehow encourages the other person togive you more information.In the preceding modules, I have discussed various aspects of nonverbal communicationwith you.In our assessment of body language there are certain constraints which we have to understandas well as certain boundaries within which our understanding of body language shouldwork.Body language as always cultural specific and therefore, in all my discussions I havetried to point out the cultural differences in the interpretations.Our understandings of race and gender are also culture specific.And often in interracial or cross gender situations sometimes we may tend to rely upon categoriesin classes instead of responding to an individual.In any professional dialogue for that matter even in our personal dialogues, it often resultsin what is known as reference group beliefs or cognitive dissonance.It becomes a bias in our communication, becomes a barrier in effective understanding of themessage and therefore, it is important that in our communication we do not rely on anyunderstanding which is rather clichéd.For example, we cannot associate a particular race as having a certain type of a behaviour.We cannot also associate a gender is having certain characteristics and traits.These generalizations should never be a part of any professional understanding of bodylanguage there have been various researchers also in which differences in gender preferencesin terms of body language have been committed on.Meticulously I have tried to avoid it because I feel that we are consistently and happilymoving in the direction of those work places where these differences are not importantanymore.Therefore, a stereotyping is a habit should always be avoided in the context of interpretingthe body language of other interactants.The significance of body language has often been commented on in our appraisal of theother person and therefore, it is important for us to exhibit our body language in a positivemanner.All of us are aware of the significance of body language in our professional world.A positive body language indicates interest, openness, enthusiasm and enhances the communicationalso.On the other hand negative body language impairs a professional image and at the same timeas researchers have pointed, it leaves a negative impact on our mood, on our stress levels,ultimately resulting in the diminishing self esteem.And therefore, it is important to learn positive body language and control the negative aspectsassociated with it.Controlling our body language does not mean that we have to learn to be deceptive in ourbehaviour towards other people.We have to remember that with our body language we cannot lie.Beyond a space of 2 minutes the other person can easily find out if we are trying to fakea positive body language.But, several aspects of our body language are like old habits and therefore, we canunlearn these habits and learn more positive aspects associated with the kinesics communication.Even though, our body language is mainly unconscious we can identify certain negative habits andlearn to replace them by a more positive aspect of body language.Latest scientific researchers have pointed out a close connection between the body languageand our self image, suggesting that by changing our body language we can also change our thinking.It is interesting to note that this awareness has existed in literary content.In literary criticism even prior to these scientific researchers we remember Foucaultfor his analysis of power which is basically a non-economist analysis of power.We have also refer to Foucault in one of the previous modules and have referred to hisidea of Panopticism.Here, I would refer to his second lecture which he had delivered in College de Francein 1976.In this lecture he had questioned how power is exercised.Without going into the details of a Foucauldian argument I would simply point out to a particulartreatment which he had paid wherein he had suggested that discipline and training canreconstruct power to produce new gestures, actions, habits and skills and ultimatelynew kinds of people.The association in controlling the body language to control the human mind has been commentedon by Foucault in this lecture and we have already seen how this idea has been reinforcedby recent scientific researches.In order to control our body language, there are certain steps which we should consciouslytake.The first step of course, is to be aware of the negative traits which we may possess asfor as our body language is concerned.We should review our own mannerism, postures, gestures, gait, facial expressions, tonalityetcetera and consciously identify those areas which requires certain change.We can take the help of the preparation of videos; we can take the help by preparingcertain videos, by taking certain photographs also.At the same time, we can study the body language of those people who in our opinion are bettercommunicators.We can learn to emulate gestures of people who have more positive body language.I would also refer to NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming in this context which is an effectivetool as for as learning new or more positive aspects of body language is concerned.The idea of NLP was started in 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.They were trying to model behavioural patterns to obtain excellence.NLP delves into the relationship between the mind that is the neuro, the language whichis the representation of linguistics offering how these interactions impact our programmingor behaviour.NLP encourages us to look at models instead of looking at role models.For example, if we look at a carpenter who is excellent in his profession and we watchhim working with his tools, if you would find that there are certain things which he maydo in a conscious manner and can teach us about these tricks.At the same time, while he is concentrating on his work he would also be taking certainsteps in an unconscious manner which would make him an excellent carpenter.We should focus on these unconscious behavioural patterns and try to emulate them and it isthis aspect of NLP which helps us to learn more positive traits of behaviour as wellas body language by looking at those people who we want to emulate in our behaviour.Certain other steps include mirroring for example, is studying the poster of other people,looking at the micro expressions of other people and then certainly mimicking them.But, it has to be done in a very conscious manner; otherwise the other person may feelinsulted.At the same time we should not be overwhelmed by this process of perceived changes we canstart by changing a smaller aspects in our body language and can do it in a consciousand controlled manner.For example, we may look at a certain change in the way we position our leg while we sitin the workplace.We can start by changing a smaller aspects related with our body language for example,we may want to change the position of legs well while we sit in our workplace or we wantnot to use a particular hand gesture or we may like to remember to have more smiles ormaintain a better eye contact in our conversation.These aspects can be singled out and can be practiced easily and gradually we find thatpractice enables us to have a better body language.At the same time we can also imagine situations in which we may be expected to practice aparticular kinesics aspect.Relaxation in public would also enable us to have a better control on our body languageduring our interaction.We should also develop the habit of avoiding verbal pauses; filling our answers with pausesand expressions like ‘um’, ‘uh’s using a meaningless word repeatedly basically, positively,surely.So, these repetitive takes in our behaviour communicate that we are not prepared and weare not confident to pass on a particular message.Annoying distractions for example, clearing our throats repeatedly or sighing deeply shouldalso be avoided in our communication.These tips may help us in overcoming the negative aspects related with our body language.This aspect can be further understood with the help of this interesting video.It is about how political leaders make gestures when they react to certain events.This video is analysed the body language of the Russian leader Putin and it is a veryinteresting analysis.As far the analyst trying to figure out what Vladimir Putin’s next move is.The best cues may lie in his body language.As far as reported by USA.Today, the group of Pentagon researchers his job is to study the movements and gesturesof foreign leaders including Putin.Expert says study in a person’s nonverbal cues can offer insight into how they makedecisions in react to events.Some argues study in Putin’s body language could help to terminate his intensions inUkraine.On Friday, the Pentagon acknowledged such research which says it has not made it differenceneed minister’s decision making on Ukraine So, that has not kept other body languageexperts for looking for clues in Putin’s must recent press conference.He does a chop and that chop with the CNN is very aggressive.It is like a chop.It is it is very aggressive.He is very.He is trying to intimidate us with his nonverbals.A professor attacks his tech university who researches non verbal communication explainedand we see Putin’s spoke calmly even though what he was saying was pretty combative.His demeanour is deceptive, precisely because it does not appear outwardly belligerent.Perhaps because he is has some training.NLP is the body language expert who is worked with Putin.He has told the mask out times one of the first things he taught the former KGB officerwas just quit using the type of the aggressive gestures you will see in former Soviet politicians.He added there were a one specific type of body language used by Russians mostly menand by no other nations that is a Soviet face miss.A very important aspect which is essentially related with the way we interpret body languageof others is that it is always interpreted in clusters.Whether it is an inclusive body language or non-inclusive; whether it is a face to faceinteraction or parallel or whether it is congruent or incongruent, we have to understand thatan isolated gesture, posture, eye smile etcetera is like a word which we have different meanings.If there is a combination of two or more kinesics signals it becomes a sentence.At the same time, if we find that the dimension of time is also associated with our lookingat the other person’s body language it becomes like a paragraph.This understanding helps us to avoid hasty conclusions.We should never be in a hurry to conclude about the intentions of feelings of the otherperson simply by looking at an isolated kinesics movement.Awareness about context and cultural frameworks is equally important.Though NVCs can be studied individually in terms of separate encoding and decoding processes;for example, we can look at eye contact or a particular gesture and can try to decodeit.The dynamic nature of nonverbal communication is best studied during interactions only andtherefore, this parallel with linguistic meaning in terms of words, sentences and paragraphshas to be kept in mind whenever we look at the body language and try to interpret itin others.During this course, I have attempted to delineate the nuance details of body language and bodylanguage is an omnipresent phenomenon of our daily professional life.So, during this certification course I have attempted to delineate the nuance detailsof body language which indeed has become an omnipresent phenomenon in our daily professionallife.Over the weeks in different modules I have try to look at different messages which arecommunicated through our body language how we do send it; how they are shared in a nonverbalmanner with others and under what circumstances their impact matters.I have also try to explain and evaluate the significance of body language vis-a-vis oursense of space, touch, time, smell, facial expressions in appearances and also focusedon the emerging areas of explorations namely gustorics, silence and digital body language.These discussions have to be understood in the context which has been specified in thevery beginning of this course.Body language is a very significant aspect of our communication.The communication never becomes complete unless and until we also take body language intoconfiguration.At the same time, there are certain limitations to it and these discussions should be understoodwithin the context which has been specified in the very beginning.I hope that it has been a meaningful course to you.I have enjoyed teaching it.Thank you.

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