Nonverbal aspects of communicating: Kinesics
Kinesic communication is the technical term for body language, i.e., communicating by body movement. We call the study of kinesic communication kinesics. Kinesic communication is a non-verbal form of communication. However, it is not the only non-verbal way of communicating with other people.
When we communicate with others, we can speak, i.e., utter words. We can use body movements such as gestures and facial expressions. We can also write letters, texts, and emails to other people.
People in one ship can communicate with those in another ship using Morse code or flags.
Kinesic communication is one of the many ways we can communicate non-verbally. Non-verbal communication is one of the processes of conveying messages without writing or uttering words.
Kinesics or kinesic communication is all about communication through body movements, such as gestures and facial expressions. It is all about non-verbal behavior using any part of the body. It also includes communicating using the body as a whole.
In popular culture, we call this ‘body language’. In fact, the founder of kinesics, American anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell (1918-1994), never used the term ‘body language’.
He did not like the term, insisting that our bodies do not convey what linguists define as ‘language.’
“Facial expression, gestures, posture and gait, and visible arm and body movements.”
Birdwhistell filmed people in social situations and analyzed them. He showed how humans communicate in ways we had not clearly seen before.
He argued that all body movements convey meaning. In fact, he believed that non-verbal behavior had a grammar. A grammar that we could analyze in similar terms to spoken or written language.