Nonverbal Communication

Since ancient times, people have sought proof of sincerity in the nonverbal communication of others. This kind of communication is so telling because it is based on involuntary responses: the pupils of our eyes dilate at the sight of something we like, for instance. We call this body language. It has culture-based aspects, too. We learn when it's appropriate to raise a hand to indicate a wish to speak and when to use a facial expression—and what expression to use. It often consists of a series of subtle, simultaneous cues such as change in breathing rate or eyebrow position. Nonverbal communication usually appears in “clusters”: beware of a person with a smiling mouth and unsmiling eyes—or as Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, ...

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