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Illustrators are behaviors that accompany speech and are directly related to it. They are used for emphasis or to clarify or illustrate an idea through the use of body movements. Try to describe, in words alone, a spiral staircase. It's hard, isn't it? It is much easier to use illustrators, gesture with your body and hands, to help your verbal communication.

Affect Displays

Affects displays are the elements of nonverbal communication to which we probably respond most directly and consciously. If you have ever smiled warmly at an attractive member of the opposite sex and received a warm smile in return, you didn't need very much verbal communication to realize that there was a mutuality of feeling between you. We can display affect bodily or facially. The droop of the head and shoulders, for example can express sadness, weariness, or depression, while shoulders up with head and chin held high can express strong positive feelings of self-confidence. Facial expressions may indicate a wide variety of feelings, ranging from depression and anger on one hand, to joy, delight, and exaltation on the other.


During any conversation, be it dialogue between two close friends or a conversation among several people at a party, signals are passed from one person to another or to the group as a whole. We call these signals, or cues, regulators. These signals regulate, or control, the back-and -forth flow of the conversation, governing its rate and duration. You give someone permission to speak, encouragement to continue, or a message to stop talking through some nonverbal behavior such as making or avoiding eye contact or head-nodding or head-shaking.


An adaptor is a nonverbal behavior we use to manifest some of our unconscious needs of drive. Some of these behaviors, such as scratching our heads, rubbing our noses, covering our mouths, or chewing our glasses are ways of handling anxiety, hostility, or other negative feelings. Most people are not aware of displaying adaptors. Look around your classroom before the next quiz or before a class presentation is to be made. What kind of adaptive behaviors do you see? Probably a lot of foot-tapping, playing with pencils, hand rubbing, and so on.

In addition to looking at the type of behavior displayed, we can examine the body part we used for communication, and what we mean to "say". For example, facial expressions may indicate a wide variety of feelings, ranging from depression and anger, on one hand, you such emotions as joy, delight, and exaltation on the other. Specific organs of the face may also play a part in transmitting messages.


The eyes play a very important role in communication. The length of time that you hold eye contact with another person is generally an indication of the degree and quality of your relationship with that person. Your eye contact with a total stranger or a casual acquaintance is likely to be considerably shorter than eye contact with one of your close friends, or close family members. If you are angry with someone fairly close to you, you are likely to make your eye contact with the person either very short or much longer than usual. When you're forced into uncomfortably close quarters with someone you don't know intimately, you'll usually



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